Starring: Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, and full cast
Originally aired: January 1974 – September 1976
Publisher: BBC Audio
I first encountered Dad’s army when I was about 10 years old. Every Saturday tea-time my siblings and I would crowd around the telly, sandwiches, crisps and saveloys on little plates, and while I’m not saying there wasn’t a bit of bread throwing, we were surprisingly engrossed by the gentle antics of a bunch of old guys.
I suspect Dad’s Army caught many people of my generation like that. We only ever saw it on repeat. It was set in a world that was long gone and performed by actors that were mostly dead. It shouldn’t have worked for us, and yet, as often happens with excellent writing and quality performances, it did.
In the years since, I’ve watched the odd rerun, and it wasn’t until recently that I learned the BBC recorded an entirely separate Dad’s Army radio production. I probably should have known, but in a way I’m glad I didn’t. Coming across the entire 3 series in one go has given me a chance to relive them once again.
The radio plays are entirely based on Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s TV scripts. The excellent adaptation by Michael Knowles and Harold Snoad sticks faithfully to the original work save where changes are absolutely necessary to make the story or the humour work in audible form. All the main parts are also played by the same actors – the only exception being Private Walker. James Beck started in the role, but tragically died in 1974 before most of the radio episodes were recorded. Fortunately, Larry Martin stepped in and voiced the character for many of the remaining episodes, and I for one found him an excellent substitute. I could barely tell the difference.
67 episodes were recorder for radio, including 1 Christmas Special. They included many memorable episodes including ‘The Battle of Godfrey’s Cottage’, ‘When Did You Last See Your Money’, and my personal all-time favourite ‘Time on My Hands’.
Despite the large amount of visual humour in the original TV series, the program works well in audio format. That being said, this might be precisely because, having seen the original, it is easy to put faces to the voices. Then again, I’m not sure that is a problem, since this is definitely one for the Dad’s Army devotee.
If, like me, you have fond memories of this classic British sitcom, then you could do worse than blowing a few Audible credits or sinking a few quid on these recordings. If you’ve never come across Dad’s Army before, then after asking where you’ve been all these years, I’d strongly suggest that you start with the TV show first.