Fans of Dad’s Army can now see how the famous BBC comedy was created back in the 1960s in a brand new drama, We’re Doomed! The Making of Dad’s Army (BBC2, Tuesday December 22, 9pm), starring John Sessions.
John plays Arthur Lowe, who of course was hapless Home Guard leader Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army.
It was a dream role for John who’s a huge fan of the wartime sitcom that ran from 1968 to 1977, and he was meticulous about looking just like Arthur, even if it meant having his head shaved, as told What’s On TV recently.
“It was terrific to play Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring, and the right choice to have my head shaved otherwise a baldy wig with close ups and everything wouldn’t have been that good. So I went bald and my hair is only just growing back. It’s still a bit peculiar, but it’s better than it was. But no it was very daunting. When you play someone that everybody loved, people are going to be very possessive about how it should be done.
“I tried to make a distinction between Arthur Lowe and Captain Mainwaring. I think there was an awful lot of Arthur in Captain Mainwaring though. He could be quite pompous, he could be quite difficult, quite precious, but not in a camp silly way.”
Dad’s Army was created by the new writing partnership of Jimmy Perry (Paul Ritter) and David Croft (Richard Dormer and this one-off drama shows the huge struggles they endured to get their wartime comedy off the ground because the idea was frowned upon by BBC bosses worried by its subject matter and behind the scenes it was fraught by personal clashes and difficulties with casting. Other stars include Kevin Bishop as Private Walker, Shane Richie as Bill Pertwee and Julian Sands as John Le Mesurier.
“As I’ve got older I’ve appreciated Dad’s Army more – the foibles of age or whatever,” said John. “As one gets older I find it very nostalgic looking back to the 1970s. Of course the sitcom would not have been at all funny had Hitler actually invaded. The Home Guard would really have been kaput I think. That’s the innocence of it. They really have no idea the darkness they’re facing.
“There’s this wonderful cross section in the show too – the swindler, the ladies’ man, the pompous little man bank manager, the silly mummy’s boy. It’s a wonderful panoply of people.”
We’re Doomed: The Making of Dad’s Army premeries on BBC2 on Tuesday, December 22 at 9pm