Dad's Army
Volume 16
Keep Young and Beautiful

Starring: Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier and Clive Dunn
BBC Audiobooks
RRP: 12.99
ISBN 0 563 51022 6
Available 01 August 2005

From the annals of wartime Britain come four episodes with Captain Mainwaring's Home Guard, ever ready to strike terror into the heart of the Wehrmacht from their unit in Walmington-on-Sea. Always prepared to fight to the finish, this endearing team is at its incompetent best in this quartet of adventures. So join Walmington's finest and discover the reason why Mainwaring's men attempt to look younger, what happens when a staff car gets donated to the war effort, why Jones feels the need to set the record straight concerning the past, and the consequences of Jones accidentally shooting a turkey...

Parliament decides that older members of the Home Guard should be transferred to the ARP, to be replaced by younger men. The older members of the Walmington-on-Sea platoon become paranoid and go to great lengths to make themselves look younger...

Keep Young and Beautiful sees the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard desperate to appear younger than they are. This involves most of the lads wearing corsets and Captain George Mainwaring goes to the trouble of buying a wig. Eventually undertaker Pvt James Frazer is given the task of making the platoon look years younger - if he can make the dead appear younger, then why not the living?

Sadly, this episode doesn't transfer to radio as well as it should have. A lot of the gags are really visual - such as Mainwaring's wig coming off when he removes his cap. But, having said that, this is still enjoyable piece of comedy.

The platoon are selected to provide a guard of honour for a visiting French general. When Lady Maltby donates her Rolls Royce to the war effort, Mainwaring decides that it would make an ideal staff car...

The Captain's Car sees Mainwaring desperate to ensure that he gets Lady Maltby's Rolls Royce. Totally impractical and of no real use to the war aid, Mainwaring has put the head warden's nose out of joint, as Lady Maltby was going to give the car to the wardens until Mainwaring talked her around.

But it's not long before Mainwaring's mob are getting into deep trouble in front of those higher up the food chain. While not laugh-out-loud funny, this episode has it's moments and is certainly worth listening to.

An old soldier named George Clarke, who served in the Sudan with Jones, joins the platoon. He tells everyone that Jones left him to die in the desert. When Jones starts to receive anonymous letters accusing him of cowardice, he decides that it's time to put the record straight.

The Two and a Half Feathers starts with LCpl. Jack Jones regaling his platoon with the story of how he bravely fought off the other side in the historic Battle of Omdurman in 1898, under Kitchener of Khartoum. But when a new recruit, called Clarke, joins Mainwaring's platoon he lets everyone know that Jones is not the war hero that he claims to be. Far from it - he tells them all that Jones's is actually a coward. When Jones gets wind of Clarke's acquisitions he makes his mind up to set the record straight once and for all.

The ending to this episode doesn't work too well and it sounds as though the audience had to be forced to jump in and cheer. But this is certainly one of the better episodes in this collection.

Jones accidentally shoot a turkey and the owner can't be traced, so the platoon decide to use it to give the local pensioners a turkey dinner...

Turkey Dinner is the funniest episode in this collection, and the only one that comes close to capturing the essence of the TV series. The opening, where the platoon slowly explain to Mainwaring how the Turkey was killed, has some of the best comic timing in this collection. Also, some of the cameo roles at the pensioners turkey dinner are extremely amusing.

Darren Rea

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