|Relatives||Edmund Mainwaring (father) |
Barry Mainwaring (brother)
Elizabeth Mainwaring (wife)
|First seen||The Man and the Hour|
|Last Seen||Never Too Old|
|Portrayed by||Arthur Lowe (TV series, radio series and 1971 film)|
Toby Jones (2016 film)
Kevin McNally (The Lost Episodes)
|List of Characters|
- "Don't tell him, Pike!"
- ―Captain Mainwaring
George Mainwaring (pronounced "Man-er-ing", though Captain Square pronounces it as spelt: "Main-waring") was the bank manager of the Walmington-on-Sea branch of Swallow Bank. He later became the Captain of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard Platoon.
George Mainwaring was born in 1885 and was educated in a state-school.
He tried to enlist in 1914, but was rejected for his poor eyesight. After the armistice he served in the army of occupation in France, "during the whole of 1919—somebody had to clear up the mess", but arrived too late to qualify for any medals.
It has been suggested that after the war Mainwaring returned to England having spent two years in Switzerland manufacturing cuckoo clocks, intending to renovate a decrepit pier, only to have to negotiate a loan with the local bank manager—Arthur Wilson.
In 1968 we see Mainwaring as the guest-of-honour for the launch of Walmington-on-Sea's 'I'm Backing Britain' campaign, where he is referred to by Wilson as an alderman and chairman of the Rotary Club.
Despite being a pompous, blustering figure with overdeveloped sense of his importance, Mainwaring is not entirely unlikable and by no means unsympathetic. He is arguably the most developed character in the series. Although Mainwaring is frequently proven wrong after making any statement, to the men under him however, they are mostly devoted to him.
Brought up in a working class household before working his way up to being the local bank manager in Walmington-on-Sea (and then the Captain of the local Home Guard) he is very class conscious. He considers himself to be upper-middle class and looks down on anyone he considers beneath him. At the same time he is incredibly jealous of his upper class clerk Arthur Wilson who is far more relaxed and charming. Mainwaring is convinced that the privately educated Wilson has been able to sit back and let it all come to him while he himself had to struggle and fight for everything in his life. As a result he takes every opportunity to remind him who is the senior both in the bank and the platoon. Despite refusing accusations of being a Socialist he fully believes that people should work and earn everything they get in life.
He is outwardly arrogant and yearns to be in control of any situation; as evidenced by his assumed command of the Home Guard unit despite a lack of experience or qualifications. As a result he was not officially commissioned and almost lost his rank.
Mainwaring is prudish and repressed, and can be judgemental about people who do not share his moral outlook. Despite this, as he is frequently dependent on those he considers beneath him, and his arrogance is frequently punctured by circumstance and the people around him.
As a bank manager, he is efficient if ruthless and stingy; as a military commander he is barely competent, confused by the 24-hour clock, and his plans result in chaos. Mainwaring has no combat experience, which causes tension with the other members of the Home Guard, particularly Wilson, who was a decorated Captain of World War I.
Despite his shortcomings as a leader, Mainwaring considers himself an excellent military tactician. His height and background is frequently demonstrated to show a Napoleon Complex; he is frequently referred to as 'Napoleon' by his nemesis Hodges. In one episode, A Soldier's Farewell, Mainwaring dreams he is Napoleon Bonaparte, and is thwarted at the Waterloo by a Duke of Wellington looking like Wilson.
Mainwaring's patriotism can lead to xenophobia: he is not keen on the French because they are emotional, the Russians because their communism, and the Germans and the Italians because of them being such deadly enemies. Mainwaring often refers to Hitler and the Germans as if he is leading his own personal war, insisting that "In fact I do wish he'd have a go—I'm spoiling for a fight", in this case desiring to get out of a bunker and face the attacking Germans, who are unfortunately in planes and beyond his reach.
Mainwaring's patriotism and eagerness to see combat also blind him to follies or any British failings; whenever Wilson points out a rational if somewhat defeatist outcome to a scenario, Mainwaring's response is "I don't want to hear any of that sort of talk, Wilson." Mainwaring sees all regular British servicemen, 'Our Boys', as exceptionally brave and resourceful, the Germans as inept and cowardly.
