Dad's Army - In The Press

It's funny to think that what was unpopular back in 1977, when this episode was first broadcast, remains unpopular today. When Private Frazer rounds on Mainwaring with the words "I don't trust banks, I don't trust bankers and I don't trust you!" he gets a warm round of applause from the studio audience. You see, the captain has been dropping unsubtle hints when he learns that the wily Scot keeps his savings in the form of a stash of gold sovereigns.

It's a not-so-familar episode that gives plenty of airtime to the manic gibberings of John Laurie (who plays Frazer), but there are other delights, too: the rare spectacle of a tiddly Sergeant Wilson, a scene set in Hodges' greengrocer's, Fulton Mackay in his second (different) guest role for the show and Jones blowing accidental raspberries during a gas-mask drill.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 18th April 2015

"He's used to being unpopular... he's a bank manager." A nice gag; funny then, topical now. It opens this 1977 episode, a surprising little rite-of-passage tale in which a proud-as-punch Mainwaring gets a staff car, and Pike borrows it for his date with Hodges' flirty niece Sylvia.

It's a chance to see other sides of Walmington (a café serving brightly coloured pop) and its characters (Pike with a girlfriend; Wilson giving him a men-of-the-world chat). It's heady stuff for dear old Dad's Army, but comfort yourself with more traditional fare, such as Mainwaring being needled by Wilson's public-school ways (sadly, John Le Mesurier looks noticeably gaunt) and some prolonged, panto-style musical chairs in the staff car.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 4th April 2015

Some Home Guard admin elicits the expected peevishness from Mainwaring in this late-era episode. The Captain reveals his written character assessment of his sergeant to the man himself: "Your general bearing is very slack." Wilson's disparaging laughter at all the red-tape nonsense sounds so genuine that you wonder whether something tickled John Le Mesurier during recording.

It leads to a platoon recruitment drive that requires a face to go on the accompanying poster, but whose should it be? "We should all vote in a secret ballet," suggests Jones. Among other delights are Godfrey's mortified expression at the suggestion that he's being rude, and some top-drawer doddering from Harold Bennett as Mr Blewitt.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 21st March 2015

The show goes a bit Swallows and Amazons this week (Arthur Lowe meets Arthur Ransome, if you will) in a largely lake-based adventure. The platoon's fieldcraft training is capsized by the arrival of the Vicar, Verger and Hodges with the sea scouts and, later, three Germans who have bailed out of their aircraft and float helplessly in a dinghy.

If the story is all a bit loose and lacking urgency, there's still pleasure in predicting what's going to happen when (a certain someone ending up in the water, for example), and listen out for Wilson's somewhat out-of-character spikiness to Captain Mainwaring: "I don't think even you can walk on the water."

Note the day-for-night filming, and the mismatch between videotaped studio recordings and the filmed location scenes, both of which root it firmly in the 70s. And the cast must have loved the outdoor shoots, because it was always sunny!

This week's "who knew?" is Hodges' ability to speak German, having been a guard in a prisoner of war camp during the previous conflict.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 7th March 2015

This episode's mini-drama serves as a neat mission statement for the show, when the tussle over Godrey's home becomes a metaphor for the struggle against Germany. "This cottage stands for England," says the loyal, smiley private, as his comrades dither over telling him his house will have to be demolished to make way for a new aerodrome.

Mainwaring and Wilson visit the picture-postcard property, only to be sidetracked by tea and upside down cake. How nice to see Godfrey's sister Cissy (Kathleen Saintsbury) as well as the more often mentioned Dolly, there's plenty of comic business with a paper door and Jones takes Frazer down a peg or two: "How dare you interfere with my offal queue!"

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 28th February 2015

It's teatime in the Pike household, and young Frank joins mum and Sergeant Wilson after a day-long medical. Despite his croup, wonky ankles and a touch of "verdigris" if he stands on anything, "They passed me fit. I'm A1!"

Before he goes on active service - and before his celebratory fish-and-chip-and-fizzy-pop supper, Pike and Mainwaring give blood in the church hall. If only the captain hadn't boasted that his platoon would rustle up 100 pints to beat the total offered by the despised Hodges...

It's a delightful episode: a tidily constructed story, spicy glimpses of home life and a soupçon of pathos. A prize-winning pun from Wilson, too.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 21st February 2015

Warmhearted actor who played the amorous Mrs Fox in Dad's Army.

The Guardian, 16th February 2015

Die-hards always look forward to certain things in a Dad's Army episode: for example, one of Jones's windy speeches. This one results in one of Mainwaring's most despairing puffs of the cheeks.

