Dad’s Army go on parade for 70th birthday

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Theatre group Dronfield Players are celebrating their 70th anniversary with a special production of Dad’s Army next week.

From 1943 to 2013 Dronfield Players have staged at least two plays every year to entertain local audiences.

David Roe, aged 72, who plays the Verger Mr Yeatman, is one of the longest-serving active members.

He joined in 1969 and has appeared in over 50 productions.

Captain Mainwaring is being played by Paul Black, who joined the society in the mid 1980s and is now the Artistic Director of the group.

He is also one of the company’s regular directors.

The group’s chairman and secretary are husband and wife John and Alison Pashley, who joined in 1973 and 1977 respectively.

The latest production is based on the classic BBC TV comedy series of the Home Guard of Walmington-on-Sea who battle daily against the Germans and local ARP Warden Hodges.

The show is split into three episodes. The Deadly Attachment and The Godiva Affair were presented as part of a Royal Command Performance, while Mum’s Army is made available in a stage version for the first time. Also included is the Floral Dance sketch.

In The Deadly Attachment the platoon have to guard a captured U-Boat Captain and his crew.

But fearless Captain Mainwaring incurs German displeasure when he orders the defiant prisoners be served soggy fish and chips!

That leads to the classic scene in the show where Private Pike sings an anti-Hitler song and the U-boat captain asks his name, to which Captain Mainwaring shouts: “Don’t tell him, Pike!”

The second episode, Mum’s Army, sees the Home Guard recruiting women but as Mrs Mainwaring “hasn’t left the house since Munich” she won’t be joining her husband’s platoon.

So when newcomer Mrs Gray enlists, Captain Mainwaring is set for a brief encounter.

In The Godiva Affair the platoon are rehearsing their Morris dancing as part of a fund-raising carnival parade which will include a ride past by Lady Godiva.

Unfortunately, there’s a last-minute substitution for the role of Godiva.

All the well-loved characters are here including ‘Stupid boy’ Pike, ’Don’t panic, don’t panic’ Jonesey, ‘Doomed, we’re all doomed’ Fraser, 
‘May I be excused, sir?’ Godfrey, and all under the command of 
the redoubtable Captain Mainwaring and his self-effacing deputy Sergeant Wilson.

The series highlighted a hitherto forgotten aspect of wartime defence.

The TV sitcom ran for nine series and 80 episodes in total, plus a radio version based on the television scripts, a feature film and a stage show.

The series regularly gained audiences of 18 million viewers and is still repeated worldwide.

In 2004, Dad’s Army was voted into fourth place in a BBC poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom.

It had been placed 13th in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000 and voted for by industry professionals.

The Radio Times listed Captain Mainwaring’s “You stupid boy!” among the 25 greatest put-downs on TV.

Dronfield Players’ production is at Dronfield Civic Hall from Tuesday to Saturday. Tickets £7/£6.

Tel: 01246 417850.