Fans already enjoying the 50th anniversary of wartime sitcom Dad’s Army will be over the moon at the announcement that the show’s three missing stories are to be faithfully re-created.
The Lost Episodes, to air on the Gold channel in 2019, will comprise brand-new productions of episodes three, five and six of series two: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Walker, A Stripe for Frazer, and Under Fire.
It was standard practice for the BBC to record over or discard tapes of programmes from this era, and the three Dad’s Army stories were casualties of this policy. (There are still 97 episodes missing from Doctor Who’s early days.)
Pete Thornton, head of scripted at UKTV, said: “The Lost Episodes are currently being cast, with an extensive hunt on to find the perfect candidates to take on the daunting task of bringing these much-loved comedy characters to life once more.
“We’ve been working on this project for several years and will be respecting the genius of the original series. If ever there was a time to stick to the script then this is it. We are hugely excited and not a little intimidated by this opportunity, but being plucky and hopefully not too incompetent Brits, we aim to see the task through.”
Fans are especially eager to see The Loneliness of the Long-Distance once again. The story, which originally aired on 15th March 1969, focused on the character of ducker-and-diver Private Walker, who receives his call-up papers from the Army.
Realising his value to the platoon, Walker’s colleagues employ subterfuge to try and keep him in the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard.
In A Stripe for Frazer, which first aired on 29 March 1969, Jones and Frazer battle it out to be made up to corporal, while Captain Mainwaring finally takes delivery of his officer’s cap.
Under Fire, which concluded Dad’s Army’s second series on 5 April 1969, sees Mainwaring organising the men to become firefighters when incendiary bombs fall on the town. Needless to say the entire enterprise backfires spectacularly.
Gerald Casey, Gold’s channel director, added: “As a Dad’s Army devotee, I’m utterly thrilled that we’re exclusively bringing these legendary lost masterpieces from Jimmy Perry and David Croft to life again after 50 years.”
In fact, A Stripe for Frazer was remade in 2016 when animators used an audio recording of the story as well as rare Radio Times on-set photographs to bring the story back to life. It’s available as a digital download from Amazon and iTunes.
That same year saw a big-screen outing for the Home Guard of Walmington-on-Sea, with Toby Jones donning the captain’s cap, Billy Nighy playing Sergeant Wilson and Tom Courtenay as Lance Corporal Jones.
The film also starred Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Gambon, Bill Paterson, Sarah Lancashire and Felicity Montagu as the previously unseen Mrs Mainwaring. Ian Lavender (Pike in the TV series) had a cameo role as a brigadier, while Frank Williams briefly reprised his TV role as the Vicar.
Dad’s Army, currently enjoying its 50th anniversary year with repeats on both BBC2 and Gold, will be the subject of a four-part documentary, hosted by Alexander Armstrong, to air on Gold in November. Saluting Dad’s Army will celebrate the impact of the enduring classic and pays tribute to the people who created it. Radio Times has assisted in its production via the magazine’s head of heritage and archivist Ralph Montagu, and Don Smith, who was RT’s staff photographer during the near-entirety of the sitcom’s original run.
Using archive footage and newly captured interviews, the documentary will offer a true insight into how Dad’s Army became not just a hit, but an institution.
The bookazine Dad’s Army at 50: a Radio Times Tribute to the Classic Series is available from WH Smith, price £9.99
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news