Want to brush up on your knowledge of Dad’s Army? Maybe you’re already an expert … but did you know these 50 interesting facts about the show?
1. John Le Mesurier was finishing the final season of George and the Dragon when he was requested to take his role and was reluctant to take it at first as it was a commitment he felt he could not tend to. Funny enough, all it took was some monetary persuasion and an opportunity to work with his old friend, Clive Dunn.
2. The local pub in Walmington-on-Sea is called The Anchor.
3. Originally, there were a couple of different closing credits for Dad’s Army. The first of which was used in the first two seasons, which showed the cast members in a still photograph with the credits rolling over a monochrome background. After that, the closing credits were changed to a scene where the characters are walking across a smoke-filled battlefield. These closing credits were kept throughout the rest of the series.
4. Jimmy Perry initially wrote Private Walker’s role for himself to play, but David Croft advised that he had taken the best role for himself, which was a selfish thing to do. As a result, Perry based Private Pike’s character on his own life and background, as well as his experience during the war. The same idea was implemented for Pike’s occasional girlfriend, Ivy, who was played by Ian Lavender’s wife in 1973.
5. When the show was pre-screened to prospective audience members in order to gain an opinion, it was met with generally negative reception, which critics stating that the show was very poor. The production team filled David Croft’s in-tray with negative comments but he only saw them months later, after the show was broadcast and met with positive reception.
6. The series also included some other Home Guard platoons, including Southgate, Eastgage, Littlebourne-on-sea and Dymwych, which was led by Captain Ashley-Jones.
7. In the 1969 episode titled “The Lion Has Phones,” there is a scene where the characters are in a cinema and behind the ticket office among some posters, is one of the film The Edge of the World. This was an actual film that was released in 1937 and starred John Laurie.
8. Pike’s name is actually a reference to the weapons that were issued to the Home Guard in the Second World War, which had a spear-like design and generated “an almost universal feeling of anger and disgust from the ranks.”
9. While the show’s depiction of war was generally true-to-life, the story of Hitler and his intention of ever attempting an invasion of the UK is not strictly accurate. The Nazi leader admitted to the General Staff in 1940 that he would not attempt an invasion. It is assumed by many that Operation Sea Lion was actually a lie created to put pressure on Britain so they could come to an agreement with the Axis Powers. On the other hand, the German High Command did begin drawing up plans to invade the Soviet Union in July 1940.
10. The final season of the show saw a rather concerning amount of the cast being ill. John Laurie had emphysema and memory problems, Arthur Lowe was ill with narcolepsy and John Le Mesurier had liver cirrhosis.
11. Although he never made the cut, Robert Dorning was initially chosen to play the role of Sergeant Wilson.
12. The statue of Captain Mainwaring is located at the Old Anchor Hotel. Some of the minor cast members stayed there during filming and the property is now a hotel and cinema complex.
13. When deciding upon additional footage for the series, David Croft suggested including newsreel footage of the Second World War raids, Nazi troops, bombings and other violent scenes. While Michel Mills supported the idea, the BBC One Controller rejected the idea as the scenes were deemed to be too violent and inappropriate for a comedy series.
14. In June 2010, David Croft unveiled a life-sized bronze statue of Captain Mainwaring. The statue depicts the Captain sitting on a bench by the Bell and Old Anchor Hotels in Norfolk. The artwork was funded by the Friends of Dad’s Army Museum and sculpted by Sean Hedges-Quinn.
15. Clive Dunn only accepted his role as Corporal Jones after John Le Mesurier was cast, as he usually assumed the role of an older man.
16. In case of a power failure or technical error, an episode of Dad’s Army is kept to replace the that show fails to broadcast at that time. This was showcased when the BBC Six O’ Clock News came to a halt when a power failure struck the studio on 20 June, 2000. In it’s place, an episode of Dad’s Army was played, rendering viewers a little confused, but ironically, entertained.
17. After the death of James Beck, Private Cheeseman was going to be a role that was intended to replace Private Walker. But the character was never implemented as it was regarded by David Croft as being “irritating without being funny.” Also, due to him being an exotic Celt, he was too similar to the already-implemented Private Frazer.
18. It is said that Sergeant Wilson’s daughter from a previous relationship is actually the half-sister of Private Pike. The only reference to back this up is when she makes a short visit to speak to Wilson. While she is not named, she is referred to in the credits of the episode as The Wren, due to her uniform when she makes an appearance.
19. Bill Pertwee was one of the biggest fans of the series and was responsible for the book titled “Dad’s Army – The Making of a Television Legend” and was president of the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society.
20. The filming process for Dad’s Army was impressively efficient. It would usually result in filming only taking a week and being released onto television in that same week. Taping took around half an hour, but there was of course a week-long rehearsal and a few outdoors scenes that needed shooting for each season. Regardless, the filming process received much acclaim by the staff for being so efficient.
21. Due to Chesney Allen being too ill to record the theme song at the time, Bud Flanagan sang the song without his companions. It ended up that Allen lived another 14 years, whereas Bud passed away shortly after the song was recorded.
22. Ian Lavender, who played Private Pike, is the last surviving cast member to have played the role of a member of the Home Guard following the death of Clive Dunn, who played Corporal Jones in 2012.
23. After receiving advice from Jimmy Perry to portray his character “as his own.” John Le Mesurier was motivated to base his character’s personality on his own. This was due to the fact that John was initially unsure of how to portray his character’s personality. John wrote that “I thought, why not just be myself, use an extension of my own personality and behave rather as I had done in the army? So I always left a button or two undone, and had the sleeve of my battle dress slightly turned up. I spoke softly, issued commands as if they were invitations and generally assumed a benign air of helplessness.”
