‘We’re Doomed! The Dad’s Army Story’ (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Birth of ‘Dad’s Army’

This is the ‘We’re Doomed! Dad’s Army’ story – Not the ‘Don’t Panic! Dad’s Army’ story!

On the 22nd of December 2015 – a Tuesday evening – I saw ‘We’re Doomed! The Dad’s Army Story’! This was a behind-the-scenes docu-drama depicting how the writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft came together to work against the odds and make their BBC sitcom series about the Home Guard. 🙂

I love ‘We’re Doomed! The Dad’s Army Story’! As I’m a ‘Dad’s Army’ fan, I couldn’t miss out on watching this special docu-drama in the lead up to Christmas at that time. This was something akin to what ‘An Adventure In Space and Time’ did with the behind-the-scenes creation of ‘Doctor Who’.

I enjoyed seeing this behind-the-scenes drama on ‘Dad’s Army’ that was both amusing and interesting to watch. I liked how the real-life events event were dramatised about how ‘Dad’s Army’ was made in the late 1960s after hearing various anecdotes from contributors of the series via DVDs.

There were plenty of things I knew already regarding how ‘Dad’s Army’ came to be in its early stages. The story shows how Jimmy Perry, a jobbing actor who got nowhere, decided to write his own TV sitcom series with the intention of writing a really good acting part for him – the spiv Walker.

He shares his script to friend David Croft called ‘Fighting Tigers’ in 1967. Very soon, David Croft manages to get agreement from BBC TV Comedy Head Michael Mills to work on the script about the Home Guard in World War II, renaming it ‘Dad’s Army’. But it doesn’t mean Jimmy Perry will play Walker. 😦

I found the cast very good in this docu-drama. It’s true that not every cast member is exact recreations of people who worked on the show behind-the-scenes and on the camera. But most of the actors I saw in this docu-drama did make me think they were the people they were playing here.

Paul Ritter and Richard Dormer head the cast as Jimmy Perry and David Croft and are very good. I don’t think Paul Ritter exactly matches to Jimmy Perry’s likeness as I’ve seen him in photographs and DVD interviews. But he gets the enthusiasm of Jimmy wanting to be an actor-turned-writer spot on!

Richard Dormer is very convincing as David Croft with his quiet mild-manner and thoughtful approach to working behind-the-scenes on making ‘Dad’s Army’. It was interesting to see the working relationship between Jimmy Perry and David Croft getting depicted in this docu-drama here.

A lot of the time when they’re writing ‘Dad’s Army’ scripts, they get on really well with each other. It gets tense when David Croft breaks the news to Jimmy Perry that he can’t cast him as Walker, giving his reasons why. It was so intriguing how they faced obstacles in getting their BBC sitcom series made.

There were faces I recognised in this drama whilst watching it on TV. One of them was John Sessions as Arthur Lowe. I was delighted to see him in this after hearing star in the Big Finish ‘Doctor Who’ audio drama ‘Castle of Fear’ with Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. He’s a convincing Arthur Lowe! 😀

I wish John Sessions played Captain Mainwaring both in the ‘Dad’s Army’ 2016 movie and in the ‘Dad’s Army’ lost episodes remake from 2019. John is brilliant in how he sounds and talks as Arthur Lowe. It was amusing to see the real-life aspects of Arthur Lowe with forgetting his lines as Mainwaring.

The other cast members include Julian Sands as John Le Mesurier. I don’t know much about Julian Sands as an actor at this point, but he seems to deliver a convincing John Le Mesurier in this docu-drama. This is especially when he’s laid-back about the making of the series as I expect he would be.

I was surprised to see Mark Heap as Clive Dunn in this docu-drama. I’ve seen him as Thomas Brown in the BBC drama series ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’. I think Mark Heap would be equally great as Jones in the 2016 movie and 2019 lost episodes remake, especially when he’s going “Don’t panic!” here! 🙂

I also liked Ralph Riach as John Laurie. Out of all the actors I’ve seen playing John Laurie types in ‘Dad’s Army’, I found Ralph Riach to be quite convincing. Again, I think he’d be great playing Frazer in both the 2016 movie and 2019 lost episodes remake, as he gets John Laurie’s mannerisms quite well.

