Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

What's not currently on the box
GarethR
HD
Posts: 1160
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:18 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by GarethR »

It's a frightening sound whether it's the air attack or the all-clear. I was once woken up on a grey, overcast Sunday morning by the local air raid siren going off, and I had to go and switch the TV on to make sure that there wasn't an emergency broadcast being made to reassure myself that it was probably just a test or a fault. It's one thing to hear the siren as a recording on TV or radio, quite another to hear it in real life reverberating around your housing estate.

David Plaice
405 lines
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:03 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by David Plaice »

Mike S wrote:A friend said he used to be distubed by the end credits as a kid, believing them to show the characters genuinely walking into battle. Looking at it again, I see what he means - the final shots (when the music stops except for the military drumming) is pretty chilling, even before the air-raid siren comes in.
That's how it always felt to me, that they were going to their deaths and in some way I was looking at their ghosts. And of course that is close to what was actually done years later at the conclusion of Blackadder Goes Forth.

User avatar
Nick Cooper 625
D-MAC
Posts: 964
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:42 am
Location: Hither Green, London
Contact:

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

GarethR wrote:It's a frightening sound whether it's the air attack or the all-clear.
Except the majority of the population in 1968 would have been perfectly aware of the distinction, and thought otherwise.
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

Mike S
D-MAC
Posts: 725
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:05 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Mike S »

GarethR wrote:That's something you've chosen to read into it. I don't think that it was ever Perry and Croft's intention for viewers to contemplate the spectre of death hanging over the characters.

Ditto with It Ain't Half Hot Mum; while there are plots built around the Sergeant-Major's attempts to get the concert party into combat and characters do acknowledge that there's a chance of being killed, there isn't the remotest chance that it might actually happen. Again, it would be too great a tonal leap for a mainstream sitcom of that era.
Mainstream sitcoms, from Hancock to One Foot In The Grave, have always fused the light and the dark. It was only in the 00s that someone decided the two things ought to be kept separate. Think how bleak Steptoe and Son got at times. Or Porridge, come to that.

Considering its setting, it's one of the great ironies of Dad's Army that it continues to be perceived as a 'cosy' show. I mean, we haven't even mentioned the swastikas in the opening titles yet!

Also, to some extent it doesn't matter whether Perry and Croft intended it to be a dark piece of work or not. They probably didn't, in all probability. But that doesn't change the fact that it does have a dark premise/setting. As Blackadder Goes Forth showed, cartoony and loveable sitcom characters aren't necessarily immortal.

GarethR
HD
Posts: 1160
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:18 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by GarethR »

Mike S wrote: Mainstream sitcoms, from Hancock, One Foot In The Grave, have always fused the light and the dark
Sure, they had serious moments (viz. Croft and Perry's "six minutes of morality"). But characters actually being killed or even being at believable (within the world of the show) risk of it?
Considering its setting, it's one of the great ironies of Dad's Army that it continues to be perceived as a 'cosy' show. I mean, we haven't even mentioned the swastikas in the opening titles yet!
But it *is* a cosy show. The brutal realities of the war never intrude. When actual Nazis turn up, they're comedy Nazis - there's never any sense they might actually pose a real threat.
As Blackadder Goes Forth showed, cartoony and loveable sitcom characters aren't necessarily immortal.
But they are in Dad's Army, where there's never any suggestion that their lives are genuinely at risk. Blackadder Goes Forth was a sitcom from a very different era aimed largely at a very different audience, it had a very specific message and political point of view, and there was also the "tradition" of the characters being killed off (in a manner that involved a joke) at the end of the preceding three series.

It's because of that that I assumed they would die at the end of Goes Forth as well; indeed, given that just about every episode specifically involves Blackadder scheming to get away from the front to avoid violent death in combat, the ending was pretty much inevitable. The only unexpected part was that they went for a poignant ending rather than capping it with a laugh line, as per the other series.

