If you thought Pike’s mum was the most overbearing female in the world of Dad’s Army, you’ve got another think coming. According to the sitcom’s surviving co-writer Jimmy Perry, there’s a new film about the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard in the pipeline in which Captain Mainwaring is, rather surprisingly, going to be played by a woman.
The 89-year-old comedy veteran recently broke the news at a meeting of members of the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society, who greeted the announcement of Mainwaring’s gender swap with “groans”.
According to a post on the DAAS website, “much to the disappointment of those gathered” Perry said that he would not be writing the script and so “cannot say what the storyline might be”.
Perry’s agent has said that the writer is currently “in the midst of discussions” about the new film and that there had been “interest” in the project from various studios, reports the Independent.
It’s been 35 years since the last episode of Dad’s Army was broadcast and, following the death of Clive Dunn earlier this month, the only member of sictom’s Home Guard platoon left alive is Ian Lavender, so the film will require a completely new cast.
But while such a radical strategy has been employed successfully by the makers of Gold's new series of Yes, Prime Minister, fans of Dad's Army are sceptical whether a new film will work with a new cast and a female lead.
Ralph Montagu, who oversaw the re-mastering of Dad’s Army for release on DVD, told RadioTimes.com: “The idea of a female Mainwaring commanding Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard seems very implausible.
“I have always thought that Mainwaring’s character – even if not portrayed by Arthur Lowe – deserves further exploration and development. We all know about his pomposity and his awful home life, but he had a more sensitive and romantic side which was only explored briefly in the episode ‘Mum’s Army’ when the Captain becomes smitten with Mrs Gray played by Carmen Silvera.
“If Mainwaring were cast as a woman, this would be impossible. Moreover, he is supposed to be a bank manager, another male preserve at the time.”
Historically, it is unlikely that a woman would have served as a captain in the Home Guard during World War 2, though women were admitted into the Home Guard after 1943. There were also other existing women's units, such as the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, which could potentially serve as the basis for the new Dad's Army movie.
Of course, the new film won’t be the first big-screen adaptation of Dad’s Army. In 1971 director Norman Cohen turned a collection of re-hashed scenes from TV episodes of the show into a feature, which struggled to sustain itself for an hour and a half, a problem that Montagu fears may blight future film adaptations of the series.
He said: “The Dad’s Army format worked brilliantly as 30 minute television episodes. Whilst the original feature film started very well, it couldn’t maintain the pace of the television episodes over 95 minutes. I fear that any new version might have the same problem.”
But what do you make of the plans? Do you think a radical 21st-century shake-up is just what Dad's Army's been looking for? Or does this sound like the film-makers have been rather stupid boys? Vote in our poll and let us know...