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

Argument about Opening Titles of 'Dad's Army'

Head of BBC Comedy defends 'Dad's Army'.


FROM: H.C.L.E.Tel. [initials for Head of Comedy and Light Entertainment,
Television - Michael Mills]
May 23rd 1968

TO: C. BBC-1 [initials for Controller, BBC-1 - Paul Fox]
Copy to: H.L.E.G. [Initials for Head of Light Entertainment Group - Tom Sloan]

A requested by you, following C. Tel.P's viewing of the first of this series, the
amendments listed below will be made to the opening and closing titles of this

1) The shots (2) of refugees in the opening titles will be replaced.

2) The shots of Nazi troops (with the captions and the artists super-imposed) will
be replaced by something entirely innocuous.

Having established that your wishes are going to be carried out, I would like to
record profound disquiet over your decision. This is the first "new-look" programme
on BBC-l for which I have been responsible, and I am shocked about the alteration
required (in 2 above). The whole object of this comedy series is to contrast the
pathetic, comic, but valorous nature of the Home Guard, who believed at the time
that this (the Nazi hordes) was what they were up against! It seems to me to be not
only right but essential that this fact is brought home to the viewers - and it is,
surely, our justification for doing a comedy programme on this subject.

Looking, as I do, at the abrasive nature of some of the output of other departments
in the BBC television service I cannot help wondering whether we, in the Comedy
Department, are controlled by different standards, i.e. clowns must stay clowns.

In any case this decision cannot help but have a depressing effect upon me and upon
some other people working in this department. The thought that other departments in
television are allowed to advance their output into new areas, while we, apparently,
are not can only have a bad effect in the long run.

[Handwritten signature: "MM"]

(Michael Mills)

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Document Type | Memo

23 May 1968

Document version




In this memo, Michael Mills, the Head of BBC Comedy and Light Entertainment, responds to instructions from Paul Fox, the Controller of BBC1, to remake the planned opening titles of 'Dad's Army'.

Did you know?

The original plan for the opening title sequence for 'Dad's Army' was to include footage of real solders as a reminder that the comedy was based on true events. However, the Controller of BBC1 at the time, Paul Fox, felt the images selected were distasteful and ordered for them to be re-edited. In this memo, Michael Mills, the head of BBC Comedy and Light Entertainment, outlines the reasons to keep the titles as originally planned.

Read Paul Fox's response.

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