This ITV situation comedy dominated the networks comedy output during the 1950s and tapped into a huge vein of familiarity. The idea was simple, and fresh in the minds of most of the adult poulation with WWII less than a decade passed, a group of men serving their time as conscripts in the army. It is a situation they would prefer to have avoided, and they do their best to dodge any work and try to make the best of things and enjoy themselves.
Based at Hut 29 of the Surplus Ordnance Depot at Nether Hopping, the group included: Private 'Bootsie (Excused Boots)' Bisley (played by Alfie Bass), Private 'Professor' Hatchett (Charles Hawtrey), Private 'Cupcake' Cook (Norman Rossington), and Private 'Popeye' Popplewell (Bernard Bresslaw), Corporal Springer (Michael Medwin), their Bilko-like ring leader, Sergeant Major Bullimore (William Hartnell) their regular taskmaster, and the scatterbrained Major Upshot-Bagley (Geoffrey Sumner), the camp commandant. The popularity of the show was such that the actors in the show received celebrity status virtually immediately, and catchphrases entered the national vocabulary.
Arriving on ITV a few months after the BBC had started showing The Phil Silvers Show (Bilko), the first assumption to make is that ITV jumped on a bandwagon, but the wirter Sid Colin had actually drawn inspiration for the series from the British film, Privates Progress, with Ian Carmichael, and it was no surprise that William Hartnell was in both Privates Progress and The Army Game - the latter as Sgt. Major Bullimore. The rest of the cast changed throughout the run as well, with the majority of the original cast leaving at the end of the second series, but included Bernard Bresslaw, Charles Hawtrey, Dick Emery, Alfie Bass, Bill Fraser, Ted Lune, Harry Fowler, and Frnak Williams amongst others.Cast Geoffrey Sumner - Maj Upshot-Bagley (series 1, 2 & 5); Jack Allen (some eps in series 2)
William Hartnell - Sgt Maj Percy Bullimore (series 1, 2 & 5)
Michael Medwin - Cpl Springer (series 1-3)
Alfie Bass - Pvt Montague 'Excused Boots' Bisley (series 1-4)
Norman Rossington - Pvt 'Cupcake' Cook (series 1-3)
Charles Hawtrey - Pvt 'Professor' Hatchett (series 1 & 2)
Bernard Bresslaw - Pvt 'Popeye' Popplewell (series 1 & 2)
Bill Fraser - Sgt Maj Claude Snudge (series 2-4)
Bernard Hunter - Capt Pilsworthy (series 2)
Ted Lune - Pvt Leonard Bone (series 3-5)
Harry Fowler - Cpl 'Flogger' Hoskins (series 3-5)
Frank Williams - Capt T R Pocket (series 3-5)
C B Poultney - Maj Geoffrey Gervaise Duckworth (series 3)
Mario Fabrizi - L/Cpl Ernest 'Moosh' Merryweather (series 4 & 5)
Harry Towb - Pvt Dooley (series 4)
Robert Desmond - Pvt Billy Baker (series 4)
Dick Emery - Pvt 'Chubby' Catchpole (series 5)
Keith Banks - Pvt 'Cupcake' Cook (some eps in series 2)
Keith Smith - Pvt 'Professor' Hatchett (some eps in series 2)
This series consisted of 13 episodes broadcast fortnightly between 19th June and 4th December 1957 of a Wednesday evening (originally at 8.30pm and later at 10.00pm).
The second series was twice the length of the first running to 26 episodes. These werer broadcast between 20th December 1957 and the 13th June 1958 of a Friday evening at 8.30pm.
The third series was a whopping 39 episodes and broadcast of a Friday evening at 8.30pm between 19th September 1958 and 12th June 1959.
This series ran to 37 episodes, but records show that there were a further two made but never transmitted. They were originally broadcast of a Friday evening around 8.30pm between 9th October 1959 and 17th June 1960
The fifth and final series consisted of another 39 episodes broadcaset between 27th September 1960 and 20th June 1961 of a Tuesday evening at 8.00pm, later changing to around 9.00pm.