Dad's Army - How much was James Beck missed?

Dad's Army. Image shows from L to R: Lance Corporal Jones (Clive Dunn), Private Pike (Ian Lavender), Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe), Sergeant Wilson (John Le Mesurier), Private Frazer (John Laurie), Private Godfrey (Arnold Ridley). Copyright: BBC.

Dad's Army

Beloved sitcom about the struggles of a Home Guard platoon during World War II who are fighting incompetence, age and pomposity more than Nazis

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Jack Massey

  • Friday 2nd October 2009, 12:13am [Edited]
  • England
  • 2,965 posts

What do you think? James Beck died in 1973, missing the last episode of the sixth series and the remaining three series from them. How much do you think he was missed?

I still think the episodes were still at a very good quality, but the show was never as good without Beck I felt. Since Beck died, there seemed a decrease in the brilliant dialogue (though it was still there) and there was more slapstick. In Series 7, Taflyn Thomas came in as Private Cheeseman. A decent job, but not a patch on Beck. I think his absence showed what a main character he was in the show. I know he was best known for his spiv-like ways which were a good asset on the show, but for me that wasn't his main strengh. I loved the way he was a constant thorn in Mainwaring's side, always giving his serious lectures witty interuptions which I thought was hilarious, not only for the wittiness of the comments, but for the way Arthur Lowe responded to them.

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Nogget

  • Friday 2nd October 2009, 12:18am
  • England
  • 6,620 posts
Quote: Jack Massey @ October 1 2009, 8:13 PM BST

I loved the way he was a constant thorn in Mainwaring's side,


Although he was also useful to the Captain when it came to getting rare supplies. That was an interesting quirk of the script, that Mainwaring became complicit in the black market.

Yes, I do think he was a very important character, and his prescence was missed, but there was plenty of fun to be had with the diversity which remained. My favourite was always John Laurie.

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Jack Massey

  • Friday 2nd October 2009, 12:32am
  • England
  • 2,965 posts

I really liked John Laurie aswell, plus Arnold Ridley, he was just a lovely character.

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Alfred J Kipper

  • Friday 2nd October 2009, 12:35am [Edited]
  • Aldershot, England
  • 6,361 posts

I actually think most of the episodes hold up quite well without him but of course they were slightly different, as you say. Definitely the dialogue loses a bit of sharpness and the clever little scenarios where Walker plays his mediator role to gain back respect after his dodgy dealings have angered Manwearing are very noticably absent. I do definitely prefer the Walker episodes generally, but the whole team quite cleverly changed their style to a broader comedy with more slapstick and most were still worth watching for another five years. Was definitely worth carrying on the sitcom rather than folding, but he was for the next series at least very noticably missed, with that Taffy character not fitting in at all IMO. I thought it took them a good few episodes to find their rhythm again, but thankfully they avoided making the cardinal mistake that some sitcoms have made, in bringing back an exact replica of his spiv - quote Pte Walker 'reserved occupation' character. That of course would have been nonsense and would probably have ruined the sitcom. It did very well to find its feet again and remain funny till the end.

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Tursiops

  • Friday 2nd October 2009, 12:47am
  • Welwyn Garden City, England
  • 9,788 posts

As the resident spiv Walker offered up important aspect of the home front as a subject for comedy, and that was missed. He was also the only member of the platoon for whom it was in character to be self-consciously witty, so his loss limited the writing in that respect.

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Jack Massey

  • Friday 2nd October 2009, 12:48am [Edited]
  • England
  • 2,965 posts

He was okay that Welsh character, but he just wasn't good enough to be lining up with Lowe, Le Mesurier, Dunne, Laurie, Ridley and Lavender.
Series 7 was a decent series, but definitely not the best. Gorilla Warfare is probably the only classic from that series.

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Badge

  • Friday 2nd October 2009, 4:59am
  • London, England
  • 9,490 posts
Quote: Timbo @ October 1 2009, 8:47 PM BST

As the resident spiv Walker offered up important aspect of the home front as a subject for comedy, and that was missed. He was also the only member of the platoon for whom it was in character to be self-consciously witty, so his loss limited the writing in that respect.


What he said.

But if there was a falling away in quality (on average) it was probably more to do with the fact that the writers had been doing it for ages and the cast was getting really old (from a starting point of being pretty old in the first place).

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Aaron

  • Friday 2nd October 2009, 6:40am
  • Royal Berkshire, England
  • 68,744 posts

To be honest, until I was explicitly made aware of it, I never noticed that he was no longer there.

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Marc P

  • Friday 2nd October 2009, 12:06pm
  • England
  • 17,698 posts

He was missed enormously. Cheeseman was a cheese man.