Dad's Army is a British sitcom about the Home Guard during World War II. The sitcom aired between 1968 and 1977, and there were a total of eighty episodes spread over nine series, as well as four Christmas specials. Most episodes were also adapted for radio. The show was set in the fictional seaside town of Walmington-on-Sea, on the south coast of England, making the Home Guard the front line of defence against an invasion by the enemy forces across the English Channel, which formed a backdrop to the series.
The first two series were made in black and white. There are three missing episodes from series two. Only film copies of the episodes from the first two series survive; the film copies of series one were made for overseas sale, but as this series did not sell well the attempt was not repeated with series two. The three filmed episodes of the latter which exist do so because two were film recorded to show Columbia Pictures executives, who were interested in making a feature film based on the show, and another which needed to be edited in post-production.
Dates shown are original air dates on BBC One. Recording dates are for the studio recordings; but many episodes include extensive footage filmed on location the previous summer.
Mainwaring, manager of Swallow's Bank, takes it upon himself to form the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon, after hearing of the formation of the Local Defence Volunteers, declaring himself Captain, and making his chief clerk, Wilson, Sergeant. In absence of weapons and uniforms, the platoon are forced to make do with pepper and armbands.
Mainwaring, worried that the Nazis could attack at any time, decides to requisition much needed weapons – from the local Peabody Museum of Historic Army Weapons. There is one problem – to do so, they must outwit the curator – Lance Corporal Jones' father.
Mainwaring, still short of weapons, receives an offer from Colonel Square – he will give them weapons, but command must be handed over to him. Mainwaring agrees – until he discovers that the weapons in question are muskets, and that he wants the platoon to fight on horseback. The platoon finally receive their proper weapons at the end of the episode.
A lecture by Mainwaring is interrupted when a Polish officer from GHQ announces that a reward of £10 will be available for any Nazis captured. On patrol later that night, Jones and Walker capture two Luftwaffe airmen, but they escape. The Polish GHQ officer recaptures them and brings them back to the church hall – the platoon receive a £30 reward after he is also mistaken for a German.
After Major Regan from Area HQ decides that Corporal Jones is too old to be in the Home Guard, he announces that unless he can get round the assault course in 15 minutes, he will be removed from the platoon. The rest of the platoon come up with a plan to save him.
The platoon is chosen to provide the guard of honour for the Prime Minister on his visit to Walmington, but after awful shooting at the range, Major Regan decides that a competition between the Eastgate platoon and the Walmington-on-Sea platoon will decide who will provide the guard.
Previously missing. found in 2001. A Captain Ogilvie from a Highland regiment arrives during a parade and informs Mainwaring that there will be an invasion exercise in the district, involving some of his troops and all of Mainwaring's. The platoon devise a devious plan to ensure that they will win.
Previously missing. found in 2001. In the event of an invasion, Mainwaring decides, the platoon will split into two sections, one commanded by Wilson and the other by Mainwaring. When the church bells ring (the signal that an invasion is in progress) Mainwaring's men scramble to their assigned positions at Godfrey's cottage, but fail to realise where Wilson's men are, leading to one section attacking the other.
Missing. Private Walker is called up into the regular Army. The platoon, anxious at how they will obtain off-the-ration supplies without him, fight to keep him. Mainwaring even travels up to Whitehall to appeal against the decision. But in the end, only one thing can save him – his allergy to corned beef.
Missing. soundtrack found in 2008. Mainwaring has the opportunity to promote one of his men to Corporal, and rather than give it to Jones, decides to test who has the greatest potential, by giving Frazer a temporary promotion to Lance Corporal. But Frazer's increasingly dictatorial manner alienates the platoon.
Missing. After Frazer spots what he believes to be a German spy signalling planes, the platoon arrest a suspect – but he protests he is a naturalised Englishman. Warden Hodges embarrasses them by confirming that not only is the suspect a loyal British subject, but that he is also married to Hodges' Auntie Ethel.
Produced and Directed by David Croft (Episodes 1–3)
Produced by David Croft, Directed by Harold Snoad (Episodes 4–6)
Jones donates his butcher's van to the platoon as a troop transport. Walker wants to use it for his black market activities, but when the platoon is encouraged by GHQ to work more closely with the ARP, Warden Hodges puts a spoke in the plan by deciding the vehicle will be used for an air-raid practice exercise.
The platoon is selected to attend a weekend camp. After arriving 'nearby' by train, they get lost and arrive late and hungry, oversleep and miss breakfast, and are instructed to capture an 'enemy base'. The discovery of a secret tunnel makes this somewhat easier.
