DAD’S Army is coming to town.
Captain Mainwaring and his mixed bag of dysfunctional volunteers bring the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard to Harrogate Theatre in October when the Harrogate Dramatic Society marches on with the stage version of the classic television series.
Respite from the hilarious goings-on on stage will be provided by a squad of conscripts from the Harrogate Band with their stirring war-time music between scenes.
But for some of the cast it will be something of a trip down memory lane as they attempt to revive long-forgotten military skills.
Of a cast of nearly 40, no-one claims to have been a member of the Home Guard but a few can boast some fond and some not-so-fond memories of their time in the “Real Man’s Army” and the Royal Air Force.
Alan Harwood who takes the lead part of the patriotic Capt Mainwaring spent the best part of 12 years in the British Army.
He took an apprenticeship at the Army Apprentice College in Harrogate at the tender age of 15 and three quarters and rose to the rank of Boy Regimental Sergeant Major and, as such, was selected to take the passing out parade of 1200 boy soldiers and permanent staff.
But nothing in the Army is quite as straightforward as it sounds.
The college selected the RSM from four Company Sergeant Majors each of whom had to halt a huge march-past of troops parading on the other side of a particularly loud brass band playing “Beyond Dull Care.”
“I was the only one with a voice loud enough for the troops to hear over the band,” said Alan. “So, quite unjustly because I was the least smart of the four of us, I got the job!”
Back in civvy street Alan ended up as head of the science department at - where else - the same Army Apprentice College in Harrogate where his military career began.
Now, as Capt Mainwaring he is joined on stage by his son Steve who plays the cheeky Cockney wide boy Pte Walker.
Frank Moorby who plays the wild-eyed Scotsman (“We’re all doomed!”) Frazer was called up for National Service into the Royal Air Force.
But the closest he got to action was when some aircrew officers on a survival exercise attacked the signals centre. “We fought them off with fire extinguishers!” said Frank.
Paul Dunstan who takes on the role L/Cpl Jones, as well as directing the play, also had a taste of the rigours and privations of army life as a National Serviceman.
As ARP Hodge, arch-enemy of Capt Mainwaring, Ian Rattee had a near-death experience during the war, not with Hitler’s troops but with an over-enthusiastic British Army instructor teaching young students about matters military.
The instructor fired a mortar bomb which careered out of control and landed neatly on top of a young and unsuspecting Ian Rattee.
“Did it go off ?” Ian asks dryly “I don’t think so!”
A newcomer to HDS, Keith Preece, playing a member of a captured German U-boat crew in Dad’s Army, can at least claim his father actually served in the Home Guard during war-time.
In war and in peace most servicemen found enormous comradeship and humour in military life, a humour which is exploited to the full in the HDS production.
Dad’s Army and the music of the Harrogate Band is at Harrogate Theatre from Wednesday October 5 until Saturday October 8, including a Saturday matinee.
Tickets are available from the box office on 01423 502116 or online at wwww.harrogatetheatre.co.uk