Monday, 28 April 2008

New Dad's Army Podcast on-line

Episode 19

Episode 19 of the Dad's Army podcast is now available to listen to or download from the main Dad's Army Podcast page.

Lots of news this week about the programmes 40th anniversary and the events that are being held to celebrate the milestone. There's the Appreciation Society' Croft and Perry Day at Bressingham Steam Museum on the 11th May, and Thetford Council are planning an whole weekend of celebration. We talk about what in store for those who pay Thetford a visit on either the 26th or the 27th July. Check out or for more info on both events.

Paul Carpenter of the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society joins us once again, this time to discuss the season five story, Time on my Hands.

We will be back at the weekend (3rd or 4th May) with a special podcast previewing the Bressingham event. As always, please send your feedback to

Friday, 25 April 2008

Does Dad's Army influence your life?!

Letter to the Hotspur

“Television is an escapist activity, hardly based on the real world. Even the so called ‘reality shows’ select the most bizarre and unusual elements of reality and parades it in front of millions under the banner of light entertainment.”

I don’t think there’s much of an argument against the above statement. The key question in my mind is “does it matter?” Well, I think it very much depends on how seriously people take what they see on television.

There is that very old cyclical debate whether or not television mirrors society or if society influences what we see on television. There are strong arguments that support both sides and I suppose it's obvious that an individual’s view depends on where it is they are looking from. For instance, a successful television producer who delivers a graphically violent drama may claim that they are representing a small element of society and may even believe themselves to be quite virtuous in enlightening the rest of the population how this small minority live. Of course, they claim, their work cannot possibly influence their intelligent viewers and make them more inclined to accept violence as normal facet of life. The teenage viewer however may take a different view when in court attempting to explain why someone else is to blame for stabbing his latest victim.

So what’s my point here?! Why is this strange paragraph on a Dad’s Army blog?! Well, I was wondering who’d be the first to ask that, and I will try to explain. You see, I do believe television affects the actions of both children and adults.

Dad’s Army is a gentle, life affirming programme – we’ve all heard it described as such on several occasions. There was a time when I was a teenager when all I used to watch on television was Dad’s Army. I used to see at least one episode each day, and I listened to an episode of the radio play every night when I went to bed. I was always fast asleep long before Pike got his head stuck in the park gates. Not long after I discovered the world of Walmington-on-Sea, pretty much most of my humour became an unfunny version of Perry and Croft’s scripts. Every time I could offer the rebuttal “stupid boy”, I did. Every time I missed something obvious, “I wondered who’d be the first to spot that”. Whenever someone picked a classmate to play on their football team who I thought was a bad choice, I asked the captain “do you think that’s wise?” I began asking “if I could be excused” when I needed the loo. I started scratching my left ear whenever I wanted to labour a point, I shouted “Death!! Death!!! The Ruby will bring you Death!!” whenever a girl or female relative showed off a new item of jewellery and most of all, I strongly encouraged my friends (yes I did have them) that whatever they did, they should not panic. Along with getting electrisified, contracting verdegis and getting croup, my teenage years were somewhat dominated by – yes, what I’d seen on the telly.

Now imagine I had taken that to the ‘n’th degree (some of you will think I probably did) – would I have attempted to decapitate someone by using a cheese-slicer? Would I have use a chair in unarmed combat?! Would I have chucked an empty glass bottle from the top of a clock-tower? No, of course not. Violence on telly presents the point I am making in a sensationalist way – I could have used the way friendships are exaggerated out of all proportion on a show like Friends – and how it could be responsible for making people feels as though their real-life friendships are boring, eventless and unfulfilling.

In today’s society, with the boundaries between reality and fiction so blurred, and the way society is portrayed in the media I think its no wonder that that television has become so influential – and with that influence comes responsibility. Whilst television is there to entertain, society needs to remember that no matter how convincing telly is – it’s a vastly exaggerated version of life and its impact on the viewer should not completely dis-regarded.

Thanks for sticking with me if you have got this far – articles like this will be rare! Feel free to post a comment.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

James Beck

Visit to James Beck's Memorial Tree

Article and photo by Katie - site owner of the James Beck MySpace page

My friend and I went to St Paul's on Saturday afternoon (dodging the thundery downpours!) and after some digging around and getting rather muddy, we found Jimmy's Memorial plaque but sadly no tree.

Jimmy's plaque, which was in remarkably good condition, was on it's own in a flowerbed. The nearest tree was very large and was far too old; a smaller tree directly behind the old tree (surely not a spot you'd choose) and one other tree some distance from the plaque, which could possibly have been about the right age but had other dedicates and plaques attached to it. So it was all rather confusing!

My friend and I did manage to find someone inside the Church to ask about the Memorial Gardens. Unfortunately, this guy thought it was all rather hilarious (apparently 1973 is 'the dark ages'!!) and just kept saying that in the eyes of the Church none of the plaques exist and we could more or less choose any tree and stick the plaque in front of it!! My friend commented that it felt a bit like being in the middle of a Monty Python sketch!

Since getting home, I have contacted The Rector in the hope there maybe some Church records showing which tree is Jimmy's but I have not heard back from him yet. This is the photo I took of the plaque. While taking the photo, the sun came out for the only time in the whole day!

