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Trivia / Dad's Army

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  • Acting for Two: In the 1975 Christmas Special "My Brother and I", Arthur Lowe starred as both George Mainwaring and Mainwaring's estranged brother.
  • Actor-Shared Background: Most of the cast were military veterans, some of both World Wars. John Laurie and Arnold Ridley were particularly affected by their experiences; Ridley suffered from blackouts and nightmares for most of his life.
    • In addition, Laurie and Ridley actually served in the Home Guard.
    • Like Mainwaring, Arthur Lowe's eyesight kept him out of the army, while John Le Mesurier, like Wilson, had been a Captain in the Second World War.
  • Adored by the Network: The BBC is practically married to the show. It finished in 1977, and it seems there hasn't been a week since that it hasn't been in the schedule.
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  • Banned Episode: "Absent Friends" wasn't repeated until 1992 due to the plot involving the platoon tracking down a suspected IRA member.
  • Blooper: The actors frequently stumble over their lines.
  • California Doubling: Although it's supposed to be set in Kent (as indicated by the platoon's cap badges) Walmington-on-Sea is believed to have been modelled on Bexhill-on-Sea, over the county border in Sussex. In fact the outdoor scenes were filmed in Thetford, Norfolk, which is not on the sea.
  • The Character Died with Him: Averted. When Jimmy Beck suddenly died, Walker was phased out — one episode explained his absence by having Mainwaring reading a note saying that he'd gone to London to do a deal. Rather than recast the role, his spot was filled by other characters. The radio series straight up continued his role with The Other Darrin.
  • Creator Backlash:
    I’ve played every part in Shakespeare, I was considered to be the finest Hamlet of the twenties and I had retired, and now I’m famous for doing this crap.
    • According to some sources such as Bill Pertwee however, he did actually like the show. His flip floping inspired Fraiser habit of lambasting Maninwaring's latest scheme, only to say 'he never doubted him for a moment' when it succeeded.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: Jimmy Perry named "Branded" as his favourite episode, while David Croft's favourite was "Mum's Army".
  • Creator's Pest: David Croft wrote that Private Cheeseman was "irritating without being funny", and as an exotic Celt, he was too similar to Private Frazer. John Laurie also disliked the character, and requested that he not return for the next season.
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  • Dawson Casting: Ian Lavender was 22 at the start of the series playing the 17- to 18-year-old Frank Pike and 31 when the series ended, while Pike had not aged.
  • Development Hell: BBC executives were not confident that the public would react well to a comedy about World War II and constantly tried to squash the project. Jimmy Perry and David Croft had to fight tooth and nail to even get a pilot approved and had trouble casting the role of Mainwaring — their early choices refused to participate because of issues like the subject matter and the low salarynote ). After the pilot was completed, the executives constantly asked for changes (see below), with Perry and Croft having to walk a very fine line in order to make sure that the show would be transmitted in a reasonable time slot. To add to their woes, the pilot was allegedly nearly killed off by an early version's demographics testing saying that the sample audience didn't like the concept.
  • Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: While Private Godfrey's infirmity was played up for comic effect, Arnold Ridley actually had been very badly wounded during the Battle of the Somme and so, like Godfrey, was rather frail and fragile.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Worried that the sitcom would be criticised for ridiculing the Home Guard, the BBC insisted on adding an opening scene to the first episode. It shows a 'future' Mainwaring, in 1968, giving a speech at a formal dinner in which he explains how he and his men "backed Britain" in 1940. The scene lasts a minute-and-a-half, has no jokes whatsoever, and has no relation to the rest of the story. Had it been broadcast in an age when there were more than just three TV channels in the UK, it could well have killed the series before it even began, and co-writer Jimmy Perry suspected it was responsible for the overwhelmingly negative feedback from the test audience who got a preview screening of the first episode.
    • In a positive example, BBC Head of Comedy Michael Mills changed the title from The Fighting Tigers to Dad's Army and suggested that David Croft co-write the series with Jimmy Perry. He also cast John Le Mesurier as Sgt Wilson, changed the town's name to Walmington-on-Sea and renamed a few characters: Jim Jones became Jack Jones, James Duck became James Frazer and Joe Fish became Joe Walker.
