It was in this month 40 years ago that the final episode of Dad’s Army aired on the BBC. It was the last episode in the final, eighth, series of the hit comedy – although there were also six specials.
Dad’s Army had started just over nine years earlier, first airing in July 1968. It depicted the various, chaotic, exploits of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard during World War 2 – a Home Guard headed by bank manager Captain Mainwaring. He was ‘assisted’ by a motley group of individuals, from Cockney Private Walker, elderly Private Godfrey, posh Sergeant Wilson and Scottish doomsayer Private Frazer. Despite their exploits, and the catchphrases that are still instantly recognisable today (“Don’t panic!”), the comedy was rooted in fact, for its creators, Jimmy Perry and David Croft, had based it on their own experiences of the war. This is why, despite the comedy, the characters are still clearly patriotic individuals who are genuine in their attempts to combat the Nazi enemy and protect their homeland.
Last year, a film directed by Oliver Parker attempted to bring Dad’s Army to a new generation, but received mixed reviews. Perhaps, in this case, the original is very much the best.