Absent Friends (Dad's Army)
|Dad's Army episode|
|Episode no.||Series Four
|Directed by||David Croft|
|Story by||Jimmy Perry and David Croft|
|Produced by||David Croft|
|Original air date||Friday 30/10/70 8.00pm
(recorded Friday 7 August 1970)
|Running time||30 minutes|
Absent Friends is the sixth episode of the fourth series of the British comedy series Dad's Army that was originally transmitted on Friday 30 October 1970.
Sergeant Wilson is singing to himself in Mainwaring's office. Suddenly, Mainwaring enters, which is a shock to Wilson, as Mainwaring had gone to a Lodge meeting in London for the weekend. Wilson asks if it was cancelled, but Mainwaring admits he didn't go after all as Elizabeth doesn't like being in the house on her own during the air raids. He offers to inspect the men, but Wilson is a bit cagey.
Pike enters, not in uniform. He admits that his mother put it in the wash tub. Mainwaring is annoyed, but agrees to let it pass this once. He tells Wilson to ask Jones to call the roll, which he does. However, most of them are not there, and only Jones and Pike are on parade. Mainwaring isn't very impressed, and asks Wilson where his men are. Wilson admits they are all in the pub, playing darts against Hodges' wardens. Mainwaring agrees to turn a blind eye, as long as Wilson brings the men back straight away.
Meanwhile, at the match, things are not going well for the Home Guard. The wardens are clearly winning. Suddenly, Mrs Pike enters and Hodges offers her a drink. While he is at the bar, Wilson arrives and tries to persuade the men to return. He then spots Mrs Pike and wonders what she's doing there. He is accidentally bumped by Hodges, who quickly makes his excuses and scurries off. Wilson leaves in a daze.
Mainwaring receives a phone call from Elizabeth, asking him to get her some off-ration oxtail for him. He tries to explain that it is against his principles, but Elizabeth refuses to listen. Mainwaring calls Jones into the office to ask him about the oxtail, and his wife's craving for it, but crossed wires result in Jones believing he will help to deliver Elizabeth's child.
Mainwaring is annoyed when Wilson returns, saying he thinks he's brought the men back, but he hasn't. He and Jones will go with Wilson back to the pub and if they fail to bring the men back, Wilson can consider himself under open arrest.
At the match, things are going from bad to worse for the platoon. Things are made worse when Mainwaring, Wilson and Jones enter. Mainwaring tries to persuade the men to return to the hall, with little success. Wilson also tries to persuade Mrs Pike to leave, but it's no use. Mainwaring leaves, very hurt and ashamed of his men. As they leave, Godfrey confides in Walker and Frazer that he doesn't think they've done the right thing, and leaves. Walker seems on the point of returning too, but Hodges persuades him to play darts.
Back at the church hall, Mainwaring confides in Wilson that the parade is the highlight of his day. While he's having his tea, he can feel excitement mounting inside him, but not any more. Wilson is distracted by Mrs Pike's interest in Hodges, and doesn't listen. They receive a phone call from the police, informing that an Irish Republican Army suspect has been spotted in Ivy Crescent (because of its making humour of the IRA, the episode has generally been left out of repeat runs).
They meet the lone police constable outside the house of the suspect, and prepare to grab him. However, the man they grab claims to be the suspect's twin brother. Mainwaring isn't convinced, and marches him back to the church hall.
The ARP Wardens win the darts match, and Walker is reluctant to stay any longer. He would prefer to go back to the church hall, because he didn't like the look on Mainwaring's face when he left. Hodges decides to come too, taking Mrs Pike with him.
Not long after the small group return with the suspect, Godfrey returns to the hall, unbeknownst to the men, and falls asleep. Suddenly, a rough man grabs Godfrey by the collar, and asks him where Mainwaring's suspect has been taken. Godfrey bluffs the three men into believing that he and Mainwaring are in the dressing room.
Godfrey informs Mainwaring of the predicament, and Mainwaring orders Pike to fetch the rest of the men. Godfrey informs Mainwaring that he's locked all the doors. The verger enters with an empty bottle, evidently panicking. In the heat of the moment, he ends up knocking out the suspect with the glass bottle.
The rest of the platoon return, and rush to attack the Irishmen, but with little success. Pike enters with a bleeding lip, and Mrs Pike persuades Wilson to sort them out. The door closes, and Mainwaring and Jones think that Wilson has received a good beating. They are, therefore, shocked when Wilson enters without a scratch on him. Hodges is terrified and leaves.
Some time later, Mainwaring forgives the men for their lapse in behaviour, and confirms to the platoon, that Jones was wrong about Mrs Mainwaring. They will not be having a child in the near future, and their marriage is quite blissful as it is.
- Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring
- John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Wilson
- Clive Dunn as Lance Corporal Jones
- John Laurie as Private Frazer
- James Beck as Private Walker
- Arnold Ridley as Private Godfrey
- Ian Lavender as Private Pike
- Bill Pertwee as ARP Warden Hodges
- Janet Davies as Mrs Pike
- Edward Sinclair as Verger
- J. G. Devlin as Regan
- Arthur English as Policeman
- Patrick Connor as Seamus
- Verne Morgan as Landlord
- Michael Lomax as 2nd ARP Warden
- The appearance of Patrick Regan, a suspected IRA man, and colleagues was one of a few occasions when the platoon was presented with a threat other than the Germans.
- This episode was repeated for the first time since 1970, on 19 May 2012, nearly 42 years after it originally aired. The reason it had not been repeated earlier was the controversial subject of the IRA.
- In the subsequent radio adaptation in April 1976, the IRA character is replaced with an escaped convict.
- Croft, David; Perry, Jimmy; Webber, Richard (2000). The Complete A-Z of Dad’s Army. Orion. ISBN 0-7528-4637-X.