Kevin Whately and Robson Green talk about their poignant new ITV1 drama about the Home Guard, Joe Maddison’s War

Is this really the first time you two have acted together?
Kevin: “Indeed! As far as I know there’s never even been a whisper of it, although we’ve known each other for a long time. Robson was making Soldier, Soldier for Central TV at the same time I was doing Peak Practice also for Central, so we used to meet at the dos then. But, it’s never been mooted before, so when this came up I said, ‘You’ll never get Robson!’ However, they did!”

What else have you got in common?
“We both suffer in silence at St James’ Park watching Newcastle United, so it’s a lovely privilege to work with him finally. There was an instant camaraderie as soon as I arrived on the set. Kevin is lovely, he’s the captain of the ship and a very good one.”

So what is it all about?
“I play a shipyard worker, Joe, a World War One veteran who feels past his prime when hostilities break out again in 1939. When his wife leaves him, he needs a fresh challenge and reluctantly agrees to join the Home Guard with his old mate from the trenches, Harry (Robson). Joe genuinely feels that he’s old and that the world’s no good to him, so he joins the Dad’s Army – sorry, mustn’t call it that. It is just that none of us can remember the words Home Guard!”

And your character Robson?
“While Joe’s quiet, easy-going, and rather shy, Harry’s the joker of the group, leading to clashes with Major Simpson (Derek Jacobi), the platoon’s leader, who’s from the Captain Mainwaring school of pompous leadership. Harry just hates those people who pretend that they’re soldiers, like Derek’s character who’s walking about as an officer saying he fought in World War One and Harry knows he didn’t. I’m just letting him hang himself and then I shout at him, ‘Don’t ever pretend you’re one us, no one will ever understand what it was like on the Western Front unless they were there.'”

And Kevin you have a love interest?
“Joe’s still badly haunted by his days in the trenches and he has no one to comfort him when his wife leaves him. But then a local widow, Selina (Melanie Hill), asks him for a twirl at a dance and things finally begin to look up for the story’s hero. Neither of them is looking for love, but he walks her home after a dance and an air raid begins so she takes him in. She’s very sweet and canny.”

And Robson you get to sing?
“Yes! Harry sings at the dance where the couple meet. A lot of the crew were clueless about my singing career. It was 16 years ago!”