Kevin Bishop plays James Beck in this docu-drama. The first time I saw Kevin Bishop was as Jim Hawkins in ‘Muppet Treasure Island’. I wondered what Kevin Bishop had done lately. 😀 I enjoyed him as James Beck in this drama. Likewise, he’d be good as Walker in other ‘Dad’s Army’ projects! 😀

I was pleased to see Michael Cochrane as Arnold Ridley in this docu-drama. I’ve met him in real-life back in April 2013 and he was in ‘Black Orchid’, my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ TV story. He’s not exactly rounded as Arnold Ridley, but he delivers the gentler, kinder mannerisms of Arnold Ridley very well.

Kieran Hodgson stars as Ian Lavender in the docu-drama. I liked the interaction Ian Lavender had with Arthur Lowe in this docu-drama. They must’ve got on well behind-the-scenes in real-life as Arthur Lowe gives words of encouragement to Ian Lavender with wearing a funny costume and such.

I was surprised to see Shane Richie as Bill Pertwee in the drama. Not that I mind that as he was very good. But I don’t recall Hodges in any of the location scenes of the Series 1 episodes of ‘Dad’s Army’. Maybe he was there to provide moral support to the ‘Dad’s Army’ main cast. I’m not entirely certain.

All of the cast give good performances in this docu-drama, especially the actors playing the regular TV cast in ‘Dad’s Army’. The other members of the cast play people who are essential in the lives of Jimmy Perry and David Croft making the series, personally and professionally. Here are notable ones.

There’s Sarah Alexander as Gilda Perry, Jimmy Perry’s wife and Sally Phillips as Ann Croft, David Croft’s wife. There’s also Harry Peacock as Michael Mills, the BBC Head of Comedy; Stuart McQuarrie as Tom Sloan, the BBC Head of Light Entertainment and Keith Allen as Paul Fox, the BBC1 Controller.

It was amusing to see the reactions of the three BBC executives to the first ‘Dad’s Army’ script by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. Michael Miles is laughing his head off; Tom Sloan is slightly amused and Paul Fox is shocked and far from impressed. The delivery of those reactions is pretty amusing. 😀

Here’s an interesting fun fact. Jon Pertwee was once considered to play Captain Mainwaring in ‘Dad’s Army’. After seeing ‘Doctor Who’, I’m completely fascinated by that. I wonder what would’ve happened if Jon Pertwee said “Yes” to play Mainwaring. ‘Dad’s Army’ would be a different show. 😀

There’s also Roy Hudd as Bud Flanagan, the man who sings “Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr. Hitler?” for the ‘Dad’s Army’ opening titles. Roy Hudd is a well-known ‘Dad’s Army’ fan as well as an actor. I’m sure he enjoyed playing Bud Flanagan for that one scene he’s in singing the theme song. 🙂

The title sequences issue in the making of the ‘Dad’s Army’ series becomes a nightmare for Jimmy Perry and David Croft in the docu-drama. They’re told not to use war footage for the title sequences which angers David Croft! 😀 I love how it gets resolved with the well-known titles sequence at the end.

I like how the drama ends with the future of ‘Dad’s Army’ seeming uncertain as the cast and crew sit down to watch it on TV. John Laurie switches the TV off to say “It’s doomed! Doomed, I tell ye!” before it ends with captions saying the series lasted for nine seasons. Well, of course it did, didn’t?!!

I’m pleased I saw ‘We’re Doomed! The Dad’s Army Story’ on TV back in December 2015. It’s a light-hearted and enjoyable docu-drama showcasing the behind-the-scenes story of ‘Dad’s Army’ and how it got made by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. It’s a TV delight I enjoy watching again and again. 🙂

At that time, I was looking forward to seeing the ‘Dad’s Army’ 2016 movie at the cinemas in February next! 😀

‘We’re Doomed! The Dad’s Army Story’ rating – 9/10

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