Friday, 22 April 2011
The Army Game: 1957 - 1961
The Army Game was a British sitcom that aired on ITV from 1957 to 1961. Made in black and white, it is about National Service Conscription to the post-war British Army. It was created by Sid Colin. Many stars, like Charles Hawtrey, William Hartnell, Bernard Bresslaw, Alfie Bass and Dick Emery became household names, and appeared in the Carry On films, which began with Carry on Sergeant, virtually a spin-off. It was made for the ITV network by Granada Television.
The creator, Sid Colin, was inspired by a 1956 film, Private's Progress, that starred Ian Carmichael, Richard Attenborough, Terry Thomas and William Hartnell. Many of the cast had recently undertaken military service themselves.
Writers included Sid Colin, Larry Stephens, Maurice W iltshire, Lew Schwarz, John Jowett, John Antrobus, John Foley, Marty Feldman, Barry Took, David Climie, David Cumming, Derek Collyer, Brad Ashton, John Junkin, Talbot Rothwell, Sidney Nelson, Stan Mars, Bob Perkins and Alan Mckinnon. At least three episodes are uncredited.
The show centres on a group of conscripts assigned to the Surplus Ordnance Department at Nether Hopping, Staffordshire. Billeted in Hut 29, the men are determined to work little and have fun. The theme tune was sung by Michael Medwin, Bernard Bresslaw, Alfie Bass and Leslie Fyson. In June 1958, it reached number five in the UK singles chart. Bresslaw's song, Mad Passionate Love, sung in the style of Private Popplewell, also did well in the charts.
A film based on the series, I Only Arsked, appeared in 1958. The plot concentrated on Bresslaw's character and included Hawtrey, Alfie Bass, Rossington and Michael Medwin playing their characters. "I Only Arsked" became Bresslaw's catch-phrase. A paperback was produced, and Granada brought out a board game in 1959. Fraser and Bass's characters turned up in a spin-off, Bootsie and Snudge, between 1960 and 1963 and in 1974.