Don't panic! Harrogate man mistaken for Captain Mainwaring by Dad's Army movie stars

Tom Roberts in his Captain Mainwaring guise at the Harrogate premiere of Dads Army with Odeon deputy manager David Wilkinson and usherette Megan Howard. (1602052AM2)
Tom Roberts in his Captain Mainwaring guise at the Harrogate premiere of Dads Army with Odeon deputy manager David Wilkinson and usherette Megan Howard. (1602052AM2)

What happens when the real Captain Mainwaring meets someone who looks more like him than he does?

It’s something a Harrogate man discovered the answer to when he appeared as an extra on the set of new hit British movie Dad’s Army.
In theory, retired garage owner and professional percussionist Tom Roberts travelled to Bridlington for the sum of £80 and three free meals to play the cymbals for a tiny role in a scene featuring the Corps of Drums band on parade along the high street.
What filmmakers didn’t bargain for was how Tom would look.
That moustache. Those little round spectacles. The bullish and ruddy-faced complexion.
Hey! Wasn't that man in the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard?
Put simply, Tom looked more like Captain Mainwaring than Toby Jones, the actor meant to be playing him in the movie produced by Universal Pictures.
It didn’t help the way Tom was dressed.
Tom, 68, who lives at Lancaster Park Road, and runs his own jazz show band, said: “The film company had asked all the extras in advance to turn up in period costume so I dressed up in my best Second World War outfit.”
In between takes, Tom met most of the all-star British cast such as Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Toby Jones, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon and Blake Harrison.
Tom said the stars all met seemed taken aback by the similarity between himself and the original Mainwaring as played on TV by the late Arthur Lowe.
“It was a long day, 12 hours, but a brilliant one I met everyone on set. When I turned up they were all having a laugh about I how looked. The film’s director, Oliver Parker, said I was more like Mainwaring than Toby Jones, who was meant to be the star.”
Which is where the problem lay.
Tom said: “Everyone I met seemed fine about it but Toby Jones didn’t seem comfortable in my presence. The director said he wanted a photograph of us both together but somehow it never happened.”
Before they would let Tom appear in the scene, they insisted he had to look less like Mainwaring.
Off went his moustache and part of the uniform.
But the cameras did roll and any reader going to see Dad’s Army at the cinema may just be able to spot Tom briefly as part of the marching band in the completed movie.
The whole episode has come as little surprise to Tom, however.
It seems he’s been mistaken for the famous Dad’s Army character many times before over years.
In fact, he’s a familiar figure, along with his son Simon who owns a military Jeep, in wartime nostalgia days across the north - all the way from 40s Day in Valley Gardens in Harrogate to Pickering War Weekend.
Orginally the whole Dad’s Army thing did all happen by chance, however.
Tom said: “I first discovered the likeness 20 years ago when I was playing in the Fire Brigade Band.
“One year it decided to have a war theme for its Christmas party so I went to a fancy dress shop to get something to wear.
“I hired a military uniform and when I took it back to the shop the girl said to me “I can get you work doing this.””
Ever since that day, Tom has donned his Home Guard outfit by request.
“I often have people asking to have their photo taken with me as Mainwaring. I’m a big fan of the original TV series of Dad’s Army and it was wonderful to watch the new movie version at the Harrogate Odeon recently.”
Currently playing percussion for the Skipton Brass Band, Ebor Brass and various military bands, Tom is showing no signs of slowing down in his retirement.
He will be appearing again in 40s Day in Valley Gardens this June and Bridington Town Council is paying him to appear in their War Weekend the same month.
But there’s more.
Tom would also like to hear from anyone who would be interested in forming a Dad’s Army lookalike platoon in Harrogate, especially anyone who served in the town’s real Home Guard during the war.
And he’s also thinking of starting a Harrogate Corps of Drums for anyone out there who enjoys military marching bands. ng meets someone who looks more like him than he does?
It’s something a Harrogate man discovered the answer of when he appeared as an extra on the set of new hit British movie Dad’s Army.
In theory, retired garage owner and professional percussionist Tom Roberts travelled to Bridlington for the sum of £80 and three free meals to play the cymbals in a scene featuring the Corps of Drums band on parade.
What filmmakers didn’t bargain for was how Tom would look.
That moustache. Those little round spectacles. The bullish and ruddy-faced complexion.
Put simply, Tom looked more like Captain Mainwaring than Toby Jones, the actor meant to be playing him in the movie produced by Universal Pictures.
It didn’t help the way Tom was dressed.
Tom, 68, who lives at Lancaster Park Road, and runs his own jazz show band, said: “The film company had asked all the extras in advance to turn up in period costume so I dressed up in my best Second World War outfit.”
In between takes, Tom met most of cast playing the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon such as Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Toby Jones, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon and Blake Harrison.
Tom said the stars all met seemed taken aback by the similarity between himself and the original Mainwaring as played on TV by the late Arthur Lowe.
“It was a long day, 12 hours, but a brilliant one I met everyone on set. When I turned up they were all having a laugh about I how looked. The film’s director, Oliver Parker, said I was more like Mainwaring than Toby Jones, who was meant to be the star.”
Which is where the problem lay.
Tom said: “Everyone I met seemed fine about it but Toby Jones didn’t seem comfortable in my presence. The director said he wanted a photograph of us both together but somehow it never happened.”
Before they would let Tom appear in the scene, they insisted he had to look less like Mainwaring.
Off went his moustache and part of the uniform.
But the cameras did roll and any reader going to see Dad’s Army at the cinema may just be able to spot Tom briefly as part of the marching band in the completed movie.
The whole episode has come as little surprise to Tom, however.
It seems he’s been mistaken for the famous Dad’s Army character many times before over years.
In fact, he’s a familiar figure, along with his son Simon who owns a military Jeep, in wartime nostalgia days across the north - all the way from 40s Day in Valley Gardens in Harrogate to Pickering War Weekend.
Orginally the whole Dad’s Army thing did all happen by chance, however.
Tom said: “I first discovered the likeness 20 years ago when I was playing in the Fire Brigade Band.
“One year it decided to have a war theme for its Christmas party so I went to a fancy dress shop to get something to wear.
“I hired a military uniform and when I took it back to the shop the girl said to me “I can get you work doing this.””
Ever since that day, Tom has donned his Home Guard outfit by request.
“I often have people asking to have their photo taken with me as Mainwaring. I’m a big fan of the original TV series of Dad’s Army and it was wonderful to watch the new movie version at the Harrogate Odeon recently.”
Currently playing percussion for the Skipton Brass Band, Ebor Brass and various military bands, Tom is showing no signs of slowing down in his retirement.
He will be appearing again in 40s Day in Valley Gardens this June and Bridington Town Council is paying him to appear in their War Weekend the same month.
But there’s more.
Tom would also like to hear from anyone who would be interested in forming a Dad’s Army lookalike platoon in Harrogate, especially anyone who served in the town’s real Home Guard during the war.
And he’s also thinking of starting a Harrogate Corps of Drums for anyone out there who enjoys military marching band.