Branded (Dad's Army)

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Dad's Army episode
Episode no. Series Three
Episode 023
Directed by Harold Snoad
Story by Jimmy Perry and David Croft
Produced by David Croft
Original air date Thursday 20/11/69 7.30pm
(recorded Friday 14/11/69)
Running time 30 minutes
Episode chronology
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"Menace from the Deep"
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"Man Hunt"

Branded is the eleventh episode of the third series of the British comedy series Dad's Army. It was originally transmitted on Thursday 20 November 1969.

On a night of programmes devoted to Dad's Army, Jimmy Perry named it his favourite episode.[1] "When we told Arnold Ridley that we'd written a part especially for him, he was absolutely delighted. When he read the script he said, "Jimmy, its good to mention conchies as they were called, because they went through hell a lot of them, and a lot of them had high principles. I'm very honoured to play it. Both Arnold Ridley and John Laurie had served in the First World War and both served in the Battle of the Somme where Ridley was dreadfully badly wounded. We all knew about the war - perhaps that's what gives Dad's Army, as Clint Eastwood says in Pale Rider, that 'little bit of edge'. It's [a] quite serious [episode]. In the end dear old Godfrey is proved to have more courage than the lot of them".[2]


Private Godfrey admits to being a conscientious objector during the Great War.


Following a standard exercise on the stealthy approach to an enemy soldier, Captain Mainwaring calls Sergeant Wilson into his office. He has received an alarming letter from Pte. Godfrey, informing the captain of Godfrey's intent to resign from the unit at the earliest possible convenience. Given Godfrey's vital role in the platoon (as the soldier who makes the tea), Mainwaring is unwilling to let Godfrey go, and demands an explanation. Godfrey thus tells him that his decision emerges from a recent incident in which he found a mouse in his kitchen, but found himself unwilling and incapable of killing it; and if he can't kill a mouse, how can he be expected to kill a German? During the telling of the story, Godfrey reveals that in the previous war, he was a conscientious objector who refused to fight.

Mainwaring, appalled and disgusted, orders Godfrey to get out of his sight; whilst Wilson is tolerant and understanding of Godfrey's need to follow his conscience, Mainwaring is sickened at the thought of a man not wanting to fight and, assuming Godfrey to be a coward, determines to shame and humiliate him in front of the troops. With characteristic pompousness, he convenes a parade of the remainder of the platoon in which to inform them of Godfrey's apparent cowardice, but his thunder is stolen by the unimpressed ARP Warden Hodges, who wants to discuss an upcoming ARP / Home Guard drill.

Once the platoon learns of Godfrey's past, he is ostracised by the other men. Whilst many - including Corporal Jones - are undecided about their response to Godfrey's decision, and some, including Ptes. Pike and Walker, do not seem to mind, Pte. Frazer is characteristically vocal in his condemnation of Godfrey's cowardice, and has no hesitation in expressing his disgust to the other man's face. It is decided that Godfrey will remain in the unit until a replacement can be found.

The ARP / Home Guard training drill arrives, during which Warden Hodges will teach the men how to retrieve unconscious bodies (represented by sacks of straw) from burning buildings filled with smoke. Naturally, Mainwaring is unimpressed by the volume of smoke in the building and fills the boiler with burning rags, thus filling the building with far more smoke than safely required. He also informs Godfrey that he has no intention of letting the other man use his 'conchie tricks' to get out of this exercise (not that Godfrey had any intention of trying to get out of it), and intends to follow Godfrey through the hut to make sure that he completes the exercise.

The remainder of the unit having passed through the hut, Godfrey makes it through, being the second-to-last member to conduct the exercise. He is left to wait for Mainwaring - who doesn't show up, despite taking longer to conduct the exercise than should be taken. Without hesitation, Godfrey re-enters the smoke-filled hut in order to find Mainwaring who collapsed from smoke inhalation.

Later, Godfrey recuperates from his experiences in bed, having experienced mild smoke inhalation, and is visited by the entire platoon, having overcome their earlier distaste for him in concern for his welfare. As Mainwaring attempts to express rather uncomfortable gratitude to Godfrey for saving his life, he notices a photo of a younger Godfrey, in military uniform, wearing the Military Medal. Whilst refusing to fight in the First World War, Godfrey instead joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as a stretcher bearer, and was responsible, during the Battle of the Somme, for a tremendous act of heroism in rescuing several wounded soldiers from no man's land under heavy fire (which, with characteristic modesty, he downplays, and he refuses to wear his medal on the grounds that it feels ostentatious). Suitably ashamed at their earlier treatment of him as a coward (although Frazer, typically, insists that he knew it would be the case all along), the platoon apologise, and at Wilson's suggestion, Mainwaring has no hesitation in declaring Godfrey the platoon's medical orderly, having learnt that heroism is not a matter of appearance.



In 1984, a few days after Arnold Ridley's death, BBC1 repeated this episode in tribute.


  1. Although the entire third series of Dad's Army was made in colour, the early episodes were first transmitted before the launch of BBC One's colour service on 15 November 1969. "Branded" was the first episode to be transmitted in colour.


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