Arthur Lowe’s Dad’s Army contract demand about nudity: ‘Don’t need cheap laughs’

Clive Dunn and Arthur Lowe's rift examined in documentary

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The much-loved BBC sitcom set during World War 2 is a classic piece of British television, often returning to our screens at Christmas time. ‘Dad’s Army’ proved so popular that it even spawned two feature-length adaptations for the big screen. The more recent of the two films, directed by Oliver Parker, will be shown on ITV this afternoon. His 2016 remake of the 1971 original, features a stellar cast, including veteran star Bill Nighy as Sergeant Arthur Wilson and Michael Gambon as Private Charles Godfrey.

Captain George Mainwaring, one of the most popular ‘Dad’s Army’ characters, is played by Toby Jones.

Mainwaring is the pompous leader of the Home Guard contingent of senior soldiers who are too old to join the regular army.

In the original series and film, Mainwaring was played by British star Arthur Lowe, who died in 1982.

Arthur had broken through as an actor later in life after landing a role as Leonard Swindley in ‘Coronation Street’.

However, by the time of his ‘Dad’s Army’ fame, he had a reputation for his own self-importance.

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Arthur was said to be a demanding presence for writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft to handle.

During shooting for the 1971 film, he even insisted a clause was put in his contract that prevented him having to do scenes without his trousers, because, in his son’s words, such jokes were “cheap laughs”.

Arthur’s contract demands were revisited in the Channel 5 documentary ‘Dad’s Army: Secret Lives & Scandal’, released last year.

Arthur’s son Stephen said: “That was just one thing that Dad said, ‘No I don’t take my trousers off. I just don’t do those sorts of jokes’.

“It was to the point where he actually had it written into the contract.

“He just said, ‘You don’t need to get a cheap laugh that way’.”

The documentary also featured Richard Webber, author of the 2000 book ‘The Complete A-Z of Dad’s Army’.

Speaking about Arthur’s rejection of nudity, he said: “There’s a scene where they are marching down the road.

“You see them changing from their civvies into their Home Guard uniforms.

“In between, it shows you the platoon basically in their long johns and their vests, but Mainwaring is missing from that.”

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It has been claimed that Arthur also gave the writers headaches by failing to learn his lines, as he was unwilling to do so at home.

David Croft was said to give the actor two scripts with a note saying, “One you can read in the rehearsal room, and another to put under your pillow in the hope something filters through during the night”.

In a 2012 article for the Daily Mail, Mr Webber also discussed Arthur’s refused to have his character conceal a bomb.

Arthur is quoted as saying: “I’m not having a bomb down my trousers – and certainly not John Laurie [as Private Frazer] pull it out.”

The writers were forced to redo the scene, with Corporal Jones instead being given the bomb.

The 2016 film ‘Dad’s Army’ will be shown on ITV today from 2:40pm-4:35pm.

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