It is also one of my earliest TV-watching memories – I even remember having a Dad’s Army colouring book when I was very young.
Broadcast between 1968 and 1977, racking up nine seasons and 80 episodes, the show was created and entirely written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. It featured the misadventures of an oddball group of mostly elderly Home Guard volunteers helping to guard England’s south coast from German invasion during World War II.
The show’s famous theme song, Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Hitler, was written by Perry in the style of war-era and sung by wartime entertainer Bud Flanagan, who died shortly after recording it.
The opening titles feature a now iconic animated representation of the German advance across Europe and the British defence of their besieged country. Interestingly, the original plan was to feature genuine archive wartime footage of Nazi troops and refugees to illustrate the threat the Home Guard was facing but this was vetoed by BBC bosses as being “offensive”.
There were a few different versions of the show’s opening titles through the years. Here is the original, black and white version:
This was the first colour version, which was used for seasons three to five:
And here is the last version, with smoother animation, used from season six until the show ended.
And here is a fan made extended version of the opening titles using the full version of the theme song, which is around 10 seconds longer and features a couple of extra lines that were cut for time from the familiar broadcast version:
The show’s closing credits were also very memorable, featuring shots of the cast marching through the countryside and (in later versions) running across a smoke-filled battlefield. The music is an instrumental version of the theme tune played by the Band Of The Coldstream Guards.
Here is the original version from season one. It’s notable for the fact that the characters are in civilian clothes and brandishing homemade and makeshift weapons, since the first season told of the establishment of the Home Guard and for several episodes, the characters were waiting for their uniforms and guns to arrive.
And here is the more familiar and fondly remembered colour version. This remained in place from season three until the show ended, although the spiv Private Walker was edited out from season seven onwards after actor James Beck‘s tragic death, aged just 44, during production of season six.