I always try to keep an open mind, even when I fear the worst. And that is exactly how I feel having read in the Independent that there may be a new film of Dad’s Army on the way. On one hand its great that producers feel there is still an audience for and an interest in a programme that last saw a new episode made 35 years ago. On the other hand, yesterdays article by Brian Viner in The Telegraph described very well how the success of Dad’s Army was rooted not only in great writing but, probably more so, in perfect casting. And then, as the series evolved, a coming together of the two so that, in the words of Jimmy Perry ‘Cpt Mainwaring became Arthur Lowe and Arthur Lowe became Cpt Mainwaring’.
It is Jimmy Perry who has revealed that negotiations are under way for a new film, and that the producers are considering casting a woman in the role of Captain Mainwaring. So whoever the new captain is we can be pretty sure she won’t be much like Arthur Lowe. That seems to present a problem as, unless they intend to create some sort of modern-day Home Guard, there simply would not have been a female Captain in the forties.
But the possibility of Miriam Margolyes (don’t let this become the start of a rumour – I’m just thinking of short, round actresses) playing the noble Captain is not what bothers me most. I’m thinking back to the previous occasions when Dad’s Army was recast for screen, particularly the 1971 feature film and Rear Guard the abortive attempt to migrate the series to the U.S. They just didn’t work – and that was with the active input of Perry and Croft and, in the case of the film, retaining the core cast.
So, when I hear there may be a renewed take on the classic formula I’m hoping for the best but fearing the worst.