‘Battle of the Giants!’ (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is an hour-long Christmas Special episode of ‘Dad’s Army’! Captain Mainwaring is embarrassed to have his men wear their military medals on a Sunday church parade. When insulted by Captain Square, Captain Mainwaring bites back. This ends up having him and his men go off and do a military challenge.

This is a chance for Mainwaring and his men to prove themselves and to see which platoon, whether it’s the Walmington-on-Sea platoon or the Eastgate platoon, is the best one. This challenge includes a tracking exercise and some initiative tests. Will Mainwaring and his men get to achieve this challenge?

I enjoyed ‘Battle of the Giants!’ very much. Although it’s not an absolute favourite of mine from the ‘Dad’s Army’ TV series, it’s certainly got a lot to offer as a festive outing. I enjoyed how the ‘Dad’s Army’ team were able to prove themselves through mishaps and blunders as Mainwaring leads them.

I found it funny when Mainwaring is appalled that his men have been ordered to wear their military medals and he calls Captain Square a ‘pompous idiot’. I enjoyed that line-up between Mainwaring and his men where he’s inspecting them in the church hall and they are all wearing medals of various kinds.

Jonesy, Frazer and Godfrey are normal in wearing their medals. But Pike wears his scout badges and Walkers wears a medal given to him by a Sikh which was so funny. It was amusing when Wilson puts on his medals whilst Mainwaring is inspecting the troops. Mainwaring is appalled to see this happen.

There’s a really funny moment where Mainwaring tries to get out of the church parade and he’s in his civilian clothes. Pike then comes in and gives him his Home Guard uniform from the cleaners. I felt sorry for Mainwaring when Pike ruins it for him to avoid attending the parade since he has no medals.

It was very amusing when the ‘Dad’s Army’ team ‘allow’ Mainwaring to put his uniform on before the parade. I liked how this episode touches upon how Mainwaring’s lack of military medals makes him less qualified to be a captain of the Walmington-on-Sea platoon, yet he’s determined to ‘fight’ on in the war.

Geoffrey Lumsden returns as Captain Square in this ‘Dad’s Army’ episode. Square becomes very mean to Mainwaring since he hasn’t got any medals. It was fun to see Square’s old-fashioned ideals come to the fore, since he is the one who challenges Mainwaring to show his mettle when on this challenge.

The episode also features Bill Pertwee as Chief Warden Hodges as well as Frank Williams as the Vicar and Edward Sinclair as the Verger. These three act as referees during the exercise for the Walmington-on-Sea and Eastgate platoons. Sometimes they can be rather unfair on the Walmington platoon here.

It was so funny when Warden Hodges tries to lessen the ‘Dad’s Army’ team’s chances of success in the episode. Hodges tries to pull the plug out of Mainwaring’s team’s boat, but they go in another. Hodges also goes overboard when he’s in a boat and it fills up, causing to sink before he’s in the river.

The episode also features Robert Raglan as the Colonel as well as Colin Bean as Private Sponge and Charlie Hill as Sergeant Parkins, Square’s butler. The Colonel is more sympathetic and supportive to the ‘Dad’s Army’ team than Colonel Square is. He even encourages the ‘Dad’s Army’ heroes at the end.

There were lots of moments to enjoy in the ‘Dad’s Army’ episode, especially when our heroes go on the challenge. Jonesy suffers an attack of malaria whilst driving his van. Mainwaring and the others do all they can to help by providing him tonic wine as well as cover him with blankets, keeping him warm.

I found it funny when the ‘Dad’s Army’ team in Jones’ van drive around in circles during the exercise. Wilson keeps noticing a ‘Snow White’ cottage and Frazer seems to be getting it wrong with the directions. It was pretty amusing when Mainwaring and Square kept following each other in their vans.

I liked it when the Walmington and Eastgate platoons meet up on the bridge and try to push their ways past. Also the Walmington platoon turns the tyres down of Square’s van and the Eastgate platoon turn the tyres down of Jonesy’s van and none realise it while they save Hodges out of the river.

Speaking of which, Hodges gets pushed into the river by Wilson over the bridge. The moment when Mainwaring and Square see Hodges in the river and they try to save him at the same time, they’re each told that the tyres of their vans are down and they drop Hodges into the river following the shock.

I enjoyed some of the initiative tests in this when the ‘Dad’s Army’ team fight with balloons with their fixed bayonets and also when they take piles of feathers from a large box into barrels. That moment when Mainwaring casually shoots a balloon out of the sky and says “Good heavens!” was inspirational.