Mainwaring decides to use the public telephone system as a means of emergency communication, and sets out to familiarise his men with its intricacies. The exercise is put to good use when a German plane crashes in the town's reservoir, leading Jones and Hodges to frantically try to phone GHQ. Walker solves the crisis by flooding the reservoir, forcing the crew to surrender.
When the platoon's entire supply of ammunition is used up in engaging a low-flying German plane, Mainwaring sets up a court of inquiry to determine who should be held responsible; but the inquiry becomes farcical when the platoon attempt to re-enact the event.
Swallows Bank takes a direct hit during an air-raid, but the bomb fails to explode, leaving Mainwaring and Wilson stuck in the vault with it. When the Bomb Disposal officer retreats to collect the right tools, the platoon must take matters into their own hands.
It's determined by GHQ that Captain Mainwaring has never held a commission, and he is demoted to Private. Sergeant Wilson takes temporary charge as Mainwaring attempts to regain his command. (Although made in colour, this episode survived only as a 16mm black & white film recording. A new technology, developed by the BBC, allowed the hidden colour signal which had accidentally been preserved in the monochrome film print to be used to restore the episode to colour. The restored version was broadcast on BBC 2 on 13 December 2008)
The platoon is given a heavy naval artillery piece – but the town's bandstand, a rare example of Victorian ironwork, is obstructing the field of fire. The Town Council insist it must be preserved, but Mainwaring reasons that a demonstration of the gun's capabilities will win over the doubters.
A runaway barrage balloon has to be brought back to earth, and the platoon is called to action. One mistake leads to another, and Captain Mainwaring finds himself on an aerial tour of the English countryside.
Mainwaring announces that a dance will be held to raise morale, but is less than pleased when Pike announces that his date for the evening will be the daughter of his cleaning woman. The Captain's concern about Pike's infatuation with this 'common' young woman is as nothing beside the reaction of Frank's mother when she finds out.
The platoon are placed on guard duty, manning a machine gun post at the end of the pier. After Pike loses the food and the boat, morale begins to fall. The spotting of a drifting sea mine fails to improve morale.
When Private Godfrey admits to having been a conscientious objector during the Great War, he is branded a coward and sent home in disgrace, and is thereafter ostracised by the platoon. When, however, he saves Mainwaring's life, and it emerges that he holds the Military Medal for bravery under fire as a medical orderly, he is forgiven and reinstated.
Mainwaring decides to use Walker's new tracking dog to discover the source of a discarded parachute. An enemy airman is finally cornered – but only after the platoon have searched for several dozen pairs of ladies' undergarments, made from the parachute's silk.
Frazer, a coffin maker, loses the spring of the Lewis gun. Frazer believes it has been lost in a recently made coffin, shortly to be buried. The platoon declare a bomb scare and evacuate the graveyard, but fail to find the spring – until Frazer finds it in his pocket.
Mainwaring believes that the platoon could play havoc with the Nazis in a recently requisitioned boat, and the platoon set off to guard the local River. After getting lost in the what they believe to be the English Channel, the platoon believe they are behind enemy lines, stow away on a train, and disable their weapons – until they discover they are in Eastbourne.
Produced and Directed by David Croft (Except 3 and 11)
Produced by David Croft, Directed by Harold Snoad (Episodes 3 and 11)
The platoon join in 'Spitfire Week' parade, but have to compete with the Sea Scouts and the ARP for pole position. Mainwaring thinks a mascot will help – but when Pike falls in a bog as they try to catch a ram, their plans go awry.
The platoon takes part in an exercise to capture a windmill containing Captain Square's men – they must plant a dummy bomb in the windmill. They decide to put Jones in a fake tree trunk and push him up the river – but only he can get the bomb inside.
Captain Mainwaring is concerned with the three Fs – fast feet, fit feet and functional feet. He embarks on a foot toughening regime, including 20 miles (32 km) route marches and playing football in bare feet.
In Mainwaring's absence, the platoon forego parade to compete in a darts match against the ARP wardens – but when Mainwaring arrives back he is appalled and orders Wilson to bring them back – but with two pints for the winners, the platoon are staying where they are.
The platoon man a local lighthouse as defence against a seaborne assault – but when the light is switched on and the town is illuminated during an air-raid, Jones' section must come up with an ingenious plan to turn it off – and the telephone wires are cut.
Jones has extensive battle experience – but when one of his comrades from the Sudan, Clarke, turns up and accuses him of cowardice, Jones puts the record straight, and Clarke is sent out of the town in disgrace.
