Dad's Army heads for big screen

JOINING DAD'S ARMY: Toby Jones is set to play Captain George Mainwaring
JOINING DAD'S ARMY: Toby Jones is set to play Captain George Mainwaring

A new Dad's Army movie is to be made, with two key cast members already named.

Toby Jones, who played Truman Capote in Infamous, will take on the role of the pompous bank manager Captain George Mainwaring - head of the Home Guard platoon in fictional seaside town Walmington-on-Sea.

In the television series, broadcast on the BBC from 1968 to 1977 over nine series and 80 episodes, Mainwaring was played by Arthur Lowe. One of his best known catchphrases was "you stupid boy" directed at the young platoon member and mother's-boy Private Frank Pike.

JOINING DAD'S ARMY: Bill Nighy is set to play Sergeant Arthur Wilson
JOINING DAD'S ARMY: Bill Nighy is set to play Sergeant Arthur Wilson

The role of the well-spoken Sergeant Arthur Wilson, chief cashier at Mainwaring's bank, will be played in the movie by Bill Nighy, known for his appearance in Love Actually and as Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean.

In the television series Wilson, who had a long but unofficial relationship with Pike's mother Mavis, was played by John Le Mesurier. Pike called him Uncle Arthur.

Among several other memorable characters in the series was Lance Corporal Jack Jones, local butcher and veteran of several campaigns for the British Empire.

He referred to fighting the Fuzzy Wuzzies, was fond of bayonet warfare and regularly said "they don't like it up 'em". He shouted "don't panic, don't panic" when he became excited.

Jones was played by Clive Dunn who died in 2012 aged 92.

Dad's Army creator Jimmy Perry, who is 90, has sold the rights for a Dad's Army film, and told Britain's Radio 5 Live a film had "been in the air for a long time".

The Sunday Times reported the film would be directed by Oliver Parker, who made Johnny English Reborn, St Trinian's, and Othello starring Sir Kenneth Branagh.

The script will be written by Hamish McColl, who wrote Johnny English Reborn and Mr Bean's Holiday.

Producer Damian Jones, who produced The Iron Lady and The History Boys, was quoted as saying the "universal appeal" of Dad's Army had convinced him a new film could work.

Last week the mayor of Thetford in Norfolk, where the television series was filmed, said he would welcome anything that would raise awareness of Dad's Army and its links to the town.

"However we hope they do justice to what is a national institution, and that it will not be like some remakes which have not worked," Stuart Wright, who is also chairman of the town's Dad's Army Museum, said.

In Britain nearly 20 million viewers used to tune into the television series during the height of its popularity, and almost two million still watch repeat screenings.

It will be the second time the television series has been translated into a film. A 1971 attempt received mixed reviews.