'Dad's Army' Star Daniel Mays Reveals Actors Shared The Burden Of Honouring The Classic

The classic is the first of several comedic reboots this summer.

Daniel Mays reveals that he was terrified for two reasons when he was offered the part of Private Walker in the film 'Dad's Army'.

"I knew I had big boots to fill, because it's such a classic," he tells us, of the role originally taken by James Beck in the timeless TV classic. "Not only that, but I'd be working with some of my acting heroes, like Toby Jones and Bill Nighy."

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This, despite Daniel's own star burning bright with roles in 'Mrs Biggs' and 'Line of Duty'.

"So I was feeling very intimidated when I walked into the rehearsal room for the first reading. But that evaporated after five minutes, they're such gentle, down-to-earth blokes, and we all shouldered the burden of taking on a national treasure together."

Daniel Mays (fourth right) says he was as intimidated by his modern co-stars as by the timeless favourites of yesteryear
Daniel Mays (fourth right) says he was as intimidated by his modern co-stars as by the timeless favourites of yesteryear

Set in 1944, 'Dad’s Army' continues the story of the events depicted in the TV series, as World War II is coming to an end. It stars a host of homegrown British talent including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Gambon, Bill Nighy, Mark Gatiss, Toby Jones, Tom Courtenay, Blake Harrison, Sarah Lancashire, Alison Steadman, Bill Paterson, Daniel Mays, Emily Atack, Ian Lavender - a veteran of the original show - and Annette Crosbie.

Despite every fan's fears that the new film would somehow besmirch memories of the classic, the cast and crew have emerged intact with positive reviews for the film on its theatrical release.

For Daniel, it's come as a relief. "It's a homage to the original," he says. "We'll never beat it for laughs, but we're not trying to. Just doffing our caps to good memories."

Similarly for Damian Jones, the film’s producer, the trick has been not to mess with the revered original.

“I did go back and watch in preparation, and I discovered this new-found love for the characters,” he remembers.

“It would have been very foolhardy to divert too far from that rich comedic spine.

“But I had a great cast. They were very sweet and humble, going on about these great national treasures of the past, the likes of Arthur Lowe and John LeMesurier, but I think it’s fair to say Toby Jones and Bill Nighy are well on the way to that status themselves. Of course, they carry it extremely lightly."

'Dad's Army' is available on DVD release from today.


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