    • In another positive example, the opening titles were originally going to show real footage of soldiers in World War II, but BBC executives objected to this, fearing it was insensitive and could be seen as mockery of those who served in the war. So they were changed to the now iconic animation of a British flag advancing and retreating across Europe.
  • Hostility on the Set: Although the cast generally got on well with each other, there were problems between some actors.
    • John Laurie disliked Arnold Ridley, often needling him about his advanced age and frailty — although Laurie was in fact only a year younger than Ridley.
    • Arthur Lowe and Clive Dunn didn't get on due to the two men's personal politics: Lowe was a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party whereas Dunn was an enthusiastic and committed socialist.
    • Several cast members took exception when Dunn, a friend and supporter of Prime Minister Harold Wilson, was appointed an OBE when none of the other main actors were similarly honoured.
    • Bill Pertwee claimed that he was looked down upon by some of the other actors because of his background in variety rather than "serious" theatre.
    • Lowe's refusal to take scripts home with him ("I'm not having that rubbish in the house") also rankled with his co-stars, as it meant he could never remember his lines.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Godfrey is revealed to have been a conscientious objector during the First World War. In Real Life, Arnold Ridley was a private with the Somerset Light Infantry Regiment and was heavily wounded at the Somme. He was medically discharged from the army with the rank of Lance Corporal in 1916. He was also a commissioned officer in the Second World War and, following his discharge, joined his local Home Guard.
    • averted HARD, in that Godfrey was subsequently decorated for bravery as a stretcher bearer in action.
  • Missing Episode: Until 2001, "Sgt Wilson's Little Secret" was the only known surviving episode from Series 2. Two episodes ("Operation Kilt" and "The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage") were subsequently recovered and remastered, but three ("The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker", "A Stripe for Frazer",note  and "Under Fire") remain lost. One of the colour episodes only survived in black and white; it has since been recolourized, though the colour version has not yet been released on DVD. The BBC have also made an animated reconstruction of "A Stripe for Frazer". The three missing episodes were re-filmed with a new cast in 2019.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Part of Arthur Ridley's motivation was because a series regular role would give him and his wife financial security after he lost his fortune financing a series of unsuccessful productions.
  • The Other Darrin: Mrs Pike was recast for The Movie because the studio felt the original actress wasn't high-profile enough. During the live stage show, several parts were recast while the TV actors had other commitments. Several parts [including Mrs Pike again] were recast for Radio due to availability and money factors.
  • Reality Subtext:
    • Captain Mainwairing often stumbles and stutters while he's speaking, which enhances the characterization that he has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to military matters. This was due to Arthur Lowe refusing to take the script home and learn his lines [which David Croft put down to Lowe previously having a photographic memory-which meant he didn't need to read the script at home-but this had declined with age he didn't change his habits], so he was stuttering because he was trying to remember what he had to say without flubbing the take.
    • As the platoon medic, Godfrey carries an aid bag rather than a heavy rifle. He also wears regular shoes instead of boots and puttees. This was all because Arnold Ridley was very frail and the production was trying to make shooting as comfortable as possible.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Pike's occasional girlfriend Ivy was played by Ian Lavender's then wife in one of her appearances, the episode "My British Buddy".
    • Arthur Lowe's wife, Joan Cooper, took over the role of Godfrey's sister Dolly towards the end of the show's run and played other guest roles during the course of the series.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Averted, though the Dad's Army theme is often mistaken for a real wartime song. It was actually written by Jimmy Perry and performed by Bud Flanagan, who was a popular singer in the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Sequel in Another Medium: The 1981 BBC Radio series It Sticks Out Half a Mile by Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles (who had adapted some of the television episodes for radio), told what happened to some of the characters after the war.