Many thanks to Katie for the article - feel free to e-mail in your Dad's Army stories or pictures to

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Tour Marches On

Windsor Dates added to Dad's Army Stage Play Tour

Six extra dates have been added to the touring stage play. The production will now call at Windsor and play at the Theatre Royal. The tour, already into its second leg was originally intended to finish after the curtain went down on the evening performance at Malvern on the 7th June this year.

The extra date reflects how well the production is being received and means that the show will have been on the road for five months this year alone.

The new dates are Monday 9th June to Saturday 14th June 2008.

More on the future of the Stage Play very soon!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The View from Scotland

The Edinburgh News reviews Stage Play

Liam Rudden of the of the Edinburgh News has written a comprehensive review of the touring play when it performed in Belfast last week. Quite why a Scottish paper sent a reporter to Belfast to see the play when the production plays at Newcastle next month is not made clear! The review however is positive, and it is good to see the show is still attracting publicity half way through the current run.

You can read the review by clicking on the Edinburgh News logo.

**Updated 17 April 2008**

Liam Rudden, the writer of this article has contacted us at the podcast after reading our original post above. Liam says in his e-mail;

"Just to answer you query, the Edinburgh Evening News didn't sent me to Belfast to review Dad's Army. I love the series and Belfast was the earliest chance on the tour I had to catch it. The piece I wrote was for my weekly column, and the point I suppose I was making locally was that such a brilliant piece of family entertainment deserves to tour north - at the moment there are no Scottish dates."

Many of our listeners north of the boarder will agree that is a pity that the stage play has not visited a theatre in Scotland on either of its runs.

Thanks to Liam for getting in touch.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

New Dad's Army Podcast

Episode 18 now on-line

Episode 18 of the podcast is now available to listen to on-line or to download from

This fortnight James brings you a round up of the recent goings-on in the world of Dad’s Army, sifts through the Podcast’s mailbag and introduces a new voice to the show. Don’t forget to nominate your favourite Dad’s Army episode before 9th May and be in with a chance of winning the bumper prize draw. This week’s featured episode is season one’s The Enemy Within the Gates - just the fourth episode of Dad's Army to be made.

We'll be back in three weeks time with podcast 19 - when amongst other things, we'll bring you a preview of the upcoming Croft and Perry Day (being held at Bressingham Steam Museum on 11th May 2008 and organised by the Dad's Army Appreciation Society). In the meantime, please get in touch with us at
Enjoy the podcast.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Dirty Don enrols at Oxford

Dad's Army play arrives in Oxford

Katherine MacAlister of the Oxford Mail has interviewed Leslie Grantham prior to the play opening at the New Theatre next week. Grantham still manages to come up with something different each time he's interviewed about his part as Walker, and the way MacAlister writes her story makes Grantham sound almost like a normal person. You can read the article by clicking on the Oxford Mail's logo.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Purveyor of essential supplies on-line

James Beck on MySpace

I recently discovered a comprehensive tribute on the MySpace 'social networking' site to James Beck and his career. The page is maintained and updated regularly and has a number of really interesting features about the actor. Katie, the site owner, chronicles Beck's career - which extends vastly beyond Dad's Army. I recommend that any James Beck fans heads on over to to take a look.

More Time on Your Hands?!

Due to a technical glitch (okay, a cock-up on my part) our discussion about Time on My Hands (see blog entry 24 March 2008) for Episode 19 of the podcast is going to be re-recorded. For this feature, I will be joined once again by Paul Carpenter of the Dad's Army Appreciation Society. Paul is a fountain of knowledge of all things Dad's Army, so if you have any questions about this episode that you would like me to put to him, please e-mail them to me at We are due to record next Tuesday (one week from today) so please let me have your questions, or indeed any other comments you may have about this episode before the 15th. You can listen to the latest podcast by clicking on the badge below, and Podcast number 18 will be on-line some point over this coming weekend.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

End of an era

Never Too Old

It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago. Not that I’m feeling particularly old you understand but yesterday’s showing of Never Too Old on BBC2 evoked a rather surprising emotion. I felt as if I was experiencing the end of an era. Silly you may think, given that this episode went out originally in 1977 and I have seen it more times than I can remember on VHS and DVD – but perhaps the knowledge that I was just one of many thousands of viewers watching it at the same time had a strange effect on me. Television usually feels such an intimate, personal pastime and it’s generally only when there are major world events reported that it feels as if you are part of an international community of viewers. However, rightly or wrongly, Never Too Old stirred up those very feelings in me. How many other viewers raised a glass with Mainwaring to Britain’s Home guard – and indeed the relatively small group of writers and actors who helped immortalise the volunteer force? I unashamedly, was one.

The fact that the cast and crew knew that this would be the last episode had something to do with the strange, epoch-ending feeling the episode has – along with the fact that every bit-member of the cast were included. It’s also very sad that Jimmy Beck was not around to witness the end of the series and see the institution that Dad’s Army became – and still is, many years after the final programme was broadcast. After watching this episode, go back if you can to the pre-credits sequence of very first episode- The Man and The Hour. This is set after the war is over and low and behold, Walker is there – minus moustache. Perhaps Walker was just away in Never Too Old – and returned to Walmington on Sea after this episode was set. It’s a grand thought isn't it?

So the programme ends forever – no more new Dad’s Army episodes were made after Never Too Old, and what finer way would there have been to end the series. I defy anyone with an affection for this programme to turn off the television after the credits have rolled for the final time with a dry eye.