But before that the simmering resentment the captain has for his sergeant surfaces once more. The occasion is a visit from Lady Maltby (Mavis Pugh, who played shi-tzu-loving Mrs Chase in Fawlty Towers) to offer the platoon her Rolls-Royce towards the war effort. But despite the ill feeling between Wilson and Mainwaring, they are at least united in their dislike of the abhorrent Hodges, who is the butt of the final joke. Even Mainwaring smiles.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 14th February 2015

You'd think the squad would welcome the chance to get out of their battledress, but donning morris-dancing outfits to raise money for a new Spitfire is another matter. Frazer moans like a drain about this "pansy Sassenach get-up", Wilson finds his dummy horse most awkward and Jones, too, is in a spot of trouble - and not just with his whiffling.

It seems the loyal lance corporal is having woman trouble: cue a deliciously awkward tête-à-tête between Mainwaring and Mrs Fox in the Marigold Tea Rooms - overheard by half the platoon. The captain is a picture of discomfort as the flighty Fox gets hold of the wrong end of the whiffling stick. Increasingly fraught discussions ensue over who should play Lady Godiva at the town carnival (listen out for Pike's brilliant Town Clerk impression). Writers Croft and Perry display their intimate understanding of the comedy motto "End with a topper, then top the topper". Dad's Army didn't go in for pay-offs very often, but this one is a corker.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 7th February 2015

"Over the years that I've come to know the members of this platoon, I've grown quite fond of them, but I can't help feeling sometimes that I'm in charge of a bunch of idiots." It's not often that Captain Mainwaring is quite so scathing about his platoon, but he's prompted by a classic piece of long-windedness from leering loon Private Frazer. It's a towering moment in the midst of some lightweight field-exercise shenanigans, but you'll enjoy the effete expression from Wilson tanning his face while his captain blethers on, and another brief but heavenly example of under-the-influence acting from Arthur Lowe.

Fans of 70s comedy will enjoy the sight of Dave Allen stooge Michael Sharvell-Martin as the Lieutenant.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 31st January 2015

The sight of the Vicar and Verger in battledress is just one of many rarities in this extraordinary affair. Among the others are Mainwaring laid up in a hospital bed (with ingrowing toenails), Frazer brandishing a live white mouse on parade and Godfrey having a big speech to remember. Also, poignantly, a note on the floor where James Beck should be standing. This was the first story not to feature Walker; thereafter, bizarrely, he was never mentioned again.

Overlooking a few old-school lines that don't bear repeating, there are a handful of treasures, including Wilson's annoyance at Mainwaring treating him like a labrador, and Frazer comparing the Verger's face to a sour prune.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 3rd January 2015

Anyone who enjoys the class collisions of Mainwaring and Wilson will be in heaven with this episode. In "The Honourable Man", Wilson becomes entitled following the death of his uncle. The news induces pride in Pike and his beaming mother, but brings out an assortment of colours in the Captain, including red for apoplexy and green for jealousy.

The welcoming preparations for a visiting Russian worker cause further explosions of pomposity. But the many other weapons in Dad's arsenal are discharged with equal efficacy, from Walker's leavening cockiness to Jones's "cobblers". It's a beauty.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 29th November 2014

Original Dad's Army star Ian Lavender is making a cameo appearance in the new film.

Written by Ellie Walker-Arnott. The Radio Times, 22nd November 2014

If you're wondering why almost none of this episode was recorded on video - even the interior scenes - a studio strike in 1973 meant it had to be shot on location with 16mm film. It's a needs-must approach that's appropriate to both the series and the episode. Because when the Home Guard takes an efficiency test, they need all their wits (ahem!) to overcome the bullying supervisor (Fulton Mackay in the same year he'd made his Porridge debut).

Anyone who's endured the nonsense of role-playing seminars at work will cheer Wilson's dismissive air, while the way Godfrey turns an anti-tank artillery piece into a chintzy armchair is a sight to behold.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 22nd November 2014

Dad's Army goes a bit Mack Sennett in this episode when a sealed-order mission turns into a frantic choo-choo chase. King George VI is due to pass through the station, but a mix-up between sleeping pills and saccharine puts a spanner - or a defective brake wheel - in the works.

One false alarm sees Captain Mainwaring moving along a stopped train while sheepishly inquiring, "Your Majesty, are you there?" But the sight of the Vicar, Verger and Hodges on a pump trolley takes some beating.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 15th November 2014

A chaotic whirl of flirtation and skirmish accompanies America's entrance into the war, as a deputation arrives in Walmington. A darts match in the Red Lion is arranged and a "Hi Buddy!" banner hung over the bar. But with the platoon's other halves donning gladrags for the occasion, noses are soon put out of joint.

An utterly untypical instalment gives fans plenty of incident and casting oddities to talk about. They include Pike's girlfriend Ivy, played here by Ian Lavender's then wife Suzanne Kerchiss, but in an earlier episode by Rosemary Faith. And Alan Tilvern plays the US colonel even though he had previously been a Spanish captain, Rodrigues.

