10 things you didn’t know about Dad’s Army
The classic British sitcom Dad’s Army is about to march its way onto the big screen in the new film… Dad’s Army (what else could they call it)? Set to be released on 5 February, the big screen version will follow our favourite Home Guard in 1944 dealing with a potential spy hiding in a sleepy seaside town.
The series ran for nine years with 80 episodes in total and has been voted one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time. The show starred and made household names of Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Arnold Ridley, John Laurie, Clive Dunn, James Beck and Ian Lavender as members of the Home Guard in the fictional town of Walmington-on-Sea. Each episode followed the group as they prepared for whatever potential attack could come their way. Always woefully under-prepared, their efforts would often result in hilarious slapstick and Captain Mainwaring shaking his head in frustration.
You may think you know the troop inside out, but here’s 10 facts about the blundering brigade that you probably never knew…
1. Round his ankles
An episode was written with the storyline that Private Frazer would try to free a bomb from Captain Mainwaring’s trousers. Arthur Lowe (Mainwaring) refused to film the scene, and the storyline changed to have Corporal Jones suffering the embarrassment. Following this drama, Lowe had a clause written into his contract that he would never be seen on camera without his trousers!
2. War veterans
Actors John Laurie (Private Frazer) and Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey) both actually served in the Home Guard during the Second World War. Not only that, they were also both veterans of the First World War.
Laurie served in the Hon. Artillery Company and said he was haunted by his experiences of the war. Ridley enlisted in 1915 in the Somerset Light Infantry and saw active service on the Somme. His left hand was left virtually useless due to injury, he was bayonetted in the groin, his legs were riddled with shrapnel, and a blow to the head left him prone to blackouts for the rest of his life.
3. Set in stone
Walmington-on-Sea was the fictional location of Dad’s Army; the show was actually filmed in Thetford, Norfolk. To commemorate the epic series, a statue of Captain Mainwaring sits on a bench by the Little Ouse river.
4. Ready in the wings
The BBC keeps an episode of Dad’s Army on standby in case a show goes off air in the middle of a broadcast.
The last time it happened was in 2000 when a power-cut stopped the 6 o’clock news.
Before VHS was even around, programmes were stored on huge rolls of film in the BBC vaults. When the BBC ran out of room, they decided to get rid of episodes of many classic shows. Foolish, BBC, foolish.
Early episodes of Doctor Who found themselves in the bin, along with three episodes from the second series of Dad’s Army.
6. Blinking pelican signals
Getting involved with road safety, the cast filmed this advert in 1976.
7. Royal seal of approval
Bill Pertwee, who played Mainwaring’s rival Warden Hodges, received an MBE in 2007. After his chat with the woman in charge herself, he revealed to the press that Her Majesty was apparently a big fan of the show.
It was also believed that the Queen Mother had VHS copies of the show in the Castle of Mey, her Scottish residence.
8. Daddy’s boy
Even though he always referred to Sergeant Wilson as “Uncle Arthur”, the writers did confirm that Private Pike is Wilson’s biological son.
9. Who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler?
The series led to a widespread belief that Hitler had wanted to invade the UK after the fall of France. In reality, he never had any intention of a UK invasion as he admitted to the General Staff in 1940.
10. Villa Villa, Villa Villa
Ian Lavender, who took on the role of dopey Private Pike, was allowed to choose the all-important scarf for his character. As an Aston Villa fan, he chose the scarf based on his team’s colours.
Check out the trailer for the upcoming film.