When Walmington-on-Sea is cut off by a bomb which damages the railway and waterworks, Mainwaring imposes martial law and takes over from the Mayor. During this time he rules that people need permits to take a bath, and that looters will be shot despite widespread outcry. He immediately changes position when this power is taken from him by an official from GHQ, describing the act as monstrous and undemocratic.
While he tries to keep Private Walker's black-marketeering and cheeky interjections in check he often benefits from Walker's underhanded dealings.
Bravery and Motivation
Mainwaring's courage cannot be denied; he is willing to endanger himself for his country and platoon, and is willing to take the risks that he will order his men to undertake. When number 1 section mistakes the other half of the platoon for a German invasion Mainwaring prepares to command a defiant last stand. He also clears bricks from of a bombed-out corridor which could fall at any moment, insisting that he work in the most dangerous position even though in drawing lots he had picked the safest. He saved an electric sub-station (without which we'd be defenceless).
It is apparent several times that he devotes his energies to his Home Guard unit for a sense of comradeship and purpose lacking in other parts of his life, such as his career and marriage. On one occasion when his men spurned a parade to play darts against the ARPs he expressed bewilderment, saying coming to the platoon is "the highlight of my day."
Ultimately he is more overzealous than power hungry. He was even prepared to relinquish control of the platoon in order to obtain rifles, arguing defence of the country was more important than his ego. Also he was prepared to "march in the ranks as Private Mainwaring" when he was briefly de-commissioned.
It is frequently implied that he is trapped in a loveless and unhappy marriage to Elizabeth, his unseen wife, who is domineering, neurotic and withholding of affection. He learned the bagpipes on his honeymoon in Scotland because "there was nothing else to do".
There are however scenes in which Mainwaring is shown as kind-hearted, notably in his "brief encounter" with Mrs Gray.
- "You stupid boy" - his most famous line, to Pike, on average a couple of times an episode.
- "Hullo....Elizabeth?" - whenever his wife phones him whilst he is on duty.
- "I think you're getting into the realms of fantasy here, Jones" - Often his response to some of Corporal Jones' more fanciful plans or ideas.
- "Ah, I was just waiting to see who'd be the first one to spot that" - whenever a member of the platoon makes a good suggestion that he's missed, or spots an obvious flaw in one of his plans.
- "Oh, there's no time for that sort of thing" Usually to Wilson if his deputy is pointing out that permission ought to be obtained first.
- "Don't be absurd" - Usually in response to a statement that contradicts Mainwaring's delicate British sensibilities.
- "Come away Wilson" - Always in response to one of Hodge's tantrums.
- "Let's not have any of that sort of talk here" - Whenever a member of the platoon makes a comment even slightly criticising the British or a positive comment about the Germans.
- "Good, good" - When told some bad or distressing news which he, at first, does not recognise or comprehend.
- "This is war, not etc.!" - Usually spoken to a platoon member (usually Wilson or Godfrey) whenever an aspect about the war is trivialised.
- "That's a typical shabby Nazi trick!"
- "We're not savages you know."
- "Stop talking in the ranks!" - said when Mainwaring wants silence.
Though he famously did not qualify for any medals during the First World War, by the end of the second 3 years of Home Guard service he would be eligible for the Defence Medal.
In June 2010, a statue of Captain George Mainwaring was erected in the Norfolk town of Thetford where most of Dad's Army was filmed. The statue features Captain Mainwaring sitting to attention on a simple bench in Home Guard uniform, with his pace stick across his knees. The statue is mounted at the end of a winding brick pathway with a Union Flag patterned arrow head to reflect the opening credits of the TV series, and the sculpture has been designed so that members of the public can sit alongside Captain Mainwaring for the purpose of having their photo taken.
- He is an excellent shot with handguns, as shown in Battle of the Giants where he shoots an ascending balloon at an exceedingly long range, whilst holding his handgun with one hand. Both he, and Wilson, respond to this with Good heavens! indicating that Mainwaring is not even aware of his own skill.
- Before the Second World War Arthur Lowe (Who plays Mainwaring) tried to enlist in the Merchant Navy prior to World War II. Once the war began he became a Sergeant Major in the army.
- Mainwaring was to return in the radio sequel, It Sticks Out Half a Mile but Arthur Lowe died shortly after recording the pilot episode.