User avatar
Nick Cooper 625
D-MAC
Posts: 964
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:42 am
Location: Hither Green, London
Contact:

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

GarethR wrote:But it *is* a cosy show. The brutal realities of the war never intrude. When actual Nazis turn up, they're comedy Nazis - there's never any sense they might actually pose a real threat.
But you could say the same about British comedy films actually made during the war, and it's certain that vein of humour that the series is mining. You get "comedy Nazis" in Gasbags and The Goose Steps Out, but the audience would still have been perfectly aware of the brutal reality.
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

GarethR
HD
Posts: 1160
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:18 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by GarethR »

The comedy films made during the war had the very specific purpose of being a bit of escapism from the reality of the national situation, poking fun at the Germans for sound propaganda and morale reasons. Obviously Dad's Army didn't have to do any of that.

From my purely anecdotal experience of the reactions of family members old enough to remember the war, it never seemed to bring back bad associations, only the nostalgic memories of camaraderie and singsongs and rubber eggs and gravy browning instead of tights and being able to leave your door unlocked etc. Nobody ever said "It's all very well laughing at it, but when the bombs were falling you never knew if you were going to live to see the next day".

Sure, you can read a dark undertone into the series if you want. But did Croft and Perry really intend viewers to keep in the back of their minds the possibility that characters could be killed? I don't think so. If that's what they'd wanted, they'd have written it differently.

User avatar
Nick Cooper 625
D-MAC
Posts: 964
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:42 am
Location: Hither Green, London
Contact:

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

GarethR wrote:Nobody ever said "It's all very well laughing at it, but when the bombs were falling you never knew if you were going to live to see the next day".
Actually, recent documentaries on the subject are full of people saying exactly that. They may not have talked about it previously (in the same way that most actual combat veterans never did), but that doesn't mean that they'd forgotten about it in the intervening years. Anyone watching Dad's Army in 1968 who was in their late-20s/early-30s or older at the time will have done so with a very different frame of mind to those born later.
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

Clive
625 lines
Posts: 278
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:53 pm
Location: Stockholm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Clive »

But human nature tends to look at traumatic events with rose tinted glasses, in retrospect. I had plenty of relatives who had pretty horrific times during WWII which they never talked about, my great Uncle who parachuted into Berlin in 1945 is the happiest guy you will ever meet but will never ever talk about his war years (Indeed the story that he parachuted into Berlin is a family rumour, he has never mentioned or discussed it). But he does like Dad's Army which he would claim represented the good times on the war, the camaraderie and the feeling of a united front against the enemy.

'Allo 'allo was one programme which may have caused a great deal of upset to many people, but ironically it was very popular in France. Perhaps having the ability to lighten a dark time in their history helped people deal with it better.

I have friends who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan who will also avoid talking directly about their experiences but will happily joke about various fun events which happened outside the actual day to day events. It is human nature to do this.

Mike S
D-MAC
Posts: 725
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:05 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Mike S »

I completely disagree that the death of a Dad's Army character is unimaginable. I can easily imagine them 'explaining' James Beck's absence with such a plot, ditto if a member of the main cast had decided to leave - it's exactly the kind of thing they'd do. It'd be no different to Grandad's funeral in Only Fools and Horses. Dad's Army never shied away from dark/serious storylines - remember the episode with the white feathers? It wasn't, after all, just Clive Dunn mugging 'Don't panic!' - it was an intelligent show which tackled adult themes. It tackled them gently, sure, but it still tackled them.

It's always a mistake to think of serious and funny as two distinct and ever-separable things, but the fact is loads of mainstream sitcoms had darkness embedded into them. And it wasn't a case of '25 minutes of laughs, then a serious bit' - the laughter and seriousness coexisted within the same lines. It was just what sitcoms did. Steptoe and Son's only funny because it's driven by an utterly heartbreaking relationship. Fawlty Towers wouldn't be half as funny if it wasn't, at some level, a psychiatric case study. Take away the darkness and what do you have? Feet First, that's what.

And as I say, Perry and Croft's intention is irrelevant. The bloke who designed the 1980s BBC Enterprises video jingle probably didn't intend it to sound like something from beyond the Iron Curtain - he was no doubt simply trying to come up with a jaunty little electronic sting, one that didn't remotely make you want to kill yourself.

ian b
D-MAC
Posts: 653
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:58 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by ian b »

Mike S wrote:I completely disagree that the death of a Dad's Army character is unimaginable. I can easily imagine them 'explaining' James Beck's absence with such a plot, ditto if a member of the main cast had decided to leave - it's exactly the kind of thing they'd do.
Even though it's exactly what they didn't do?

