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Dad’s Army - the joy of the lost episodes

Blog | By Gyles Brandreth | Aug 19, 2019

Eyes front! Mainwaring (Kevin McNally) and Wilson (Robert Bathurst)

I was still a student when I hosted my first TV show,exactly fifty years ago. It was called Child of the Sixties and featured me sitting on a stool, quizzing the great and the good of the day about the decade that was just coming to an end. Michael Foot and Iain Macleod were two of my star interviewees. Shortly after transmission, the videotape on which the show was recorded was wiped.

Programmes were wiped on a routine basis so that the costly tape could be recycled and used to record new stuff. You don’t give a toss about my show, I know, but you probably do care about the missing episodes of Dad’s Army. David Croft and Jimmy Perry’s Home Guard sitcom ran to eighty episodes between 1968 and 1977 and three of the great originals are missing, presumed wiped.

An enterprising producer has just remade them, using the original shooting scripts, though not, of course, the original cast. I went to Pinewood to watch the new filming – with Kevin McNally as Captain Mainwairing, Robert Bathurst as Sergeant Wilson and Timothy West as Private Godfrey – and was blown away. The scripts have stood the test of time and, in terms of clout and quality, the new casting rivals the old.

You are in for a treat. And given the first two series of Dad’s Army were shot in black and white for a small square screen, I am encouraging the producer to remake all those as well.