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The Best of Dad's Army

BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 153 mins . G . PAL


After France fell into German hands towards the middle of 1940 things were not looking good for England, as they were the only country left actively opposing Hitler and his Nazis' regime. With her armed forces weakened during the defence of France and not all on home soil, an alternative source of man power was sought to protect English shores.

In May 1940 the English government formed a volunteer army originally called The Local Defence Volunteers, later known as the Home Guard. This new army consisted of men who could not serve in the regular army mainly due to their age. With industry resources stretched to the limit the Home Guard often had to operate with outdated weapons, but trained and patrolled regularly throughout the war. England was never invaded by the German Army and so the effectiveness of the Home Guard was never really tested.

Due to the somewhat advanced years of her soldiers, the Home Guard was nick named 'Dad's Army'.

The television series Dad's Army was the brain child of Jim Perry, who I've read had the idea for the show when he realised that many people had forgotten about the Home Guard and the role they played in protecting England. It was produced for the BBC by Jim Perry and David Croft. The show ran from 1968 until 1977 and during this time around eighty episodes were produced. It was a very successful series enjoying enormous popularity in both England and Australia.

The series focuses on a particular squad within the Home Guard which has its base in the fictitious coastal town of Walmington-on-Sea. The regular characters on the show were Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe), Sergeant Wilson (John Le Mesurier), Corporal Jack Jones (Clive Dunn), Private James Frazer (John Laurie), Private Joe Walker (Joe Back), Private Charles Godfrey (Arnold Ridley), Private Frank Pike (Ian Lavender) and Air Raid Warden Hodges (Bill Pertwee).

"Corporal Jones "...They don't like it up 'em sir. They don't like it up 'em at all!""

This particular DVD contains five examples of the show from its colour era. The five episodes are:

The Deadly Attachment (29:28): The squad are instructed to guard a group of German prisoners of war for a night until the prisoners can be picked up by the regular army.

Keep Young and Beautiful (29:25): A motion is passed in parliament designed to exchange some of the older and less fit men of the Home Guard with more able bodied men from the Air Raid Patrol. This idea is not popular with our favourite Walmington-on-Sea squad and they take steps to ensure that they appear more youthful and thus avoid being transferred.

Never Too Old (35:21): Corporal Jones has proposed to his sweetheart and is now finding it difficult to concentrate on his duties as he awaits her answer. Finally he receives good news and wedding plans begin.

Asleep In The Deep (29:29): A bomb has fallen on the local Pump House, trapping Privates Walker and Godfrey inside. The Walmington-on-Sea boys must find a way to rescue their colleagues.

Sons Of The Sea (29:33): Mainwaring gains access to a row boat and decides to introduce a river patrol. The men are given basic rowing instructions and then "put to sea" for practice. A fog ensures that there are laughs a plenty in this episode.


The episodes presented on this DVD are over 25 years old and were originally filmed for broadcast on television, so you shouldn't expect too much from this full-frame video transfer.

As far as image quality is concerned it is perfectly adequate, although scenes shot outdoors suffer from pronounced film grain at times, which greatly reduces the detail present. The level of colour saturation also varies, but not to the point of becoming distracting. The brightness is also a little variable, with a couple of scenes featuring obviously overexposed sheets of paper, while bright reflections cause a smearing effect when an actor moves across the screen. Some video noise is apparent at times giving the leaves on trees a digital appearance. All of the episodes feature some minor but frequent aliasing and cross colouration is also visible at times.

The layer change for this DVD takes place at 91:33 during the third episode. It is quite noticeable as it occurs in the middle of a scene.


Easy to listen to, clear and in sync throughout, this transfer is fine but basically monaural. Like the video transfer, the audio quality varies slightly with some hiss evident in a couple of episodes.


There are two extras present on this DVD:

Selection Box is a 28 odd minute featurette that features English personalities talking about Dad's Army, its characters and their favourite moments. In between these sections of dialogue, footage from some of the more outrageous episodes is shown. This is worthwhile watching for an extra dose of Mainwaring and Co at their funniest.

The Artists Profile section features brief biographical information for the main cast members.


The Best Of Dad's Army is a very entertaining DVD that should tickle the sense of humour of viewers who have an understanding of the times in which this series was based and the English sense of humour in general.

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      And I quote...
    "This DVD contains five great examples of why Dad's Army is, for me, one of the great English comedy series. It wonderfully exaggerates the attitudes and mannerisms of the English of the time."
    - Michael Chappell
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