The Honourable Man

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"The Honourable Man"
Dad's Army episode
Episode no. Series Six
Episode 058
Directed by David Croft
Story by Jimmy Perry and David Croft
Produced by David Croft
Original air date 28/11/73 8.00pm
(recorded 8/7/73)
Running time 30 minutes
Episode chronology
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"We Know Our Onions"
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"Things that Go Bump in the Night"

The Honourable Man is the fifth episode of the sixth series of the British comedy series Dad's Army that was originally transmitted on 28 November 1973.

Synopsis[edit]

When Wilson lets it be known that his family has 'moved up one place' and that he is now entitled to style himself 'The Honourable,' he finds himself being courted by the golf club and is being proposed as the man to welcome a visiting Russian VIP, Mainwaring is furious.

Of all the episodes of Dad's Army, it is probably the one in which the class conflict between Mainwaring and Wilson, which is used for comedy across the series, is the most explored. In many episodes Mainwaring complains of Wilson's almost relaxed attitude to his duties and his public school education and about how hard he has had to work in comparison, but the deference shown by the townspeople towards Wilson's newly official status allows Mainwaring's chip-on-the-shoulder and Wilson's reticence at being snooty or arriviste about his position to be comprehensively played out on screen.

Plot[edit]

The episode opens in the church hall, where the Town Clerk is opening a meeting. It is to decide on Walmington's welcome to a visiting award winning Russian worker. The Town clerk puts Mainwaring in charge of the committee after a pompous speech, but Hodges objects, thus forcing a vote, which overwhelmingly supports Mainwaring, who therefore takes charge. During this both Wilson and Jones arrive late. Frazer suggests that, after a great deal of thought, he would like to offer the Russian a voucher worth £10 towards the cost of a funeral. Walker argues that that is no use, he would have to die to redeem it, whereupon Frazer comments "That's a risk I have to take". Godfrey again expresses his antipathy to "the reds" and so urges that the welcome should be unextravagant, and the vicar refuses to allow his choir to sing "The Red Flag". The committee decides to present a wooden key, representing the freedom of the town.

In Mainwaring's office, he enquires of Pike where Wilson is, and is annoyed to hear he is still at lunch, at 2.20 p.m. Mainwaring finds a letter in his in-tray addressed to 'The Honourable Arthur Wilson' and assumes it is a joke. On Wilson's arrival he surprises Mainwaring and amazes Pike by asserting it is genuine: Wilson's uncle, a peer, has died, thus entitling Wilson. On being asked where he had been at lunchtime, Mainwaring is furious to hear Wilson has been invited to join the Golf Club, even though he doesn't play golf. Mainwaring has been "trying to get in for years". Wilson compounds Mainwaring's rage by announcing that they found him some smoked salmon for lunch, where Mainwaring had a "snoek fishcake at the British Restaurant". During this discussion Pike has telephoned Mrs Pike, who rushes to the bank. She and Pike burst in, and Mrs Pike flings herself all over Wilson, although she does ask "It won't make any difference, will it?", to which Wilson assures her it won't. Pike, however, is too naive to understand the implication.

At the next parade, Jones recounts how the British officers in the Sudan who had the honourable title always had a stiff upper lip, even after their heads had been blown off. Mainwaring addresses the parade and insists that Wilson must do his motorcycle training on the platoon's motorbike. Then the platoon practise grounding arms and applauding, just as the Town Clerk arrives. In Mainwaring's office he suggests tentatively that 'The Honourable Arthur Wilson' should present the key to the Russian instead of Mainwaring. Mainwaring refuses point blank. Back on parade, they are interrupted by the verger and the vicar, who invites Wilson to join the PCC, and also asks if he would like his own private pew. Mainwaring and Wilson retreat to his office, where Mainwaring again refuses to step aside for Wilson when telephoned by Hodges. Mainwaring finally snaps and reveals his intense jealousy over Wilson's newfound title; Wilson however admits he resents his new social status, as the people of Walmington-on-Sea continually pester him. This only infuriates Mainwaring more, as he fancies that one should prize aristocratic titles, and admits if he had a title he would make himself a director of the bank. He reminds Wilson that, title or not, he is still Mainwaring's employee and that he had better learn his place.

Wilson is seen embarking on his motorcycle training dressed in khaki overalls. He wobbles unsteadily down the road, goes in and out of ditches and finally falls off in one; a car is seen coming to a halt to help him.

At the welcoming parade, a band, the Home Guard, the Wardens and the Nurses are lined up on the green. The visitor arrives in his car, and makes his way to the podium. The Mayor makes a one sentence speech, then Mainwaring makes a much longer one, but the visitor, through his interpreter, reacts angrily. He accuses the VIPs greeting him of not being genuine workers, with soft clean uncalloused hands. He rushes to his car, and produces Wilson from inside, whom he insists is a genuine worker, with oily hands, toiling alone in the countryside. He presents Wilson with the key representing the freedom of Walmington, and departs.

Notes[edit]

  • This episode demonstrates the uneasy alliance that had been formed between Capitalist Great Britain and the Communist Soviet Union. Many of Walmington's citizens are uneasy about honouring a 'red', and having the Red Flag sung. This was quite a common sentiment at the time, through as Mainwaring puts it "in time of war, one can't be too choosy about one's bedfellows"
  • Walker lightly references the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact, and subsequent Soviet invasion of Poland after Mainwaring had mentioned in his speech that Britain and the Soviet Union were "allies" even through they were "poles apart".

Cast[edit]