Dadís Army
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Viewing Dadís Army should be part of citizenship preparation in this country. No television programme better demonstrates the curious British split personality. On the one hand we are often pompous, officious, xenophobic, hypocritical, bumbling and class-ridden; on the other courageous, generous, decent, inventive and finding humour in the least thing.
The TV programme originally ran from 1968 to 1977, but has been repeated almost constantly since. It also spawned a radio version and spin-off; and a wonderful film. It is truly a British institution.
There is of course much comedy; the slapstick of Corporal Jones and often of Captain Mainwaring; the lewd or cutting asides of Walker; the class warfare of Captain/Manager and Sergeant/Chief Clerk; the continuous doom-mongering of Frazer; and good old-fashioned toilet jokes about Godfrey. But underneath the laughter there is respect for what the Home Guard was prepared for Ė to be cannon fodder to slow a German advance in the event of invasion.
Arthur Lowe was born to play George Mainwaring; likewise John Le Mesurier Arthur Wilson. And there too lies another secret of the showís success: the quality of its cast: John Laurie was a Shakespearean actor and Ealing Comedy stalwart; Arnold Ridley not only a player but also a noted writer for the theatre.
Add to those ingredients Jimmy Perry and David Croft ís genius with catch-phrases which have entered our national language: you stupid boy; they donít like it up Ďem; do you think thatís wise, sir? and you have the recipe for a classic piece of television, and a small but powerful piece of our identity.

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