'I didn't want to do an impersonation' | Mathew Horne on playing Private Walker in the Dad's Army remake

'I didn't want to do an impersonation'

Mathew Horne on playing Private Walker in the Dad's Army remake

Tonight, Gold airs the first of its remake of three lost episodes of Dad’s Army. In the run-up to that broadcast we present an Q&A with a different cast member each day. Today, in the last of the series, it’s Mathew Horne, who plays Private Walker.

What interested you in The Lost Episodes project?

Well, it was one of those jobs that comes in and you say yes to straight away. I did a reboot of Are You Being Served? for the BBC a few years ago and obviously with things like that, and this, there’s a lot of pressure from audiences to be respectful and faithful and funny, and that can make the performers feel quite pressured and scared. 

But that doesn’t outweigh the honour of doing it and the challenge of doing it and the decision, you just have to do something like this. 

The Lost Episodes are slightly different to the Are You Being Served? reboot because these are actual scripts that they wrote way back when, so you know that at least on a script level you’re already there. 

How did you approach the character of Walker?

What I did was, what I imagine a lot of the other actors are saying, watch a lot of Dad’s Army. We shouldn’t do an impersonation and we shouldn’t mimic, we should respectfully pay homage to what the actors did, but also bring our own performance to it. 

It’s physically impossible to perfectly recreate what they did because we’re not the same people, but there is a balance and a tone to be found where you, as I say, pay ode to or pay homage to what they did and hopefully get the essence of the character and that’s very clear in James Beck’s performance of Walker and what his angle was. 

But that also goes back to what Croft and Perry have done by very clearly drawing and defining their characters. There’s no grey areas, they are what they are. 

What were your first memories of seeing Dad’s Army?

I don’t specifically have any first memories of seeing Dad’s Army first on TV because it’s just been there all the time, my entire life. It’s just one of those things that’s always repeated, so it’s always on and it’s something you can just lock into straightaway because it’s just part of our culture. So, it’s just been around for my 40 years. 

Why do Croft and Perry’s scripts still work over 50 years later? 

Croft and Perry are obviously legendary sitcom writers and Dad’s Army is a classic sitcom, in as much as what makes it popular and ubiquitous and still repeated today for me is two things, its characters and its story. 

What they’ve got here is a gang show with very deftly drawn characters, all of whom are funny and play with status and class, and then the neatness of the scripts and the stories are what gives Dad’s Army its legacy really. It’s what keeps people watching and why they still work 50 years on. 

What is the plot of The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Walker? 

It centres on Walker, who I play, getting called up to the army and the rest of the Home Guard, the rest of the gang, attempt to debilitate him sufficiently for him not to pass the medical much to the audiences hilarity, I hope! 

What would you say to the viewers before they watch The Lost Episodes?

Keep an open mind and enjoy. 

  • Dad’s Army: The Lost Episodes airs on Gold tonight, tomorrow and Tuesday at 8pm 

Published: 25 Aug 2019

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