Catherine Zeta-Jones and Bill Nighy confirmed for film version of Dad’s Army, but Yorkshire replaces Norfolk
- Credit: BBC
It is a classic British television series, which will always hold a special place in the heart of people from Norfolk.
But a new generation of actors are about to step into the shoes of the stars of Dad's Army for a big-screen version of the Second World War-set sitcom.
Catherine Zeta-Jones is among a stellar cast of UK talent signed up to star in the new film. Such Hollywood glamour will be a far cry from the original series, in which Thetford doubled as the fictitious town of Walmington-on-Sea in the Jimmy Perry and David Croft penned programme.
The original series, focusing on the misadventures of a hapless Home Guard platoon, ran for nine series from 1968 to 1977 and is regarded as one of Britain's greatest TV comedies.
A statue of Captain Mainwaring, played by Arthur Lowe in the original series, greets passengers getting off at Thetford bus station.
But this time around, his part will be played by Toby Jones, who starred in The Hunger Games, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Captain America: The First Avenger.
Billy Liar star Tom Courteney will take the role of Corporal Jones, originally played by Clive Dunn, while Bill Nighy, who featured in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will attempt to step into the shoes of John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Wilson.
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Other cast members include Inbetweeners star Blake Harrison as Private Pike, a role which originally belonged to Ian Lavender and Danny Mays as the spiv Private Walker, played by James Beck in the TV series.
Harry Potter and The Singing Detective star Michael Gambon will be Godfrey, a part played by Arnold Ridley last time around.
Zeta-Jones will play a journalist sent to Walmington-on-Sea to write about the men's exploits in the film, which is directed by Oliver Parker and sees the hapless volunteers in search of a spy.
Corinne Fulford, former manager of the Dad's Army Museum, said: 'I just think it's really exciting. The calibre of the people involved is incredible. I've spoken to some of the crew and I know this couldn't be further than money for old rope. The people doing this love the television series and want to do the best they can.'
This time, however, filming will take place not in Norfolk, but in Yorkshire. Although the county could yet play a part.
Ms Fulford said: 'I think they would have loved to have filmed here, but they have got funding from Screen Yorkshire and films tend to go where the funding is.
'But we are in talks with them about Jones's van being used and we are very hopeful she will be making the journey.
'Also, some of our volunteers have been asked to appear as extras, so we are hoping that will happen.'
She added that the Dad's Army Museum, which she is still involved with, was already extremely popular and predicted interest would be even greater following the release of the film.
She said: 'It will be fantastic for the museum, but what we could do with is a few more volunteers. It is so popular that we need to be able to open more to meet the demand.'
People can volunteer by visiting www.dadsarmythetford.org.uk or by calling 01842 751975.
• What do you think of the casting for the film? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.