Beyond The TARDIS
Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Nighy!
Dad’s Army is one of those television programmes from the 70s that you can recall the theme tune without even really trying. It’s the programme that introduced us to the Home Guard from Walmington on Sea, run by bank manager, Captain Mainwaring, who may have seen conflict in the First World War, and wanted to do his bit for this one. He was a pompous character and he often got his comeuppance during the episode and was played by Arthur Lowe who was a familiar face back in the 60s and 70s.
My favourite characters of the series were Pike who was the youngest of the Home Guard and was unable to join up as he had flat feet. Walker, the spiv, and Godfrey, the gentle gentleman who was always concerned about being caught short, and Jones, the butcher played by Clive Dunn.
Dad’s Army was an iconic, classic comedy series which ran from 31 July 1968 to 13th November 1977, and made household names of all the cast.
The only surviving members of the cast are Ian Lavender and Frank Williams.
When the trailer came out for the new film, I wasn’t entirely sure about it. I didn’t think it had enough of a punch to pick up a new generation of fans, and sadly, I was right.
Hats off to the team however, for scouring the actors to play the characters of Godfrey, Mainwaring, Pike, Walker, Wilson, and Laurie’s ‘We’re Doomed’ character, plus awesome to see Ian Lavender playing the General and fantastic to see the same old vicar from the television series. But who the hell thought that Bill Nighy fitted the bill to play Wilson?
John Le Mesurier could play Wilson with such style and flair that you positively loved him, as either your Uncle or your lover. He was a charming man, and played a charming role.
Nighy failed to ignite the passion of Wilson. He looked completely bored and it really showed on film. I know he has the hang dog look, which works in other films and television shows he’s appeared in, but for the role of Wilson, once played so eloquently by Mesurier, Nighy failed to capture that essence. How anyone could feel as if they could fall in love with this man’s role, I do not know.
And before any Nighy fans lynch me, I do not hate the man. His role in Harry Potter, in Pirates of the Caribbean, and Love Actually, and his appearance in Doctor Who as the Art Gallery guy, couldn’t fault him. But sorry, as Wilson, no.
Perhaps there does come a time when so many films adapted from a television series are doomed to failure. Perhaps some people found the film entertaining and were thankful that there were no more car chases, steamy sex scenes, and no high explosive action and shoot ‘em up scenes. It was very British, but was it the best of British. Perhaps not!
If it had been a remake of the television series, as a series of misadventures by the little platoon of Walmington-on-Sea, perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered that there were so many mishaps, and so much tongue in cheek behaviour. It was after all, war time. But made into a film, the story was a little flimsy and didn’t hold the interest long enough for me to feel I needed to see the ending. I fell asleep twice during the film, and my son left 20 minutes into it.
Although there were plenty of familiar and recognisable Who cast, their roles were not enough to keep me entertained enough to care who won or who lost at the end, which is sad, when you think about it.
I loved the television series. The sing along theme tune by Flanagan and Allen, the intro where the soldiers are on patrol, edgy with their trigger fingers, or smoking a cigarette, or smiling like it’s a jolly walk in the countryside. Sadly, however, this film didn’t tick enough boxes to keep an old fan newly entertained.