Dad's Army - In The Press
Captain Mainwaring is clearly enjoying being in charge of his Local Defence Volunteers, but pressure is mounting on him at their lack of weapons. Then Colonel Square (Geoffrey Lumsden) pays a first visit, offering rifles on the condition that he takes over command. It's a well-scripted dilemma introducing a nice note of drama, and leads to an untypically emotional outcome.
The appropriately titled Museum Piece, from August 1968, sees Walmington-on-Sea LDV - still without uniform or any sense of cohesion - trying to take arms against the sea of troubles. Typically, however, the volunteers are outwitted by an 88-year-old man (the father of Lance Corporal Jones, no less!). What's needed is a dash of cunning, not to mention a few slugs from a bottle of whisky - and that's just by Private Frazer.
He is the man whose face probably first comes to mind if one is asked to think of a fictional television vicar. Actor Frank Williams first put on his dog collar to play the part of the Reverend Timothy Farthing in Dad's Army 46 years ago. Now 83, he's still going strong, appearing in the new film of Dad's Army, released early next year and starring Catherine Zeta-Jones. He is touring the UK in a show in which he recalls his long career. Along with Ian Lavender, who played Private Pike, Frank is the only surviving regular cast member from the original series.
Written by Neil Clark. The Daily Express, 5th May 2015
Dad's Army attracted an audience of nearly 20 million in its heyday but the Telegraph's 1968 review of the much-loved sitcom's first-ever episode was only lukewarm. This review was published on August 1, 1968. It was written by the-then Telegraph TV critic Sean Day-Lewis, half-brother of Oscar-winner Daniel.
Written by Sean Day-Lewis. The Daily Telegraph, 2nd May 2015
A chance to discover how it all began, as BBC Two repeats the show's black-and-white curtain raiser. If you've never seen it before, check out the amazing prologue - the only time Dad's Army was set in the present day (1968).
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
"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...