My Dad’s Army rewatch continues and I’ve now reached the colourful delights of series three (although most of the watching audience back in 1969, and for a number of years afterwards, would still have been watching in black and white).
The opening few minutes – Captain Mainwairing delivers an incomprehensible lecture in a gasmask which then leads to a tortuous conversation with Jones – works as a sketch in its own right and could easily have been dropped into virtually any episode of DA. This happened a fair deal throughout the series (see also Croft/Lloyd’s Are You Being Served? for similar examples) which suggests that both writers penned a series of vignettes by themselves which they later collaborated on, stitching them together in order to create a whole episode.
The scene in Jones’ butchers shop outstays its welcome a little, but since it introduces Pamela Cundell as Mrs Fox, I’ll cut it a little slack. At this point she’s not a widow, which means that her flirting with Jones has a little extra edge (although to be fair, most of his customers seem quite happy to flutter their eyelids at him if it means getting something a little extra).
Walker has hatched a plan – if Jones donates his butchers van to the Home Guard then they’ll be able to get petrol coupons (which will be handy for Joe – it’ll allow him to move his contraband around more easily). But his best laid plans are scuppered after the van is converted to gas.
The scene where Walker and Jones find themselves in charge of a van dangerously leaking gas plays out well – although you get the feeling that there was more comic potential to be wrung from it. There’s no quibbles with the episode’s most memorable scene though – Wilson demonstrates how the van has now been converted into an impressive fighting machine (“Open, two, three, out, two, three! Bang, two, three, bang, two, three, bang, two, three, bang, two, three, bang, two, three! In, two, three, shut!”)
Also debuting in this episode is Harold Bennett as Mr Bluett (thirteen appearances between 1969 and 1977). Considering he was in his late sixties at the time this one was made, it’s surprising to see just how roughly Bennett was manhandled by the platoon (at one point they attempt to force Mr Bluett, lying on a stretcher, through the front of the van as the back doors were locked).
The chap playing “the Angry Man” was naggingly familiar, but I couldn’t put a name to him. It turned out to be Nigel Hawthorne …