'We're doomed' Is there another disastrous Dad's Army remake on the horizon?
PUBLISHED: 11:00 02 February 2019 | UPDATED: 14:33 02 February 2019
Who do they think they are kidding? Dad’s Army is about to be demeaned again by yet another pointless re-make.
The original series remains the BBC’s comedy masterpiece. You could even describe it as a comedy-drama as elements of the story were very emotional (Mum’s Army - the Brief Encounter pastiche) and at times tragic (Getting The Bird – when Sergeant Wilson is reunited with his daughter and Branded – when Godfrey is shunned for being a conscientious objector only to be revealed as the holder of the Military Medal).
Dad’s Army worked because it thrived on rich, character-led stories, played by very distinctive and capable actors.
Over the years writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft made the characters more and more like the actors who played them, so Captain Mainwaring shared many of the same traits as his creator Arthur Lowe and Sergeant Wilson became almost indistinguishable from actor John Le Mesurier and Private Fraser (We’re doomed) took on more of John Laurie’s dour view on the world. The only member of the platoon who was still acting by the end was Clive Dunn whose character Corporal Jones was several decades older than the man who played him.
So when digital channel Gold announced that they were remaking three “lost” episodes from the second series I shuddered. Had the programme makers learnt nothing from the disastrous 2016 movie starring Toby Jones, Bill Nighy and Catherine Zeta-Jones?
The biggest problem faced by the movie was the fact that the new cast could never play the characters who populated the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard because the characters resembled so closely the actors who played them. To all intents and purposes you have to impersonate Arthur Lowe in order to be Captain Mainwaring.
Staging a new Dad’s Army is not like creating a new Shakespeare role. You can’t put your own stamp on Sergeant Wilson or The Vicar, Timothy Farthing, in the way you could do as Henry V or Falstaff. So, why try?
Dad’s Army is still a much-loved fixture on both the BBC and Gold. There are plenty of episodes to enjoy, so it really doesn’t matter that three early episodes are missing. If you feel the need to ‘have the set’ then the relevant episodes are available as audio recordings, recorded for radio by the original cast which must be preferable to having actors pretend to be Bill Pertwee as Hodges or James Beck as Private Walker.
Gold have announced that they will be re-making the episodes The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker, A Stripe for Frazer and Under Fire. The black and white episodes, broadcast in early 1969, were lost as the videotapes were reused after the series started being broadcast in colour in 1970. It was felt that black and white stories would no longer be repeated.
The new cast will feature Kevin McNally, Robert Bathurst and Bernard Cribbins along with Kevin Eldon, Mathew Horne, David Hayman and Tom Rosenthal.
McNally will be the pompous Captain Mainwaring, Cold Feet’s Bathurst is Sergeant Wilson and the ever-popular Cribbins plays the platoon’s medic Private Godfrey.
Eldon will be the old war-horse Lance Corporal Jones while Horne will be that supplier of black market supplies Joe Walker, Hayman will be gloomy undertaker Private Frazer and Rosenthal will be that stupid boy Frank Pike.
No date has as yet been announced for the transmission of the episodes.