Welcome oh valiant knight seeking the hand of entertainment in this gloomy land of boredom. The dragon of lethargy shall draw its last breath as you plunge into the entertaining depths of reliable and old television. If you have been among those who religiously devour pieces of modern British Television and film then you will have heard the reference of the ‘Dad’s Army’. A tale of nearly geriatric Britons who form the Home guards in a coastal town of Walmington-On-Sea, the plot was written by Jimmy Perry & David Croft. The authors based the story on their own experiences as Local Defense Volunteers during the 2nd World War.
During the Second World War as the possibility of an invasion on England by the Axis forces across the English channel seemed real, the Home office issued the formation of the Local Defense Volunteers. Men who had been exempt from active service due to their age or profession were to form a defense force to guard the coasts and towns of UK. While any association with the World War adds an allure to a TV program the idea of a non conventional force is what propelled the shows popularity. The platoon is lead by a very British, proud bank manager played by Arthur Lowe. He is assisted by a polite sergeant whose expensive schooling shines through whenever he opens his mouth. Perhaps the most humorous character is that of an ageing Lance Corporal and a butcher by day. Played by Clive Dunn, the LC is prone to accidents, slapstick and total forgetfulness but shows unparalleled enthusiasm,, always wanting to shove his bayonet ‘Up em!’. The rest of the platoon has a skeptical Scottish undertaker, a Welsh black marketeer, a bank clerk whose mother won’t let him grow up and a retired civil servant who lives with his two 60+ sisters. There are other members too accompanied by local characters from the Air Raid Patrol, Vicarage, town hall and other local bodies. The home guard face silly and serious situations in about 80 episodes stretched over 9 seasons trying to keep ‘Jerry’ at bay. The result is a bunch of well known incompetents showing some little promise and great resolve while generating a huge number of laughs on the way.
If you are looking for an action packed, bloody account of the war then this is not for you. Its a milder, more anglicized version with hardly any action, complete with floral doilies. But it is still great fun, there is the looming presence of war and war time behavior as nearly everyone seems to remind you ” There is a war on you know!” Then there is the exasperation of the short, balding and fat captain at his hilarious men, all to be enjoyed with the same spirit which you have gone through the books of Enid Blyton, PG Wodehouse and Agatha Cristhie. Excuse the over acting, it was the norm at the time but still even half a century later you shall find yourselves splitting, at the sides.
As you go through the initial episodes you shall find them in black and white before color appears in the 3rd or 4th season. There are even a few episodes in between which have been lost forever in a fire at the BBC, so if you can’t find them don’t be alarmed. I think this series is best seen late at night, in bed for it is like a good bedtime book. What better way to go to sleep, than laughing? Enjoy this with a cup of cocoa, hot milky tea or cakes and heavy biscuits.