So you really, really love Dad’s Army? Maybe you consider yourself an absolute mastermind on the subject of the show. But did you know these interesting Dad’s Army trivia facts? Here are 25 pieces of Dad’s Army trivia that will give you a fresh perspective on your favourite show:
1. Dad’s Army is the BBC’s stand-by show.
An episode of Dad’s Army is actually kept on stand-by, for use by the BBC if a technical fault prevents regular broadcasting. Most famously, this fact was revealed to the public on June 20, 2000 when the BBC 6pm News was interrupted by a power outage; Dad’s Army was broadcast instead.
With how miserable the news is most nights, perhaps it would be good for the BBC to have a few more outages?
2.Arthur Lowe refused to be filmed without trousers.
Arthur Lowe (Captain Mainwaring) had a clause written into his contract that he was not to be filmed without trousers. You can read more about this here. No wonder there weren’t any episodes of Dad’s Army filmed in and around swimming pools!
3. He also refused to have a grenade down his trousers.
In the episode ‘The Deadly Attachment’ – most famous for the “don’t tell him Pike” scene – the script writers had originally intended a grenade to be placed down Captain Mainwaring’s trousers. However, Arthur Lowe was so upset with this that he demanded the script be re-written while the production crew and cast waited to film the scene.
4. Arnold Ridley is related to Daisy Ridley of Star Wars fame
Daisy Ridley, who has shot to international fame in the latest Star Wars film as the main protagonist, is the great-niece of Arnold Ridley. Clearly, the force is strong in the Ridley family!
5. David Jason was originally cast for the part of Lance Corporal Jones
David Croft was impressed with Jason’s acting skills, and knew that he could play convincingly the part of an older man. However, his decision was overturned by BBC producer Billy Cotton, who preferred Clive Dunn. David Jason, as we all know, went on to play Del Boy Trotter in Only Fools & Horses.
6. The outside scenes of Walmington-on-Sea were filmed in Thetford, Norfolk
Thetford is now home to the Dad’s Army Museum, as well as the bronze statue of Captain Mainwaring (which features in many images posted on the Dad’s Army Fans Facebook page).
7. Dad’s Army featured in the video game Mortal Kombat
On the Sega Mega-CD edition, a special cheat code would result in in the character’s names being replaced with those from the Dad’s Army cast (e.g. Mainwaring, Frazer, Pike and so on). Not bad for a TV show that was around well before video games became mainstream!
8. Ian Lavender (Private Pike) is the only surviving member of the platoon
However, he is not the only surviving main cast member. Most famously, Frank Williams (the vicar) is still alive and actually reprises his old role in the recently-released Dad’s Army film.
9. Arthur Lowe refused to take his scripts home with him
He preferred to keep his personal and professional lives separate. Instead, he elected to learn his lines in the rehearsal hall. This particular approach sometimes caused tension with other cast members.
10. Ian Lavender was an Aston Villa fan
This is the reason for Private Pike’s choice of scarf colour. He was asked to choose a scarf from the BBC costume department, and made his selection on the basis of his favourite team’s colours.
11. Jimmy Perry wrote the part of Walker for himself
However, this was vetoed by David Croft, as he was concerned that other cast members would think Perry had deliberately written the best character for himself.
12. Private Pike was based on Jimmy Perry and his life experiences
He based the character around his experiences of being molly-coddled by his own mother.
13. The theme tune to Dad’s Army won the Ivor Novello Award in 1971 for Best TV Signature Tune
It was composed by Jimmy Perry, who wrote the tunes to all of his TV shows. Bud Flanagan actually recorded the song in 1968, and received a fee of 100 guineas for his trouble.
14. The Dad’s Army Film (the 1971 original, not the new one) is not in the DVD collection of the series as the rights to it are owned by Columbia Pictures, not the BBC.
A number of changes were also made by Columbia during the filming process:
- Liz Fraser was cast to play Mavis Pike, instead of Janet Davies
- Outdoor scenes were filmed in Chalfont St Giles, and not Thetford
- Mainwaring’s bank was called “Martins” and not “Swallow”
- Instead of the usual 1935 Ford BB being used for Jones’ van, it was replaced by a Ford Model AA
A sequel was also planned, but never came to fruition.
15. John Le Mesurier was paid £262.50 per episode in the first series
This is equivalent to over £4000 per episode in today’s money. Not too shabby when you think about it. Interestingly enough, he had been offered a lower rate and was reluctant to take the role. However, when the pay was upped, he took the part.
16. The Dad’s Army Appreciation society was founded in 1993 by Bill Pertwee and Frank Williams
It continues to this day, and Frank Williams remains the president. Find out more about the society and how to join it here.
17. The Dad’s Army cast helped to create a road safety advertisement for the Pelican Crossing
It was filmed at Woodley near Reading on 23rd December 1976. The public information film saw them using a “Pelican Crossing”. Here is a clip:
18. Illness plagued a number of key cast members during the later seasons of the show
In the final series, Arthur Lowe suffered from narcolepsy, John Le Mesurier from cirrhosis of the liver, and John Laurie with emphysema.
19. A Classic Television survey from June 1999 revealed ‘Don’t Tell Him Pike’ to be the funniest moment in British television history
Germans also featured in the 3rd placed moment, with Basil Fawlty’s infamous ‘don’t mention the war’ outburst.
20. Dad’s Army was voted the 4th best British sitcom of all time.
It was beaten by Blackadder, The Vicar of Dibley, and Only Fools & Horses (in no particular order) but did place ahead of Fawlty Towers.
21. The Americans tried (and failed) to produce their own riff on Dad’s Army
A pilot episode for “The Rear Guard” was produced in 1976. It was a failure, and no full series was made.
If you’re feeling brave, here is a clip you can watch:
22. Clive Dunn released an album, ‘Permission to Sing Sir?’.
He also scored a number one hit with the song Grandad:
23. The cast and crew stayed in different hotels when filming in Thetford
Each summer, the cast and crew would arrive to film the next season of the show. The cast stayed at the up-market Bell Hotel in Bridge Street, whereas the crew stayed in the cheaper Anchor Hotel
24. The opening scene of ‘The Man and the Hour’ was filmed in the Anchor Hotel
It made use of the ‘Norvic Room’; which became the hotel’s restaurant. Unfortunately, the hotel closed in 2006 due to high operating costs, and was demolished in 2012.
25. Weybourne Railway Station was the location used for the episode ‘The Royal Train’ in 1973
Remember this scene?