A (very) quick ponder doesn't throw up any example of where Croft and Perry, (or Croft and Lloyd come to that), killed off a character in their sitcoms because a cast member either declined to come back, or died, (and let's face it, there were more than a handful of real-life deaths during the courses of their ensemble shows).

GarethR
HD
Posts: 1160
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:18 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by GarethR »

Mike S wrote:it's exactly the kind of thing they'd do
What makes you think that, given that they never did it, or anything remotely close to it? If it wasn't going to happen in any of their wartime sitcoms, it wasn't likely to happen in anything else they wrote.
Dad's Army never shied away from dark/serious storylines - remember the episode with the white feathers? It wasn't, after all, just Clive Dunn mugging 'Don't panic!' - it was an intelligent show which tackled adult themes
There are moments of seriousness, but actually killing off a character is something else entirely.
It's always a mistake to think of serious and funny as two distinct and ever-separable things
I don't think anyone is saying that, are they? Just that on the evidence of their extensive body of work, that the idea of a Croft and Perry/Lloyd show going as far as to have a character die *is* unthinkable. If they had wanted to do it, they'd have done it - they were handed the opportunity on a plate in *three* wartime sitcoms when actors died or chose to leave, but they decided to leave the characters alive within the worlds of the shows.

Probably the clearest example of their unwillingness to have a character die is in 'Allo 'Allo, which had by far the darkest setting of all their wartime sitcoms in terms of the risks that the characters were taking by being involved with the Resistance. After Jack Haig died his character, Leclerc, was replaced by his brother, played by Derek Royle, with the on-screen explanation that Haig's character had gone to break his brother out of prison, only to end up taking his place. When Royle himself died after just one series, they got Robin Parkinson to take over playing the same character.

What I'm ultimately taking issue with here is the idea that the audience as a whole has "what if they get killed?" at the back of their minds while watching both shows. *You* might be doing that, but I genuinely don't think the majority of the audience even gives it a moment's thought, any more than they wonder if any given TV character in any show will suddenly collapse from a heart attack or stroke, which is an everyday occurrence, after all, so wouldn't be particularly unbelievable if it happened - but established characters in TV shows never die randomly or out of the blue, as occurs every day in real life.

User avatar
penfold
625 lines
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:19 am

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by penfold »

GarethR wrote: What I'm ultimately taking issue with here is the idea that the audience as a whole has "what if they get killed?" at the back of their minds while watching both shows. *You* might be doing that, but I genuinely don't think the majority of the audience even gives it a moment's thought
Not all the time, but there were moments in Dad's Army - For example in The Siege of Godfrey's Cottage IIRC - where the characters - just three, Mainwaring, Jones and Wilson I think, the rest are at The Pictures - are off to respond to what they think is an incursion by paratroopers and discuss absolutely seriously that they are unlikely to survive the night, and brings the comedy, suddenly but temporarily, to a shuddering halt for the audience to have a moment of realisation as to the utter bravery of these characters underneath the more usually-portrayed bumbling surface.

GarethR
HD
Posts: 1160
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:18 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by GarethR »

That sort of thing is what I'd expect from Perry and Croft. But you still know that they'd never actually go through with it and have a character get killed in consequence.

billo
405 lines
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:19 am

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by billo »

someone said Dad's Army was a 'cosy' show with only comedy Nazis...

what about when Jones has a hand grenade inside his uniform as they are marched by the wonderfully arrogant Philip Madoc's lot to the beach...? - we LATER learn that Wilson never primed the grenades...but we - and poor old Jonesy - DIDN'T know it at the time...

then the earlier episode with an unexploded bomb that has landed in the bank vault...

or even the sea mine drifting around the pier...

they were placed in the same kind of very real peril folk experienced every day during WW2, but the show made it then into a comedic thing, nevertheless the dangers they were experiencing were real dangers

re 'The Siege of Godfrey's Cottage'...interesting how the gritty Scottish Fraser, always ever so ultra critical of the 'jumped up' English Capt. Mainwaring.... stands right beside him and is 'ready to die' without question on Mainwaring's order if need be against the greater Nazi foe, while Jonesy for all his slapstick buffoonery....resolutely does likewise, and for all his pompousness Mainwaring does not flinch in his duty to command his men (both of 'em...! ) in the face of seeming certain death...

