According to The Independent, talks are underway to bring the classic Jimmy Perry, David Croft comedy, Dad’s Army, to the big screen, with a new cast and…the possibility of Captain Mainwaring being played by a woman. The iconic series placed 13th overall in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programs drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000 and placed fourth in a 2004 BBC poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom. Co-creator/writer, Jimmy Perry, confirmed the reports by revealing plans to members of the show’s official fan club that a new film version is in the early stages of development.
The series, which ran for 9 seasons between 1968 and 1977, was based partly on Perry’s real-life experiences in the Local Defence Volunteers, later to become known as the Home Guard. Perry, appearing last month before the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society delivered the blockbuster announcement that the studio interested in the film adaptation hinted to Perry that they wanted the lead role of Captain Mainwaring, played by Arthur Lowe in the series, to go to a woman. While women were allowed into the Home Guard after 1943, the concept of a female Captain Mainwaring was met with a few groans from the audience. Before anyone gets their kickers in a twist over this, one has to only be reminded of the classic Lance Corporal Jones catchphrase, Don’t Panic. Clive Dunn, who played the bungling Corporal, died 7 November at the age of 92.
Midge Gillies, author of Waiting for Hitler, a history of British preparations for invasion in 1940, said that it was very unlikely that a woman would have served as a captain in the Home Guard. “A female Captain Mainwaring sounds pretty unlikely to me,” she said. “It sounds like the film-makers are trying to update the series. The humour of it was originally about class and this would confuse things.”
So, in the words of both Lance Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with the words Don’t Panic written in large, friendly letters on the cover, I’m guessing this, too, will pass. Thoughts anyone?