During World War II
when all the fit young men went off to fight there was a need to still have a defense force within the UK. The Home Guard
was born. Recruited from those too old, too young, too irresolute, or in reserved occupations it was a mixed bag of people which became affectionately known as the Dad's Army. This BBC
TV comedy series created by Jimmy Perry and David Croft followed the misadventures of the Walmington-on-sea Platoon
The series ran from 1968 to 1977 during which some 80 episodes were produced. There was also a film in 1971 which had limited success. Radio versions of a number of the episodes were also made for Radio 4
. The theme song "Who do you think you are kidding Mister Hitler
" is still fondly remembered by many.
The platoon is led by the blustering and pompous Captain Mainwaring (played by Arthur Lowe) who is also the local bank manager. He is of fairly common stock and likes to lord it over those who seem to be his social betters.
The second-in-command is Sergeant Wilson (played by John Le Mesurier) who is chief clerk at the bank. He is a blackish sheep from an upper class family. The fact that he did go to public school
(British name for a prestigious private school) rankles with Mainwaring. There were suggestions of an other than totally platonic
relationship between him and Pvt. Pike's mother (played by Janet Davis).
The command staff is rounded out by the local butcher
and World War I
veteran) Lance Corporal Jones (played by a heavily made up Clive Dunn
). He is very enthusiastic if a bit confused ("Don't Panic!") and thinks of the bayonet
as the best weapon ("They don't like it up 'em").
Other leading members of the platoon include Private Pike (played by Ian Lavender) who is a young clerk at the bank. Sgt. Wilson rooms with him and his mother, and Pike refers to Wilson as Uncle Arthur. His somewhat naive (though often intelligent) suggestions are often met by a muttered "Stupid Boy" from Capt. Mainwaring.
Private Frasier is the local Scots undertaker
and is an irredeemable pessimist
("We're all doomed, doomed I tell you"). He is also frustrated by the fact that, by dint of his previous experience, Cpl. Jones is his superior.
For the early seasons Private Walker (played by James Beck) is the local wide-boy or spiv with contacts in the black market
. If you want something then Walker's your boy, just don't ask where it came from. Unfortunately the actor died and so the character was not in the later series.
The medic was Private Godfrey (played by Arnold Ridley) who had retired with his sisters (Dolly and Cissy). He was quiet and quick to tire but provided support and often had a thermos of tea handy.
The platoon spent a lot of their time attempting to improvise equipment, train, and looking after the occasional stranded U Boat crew or German parachutist. They also found time to annoy the local Vicar (Frank Williams) and Verger (Edward Sinclair) in whose church hall they met. There was also a strong emnity between Capt. Mainwaring and the Chief ARP
(Air Raid Patrol) Warden Hodges (played by Bill Pertwee) who also uses the hall and thinks the ARP is much more important than the Home Guard. Hodges likes to refer to Mainwaring as "Napolean
" particularly if he can hear it.
There was another BBC radio comedy called "It Sticks Out Half a Mile" about some of the characters after the war attempting to run a pier
in the nearby town of Frambourne. But it only ran for one season.