on the point of sirens, the 'all clear' siren was used as a 'shift ending' indicator by places like Dockyards & some factories later, as a kid I can recall hearing them often back in the early sixties..

ian b
D-MAC
Posts: 653
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:58 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by ian b »

billo wrote:we LATER learn that Wilson never primed the grenades...but we - and poor old Jonesy - DIDN'T know it at the time...

then the earlier episode with an unexploded bomb that has landed in the bank vault...

or even the sea mine drifting around the pier...

they were placed in the same kind of very real peril folk experienced every day during WW2, but the show made it then into a comedic thing, nevertheless the dangers they were experiencing were real dangers

I very much doubt any sane member of the watching audience ever thought that any "dangerous" situation the characters found themselves in would end in disaster for any of the characters though. They'd be wondering "how-are-they-going-to-get-out-of-that?" at most.

Either this thread has turned into Pseuds Corner, or there's a distinct excess of morbidity amongst the MC members which has at last found an outlet...

;)


(The only dead body, which we never see anyway, throughout DAD'S ARMY is Mr. Blewett's sibling, isn't it? "'Ere. My brother's got a screw loose.")

ian b
D-MAC
Posts: 653
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:58 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by ian b »

double post

User avatar
Bernie
D-MAC
Posts: 553
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:49 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Bernie »

This conversation begins to remind me of The Immortal Bard, by Isaac Asimov - http://www.angelfire.com/weird/ektomage ... /bard.html

B

User avatar
Bob Richardson
625 lines
Posts: 492
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:47 pm
Location: Gallifrey west

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Bob Richardson »

billo wrote: on the point of sirens, the 'all clear' siren was used as a 'shift ending' indicator by places like Dockyards & some factories later, as a kid I can recall hearing them often back in the early sixties..
When I used to visit my grandparents in Deckham, near Gateshead in the late 1950s and early 60s I remember seeing and hearing the air-raid siren on one occasion. It was deafening and slightly worrying for a five-year-old. Why was it being tested/demonstrated over a decade after the war? I never found out, but perhaps it was for TV documentary. I expect it put the wind up local residents, most of whom would have clearly remembered it when used in anger.

In the years that followed I would often ask my dad as we walked to the chip shop, if I could hear the siren again.
"Forfar 5 - East Fife 4"

User avatar
David Boothroyd
625 lines
Posts: 271
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:26 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by David Boothroyd »

Air raid sirens were kept operational after the war, first no doubt because there wasn't any reason to dismantle them, and then because of a vague feeling they might be useful for civil defence. I was at primary school in the early 1980s in Scarborough when one morning the air raid siren was sounded. Can only remember the one occasion on which it happened so it wasn't a regular test. It was on top of a council depot which was a former fire station, and was removed when the building was demolished soon after.

GarethR
HD
Posts: 1160
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:18 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by GarethR »

David Boothroyd wrote:Air raid sirens were kept operational after the war, first no doubt because there wasn't any reason to dismantle them, and then because of a vague feeling they might be useful for civil defence
It wasn't so much a vague feeling, it was an official conviction that some kind of national warning system was still necessary.

Prior to the Thames Barrier, weren't the sirens supposed to be used for signalling flooding in London? ISTR you can hear one going off in the background in the Young Ones episode "Flood", and I'm sure back in the very late 70s I saw a longform PIF about what to do if London flooded which featured the siren. Never seen that one since, though, so it's possible it was a Thames/LWT local news feature piece.

Clive
625 lines
Posts: 278
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:53 pm
Location: Stockholm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Clive »

Air raid and national warning sirens are still tested in France and in Sweden. In the latter at 1500 on the first Monday of every month. It is quite an eyrie feeling to hear the rather morbid, rising wail of them.

I am surprised the UK never maintained and used the system, especially for warnings of floods in the past few years.

The US also do regular tests of their broadcast early warning system which can break into TV and radio networks to broadcast warning messages.

Steve Williams
625 lines
Posts: 230
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:49 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Steve Williams »

Clive wrote:I am surprised the UK never maintained and used the system, especially for warnings of floods in the past few years.
I live in Cleethorpes where they do have a siren for flood warnings - and they tested it last week!

