Suffolk: Do you think that’s wise, Sir? asks Lynne Mortimer as it is revealed new Dad’s Army film is planned
As we absorb the astonishing news that a new Dad’s Army film is to be made starring Toby Jones as Captain Mainwaring and Bill Nighy as Sergeant Wilson, Lynne Mortimer imagines the reactions of the characters.
Scene I: The office at the Walmington on Sea church hall. Captain George Mainwaring is at his desk. Sergeant Arthur Wilson stands opposite. Next door in the hall, the Home Guard platoon is mustering for parade
Wilson: “Are you sure that’s wise, Sir?
Mainwaring: “What are you talking about, Wilson?
Wilson: It does seem an awfully big risk, Sir.
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Mainwaring: Oh, no no no no. You don’t win wars by pussyfooting around, Wilson. We need to take decisive action.
Wilson: If you think so, Sir.
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Mainwaring: I do, Wilson.
(Telephone rings. Mainwaring answers it)
Mainwaring: Hello, Captain Mainwaring here.... ah, Elizabeth (aside to Wilson) It’s my wife. Er yes... well... I... er yes... you don’t win wars by... yes, dear... mmm...uh-huh... we, need to take decisive... no. Yes, I will certainly take on board what you say... yes... no, I won’t expect any dinner if I don’t get it right... er... a blanket in the shed? Yes, dear. Goodbye. (puts down receiver. To Wilson who has been feigning indifference) You’ll be glad to hear, Wilson, that Mrs Mainwaring is one hundred per cent behind me in this.
Wilson: Yes, Sir.
Mainwaring: I need to talk to the men.
Wilson: Awfully nice of you, sir... shall I ask them to line up?
Mainwaring: Wilson, I sometimes worry about you.
Wilson: Do you?
Mainwaring: You act like you’re Jack Buchanan.
Wilson: Oh, Mavis is terribly fond of him. Brewster’s Millions...
Mainwaring: Oh, get on with it, Wilson.
(Wilson exits into hall. Mainwaring combs his hair and carefully places cap on head.)
Mainwaring: (to himself as Churchill) We shall fight them on the beaches... We must not underrate the gravity of the task which lies before us or the temerity of the ordeal, to which we shall not be found unequal.
(He exits into hall)
Scene II: The Church Hall. The platoon is lined up as Mainwaring enters.
Wilson: Would you mind awfully standing to attention. Thank you
Mainwaring: Stand aside, Wilson. Now men. I have some news. It’s been more than 35 years since we were last called upon to defend these shores against the Nazi hordes and now we must make ourselves ready again.
Cpl Jones: I would like to volunteer to make myself ready, Captain Mainwaring.
Mainwaring: Thank you, Jones. I know I can always rely on you and er... would you happen to have...
Jones: ... That nice piece of scrag end I promised you. Yes, and I put in a bag of chitterlings, too.
Wilson: Oh, good show. That may get you off the hook with Mrs Mainwaring, eh, sir (he laughs lightly).
Mainwaring (Harrumphs): Thank you, Wilson. So, men, what do you think? Another chance to keep the home fires burning, eh?
Pte Frazer (darkly): Doomed. We’re all doomed.
Mainwaring: Oh do be quiet, Frazer... Now, I think we should seize upon this...
Jones: I should like to volunteer to seize upon it, Captain Mainwaring....
(Before Mainwaring can respond, the door of the hall flies open. Enter ARP warden Hodges)
Hodges (loudly): Looks like you’re making a comeback, Napoleon.
Mainwaring: What do you want, Hodges? This is a meeting of the Home Guard and you are not invited.
Hodges: Oooh. Hark at him... I’ll have you know, I’ve already been approached. I think you’ll find I have a substantial part...
Pte Walker (aside to Frazer): That’s not what I’d heard. (Frazer laughs).
Mainwaring: That’s enough. We must approach this new challenge with the same professionalism we have always shown in all our endeavours... (Pte Godfrey raises his hand) Yes, Godfrey?
Godfrey: Er, may I be excused, Sir. I had a glass of Dolly’s freshly-made lemonade just before I left and...
Mainwaring: Yes, yes, Go on. (exit Godfrey) Now where was I?
Mainwaring: Thank you, Wilson. That was rhetorical.
Wilson: Rhetorical. Oh yes, I see, sir. (small laugh) Rhetorical.
Mainwaring (glaring at Wilson): We must show the same professionalism as...
(Door to hall flies open. Enter Pte Pike)
Pike: Ever so sorry I’m late, Captain Mainwaring. Mum wouldn’t let me come out without my muffler. She’s in ever such a bad mood. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes, Uncle Arthur...
Mainwaring: Stupid boy. Now men. The point of this exercise as I see it, is that High Command have looked at the Walmington on Sea platoon and want to hold it up as an example of how the ordinary man in the street and those of us in positions of authority can turn themselves into an effective fighting force.
Hodges: Yes, that’ll be right. Turn themselves into a laughing stock more like.
Mainwaring: Are you still here, Hodges? I thought I saw a light on in the church...
Hodges: You just wait, Napoleon.... (exits hastily)
Mainwaring: Now, here’s the plan...
(Fade out to Bud Flanagan singing Who Do You Think You’re Kidding Mr Hitler)