24. Leonard Rossiter was initially offered the role of Captain Mainwaring, but declined for reasons unknown.
25. Due to his past experience in stand-up and being a warm-up man for previous BBC productions, Bill Pertwee used to warm-up the audience prior to each recording. He was the only cast member who did this.
26. Arthur Lowe was always adamant about keeping his personal and work life separate. As a result, he never took his scripts home with him and studied them at work instead.
27. Some of the mot subtle features of the show have a hidden meaning behind them. For example, because Ian Lavendar was an Aston Villa supporter, he chose a scarf based on the team’s colors from the BBC Costume Department when he was invited to choose Pike’s scarf.
28. The role of Dolly, Godfrey’s sister, as well as a few other guest roles were taken by Arthur Lowe’s wife, Joan Cooper – at this insistence of Lowe himself.
29. An archive purge at the BBC office saw three episodes of Dad’s Army be completely erased from existence. It is said that they do not exist at all and cannot be found anywhere online or in physical copies. The said episodes in question are A Stripe For Frazer, Under Fire and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker. All of which were made in 1969. The soundtrack for the afore-mentioned episode is said to still exist.
30. There is a section in Arthur Lowe’s contract that has a rather peculiar clause. It stated that he is never to be seen on camera without his trousers for reasons unknown to the public.
31. Due to Michel Mill’s previous role in Coronation Street, the BBC Head of Comedy was against the casting of Mill as Arthur Lowe. Thorley Walters was initially offered that role, but declined. The same goes for a multitude of other actors who were offered roles that they did not take in the end. If things did go the way they could have, the cast of Dad’s Army would have been very different today.
32. During the First World War, Arnold Ridley and John Laurie fought for a short period of time before being invalided out due to injuries.
33. To the surprise of viewers, the outdoor scenes that were supposed to take place in Walmington-on-Sea were actually filmed in Norfolk, which is not even an “on-sea” location. Walmington was initially modeled on Bexhill-on-Sea, which was in Sussex.
34. In 1981, John Le Mesurier and Arthur Lowe worked with BBC Radio to record a pilot sequel to the show titled “It Sticks Out Half a Mile.” The premise of the plot is that Mainwaring moves to a different seaside resort and wants a loan, this is when he discovers that it is Wilson. He attempts to buy the local pier off the council since its closed for the war. After some reworking, it did eventually become a radio series for BBC. It aired on Radio 2 between 1983 and 1984 and is rerun on BBC7 every now and then. Due to the success of the series, it was reworked for television and became ITV’s High and Dry.
35. The cast and other members of the crew usually stayed in the same hotel, namely The Bill Inn. This hotel now has many of it’s rooms named after the characters of the show in clever ways, such as Sergeant Wilson’s Lounge. Images of the cast are also hung up on the walls.
36. As with most productions, disputes between cast members were commonplace. It is said that members usually got on well with each other and played their parts without any issues. But there have been some publicized altercations in the past. For example, due to their personal opinions when it came to politics, Arthur Lowe and Clive Dunn did not like each other. For reasons unknown, John Laurie had a passionate hate for Arnold Ridley. Bill Pertwee claims that some of the cast members “looked down on him” due to his career background being more focused on variety as opposed to what he said was “serious” theatre work.
37. The Dad’s Army Museum in Thetford features a recreation of the office that Captain Mainwaring called home.
38. David Croft claims that his favorite episode of the show was 1970’s Mum’s Army. Jimmy Perry’s favorite is said to be Branded, which was televised in 1969.
39. A large majority of the writers and cast had a war or military background. David Croft, for example, served in the Army as a Major and fellow writer Jimmy Perry was a Home Guard. In the cast, John Laurie served in the Home Guard and Clive, Arthur and John served in the army during the Second World War. Clive Dunn’s war background is perhaps the most noteworthy, as he served in the British regiment 4th Queen’s Own Hussars and he was a Prisoner of War after being captured in Greece.
40. Even though Sergeant Wilson is usually referred to as Uncle Arthur, Private Pike is Wilson’s biological son, as confirmed by Jimmy Perry.
41. A public road safety advertisement was filmed for national television at Woodley with the cast, as seen in Dad’s Army. The advert featured the cast using a “Pelican Crossing.”
42. When Edward Sinclair (The Verger) passed away, Arthur Lowe insisted that Dad’s Army would be no more. The episode currently set to be released happened to be the last anyway.
43. St Aldhelm’s is the name of the church that is located in Walmington-on-Sea.
44. To avoid copyright issues, a pub in Shoeburyness in Essex was named Captain Mannering’s to as opposed to Captain Mainwaring. Sometime after the show was discontinued, the pub changed it’s name.
45. There was a character who appeared in the very first episode called Private Thomas Bracewell, and who was played by John Ringham. The writers initially intended Bracewell to be another regular character in the series (along with the likes of Jones, Mainwaring etc). However, the writers came to feel that they in fact had too many characters, and that he was too similar to Godfrey in terms of personality, so a decision was made to axe Bracewell from the show
46. In the final-ever episode of Dad’s Army, Never Too Old, Mrs. Fox’s first name is given as Mildred; however in earlier episodes she is named as Marcia.
47. Mainwaring, Wilson and Pike work at Swallow Bank in the TV series of Dad’s Army, but in the film adaptation it is called Martins. There were a number of other minor but noticeable “continuity changes” in the film version.
48. The nearby (and equally fictional) town of Eastgate was named after Eastbourne in East Sussex.
49. Whilst a precise location for Walmington-on-Sea is never given at any stage during the show’s history, it is a commonly known fact that the fictional town is set on the south coast, and in the 1971 film version of the series, the local police station is signposted as part of the Kent Constabulary.
50. For Series 9, David Croft directed pre-filmed location scenes, with Bob Spiers taking over in the studio segments for Episodes 1 to 5. Croft took over again for the final programme.