Mainwaring allows female members into his platoon – but with Mrs. Mainwaring still at home, the Captain takes a shine to a younger woman. Rumours begin to circulate that there is more to their relationship than immediately visible.
Mainwaring is shocked to discover that Wilson has been commissioned, and even more shocked when he finds out that Wilson has been made manager of the Eastgate branch, leaving Pike as his Chief Clerk and Jones as his Sergeant.
After the ARP HQ is bombed out, the platoon are forced to share the church hall with the ARP wardens. Mainwaring protests to anyone who will listen, and they are ordered to leave – but not for another week.
The platoon are challenged by the Eastgate platoon to a test – but Hodges, the vicar and the verger are judges. To begin with, they seem likely to win – but when Jones gets a bad attack of malaria, defeat seems close.
Produced and Directed by David Croft. This episode is one hour long, rather than the usual 30 minutes
A bomb falls on the local pumping station as Godfrey and Walker are patrolling there, trapping them. When the platoon try to free them, they get stuck with them, and when a pipe bursts the room rapidly begins filling with water.
Wilson goes AWOL and is seen with his arm round a younger woman, who turns out be his daughter. Walker acquires 250 pigeons for Jones to sell as "off the ration" meat – but when Jones hears of a shortage of pigeons in Trafalgar Square, he changes his mind. Contains some of the finest intimate acting and pathos (from le Mesurier and Laurie) seen on screen regarding Wilson's "lost" daughter.
A mis-read map lands the platoon in a barn marked as a target for artillery practice. Jones and Godfrey try to phone to stop the firing, but Godfrey cuts the wire – it is down to Jones to reach the barn before it is blown up.
After Frazer moans about Mainwaring wasting his time with irrelevant lectures, he allows Frazer become Captain for a couple of days – but the power goes to his head. When Mainwaring re-assumes command he is shocked to find out he must play the bagpipes the following day.
To boost morale, Mainwaring holds a party in his home – but a bomb hits the Walmington-on-Sea branch of Swallows Bank, and there are thousands of pounds to be counted and guarded by his party guests and taken to the Eastgate branch on horse and cart.
The platoon is challenged to plant a dummy bomb in the OC's office, and decide to disguise themselves as firemen, travelling in an old fire engine. There is one problem – Hodges has spotted a real fire.
Operation Catherine Wheel is the testing of the War Office's new radio controlled explosive wheel. The platoon are chosen for fatigues – but Pike and Walker sneak off to listen to the radio, unknowingly pushing the wheel out of control.
The platoon is ordered to guard the crew of a sunken U-Boat until the escort arrives – but when the escort is delayed, they must guard them all night. They insist on being fed only the finest fish and chips, and make it known that they will be held accountable after the war.
The Americans have decided to get involved in the war, and they make themselves at home in Walmington-on-Sea – with the platoon's girlfriends. A fight breaks out – and the local press are on hand to record it.
King George VI is set to pass through Walmington and the platoon are selected to provide a guard of honour, but a mix-up between sleeping pills and saccharine knocks out the driver and fireman of a preceding train. The platoon must move the train to clear the line.
Mainwaring is enraged when Sergeant Wilson inherits a title, and consequently receives an invitation to the golf club Mainwaring has been trying to join for years as well as ending up welcoming a visiting Soviet VIP.
The platoon run out of petrol outside a deserted, apparently haunted, house. Tired and miserable, they decide to spend the night in the house – but it's not entirely deserted. This was the last episode that James Beck starred as Private Joe Walker; he died on 6 August 1973.
When Mainwaring takes leave due to an ingrowing toenail, Wilson takes charge – but he allows the vicar and the verger to join the platoon, making the rest of the men angry. While on patrol, they prove useless at keeping order, and end up resigning.
The platoon are given the job of signposting the area for an Army exercise – but a steam engine is blocking the route, and its driver has gone. When Jones tries to drive his van through, he gets stuck, along with Hodges in his van and the vicar with his bus load of pensioners. They must set up a diversion.
A landmine has destroyed 100 yards (92 m) of railway track, along with water and gas supplies and telephone wires. Compounding the problem, Pike gets his head stuck between the bars of a gate. Mainwaring declares martial law.
On a field exercise acting as commandos meeting a secret agent (Mainwaring), the platoon must trust no-one – GHQ has put out counter agents to catch them. The appearance of a gorilla compounds their problem.
The platoon are dressing up as morris dancers as part of a carnival to raise money for the town's Spitfire fund, which is still £2,000 short. A Lady Godiva figure will lead the parade, but there is confusion over who this will be.
