Dad's Army at 40 | How Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson got called up

'Dad's Army' Press Release

BBC Publicity prepares the way for a new BBC comedy.


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Russell Twisk
[Reference] BH 4262/3/4

Do the initials L.D.V.. mean anything to you? Do they start you off on a journey
down memory lane. If not, then you probably weren't around when that vintage
Dunkirk spirit was in the air back in 1940 and Hitler was threatening to start
an invasion of Britain.

The name Local Defence Volunteers soon gave way to the more popular Home Guards.
These men formed themselves into small local units: wangled as many uniforms and
weapons as they could and set about preparing themselves to fight to the finish.

Wednesday's new comedy series is about the formation and adventures of a small
Home Guard unit at Walmington, somewhere on the South Coast of England. The
local bank manager Mr Mainwaring decides to answer the call, and sets about

The idea for the series came to Jimmy Perry - who was a sixteen year old member
of the L.D.V. - while he was watching the changing of the guard outside
Buckingham Palace. In wartime, he remembered, the Home Guard stood sentry, and
as he walked back through St James's Park he started to see the possibilities
for a new comedy.

Producer David Croft, who is also co-author, was called up to the Army before
he could join the L.D.V., but he has been careful to get the props and the
flavour for series just right. One difficulty was the scarceness of uniforms:
'Home Guard uniforms are almost as hard to get today as they were in Wartime'
he says.

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It is no accident that all the main characters are portrayed by actors who have
a military background. Much care has been taken not to cheapen the efforts of
the Home Guard. Although they never in fact had to face an invasion, or fire a
shot in anger, they were all determined to fight to the bitter end to stop any
German invasion succeeding.

Three fine comedy character actors Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, and Clive Dunn
play the leading parts. All three were in the Army: though none was in the Home

Arthur Lowe plays Mainwaring the bank manager who takes command. 'He is as keen
as mustard: typifies the spirit of the times' says Lowe. He hopes that this
series will finally kill off the public's identification of him as Mr Swinley
the Coronation Street haberdasher. 'It was a long time ago now' he says,' 'but
the image has stuck.' His number two Sgt Wilson is played by John Le Mesurier
whose doleful features have peered out of countless films - in fact during a
weekend off from Dad's Army he nipped over to Venice for a day's filming with
Fred Astaire. Le Mesurier served in India during the war, mainly as the North
West Frontier.

Clive Dunn plays Lance [Corporal] Jack Jones, the butcher who can lavish a bit
of best frying steak to get in with the officers. Clive joined up a week before
the Home Guard was formed (May 14, 1940) and he spent his first few months
washing up. Later he was sent abroad,

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captured in Greece, and made a P.O.W. above a hairdresser's shop in Austria. He
did see the Austrian Home Guard in action though. 'Yokels with guns' he calls

Dad's Army will bring memories flooding back for anyone who remembers the days
of Dunkirk.

It may even - as producer David Croft says: 'make father's wartime reminiscing

But although Dad's Army is set very firmly in wartime - the fun itself is
timeless. Why not join the little community of Walmington tonight as they face
a probable invasion... and decide to answer the call.


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Document Type | Press Release

July 1968

Document version




By 1968, few people still remembered the real-life Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) or Home Guard. This press release attempts to fill in the background details, not only to the characters but also to the lives of the people who made the show, including series co-creator Jimmy Perry, who was a member of the LDV when he was 16.

Did you know?

Secretary of State Anthony Eden had announced the call for Local Defence Volunteers in an address to the nation on 14 May 1940, but it was a subsequent broadcast by Winston Churchill that referred to this new division of the army as the Home Guard. The name stuck, just as Churchill had hoped it would.


Russell Twisk

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