The Army Game, 1957
Another show that takes a well known name out of their comfort zone, in this case William Hartnell, who was famed for playing straight parts, he would of course go on to be the first Doctor Who, but not before another first, starring in the very first Carry On film – Carry On Sergerant.
Thanks to the now defunct Granada Plus we’ve seen this and despite it’s age it’s stood the test of time and is still very funny, even by today’s standards.
Made for ITV by Granada Television, The Army Game , was one of the earliest TV sitcoms and the first of many to focus on The Armed Forces (in later years we had Get Some In, Dad’s Army to name but a few).
The show ran for 5 series between 1957 and 1961 totaling 154 episodes. Many of it’s stars went on to become household names.
The show focused on the antics of a group of characters completing their National Service in the post war British Army.
Geoffrey Sumner – Major Upshot-Bagley (series1, 2 and 5)
Jack Allen – Major Upshot-Bagley (some episodes of series 2)
William Hartnell – Sgt Major Percy Bullimore (series1, 2 and 5)
Michael Medwin – Corporal Springer (series 1 to 3)
Alfie Bass – Private Montague ‘Excused Boots’ Bisley (series 1 to 4)
Norman Rossington – Private ‘Cupcake’ Cook (series 1 to 3)
Keith Banks – Private ‘Cupcake’ Cook (some episodes of series 2)
Charles Hawtrey – Private ‘Professor’ Hatchett (series 1 and 2)
Keith Smith – Private ‘Professor’ Hatchett (some episodes of series 2)
Bernard Bresslaw – Private ‘Popeye’ Popplewell (series 1 and 2)
Geoffrey Palmer – Soldier – (series 1, 2 and 4)
Bill Fraser – Sgt Major Claude Snudge (series 2 ans 4)
Bernard Hunter – Captain Pilsworthy (series 2)
Ted Lune – Private Leonard Bone (from series 3)
Harry Fowler – Corporal ‘Flogger’ Hoskins (from series 3)
Frank Wiliams – Captain T R Pocket (from series 3)
C B Poultney – Major Geoffrey Gervaise Duckworth (series 3)
Mario Fabrizi – Lance-Corporal Ernest ‘Moosh’ Merryweather (from series 4)
Harry Towb – Private Dooley – (series 4)
Robert Desmond – Private Billy Baker – (series4)
Dick Emery – Private ‘Chubby’ Catchpole’ – (series 5)
Created By: Sid Colin
Original Transmission: 19 June 1957 – 20 June 1961
In 1958 a film based on the show was released under the title “I Only Asked” In 1959 the cast performed a sketch based on the show at the Royal Variety performance. Two of the main characters appeared in their own show Bootsie and Snudge 1960 – 63 and 1974. William Hartnell went on to play what would become one of the most iconic roles in TV history – Doctor Who. Of the 154 episodes made only 50 are thought to still survive.
The single of the theme tune reached number five in the british singles chart June 1958. In 1959 a Paperback book and a board game based on the TV series were released.