Lady Maltby has donated her Rolls-Royce to the war effort – Mainwaring decides this would make an excellent staff car, and gives it to Wilson and Pike to camouflage – they are providing the guard of honour for a visiting French general – but, following a mix-up, the Mayor's Rolls-Royce gets painted as well - just before the French general's visit.
After Jones mistakenly shoots a turkey on patrol, and its owner cannot be found, the platoon decide to hold a turkey dinner and treat the town's senior citizens. Mainwaring turns up in a dinner jacket, which is promptly soaked with gravy – which is then covered up with white paint.
Mainwaring is displeased when he finds out his platoon has been chosen to play Nazis in a training film, and even more so when he finds out Pike and Sgt. Wilson are to play the German officers. When they arrive at the set, they are told filming will not start for another week – on the way back, they are mistaken for real Nazis when they stop at a pub – and then again when they reach Walmington.
Despite his bad chest, blocked sinuses, weak ankles, and a recently acquired facialtic, Pike is passed A1 on medical and is set to join the Army. Before this happens, Mainwaring must compete with Hodges in a blood donor drive – and it is discovered that since Pike has a rare blood type, he is no longer suitable for call up.
Godfrey's cottage is under threat from the building of a new aerodrome – but Frazer knows the past of the Minister in charge – his expulsion from school and getting sacked from a weekend job for theft.
The platoon go camping and discover three Nazis in a dinghy, aircrew who bailed out when their plane was shot down. Pike wants to shoot through the dinghy and sink them, but Mainwaring dismisses this as not "playing with a straight bat." Wilson comes up with a more civilised strategy.
Mainwaring stops Jones from cashing any more cheques because his bank balance is in the red – but an investigation reveals an increasing train of debtors, traced back to Hodges, through an orphanage Jones has been supplying with meat.
Mainwaring prepares a poster for a recruitment drive, eager to increase his platoon to a company and gain promotion to Major – but a print shop mix-up lands the platoon in trouble, and Jones, the face of the recruitment drive, in a POW camp.
Mainwaring's drunken brother Barry (Arthur Lowe in a dual role) arrives in Walmington claiming that their father's pocket watch, held by Mainwaring, belongs to him. Mainwaring gives him the pocket watch to assuage him, but he gatecrashes Mainwaring's party for local dignitaries.
To raise money for the Comforts For The Troops Fund, the vicar organises a bazaar – each member of the platoon donates something. Hodges the greengrocer donates three oranges, extremely rare due to wartime rationing. Mrs. Mainwaring fails to show, and Captain Mainwaring has only one chance of redemption – get his hands on one of Hodges' oranges.
As the threat of invasion lessens, the towns people begin to relax. Mainwaring orders Operation Wake-Up, dressing the platoon up as fifth columnists, and telling them to act suspiciously. Eventually, the Eastgate platoon are called in to deal with them.
Pike borrows Mainwaring's recently acquired staff car to drive his new girlfriend to Eastgate, but, still heady from his raspberryade binge, it runs out of petrol nine miles from home on the way back, forcing Pike to spend all night pushing it back.
As part of a Wings for Victory campaign, the platoon decide to stage a re-enactment of the battle between St George and the Dragon, with Mainwaring as St. George – but the ARP wardens have been planning exactly the same thing.
Frazer, distrustful of banks, keeps his savings in the form of gold sovereigns – but Mainwaring believes his hoard would be better in Mainwaring's bank. Rumours spread about the savings, and when Frazer is seen carrying a box to the graveyard, the platoon follow.
The platoon is given the job of guarding telephone wires, otherwise known as "highly secret invasion warning devices" – but as the vicar arrives to lead a service, Mainwaring sees an unexploded bomb caught in the wires. Mainwaring's commandeering of furniture fails to help, but Wilson has a better idea.
Corporal Jones is married to Mrs Fox – but the service is interrupted as an invasion warning is sounded. The platoon break the fourth wall and raise their glasses to toast Britain's real Home Guard.
Produced and Directed by David Croft (Episodes 3 and 6)
Produced by David Croft, Directed by Bob Spiers (Episodes 1, 2, 4, 5)
Christmas Night with the Stars was a television programme screened annually on Christmas night, when the top light entertainment stars of the BBC appeared in short versions of their regular programmes (known as 'sketches'). The sketches were typically five to ten minutes long.
Dad's Army appeared four times in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1972. The 1968 and 1970 Christmas sketches no longer exist (the then expensive videotape being re-used). However, in 2008 the soundtrack of the 1970 sketch The Cornish Floral Dance was returned to the BBC.