During the scene where Jonesy is ill, it was so funny when Mainwaring blows the whistle and the ‘Dad’s Army’ platoon open fire accidentally in Jonesy’s fan. It was so funny when Jonesy’s recovered, but he is so drunk after drinking too much of that tonic wine from Godfrey. It annoys Hodges once this happens.

I enjoyed the climax to the episode where Jonesy is dangling from the pole at the top of the tower, trying to get the rope in. But eventually, the ‘Dad’s Army’ team have won as their flag is flying at the top of the tower. It’s all thanks to Walker, who seems to have deliberately made two of the same flag.

‘Battle of the Giants!’ is a great ‘Dad’s Army’ Christmas Special. I enjoyed some of the mishaps and the bumbling made by the ‘Dad’s Army’ team during the episode as it made me laugh out loud. I know I said this isn’t an absolute favourite Christmas Special of mine, but it certainly goes as a third favourite.

It was pointed out to me that this Christmas Special would’ve worked well as a movie compared to the 1971 ‘Dad’s Army’ film that was released at cinemas. I suppose that would be true, as it’s an original story and not a film remake of certain TV episodes. But I still like the 1971 ‘Dad’s Army’ movie anyway.

On Disc 14 of ‘The Complete ‘Dad’s Army’ DVD collection’, there’s an audio commentary for ‘Battle of the Giants!’ with co-writer Jimmy Perry and co-writer/producer/director David Croft.

‘Battle of the Giants!’ (TV) rating – 8/10

dads-army-present-arms dads-army-radio-series-1


Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is a lovely little Christmas treat to have! This is the first and the only official Christmas Special to be produced for the ‘Dad’s Army’ radio series. I enjoy listening to this special radio episode every year when I get to decorate the Christmas tree in the living room. This is full of enjoyable Christmas comedy.

The episode stars Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring; John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Wilson and Clive Dunn as Corporal Jones. It was originally shown on the 25th of December 1974 and is a 60-minute episode. I have the episode on a CD as well as a download via Series 1 of the ‘Dad’s Army’ radio series.

In case you didn’t know, the ‘Dad’s Army’ episodes were adapted into radio from the TV series. They were adapted by writer/director Harold Snoad and writer/actor Michael Knowles. I love listening to these ‘Dad’s Army’ radio episodes, getting to compare and contrast how they differ from the TV series.

When I discovered this Christmas special of the radio series, I couldn’t resist purchasing the CD at a shop in Bath and listening to it in the car on the way home. It was truly a delightful experience listening to it over Christmas. ‘Present Arms’ is an episode that’s adapted from two TV episodes of ‘Dad’s Army’.

The episodes are ‘Battle of the Giants!’, which was one of the TV Christmas Specials shown in 1971, and ‘Shooting Pains’, the sixth and final episode of Series 1 from the black-and-white days. The story is about Captain Mainwaring being insulted by Captain Square when it’s revealed he’s won no medals.

Captain Mainwaring is ordered to have his men wear their medals on a Sunday church parade over Christmas. Mainwaring believes medals won’t help win the war against the Germans and the ‘Dad’s Army’ team have been chosen to provide the guard of honour for Churchill’s visit to Walmington-on-Sea.

Captain Square challenges Mainwaring’s right to provide the guard of honour for Churchill. Thus a competition is arranged between Mainwaring and Square’s platoons. This involves map-tracking and a shooting match. The Walmington platoon don’t believe that they can win until Walker saves the day.

If you love and know ‘Dad’s Army’ as well as I do, you know how the TV episodes work. It’s great when listening to the radio episode and note the various changes and alterations made from TV to radio. This includes some of the characters’ dialogue being changed as well as events that happen during the tale.

The spirit of the ‘Dad’s Army’ TV series stays the same in the radio series and the actors playing their characters are immensely enjoyable to listen to. Arthur Lowe; John Le Mesurier; Clive Dunn and the rest of the cast never let down on their performances as they kept me amused all the way throughout.

In the cast, there’s Arthur Lowe; John Le Mesurier; Clive Dunn; John Laurie; Arnold Ridley and Ian Lavendar in their well-known TV characters from the series. There’s also Larry Martyn as Walker, replacing James Beck who had sadly passed away in 1973 before doing more episodes in the radio series.

