Thetford museum hopes for visitor boost as UKTV’s Gold channel set to show animated ‘lost’ episodes of Dad’s Army
The chairman of a Thetford museum dedicated to a highly-popular BBC show said he expects more visitor interest after it was announced that episodes thought to have been wiped from existence are set to appear on our screens in animated form.
Dad’s Army, which tells the exploits of the fictional Walmington-on-sea Home Guard, was filmed between 1968 and 1977 using the town and surrounding area for quite a lot of its outside scenes.
Now UKTV’s Gold channel has said it will show animated versions of three ‘lost episodes’ and two combined Christmas shorts from the show’s second series using original audio recordings, starting on November 6.
Stuart Wright, chairman of the town’s Dad's Army Museum, said: “During the 1960s and 1970s video tape was a relatively new and expensive medium which was resued a lot. So when the BBC thought the first series of the show could have commercial potential overseas they copied it to 16mm film and wiped the tapes.
“But when it did not sell only a few copies of series two were made and even though the third series, which was in colour, renewed interest, some of the originals had already been wiped.”
Fortunately eight episodes were recovered in Australia by the show’s co-creater David Croft, but five were still missing, all from series two.
In 2001, the BBC launched a ‘Treasure Hunt’ appeal, to recover missing episodes of old shows and though this was before home video recorders, two episodes – Operation Kilt and The Battle of Godfrey’s Cottage – were found in rusted tins in a garden shed.
But footage of the episodes A Stripe for Frazer, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker and Under Fire, as well as several short sketches written for A Christmas Night with the Stars, were never found.
The BBC released an animated version of A Stripe for Frazer in 2016, using high quality original audio recordings and in 2019 UKTV produced live versions of the ‘Lost Episodes’ using the original scripts by Jimmy Perry and David Croft.
But now all the episodes will be shown with the familiar voices of Arthur Lowe, John LeMesurier, Clive Dunn and John Laurie.
Stuart said: “The remake of the lost episodes in 2019 were well received and these animated versions are bound to spark further interest in Dad's Army.
“From a museum perspective anything that raises the profile of the programme generally sees an increase in visitors and despite the programme ending in 1977 the Dad's Army story continues to evolve.
“We regularly have new exhibits being obtained or new information coming to light about the national treasure that is, Dad's Army.”
To find out more about Thetford’s Dad’s Army Museum, go to its website and the ‘Dad's Army: The Animations’ episodes will be shown on Gold, starting on November 6.