    • The original pilot episode, set in 1948, involved Mainwaring deciding to renovate a decrepit seaside pier in the fictional town of Frambourne-on-Sea, only to find when applying for a bank loan that the manager of the local branch is none other than Wilson. Following Arthur Lowe's death, it was retooled [the original pilot was aired many years later on Radio 4 Extra]:
    • In the broadcast series, [Still 1948] Hodges approaches Pike, now 22 years old, with a proposal to renovate the near derelict pier, costing £5,000, at Frambourne. In order to finance this plan Pike has to approach Wilson for a loan. Wilson is blackmailed by Pike (who is no longer the young innocent of the series) over past indiscretions with a woman named Smith and Wilson suspects the only reason Hodges approached Pike was to get to the bank's money through him. Nevertheless, Pike and Wilson put aside their wartime quarrel with Hodges - more or less - and the renovation begins.
  • Underage Casting: Corporal Jones was in his late seventies at the very least, but was played by Clive Dunn who was only 48 when the series started. Meaning that, ironically, the oldest member of the platoon was played by one of the youngest members of the cast.
  • Wag the Director: Captain Mainwaring was originally going to have a grenade dropped down his trousers in "The Deadly Attachment", but Arthur Lowe had a clause in his contract that he would not be filmed without his trousers on, so it went to Jones. Ironically, the finished episode never actually showed Jones without his trousers; only opened enough to get the grenade in at the start and then just enough for Fraser to fit his hand down to find it at the end. He looks fully-clothed the whole way through.
    • Mainwaring is noticably absent in the sequence in the 1971 film where the Platoon are walking in longjohns because of this as this inspired the 'never film without trousers' clause in his contract!
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Jimmy Perry initially wrote the role of Walker for himself, believing that this would be the ideal opportunity to show off his comedy skills and further his acting career. David Croft had to dissuade Perry of this notion, pointing out that having the show's creator and writer in the cast would breed resentment since the other actors would constantly be wondering if Perry was giving himself all the good lines.
    • Frazer was originally named Jim Duck, Walker was Fish, and Jones' first name was originally Jim. Furthermore, the town was originally called Brightsea-on-Sea.
    • Jon Pertwee was offered the role of Captain Mainwaring, but he turned it down, as he was in the middle of a theatrical tour.
    • David Jason was considered for Corporal Jones, as he had a knack for playing older characters.
    • An American remake was piloted in 1976 for ABC called The Rear Guard, adapting "The Deadly Attachment. It never made it to series; you can see a clip here.
    • Discussions were held about a possible sequel to the 1971 film, to be called Dad's Army and the Secret U-Boat Base, but the project never came to fruition.
    • A sequel series titled It Sticks Out Half a Mile was created for radio in 1981. It was originally meant to star Arthur Lowe and depicted Mainwaring embarking on a passion project to restore an old pier that had been partly demolished during the war, with John Le Mesurier's Wilson being dragged along for the ride. However, Lowe passed away after recording the pilot so the series was retooled to have Hodges and Pike partnering together to restore the pier and blackmailing Wilson into loaning them the money necessary.
  • Word of God: Ian Lavender waited until very late in the show's run to ask Jimmy Perry if Pike really was Wilson's son. Perry replied, "Of course he was!". David Croft also confirmed it as fact in interviews.
  • Working Title: The Fighting Tigers.
  • Write Who You Know:
    • Jimmy Perry drew on his experiences in The Home Guard.
    • The writers cleverly crafted various characters to be like the actors who portrayed them, giving them their own (exaggerated) character traits. Hence Mainwaring had Arthur Lowe's pomposity and Wilson had John Le Mesurier's carefree and absent minded personality. Clive Dunn was known as a waffler, which led to Jones' long winded and rambling monologues. Frazer received John Laurie's sharp tongue and dour manner: when they were making the first series he bluntly told Jimmy Perry that the show was "a lot of rubbish" and "doomed". Frazer's rivalry with Godfrey reflected the real life enmity between the actors. Frazer's tendency to change his opinions to fit the prevailing winds was apparently also inspired by Laurie, as several of his colleagues noted that his views on the show's quality tended to change the more successful it became.


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