The not-so-stupid boy who saw Dad’s Army

I had a flashback tonight. There I was, idly flicking through Billingham Forum‘s spring-summer programme, when this Dad’s Army-themed variety show caught my eye.

Suddenly, it was September 1975. I was in the theatre’s foyer, peering in wonder at a bulky arcade machine and playing Pong, the first mass-market video game.

Mind. Blown.


The trip was a seventh birthday treat from my sister, who’d have been almost 17. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t seen a professional stage play before, which made the afternoon doubly exciting.

The production? Dad’s Army: A Nostalgic Music and Laughter Show of Britain’s Finest Hour. Well, that’s what Wikipedia calls it.

It thrills me to know that I saw this. That I saw the BBC cast, led by Arthur Lowe, in a matinee show, written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. I only wish I could remember more about it.

I hazily recall that one or two of the stalwarts – certainly John Laurie, according to Wiki – had been replaced. There was stuff about Pike being unlucky in love; and the guy playing Walker (James Beck had died by then) sang Yes, We Have No Bananas, or something.

“Sergeant Wilson sang A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” says my sister. “And at the start they ran down the aisles waving banners.”

Otherwise, I’m drawing a blank. But the internet, which I couldn’t have conceived of when I played Pong, tells me that after a two-week try-out in Billingham, the show transferred to the West End of London and is on CD.

How absolutely lovely, as Wilson would say.

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