Dad’s Army 200 years old? They’ve got somthing wrong surely. Actually you’ll see commemorations all over the media today as it’s 200 years ago this very day that the famous Battle of Waterloo was fought.
We thought we should mark the occassion by remembering that in the world of comedy nothing is sacred. So today we look at a classic episode of Dad’s Army –
A Soldier’s Farewell, 1972
Dad’s Army remains the BBC’s most prized sitcom, rarely, if ever has it been loaned out to digital and satellite channels and enjoys regular primetime repeats on BBC1.
The episode “A Soldier’s Farewell” was the third episode in series two and included a classic send up of the Battle Of Waterloo. There are so many classic scenes that make this a true stand out episode.
The platoon take a trip to the local cinema to watch a film about the Battle of Waterloo. At the end of the film Mainwaring stands to attention for the National Anthem only to find himself gets knocked over in the rush as the platoon all stampede out.
During the bus ride home Mainwaring is again shown up when an an attractive bus conductress asks to see their tickets whilst Walker, Pike and Jones start larking about and singing the lewd song “Roll Me Over In The Clover” Mainwaring stops it and apologises. Further lewd behaviour ensues when Warden Hodges gets on the bus. At the end of the journey Mainwaring is knocked down again after Hodges lets him get halfway down the bus then shouts “It’s closing time in five minutes”, thus causing a stampede as the platoon rush for the pub.
After rebuking the platoon for their behaviour on parade we shift to Mainwaring’s office where he finishes enjoying a feast of blackmarket stout, cheese and kidneys with Wilson and Jones.
Returning home to sleep in the Anderson shelter Mainwaring begins to dream that he is Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. It features the rest of the cast in various roles, including Wilson as Wellington, flanked by Frazer as Gordon of the Highlanders and Hodges as a senior officer. Walker is “Captain Gerald” in the cavalry, Jones is a French Corporal, Pike is a French drummer boy and Godfrey is a French artillery man. Many catch phrases and actions are used: “put those lights out”, “you stupid drummer boy”, Private Godfrey’s upside down cakes, “Oi, Napoleon”, and also some phrases from earlier in the episode such as Sponge saying “we should have sat down the front, in the ninepennies” when Mainwaring complains that he can’t see the battle. At the surrender, Wilson acts very superior, for instance asking Mainwaring for his full name and address, and refusing to let Mainwaring borrow his pen. Mainwaring says farewell to his troops, with great comic effect. Hodges then tells the troops that the Duke will buy them all a drink, and in the stampede they knock Mainwaring over into the mud like they did in the cinema and bus.
Mainwaring is next seen just before being exiled to Elba, standing next to the bus conductress, who is dressed as Marie Walewska (Napoleon’s mistress). They exchange farewells, then Mainwaring wakes up, only to find that he has overslept and he has been left a rude note from his wife complaining that he didn’t come home last night.
Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring and Napoleon
John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Wilson and Wellington
Clive Dunn as Lance Corporal Jones and French corporal
John Laurie as Private Frazer and Gordon
James Beck as Private Walker and French cavalryman
Arnold Ridley as Private Godfrey and French artilleryman
Ian Lavender as Private Pike and French drummer boy
Bill Pertwee as ARP Warden Hodges and British officer
Frank Williams as The Vicar
Robert Gillespie as Charles Boyer playing Napoleon
Joan Savage as Greta Garbo playing Marie Walewska
Joy Allen as Bus Conductress and Marie Walewska
Colin Bean as Private Sponge and Marshal Ney
Written By: Jimmy Perry and David Croft
Produced By: David Croft
Original Transmission Date: 20/10/72 at 6.50pm