“Dad’s Army” was a long running British comedy series created and written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. The idea of a series came to Jimmy Perry when he realised that many people had forgotten about the contribution the Home Guard had made to the British Home Front during the years of the Second World War.
Commencing in 1968, “Dad’s Army” ran on BBC Television for 9 years with over eighty episodes spread within 10 series. The series is set in a small fictional seaside town called Walmington-on-Sea somewhere on the South Coast of England.
“Dad’s Army” is also remembered for its first class actors which starred amongst its credits, Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring, John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Arthur Wilson and Clive Dunn as Lance Corporal Jack Jones.
67 of Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s Television Scripts for “Dad’s Army” were adapted for BBC Radio by Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles between 1973 and 1975. They were recorded at The Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue, London and at The Paris Studios, Lower Regent Street, London.
All episodes were recorded in Mono and exist on Magnetic Tape in the BBC Sound Archive.
The Radio Series began on Monday 24th January 1974 and ran for three series with its final episode been broadcast on 7th September 1976. The Series was generally given two air periods a week on BBC Radio 4, the second of which would be a repeat.
The show’s main characters were:
- Captain George Mainwaring (pronounced /ˈmænərɪŋ/ (MAN-ər-ing)) (Arthur Lowe)—the pompous—if essentially brave and unerringly patriotic—local bank manager, Mainwaring appointed himself leader of his town’s contingent of Local Defence Volunteers.
- Sergeant Arthur Wilson (John Le Mesurier)—a diffident, upper-class bank clerk who would quietly question Mainwaring’s judgement (“Do you think that’s wise?”). Wilson served as a Captain in the First World War.
- Lance-Corporal Jack Jones (Clive Dunn)—born in 1870, Jones was an old campaigner who had joined up as a drummer boy aged 14 and participated, as a boy soldier, in the campaign of Kitchener in the Sudan between 1896 and 1898.
- Private Joe Walker (James Beck)—a black market “spiv,” Walker was the only fit, able-bodied man of military age in Walmington-on-Sea’s Home Guard. His absence from the regular armed forces was due to a corned beef allergy.
- Private Frank Pike (Ian Lavender)—a cosseted mother’s boy, constantly wearing a thick scarf with his uniform to prevent illness, and often the target of Mainwaring’s derision (“Stupid boy!”). He also works under Mainwaring in his day-job as assistant bank clerk.
- Private James Frazer (John Laurie)—a dour Scottish coffin maker and a Chief Petty Officer on HMS Defiant in the Royal Navy who served at the Battle of Jutland as a ship’s cook.
- Private Charles Godfrey MM (Arnold Ridley)—he is the platoon’s medical orderly. He was always getting caught short and needed to (“be excused”). A conscientious objector during WWI, he nevertheless was awarded a Military Medal for heroic actions during the war, and demonstrated bravery in the home guard as well.
- ARP Warden William Hodges (Bill Pertwee)—the platoon’s major rival and nemesis. He was looked down on by Mainwaring for being a common greengrocer. As an ARP Warden he was always demanding people to (“Put that light out!”).
Supporting characters included:
- Mrs. Mavis Pike (Janet Davies)—Pike’s mother and Sergeant Wilson’s lover.
- Reverend Timothy Farthing (Frank Williams)—The effete vicar of St. Aldhelm’s Church, he shares his church hall and office with Mainwaring’s platoon.
- Maurice Yeatman (Edward Sinclair)—Mr. Yeatman was the verger at St. Aldhelm’s Church and head of the Sea Scouts group, and was often hostile to the platoon.
- Private Sponge (Colin Bean)—Private Sponge had the job of representing those members of the platoon not in Corporal Jones’ first section.
- Private Cheeseman (Talfryn Thomas)—a Welshman who joined the Walmington-on-Sea platoon during the seventh series to compensate for the death of James Beck who played Private Walker.
All 67 episodes are being aired on ROK Classic Radio, listen out for them during the UK and UK & US Comedy Blocks on ROK Classic Radio OTR