I have to say that Larry Martyn does a really good job as Private Walker for the radio series. This episode is the first time he plays him in the series. Larry doesn’t get praised a lot for his performances as Walker in the radio series. He’s no James Beck, but I believed I heard Walker’s voice as Larry played him.

Bill Pertwee also guest stars as Chief Warden Hodges, the main antagonist of the ‘Dad’s Army’ platoon. Compared to the TV episode, Hodges doesn’t have an active role in the radio episode which was rather disappointing. Hodges had a meatier role to play in the TV version of ‘Battle of the Giants!’ than on radio.

Pearl Hackney guest stars as Mrs Pike in the ‘Dad’s Army’ radio series. She plays Mrs. Pike during the ‘Shooting Pains’ part of the radio episode. I prefer Janet Davies’ performance as Mrs. Pike from the ‘Dad’s Army’ TV series compared to Pearl’s version of the character. But Pearl’s performance is decent.

Sometimes I find Pearl’s voice as Mrs. Pike scratchy and older compared to Janet’s lovely rounded voice as the character on TV. She doesn’t give a terrible performance as Mrs. Pike in the radio episodes and she manage to serve the purpose of the character being present throughout the radio series itself.

Geoffrey Lumsden returns to play Captain Square in the radio version of this ‘Dad’s Army’ episode. He’s brilliant sounding like the ‘pompous idiot’ Square is for the TV series. There’s also Jack Watson who guest stars in the episode playing two roles, which are Brigadier Bell and the cheerful Charlie Cheeseman.

There’s also Norman Bird who guest stars as Bert Postlethwaite, the stage-gunner who performs at the Hippodrome during the ‘Shooting Pains’ section of the episode. Walker recruits Postlethwaite for the certain Saturday shooting match as this temporary member within the ‘Dad’s Army’ platoon.

Having Bert Postlethwaite in the radio episode was interesting. In the TV version of ‘Shooting Pains’, it was a girl who got dressed up as a man to shoot for the ‘Dad’s Army’ platoon. That was Barbara Windsor as Laura La Plaz. Why it was changed from woman into a man in the radio version, I don’t know.

This episode is introduced by the announcer John Snagge, who does the introductions and reads-out for the closing credits on every episode of ‘Dad’s Army’ in the radio series. It wouldn’t be a Christmas radio episode of ‘Dad’s Army’ without John Snagge, would it? John Snagge sounds very grand, doesn’t he?! 😀

‘Present Arms’ is a great Christmas Special to listen to if you’re a ‘Dad’s Army’ fan. I love listening to this radio episode every year and finding how much is similar and different compared the TV versions of ‘Battle of the Giants!’ and ‘Shooting Pains’ to this Christmas radio episode. I greatly enjoy hearing this!

It is sad though that ‘Present Arms’ is the only official Christmas episode of ‘Dad’s Army’ to enjoy from the radio series. I wish ‘My Brother and I’ was adapted into a Christmas radio episode, but it’s no big deal. At least a radio version of ‘Turkey Dinner’ from Series 3 of the ‘Dad’s Army’ radio series is about.

‘Present Arms’ (Audio) rating – 8/10

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2 thoughts on “‘Battle of the Giants!’ (TV)

  1. Rob Keeley

    Battle of the Giants is crammed full of great moments: Pike innocently ruining Mainwaring’s plan to get off the parade; the platoon accidentally firing when Mainwaring blows the whistle for help with Jones; Wilson knocking Hodges into the water; and Mainwaring casually shooting the balloon out of the sky without pause for thought.

    Wilson: Good heavens!
    Mainwaring: What do you mean, good heavens… Good heavens!

    This sustains its length very well and would arguably have made a better Dad’s Army film than the film made the same year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bradley Post author

    Hi Rob.

    I will need to update my reviews on these Christmas episodes, but thanks for sharing your thoughts on ‘Battle of the Giants’.

    I enjoyed ‘Battle of the Giants’ very much. I felt sorry for Mainwaring when Pike ruins it for him to avoid attending the parade because he hasn’t got any medals. I’m pleased you enjoyed so many moments from this episode to keep you entertained, and quite right too as it is a Christmas special.

    Interesting remark you made about this episode making a better ‘Dad’s Army’ film. I’m looking forward to reviewing that ‘Dad’s Army’ theatrical movie soon on my blog.

    Thanks for commenting on my ‘Dad’s Army’ reviews whilst I’ve been away. Glad you’ve enjoyed them.

    Tim. 🙂



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