Can the big-screen Dad’s Army ever match the TV original?

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TV experts say Dad’s Army will struggle to make a successful transition from treasured television series to big-screen movie.

Almost 50 years on from its birth, the show remains loved in households across Britain.

Anyone who hears that first line of the opening musical sequence will sing along to ‘Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler?’ and follow it with ‘If you think ol’ England’s done!’

Set during the Second World War in the fictional town of Walmington-on-Sea, the programme - written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft - followed a platoon of the Home Guard.

The series was first aired in 1968 by the BBC and ran for 9 series, 80 episodes in total.

Dad’s Army has captivated audiences with its timeless comedy and memorable characters, as well as giving us cultural references such as ‘You stupid boy!’, ‘Don’t panic!’ and ‘Permission to speak, sir?’

However the question that many have been asking is whether or not this iconic television series make it as a big block buster film.

Charlie Watts, a television and film expert and lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, thinks that the new Dad’s Army film, which premiered this week, might not be well received by some,

‘From a television perspective I think Dad’s Army reflects a particular place and time in history, and I’m not sure how this film is going to be received in this day and age’ he said.

His fellow television and film expert and lecturer at Portsmouth University, Searle Kochberg, said: ‘The TV show is a classic, with a classic cast that cannot be improved upon.

The class ridden, white view of Britain may be a bit mystifying for a more contemporary audience

Searle Kochberg, Portsmouth University

‘Also the original series came out at a time when memories of the war were alive in many people’s minds, and the series rather relied on that.

‘Britain today is a very different place then it was in the 1970s. Hence the class ridden, white view of Britain may be a bit mystifying for a more contemporary audience.’

Both experts agree that making films is a punishing hard process that is always an investment of hard work and considerable finance, and they hope the film finds an audience.

TV programmes struggle to successfully transfer to the ‘big screen’, and this film will have its work cut out to really resonate with an audience.

However Charlie Watts believes that ‘the BBC did a wonderful job over Christmas of showing an audience how the idea and programme came about.

‘The drama “We’re Doomed - The Dad’s Army Story” really set the bar high, and gave a fascinating look at the plight of the writers and challenges ahead.

‘John Sessions’ portrayal of Arthur Lowe (who played Captain Mainwairing) was also the most remarkable thing I’ve seen in a long time, and at times I actually thought I was watching Lowe.’

The new film has an all-star cast including Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Gambon.

Set in 1944 Captain Mainwaring’s Home Guard platoon suffers from low morale until a glamorous journalist arrives to report on the platoon’s exploits.

The platoon have a real chance at making a difference in the war when MI5 discover a radio signal transmitted from Walmington-on-Sea towards Berlin, apparently the work of a spy.

Five unforgettable moments from the Dad’s Army TV show and original film

1. Nuns and War

Private Godfrey, known for his kind heart and compassionate nature, proves that he’s still a gentleman even in times of war, by saying: “I’m afraid I don’t think I should care to look at nuns’ legs, sir. it would be very impolite” to which Captain Mainwaring reples “Force yourself - this is war!”.

2. Frazer The Poet

In the episode ‘My British Buddy’, the Americans join the war after the attack on Pearl Habour and have been sent to Walmington-on-Sea. During the initial meeting of the two nations, Private Frazer recites Robert Burns with strategic references to Hitler.

3. Choir Boys

In the feature length film of Dad’s Army aired in 1971, a Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft is shot down and its three-man crew parachute to safety. They enter Walmington church hall, where a meeting is taking place to raise money to fund a Spitfire. They hold all present as hostages, including the mayor and vicar, and demand a boat back to France. The home guard platoon infiltrate the building though the church crypt. Dressed in choir surplices, they enter the church hall singing All Things Bright and Beautiful, with their own extemporised second verse.

4. Don’t Panic

Probably one of the most loved characters is Lance Corporal Jones, the lovable idiot of the group who continually amuses us with his catphrases “Don’t panic!”, “Permission to speak, sir?” and “They don’t like it up ‘em!”.

During times of stress Jones becomes near hysterical, frantically running around shouting “don’t panic, don’t panic!” at the top of his voice, usually at inappropriate times and usually armed with a loaded rifle or a granade until someone manages to calm him down.

5. Don’t tell him Pike!

Finally, the most famous moment in Dad’s Army, taken from ‘The Deadly Attachment’ episode where the platoon have to hold German prisioners overnight in a church awaiting a military escort to take them away. The German boat captain lets it be known that he is not happy and “when we win the war” they will be held accountable for thier actions, thus he makes a list of thier names. He gets to the youngest member of the platoon and demands his identity, to which Captain Mainwaring interjects with: ‘Don’t tell him, Pike!’