Dad’s Army, the BBC comedy that revolved around the exploits of a dysfunctional unit of the Home Guard during World War II, turned 50 in 2018. Made up of men ineligible for military service, largely because they were considered too old, hence the name “Dad’s Army”, The Home Guard were to act as a secondary defense force designed to protect a quiet seaside town from a Nazi invasion during WWII. The classic Jimmy Perry/David Croft series ran for 9 series and 80 episodes from 1968-1977 on BBC One.
Following what producers are calling an ‘extensive hunt’ for new recruits to enter the Home Guard, UKTV Gold will set out to remake three ‘lost’ episodes to mark 50 years since their original broadcast in 1969. The estates of original creators/writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft will work closely with producers to recreate three episodes lost from the sitcom’s second series, are titled The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Walker, A Stripe for Frazer and Under Fire which appear to have been destroyed or erased as they were never found after their original broadcast in 1969.
Unfortunately, such is the case for a number of series broadcast years ago as tape was expensive and rather than keep originals, it was cheaper to reuse the tape stock than store episodes. As television syndication did not really exist at the time, there was little need to archive early material once broadcast.
The 60s-70s series was remade into a feature film in 2014 with a brilliant cast. Toby Jones (Detectorists, Hunger Games, Harry Potter) starred as Captain George “This is war you know!”/”You stupid boy“ Mainwaring, originally played by Arthur Lowe, with Bill Nighy as upper-class bank employee turned officer, The Honourable Sergeant Arthur “Do you think that’s wise, Sir?” Wilson, while Sir Tom Courtenay took on the role of Lance-Corporal Jack “Permission to speak, Sir?” Jones.
Sir Michael Gambon traded in his Dumbledore robes for a Home Guard uniform taking on the role of retired shop assistant turned Home Guard’s medical orderly, Private Charles “I must have dropped off“ Godfrey. Ian Lavender, the original Private Pike, made a cameo as a senior officer. Danny Mays, who I thought was absolutely brilliant in Ashes to Ashes, played Private Joe Walker, the man responsible for getting supplies that are supposed to rationed. Seems appropriate as, in the original TV series, Private Walker was discharged from the regular armed forces because of an allergy to corned beef.
If only UKTV Gold could just assemble the cast from the 2014 feature film, these legendary lost gems from Dad’s Army would be ‘gold’.