TK-JaKe
405 lines
Posts: 96
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:36 am

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by TK-JaKe »

Steve Williams wrote:I live in Cleethorpes ....
.... and I live 20 miles down the coast, our sirens used to be tested mid-August until quite recently, ELDC abandoned them.

When cutting the hedge a couple of days back I realised I missed those tests, they signalled the approaching end of summer!

ray lomas
405 lines
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:49 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by ray lomas »

The primary school I attended in Merseyside in the late 70s/early 80s had an air raid siren left over from the war on its roof, which was tested about once a year (not the full alert tone, just one quick spool up to pitch then off). I was absolutely fascinated by it at the time, but the sound still turned my stomach nonetheless.

As far as I'm aware most of the UK's WWII sirens were kept on and maintained in working order right up until the early nineties, once the Cold War had finished. A number of them remain in certain areas, as per above posts, for flood warnings etc.

RobinCarmody
625 lines
Posts: 148
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:53 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by RobinCarmody »

Thinking back to the previous stuff discussed here, I do find it interesting how bleak the conclusions of Dad's Army episodes can be sometimes, dressed up in clothing of slapstick and the best-laid plans going wrong (something it shares with quite a lot of Ealing comedies, etc). As is inevitable for something set in such a place and time, you can be so lost in laughter - at the party villains getting their comeuppance, at the well-worn cycle of the boorish landing in it and the pompous yet comparatively likeable coming out on top - that you easily forget how desperate the situation really is; the format hides the reality of experience. This seems to get stronger as the series goes on (and also, problematically, as the absence of Private Walker's working-class spirit makes it harder to forget that Michael Gove, more or less admitting that he'd have been an appeaser in 1939, once opined in an article on the series - Times Digital Archive, December 2001, if you want to be sick - that those who fought the war to create a better, fairer society once it was won are inherently "less British" than those who used it to perpetuate what he was proud to call "ancient pettinesses"). I'm always haunted by the end of the episode Come In, Your Time is Up, and not quite in the way the mass audience would be; the platoon - true, noble, small-town England of throne, altar and cottage - are safe, but Hodges - the upstart, the outsider, the unwitting ancestor of Thatcherism - faces the choice between drowning and Nazi captivity. He can either be taken by the enemy, or die. And in the year Thatcher became Tory leader, the crowd roared hysterically, and you sense again the internal paradoxes and tensions of Conservatism, of England itself.

But then in the same year, the episode The Face on the Poster ends - without laughter - with the whole platoon, and Hodges, in captivity, with no apparent way out. This at a time when much of the series' audience would have feared a takeover of Britain not by fascism but by the other extreme, and shire Tories (as in Burgess's 1985) roaming a barren landscape trying to escape capture by militant trade unions. A different kind of captivity loomed large in the 1975 Middle England mind, for which these lost, middle-aged men became some kind of cypher: let us not forget Airey Neave's calls for a new Home Guard, a new meaning of Civil Defence. And then I think of that exchange in the last series, amid all the divisions that cast themselves indelibly into the legend of 1977; Mainwaring wanting a fairer and more equal world after the war, where the privileged would have to do their fair share of work and could not simply drift through life as Wilson has done, resting permanently on their laurels, never having to push; Wilson responding "oh, I didn't know you were a socialist" and Mainwaring's withering "How dare you?" It was people like Mainwaring making such a move - people who'd never have considered themselves socialists and would have been utterly horrified and repulsed at the concept suddenly embracing socialist principles and ideals - who made 1945 and the consensus it set up happen. Patrick Hutber, author of a 1976 book setting out a platform for the middle class to "fight back" from its apparent marginalisation, had been a Labour supporter then. But now those certainties were crumbling, those absolutes fading into history, the Mainwarings of this world now desperately pushing for a counter-revolution (which was, ironically, set to marginalise them in favour of the Hodgeses), the unity of a common enemy and a common cause at its end replaced by an undeclared English Civil War.

