Don’t panic! Dad’s Army Museum in Thetford prepares to reopen for its 10th year

The Dad's Army Museum in Thetford is reopening for the new season. Pictured is museum chairman
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The Dad's Army Museum in Thetford is reopening for the new season. Pictured is museum chairman Stuart Wright. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Archant

It is one of the nation's best-loved television shows, which gained even more popularity since a blockbuster remake starring Toby Jones and Bill Nighy catapulted it onto the big screen.

The Dad's Army Museum in Thetford is reopening for the new season.
Stuart Wright pulls off the dust

The Dad's Army Museum in Thetford is reopening for the new season. Stuart Wright pulls off the dust sheets to reveal this year's displays. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Archant

But fans who have been missing Captain Mainwaring, Pike and the rest of the crew have been told: 'Don't panic' as a Norfolk museum in the programme's honour prepares to reopen for its 10th year.

Already a BBC comedy classic, Dad's Army attracted new fans when a modern film version of the show was launched last year to much critical acclaim.

The movie also gave a boost to the Dad's Army Museum in Cage Lane, Thetford, with 10,000 people from across the country travelling to the Norfolk market town to find out more about the show.

Volunteers are hoping to top that figure this year, with a new exhibition in tribute to writer Jimmy Perry – who supported the museum before he died in 2016.

Displays at the Dad's Army Museum in Thetford. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Displays at the Dad's Army Museum in Thetford. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Archant


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'Despite it being nearly 50 years since the show started, there's always something new coming to light,' said Stuart Wright, chairman of the museum, which this year unveils some never-seen-before running schedules of the show.

There is also a display in memory of Victoria Wood following her death last year, as she made a film about the history of the show in 2000 which did much to revive interest in the programme.

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Yet despite the huge popularity in the show and the museum, which also includes scores of old photos from filming which took place in the Thetford area, Mr Wright said: 'We'd like to get more volunteers.

'The most common complaint is that we're not open more often.

The Dad's Army Museum in Thetford is reopening for the new season. Stuart Wright preparing one of th

The Dad's Army Museum in Thetford is reopening for the new season. Stuart Wright preparing one of the displays. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Archant

'People are quite happy when they do come here and find out volunteers friendly and knowledgeable.

'We have a critical mass we can attract here but we don't have enough volunteers to cater for that demand.'

The Dad's Army Museum reopens for its 2017 season on Saturday, March 18.

There are also events designed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the museum's opening later this year.

Filming for the original Dad's Army series in South Norfolk. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Filming for the original Dad's Army series in South Norfolk. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

For more information about the museum, email dadsarmythetford@googlemail.com

What's in the Dad's Army Museum?

The Dad's Army Museum contains exhibitions and photos featuring the show's most famous stars, including Arthur Lowe and Ian Lavender – as well as a display on some of the stars who made brief appearances, such as Barbara Windsor and Wendy Richard.

The 2016 Dad's Army film starring Blake Harrison, Danny Mays, Tom Courtenay, Toby Jones, Bill Paters

The 2016 Dad's Army film starring Blake Harrison, Danny Mays, Tom Courtenay, Toby Jones, Bill Paterson, Bill Nighy and Michael Gambon. Picture: PA/UNIVERSAL - Credit: PA

'Most of them were getting towards the end of their careers but it did increase their stage life,' said Dad's Army Museum chairman Stuart Wright.

'John Laurie probably got more exposure out of Dad's Army than he did in all of his years on stage.'

Jones' van from the show is housed at the nearby Charles Burrell Museum.

People can take walking tours of the site and there is the 1940s-style Marigold Tea Rooms, with war-time recipe cakes.

There is also a shop selling coasters with some of the show's most famous catchphrases, as well as home-made scarves hand-knitted by Thetford volunteers.

About Dad's Army

Set in the fictional town of Walmington-on-Sea, Dad's Army was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft.

The original nine series ran on the BBC from 1968 to 1977.

More than 80 episodes made about a group of men who set up what would later become the Home Guard during the Second World War and their hilarious attempts to protect the country.

Most characters, such as Captain Mainwaring played by Arthur Lowe and Sgt Arthur Wilson, played by John Le Mesurier, had fought in the First World War – although Pike, played by Ian Lavender, was a 17-year-old too young to enlist in the Army.

Many scenes were filmed around the Thetford area, including at nearby Lynford Hall, Brandon Station and Elveden Tower, as well as across other parts of Norfolk including Oxburgh Hall, near Swaffham.

The sitcom later spawned a film, stage show and radio series before being revived for the silver screen in 2016.

Top Dad's Army catchphrases

Don't tell 'em Pike! – Captain Mainwaring

We're all doomed! – Private Frazer

Please may I be excused – Private Godfrey

Just testing you, Wilson – Captain Mainwaring

I never doubted you for a minute, sir – Private Frazer

You silly old fool – Captain Mainwaring

Permission to speak, Sir – Lance Corporal Jones

Would you mind awfully just falling in – Sergeant Wilson

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