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Dad’s Army 1968-1977 British sitcom

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It was hard to predict that this comedy series is gonna be such hit - 20 years after the end of World War 2 it seemed that British viewers would prefer to leave the war themes behind, the war films were more or less dying part of British cinema. But when Jimmy Perry come up with the idea for Dad’s Army there was another snag - is 20 years after the war enough to make a sitcom about World War 2? People still remembered the blackouts, the air raids, the food rationing...


Yes, there was of course nostalgia, there were still memories about the Battle of Britain and the finest hours of the British people, but also there were people who did not returned from war, those who died from the air raids and those who died far away from home. In 1960s the comedy about World War 2 was actually quite a minefield, especially for a new author, Jimmy Perry, who was aspiring actor and never planned to be writer anyway. Since he had problems in finding acting jobs he put together the idea of show based on his own experiences during the war - the Home Guard.

Home Guard (initially Local Defence Volunteers) were units of volunteers that after their day time jobs were part of the local auxiliary military forces. They were Britain’s last resort in case Hitler would try to invade their country - after the failure of the Expedition Forces in France regular British army was still trying to regain their power. In Dad’s Army we watch one of the platoons of Home Guard, the Walmington-on-Sea platoon under pompous Captain Mainwaring, a local bank manager, who appointed himself the commander of the unit. His right hand in bank and platoon is aristocratic Sergeant Wilson, while they are commanding butcher, farmer, coffin maker, shady businessman, clerk - any people willing to help with the cause.

Sitcom was a typical Perry-Croft production (their first cooperation) that set their style in comedy - the humour derives from the characters and running jokes or catchphrases rather than simple one-liners. Each of the platoon member is quite colourful character with separate quirks. The scripts were kept rather light - even during the war they managed to keep the good spirit and use their imagination to deal with different situations. We watch them during exercises, during trips, during lectures or every day problems they stumbled upon, but always there is a warm feeling about the people involved and good chemistry among the group.

Dad’s Army is still one of the most appreciated sitcoms in Great Britain - not only because of the nostalgia, not only because it is based on things that actually kept happening during the war, but mostly because of the people involved. None of the actors was a huge star before the series and writers tried to keep the characters close to the actors real nature - that’s how they have built this atmosphere that still is seen as an icon of British comedy.


Notes

  • An episode of Dad’s Army 1971 war movie' title='Dad’s Army 1971 war movie' target=_blank>Dad’s Army is kept on standby by the BBC for use as an emergency backup program, to be broadcast if a major technical problem prevents normal programs being shown. This came to light on June 20, 2000 when the Six O’Clock News was interrupted by a power failure at the BBC, and an episode of Dad’s Army was transmitted in its place.



Dad’s Army 1968-1977 British sitcom classic british sitcoms world war 2 home guard british army great britain nostalgia war comedy


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