When Dad’s Army came to the Sussex seaside

Walmington-on-Sea's finest ... the original cast of Dad's Army
Walmington-on-Sea's finest ... the original cast of Dad's Army

The eagerly-anticipated film Dad’s Army premieres in London today (Tuesday) before general release next week - but who remembers the original movie version of the classic TV comedy?

Equally, does anyone have memories of the filming and its Sussex connection?

The big-screen version was released in 1971 and the Seaford coastline doubled as the environs of the fictional town of Walmington-on-Sea, gallantly defended against Nazi invasion by the Home Guard platoon.

The cameras rolled on Seaford Head and the ‘Magnificent Seven’ were all there - John Le Mesurier (Sergeant Wilson), Clive Dunn (Lance-Corporal Jones), John Laurie (Private Frazer), James Beck (Private Walker), Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey) and Ian Lavender (Private Pike), all under the pompous command of the bustling Captain Mainwaring, played by Arthur Lowe.

The crew spent three days filming locally in September, 1970, and shots were quite sophisticated for a low-budget production, at one stage employing a helicopter.

Heavy rain began to fall on one of the days and the unit scurried off to shelter in a large marquee, which had been erected by the location caterers. The company’s headquarters was at the Mercury Motor Inn, Seaford, where the stars dressed in their Home Guard uniforms impatiently awaited their call to action whenever the rain stopped.

The 2016 version sees Catherine Zeta-Jones playing a glamorous journalist, who is sent to report on Walmington-on-Sea’s finest. This is all before MI5 discovers that there is a German spy hiding in the town.

Also appearing are Bill Nighy as Sergeant Wilson, Toby Jones as Captain Mainwaring, Tom Courtenay as Lance-Corporal Jones, Michael Gambon as Private Godfrey, Blake Harrison as Private Pike, Daniel Mays as Private Walker and Bill Paterson as Private Frazer.

Ian Lavender has a cameo as Brigadier Pritchard, providing a link with the original series. Frank Williams reprises his role as the Reverend Timothy Farthing.

Seaford missed out this time around - principal filming took place at North Landing, Flamborough Head and Bridlington in Yorkshire.

The much-loved television sitcom was broadcast by the BBC from 1968 to 1977. It ran for nine series and 80 episodes in total. Everyone has their favourite sequences and our video features one of the most enduringly popular.

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