Dad’s Army, 1968
Happy Birthday Dad’s Army ! 50 Today
It was fifty years ago today that one of television’s most popular sitcoms first arrived on our TV screens.
Fifty years on and it’s still entertaining audiences with regular repeats of the original TV and radio series. In addition with various new casts there have been many stage productions. In 2016 there was even a new big screen outing.
The original TV series ran for 80 episodes over 9 series, including three Christmas Specials and a one off hour long special.
In addition there were four short episodes especially written for and broadcast as part of Christmas Night With The Stars. These episodes appeared in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1972.
At the height of it’s popularity Dad’s Army drew 18 million viewers and even today it enjoys regular repeats on both digital and terrestrial television platforms worldwide.
Dad’s Army poled fourth position in a 2004 BBC poll to find Britain’s best sitcom.
Set in the fictional seaside town of Walmington-On-Sea, on the south coast of England, the first series had a loose narrative thread, with Captain Mainwaring’s platoon being formed and equipped—initially with wooden guns and LDV armbands, and later on full army uniforms.
Later series focused on their day to day duties from protecting the novelty rock emporium at the end of the pier to drill practice in the Church Hall.
There were occasions when they did actually get to grips with the enemy from a German Parachutist in ‘Time On Our Hands’ to a German U-Boat crew in ‘The Deadly Attachment’. In almost everything they did their efforts were hampered or scuppered by either ARP Warden Hodges or the Verger and the Vicar.
The show produced some classic comedy moments, perhaps the best loved of which was the now legendary line “Don’t tell him Pike” in reply to the German U Boat Commander’s question “Your name will also go on the list, what is it?.
Captain George Mainwaring – Arthur Lowe
Sergeant Arthur Wilson – John Le Mesurier
Lance Corporal Jack Jones – Clive Dunn
Private Frank Pike – Ian Lavender
Private James Fraser – John Laurie
Private Joe Walker – James Beck
Private Charles Godfrey – Arnold Ridley
ARP Warden Hodges – Bill Pertwee
Mrs Mavis Pike – Janet Davies
Reverend Timothy Farthing – Frank Williams
Verger Maurice Yeatman – Edward Sinclair
Private Sponge – Colin BeanPrivate Cheeseman (series 7 after the death of James Beck) – Talfryn Thomas
Written By: David Croft and Jimmy Perry
Produced By: David Croft
Original Run: 31st July 1968 – 13th November 1977
A number of scripts were specially adapted for a radio series, in common with many other sitcoms of the time there was a feature film. There was also a full cast touring stage production. In 2016 a whole new cast assembled for a new feature film based on the classic series.
Three second-series episodes are lost, and one third-series episode was filmed in colour but had only existed in black and white. The soundtracks to the missing episodes are held in the BBC Archive but it seems unlikely that the missing episodes will ever re – surface.
In 2016 the BBC announced plans to reconstruct the missing episode “A Stripe For Frazer” using new hand-drawn animation synced to the original soundtrack.
This episode was available to purchase from the BBC’s online store. However that closed in 2017 and to date there have been no announcements from the BBC over these missing episodes every link we followed had no success.
Bonus Dad’s Army Crosses The Road
Here’s a public information film from 1974 featuring the Dad’s Army cast