Like Yanks in 30 minutes, the story is almost too eventful for its own good. I mean to say, Godfrey hitting a man over the head with a chair? That's just not on.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 8th November 2014

She was best known for playing the sexy school girl all of The Inbetweeners' boys wanted to stare it. But on Thursday, Emily Atack was cutting a pin up image of a whole new calibre when she donned full costume on the set of the Hollywood adaptation of iconic BBC sitcom Dad's Army.

Written by Kate Thomas & Becky Freeth. The Daily Mail, 24th October 2014

Speaking as Captain Mainwaring's long-standing (and much-sitting) double, I must protest at the Hollywoodisation of this great English classic.

Written by Paul Routledge. The Daily Mirror, 16th October 2014

Dad's Army turns into Trumpton in a late-1972 episode that drew more viewers (18.5 million) than any other. When challenged to outwit the Home Guard commando unit by planting a dummy bomb in their fuel depot, the platoon dress as firemen for their "secret" mission.

As you might expect from the outlandish premise, the humour is Norfolk broad - Pike getting squirted at regular intervals, Jones deafening everyone with the fire bell, and so on. That said, there are some lovely moments with Mainwaring getting snubbed at the Rotary dinner (writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft never failed to prick his pomposity). There's also a formative role for Geoffrey Hughes (two years later he had become Corrie's bin man Eddie Yeats) and, from Godfrey, the line "I wouldn't mind dressing up as a nun."

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 4th October 2014

"Tonight you may call me George." How often does Wilson receive such an invitation from his commanding officer? The captain throws open the doors of Mainwaring manor for a "civilian" shindig, and the prospect of actually seeing his spouse - she of bunkbed-bulging proportions and ear-splitting telephone manner - tantalises us like never before...

Less of a party and more of a wake, the bash is put out of its misery by an air raid - and a direct hit on the bank. So what to do with the money? It's an interesting, curiously mean-spirited outing, full of muttered put-downs and surly suspicion. Also some 18-carat lines, and a beautifully filmed finale.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 20th September 2014

"A total of 80 episodes of Dad's Army were made by the corporation - and which one does it choose to show on the Saturday ahead of the vote?" a Yes campaigner [for Scottish Independence] wails. "The one in which Frazer - played by John Laurie - tells Mainwaring that he can run the platoon better than him, is put in charge and then makes a total mess of things. Thank you very much, Auntie Beeb."

Written by Tim Walker. The Telegraph, 16th September 2014

A schism in the platoon makes for a slightly uncomfortable watch in this 1972 story. Well, as uncomfortable as this bear hug of a sitcom gets. But the heightened drama - introduced by Mainwaring temporarily allowing Frazer to try to improve on his captaincy - gives If the Cap Fits some teeth.

Mainwaring initially regrets giving the grumbling Scot free rein, especially when he promotes Pike and Walker over Jones and Wilson. But the twist in the tale, however unlikely, is to die for. Wilson's monocle-wearing theatrics and the least educational lecture you'll ever hear add to the fun.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 13th September 2014

An all-action extravaganza features Jones on a child's scooter, a grenade exploding in the Vicar's office and Mainwaring trying on a smart, 18-guinea greatcoat that you just know is as doomed as Frazer's catchphrase. (Look out for Larry Martyn -- the caretaker in Are You Being Served? -- as the signalman scoffing buns.)

When a misread map reference sends the platoon to a barn destined for artillery target practice, it's left to two senior members to try and save the day, via manic motoring and an insane bit of stop-motion animation. Before the Dick Barton finale, the squinting, gout-afflicted Godfrey explains his dislike of spectacles: "I didn't get on with them; they made me look rather old."

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 6th September 2014

There are two distinct camps of thought in this famous 1972 episode. As bombs rain down outside their bunker, Mainwaring and Jones rather impractically want to get to grips with the enemy; Frazer and cynics anonymous are quite content to stay safe. But when there's a direct hit on the pumping station where Walker and Godfrey are patrolling, direct action is needed.

There's plenty of jeopardy from falling masonry and possible drowning, plus an ingenious set and water tank all in one - in fact, you can see the edge of the tank, accidentally, when Hodges falls out of his one-man boat. And whatever else you might think of him, don't ever question Mainwaring's heroism; one moving little aside is proof of that...

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 9th August 2014

This nigh-on perfect episode is The Arthur Lowe Show in all but name. A training weekend for the platoon enables Lowe to run through his sublime Mainwarisms: the "throat-clutching choke", the £skewed cap and glasses£, and the rare but wonderful £trying desperately not to appear drunk£. (Almost as funny is Sergeant Wilson's teddy-bear hiding - an Embarrassment Masterclass from John Le Mesurier.)

It all comes about as a result of Captain "What! What!" Square and a bunch of whisky-swilling officers leading Mainwaring astray, to the scowling disenchantment of Frazer and co. And it takes a genuine crisis to restore him in the eyes of his men...

'Fallen Idol' is delicious to the last drop, when an "Iris Out" homage to the silent era provides the show's best-ever sign-off.

Mark Braxton, The Radio Times, 2nd August 2014

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