BBC puts 'discriminatory language' warning on 'Dad's Army' movie

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·3-min read
Dad's Army (Credit: Columbia Pictures)
Dad's Army (Credit: Columbia Pictures)

The BBC has added a warning of 'discriminatory language' to the 1971 movie of Dad's Army.

The film, a feature-length version of the classic TV sitcom, is currently streaming on iPlayer, with the listing of the movie warning that it 'contains discriminatory language which some may find offensive'.

Particular offence comes from a reference to the French as 'frogs' during a training exercise, while Clive Dunn's Lance-Corporal Jones refers to soldiers he fought in Sudan as 'fuzzy wuzzies'.

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Directed by Norman Cohen, the movie includes all the TV series' regular cast, including Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring, John Le Mesurier as Wilson, John Laurie as Frazer, James Beck as Walker, Arnold Ridley as Godfrey and Ian Lavender as Pike.

It finds the Captain Mainwaring's hapless Home Guard faced with a Luftwaffe reconnaissance squadron which is shot down and promptly takes the town's mayor hostage.

Dad's Army (Credit: Columbia Pictures)
Dad's Army (Credit: Columbia Pictures)

The content warning comes in the wake of others issued by the likes of the BBFC, as the certification body continues to reclassify old films.

Recently, it added a content warning to the movie Flash Gordon, over the depiction of Max Von Sydow's Ming the Merciless as a 'discriminatory stereotype'.

“An alien character is coded as 'Asian' due to his hair and make-up, although he is portrayed by a Caucasian actor,” it goes on in the movie's description.

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“The character derives from the film's dated source material, but some viewers may find the depiction offensive.”

Speaking on the BBFC's podcast, senior policy officer Matt Tindall said: “Flash’s arch-nemesis, Ming the Merciless, is coded as an East Asian character due to his hair and make-up but he’s played by the Swedish actor, Max von Sydow, which I don’t think is something that would happen if this were a modern production and is something we’re also aware that viewers may find dubious, if not outright offensive.

Swedish actor Max von Sydow as Emperor Ming the Merciless in 'Flash Gordon', directed by Mike Hodges, 1980. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Max von Sydow as Emperor Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon, directed by Mike Hodges, 1980 (Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

“The character of Ming himself comes from the Flash Gordon comic strips of the 1930s and let’s just say that attitudes towards the acceptability of discriminatory racial stereotypes have moved on considerably since then, and rightly so, of course.”

The movie has also been given a 12A rating, raised from its original PG.

Tindall went on: “This is something we have bear in mind often when we see older films coming in for re-classification: films that might contain discriminatory depictions or stereotypes that are not acceptable to modern audiences, including films where discrimination wasn’t the work’s intent, just a reflection of the period in which it was made.

“This is an issue that we’re currently planning to explore more through research next year, speaking to the public to check that they’re happy with the ways that we’re classifying such films and the way that we classify each use of discrimination more generally.”

The BBC has also reviewed swathes of its content, with warnings now appearing on shows including The League of Gentlemen and The Mighty Boosh.

In addition, it recently removed episodes of Matt Lucas and David Walliams’ show Little Britain completely, over sketches in which the comedians appeared in black face.

Tweeting about the episodes, Matt Lucas said:

Watch: Brian Blessed says Flash Gordon is the Queen’s favourite film