Move over The Expendables and Frank Moses’s Red cohorts because an even more elite venerable unit is assembling in the centre of Walmington-on-Sea. If you can find them (try the church hall) and they’ve taken their meds, maybe you can hire… Dad’s Army. Yes, according to the latest wireless communiques, the BBC sitcom, an 18 million-viewer phenomenon over 80 episodes and a bajillion reruns since the late ‘60s, is returning for another big screen spin-off. So far, Toby Jones and Bill Nighy have reportedly been conscripted to play blustering martinet Captain Mainwaring and his laconic adjutant Sergeant Wilson respectively. But who should fill the boots of Pike, Jones, Frazer and the other members of the Hitler-defying platoon? We’ve pointed our bendy arrows at the following corners of IMDb. Don’t even thank us.
Originally played by: Clive Dunn
Dream casting: Sylvester McCoy
The doddery but usually delightful Lance-Corporal Jones provided Clive Dunn with many of the BBC show’s scene-stealing moments. He’s the local butcher in Walmington and a veteran of wars distant past, prone to delivering the occasional, ahem, unfortunate racist epithet it would be safe not to expect in any modern film, and deliverer of such abiding catchphrases as “Don’t panic!” and “They don’t like it up ‘em”. Here we’d plump for Sylvester McCoy purely for his comic chops, air of absent-mindedness and the ample opportunity it would afford to use our new ‘Radagast the Khaki’ line.
Originally played by: John Laurie
Dream casting: David Bradley
If you’re looking for tenuous reasons to cast David Bradley as gloomy Scottish undertaker Private Frazer (“We're doomed!”), consider the fact that he’s already played one weapons-hording rural dweller in Hot Fuzz, he’s got plenty of BBC previous (Our Friends In The North, Vanity Fair) and he’d probably look pretty darn lugubrious in khaki. Plus, if the prospect of an encounter with Game Of Thrones’ apocalyptically grumpy Walder Frey or Harry Potter's foul Filch doesn’t make Mr. Hitler think again, we’re not sure what will.
Originally played by: James Beck
Dream casting: Martin Freeman
It would make a nice change of pace for the Fargo star to swap one small town (Bemidji, Minnesota) for another (Walmington-on-Sea, Kent), given that the latter is considerably less murderous. As long as he doesn’t have an aversion to Brylcreem or pencil moustaches, Freeman could bring his usually droll slant to the wholesales supplier-stroke-spiv who’s managed to weasel his way out of active service on the basis of “a corned beef allergy”. Fargo’s Lester Nygaard currently has Freeman twisting his Everyman persona in dark new directions and coping with the attentions of Billy Bob Thornton’s he-devil, so pitchforking a few downed Luftwaffe types should be a cinch.
Originally played by: Arnold Ridley
Dream casting: Jim Broadbent
There are many good reasons to cast Jim Broadbent in Dad’s Army, among them his obvious gift for playing essentially good-hearted, kindly men like Private Godfrey (See: The Iron Lady, Another Year) and the fact that you can’t even legally make a Dad’s Army movie without at least asking Jim Broadbent if he's available. That’s definitely enshrined in statute somewhere. Sure, the role may not be the greatest showcase of his talents – despite being a close confidant to Sergeant Wilson and the platoon’s medic, Godfrey was usually lingering about in the background, thanks in part to his unreliable bladder – but we’d still love to see Broadbent take the keys to Cherry Tree Cottage.
Originally played by: Ian Lavender
Dream casting: Blake Harrison
Who better to play a slow-witted school leaver with a sideline in cheery blundering than the actor who found fame playing a slow-witted school leaver with a sideline in cheery blundering and doing the robot? You never know when you might need to distract a panzer. Step forward The Inbetweeners’ Blake Harrison, our pick to play the man Captain Mainwaring knows best as “You stupid boy”. Despite once scathingly dismissing Adolf Hitler as “half barmy” in song, Pike is the least formidable of Dad’s Army's already unimposing assembly of troops - and Harrison has shown plenty of chops playing seriously unformidable as Neil in The Inbetweeners. He’s our pick to swap Rudge Park for seaside Kent, a job as a junior bank clerk and the chance to annoy the hell out of Nazi U-boat commanders.
Originally played by: Bill Pertwee
Dream casting: Tom Wilkinson
An air-raid warden with a siren up his posterior, Hodges made a chillingly bothersome antagonist in the TV series. There he was, week after week, to puncture Captain Mainwaring’s balloon with “small print this” and “blah blah blah that” (we forget the details). Should the movie follow the same formula, they’ll need someone with sufficient gravitas to play Adolf’s represent in Walmington-on-Sea. An Oscar-nominee, preferably. Someone with bad guy previous. Someone who looks a teensy bit like Bill Pertwee. Because, hey, we’re nothing if not achingly literal. That someone? Tom ‘Tin Hat’ Wilkinson. He ticks all those boxes and a few more besides. Just don’t tell anyone he was on the other side in Valkyrie.