I always feel that Perry & Croft evoke extreme emotional moods - even psychosis - by mistake, without meaning to or even thinking in those terms, because their settings - places and times of intense entrapment, frustration and inner, unarticulated rage - bring them on even if you're trying to avoid them. It's like that scene where Hodges looks on at the platoon marching past, genuinely on the brink of losing all self-control and becoming the untamed animal we were supposedly fighting to keep out, and yet he cannot say anything. On the verge of psychosis, both he and his creators have no option but to pull back, to be incapable of articulating themselves, to button up their rage. As an entirely different audience responded to and felt in 1973 - amid an obtuse, indirect comment on the first great post-war expansion of the deregulated capitalism Hodges represents and the rest of Walmington fears - there is a good deal of hanging on in quiet desperation in Walmington-on-Sea, Mainwaring in particular no doubt fearing deep inside him soon after the war - despite his comparative embrace of egalitarianism in Wake Up Walmington - that it has been fought for what he sees as the wrong peace, a peace of "the people" he has spent his life fighting to escape.

Perry & Croft have no choice but to shy away from the full implications, run back from where they fear they might be going, reduce the catharsis to caricature, because taking it to its full extent would destroy the illusion they've set up, in the case of Dad's Army for the audience to convince itself that the war was fought for them and their interests, not for the organised working class to launch a slow-motion coup now about to ignite into full-blooded revolution, eat away at free enterprise and individual endeavour. It's an Old Tory show at heart (this is precisely why it appeals to romantic socialists, who are really Tories turned outwards) - the victim is the gawky semi-child, endlessly covered in water and ending one episode wearing a potato sack (both Old Tory and Old Labour take a fair bit of pleasure in the mocking and humiliation of the young), and the villain of the piece is the brash self-made man Hodges. While Mainwaring may be pompous and snobbish, and the gentle digs at his persona have undoubtedly increased the series' Old Labour standing, we're encouraged to believe that his heart is essentially in the right place, the mockery of his character is comparatively mild and apolitical. That is what the whole series tries to be, of course. But it never quite succeeds. Under the facade of reinforcement and reassurance - of mass television as a means of building up national myths, of hiding from real life and the battles being fought outside your window for control of the future - the class and culture wars of both the 1940s and the 1970s can never quite be hidden or obscured, can never fully be forgotten or ignored.

Duncan
625 lines
Posts: 202
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:45 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Duncan »

Reading that I don't know whether to laugh or cry...

User avatar
Bernie
D-MAC
Posts: 553
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:49 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Bernie »

Well, just as in The Immortal Bard, where Shakespeare fails the course based around his own work, it seems likely that David Croft would also fail the course. I'm not sure what he would have said about all this deconstruction, but I think it might have been somewhat pithy.

B

Mothy
405 lines
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:17 pm

Re: Dad's Army turns 45 years old today

Post by Mothy »

I think that may be being a little unfair. I know Robin can sometimes get somewhat enthusiastic on some of the political issues exemplified in popular culture, but I wouldn't dismiss all of his analysis of it out of hand. If nothing else, it's at least interesting, to me anyway.

There probably is a potential contradiction applying of the kind described, although I don't think it's necessarily much of a problem, either for us, or even, in the end, for Croft and Perry. I think there's also the question of what kind of agency we should be imputing to them. If they write something which can be inferred as making a statement, one ought to at least consider the possibility that that was because they believed in it, not necessarily that they didn't and were trying to deceive anyone about it. They can attempt to depict a society trying to pull together in the face of an obvious enemy, while on the one hand recognising that that this spirit has, or had, its limits, such as the cynicism, fraud, pettiness, selfishness that periodically crops up in various forms, but on the other acknowledging that the cause they were defending was a meaningful one that was worth the effort, even if you render it as simply being an imperfect society trying to protect itself from a worse one. The question of what people were wanting for themselves in the aftermath of the war is a more complex one, as some might have wanted to retain any privileges they had, others to improve their living standards, but that's not something the series really needs to attempt coming to any definite conclusions on, and insofar as it does it seems to be favouring what did emerge in practice. Viewers might have had their own opinions, and the series could show something of the differences between, say, Mainwaring and Wilson, as discussed, which I think was an attempt to show some nuance and recognise that pre-1945 Britain was clearly not a wholly egalitarian or flawless society.

If you consider the dictionary definition of conservatism as being 'averse to change' there may inevitably be a potential element of that in any kind of attempted national nostalgia. So that side of things is there in the programme but I think they try to balance it out in some of the ways that have been talked about.

Post Reply