|Don't Fence Me In|
|Series 4, Episode 5|
|Air Date||23 October 1970|
|Written by||Jimmy Perry and David Croft|
|Original Audience Figures||Unknown|
|Previous episode||Sgt - Save My Boy!|
|Next episode||Absent Friends|
|List of episodes|
When the platoon are detailed to replace regular troops guarding the local prisoner-of-war camp, Walker spies a source for cheap labour.
Mainwaring is on the phone to GHQ, and it is clear he isn't happy. He doesn't think his men will appreciate being taken off active duty for the next two weekends to relieve the Polish troops at an Italian prison camp, and he's quite right. As they march towards the camp, Mainwaring reminds them to set a good example by looking nice and smart.
However, when the platoon arrive, they find no-one there. They interrogate an Italian prisoner, but they have no luck until he opens the front gate. He and Wilson arrive at the main dungeon/hut, and confront the Italian general lounging in a wooden chair. He tells them that the Polish troops who guard them have already left, and he has placed himself in charge! He also says that they are friends and that he has refused to fight against the English, much to Mainwaring's chagrin.
Jones's section come into the hut, and the General immediately recognises Walker and hugs him and kisses him in the traditional Continental greeting. Mainwaring is perturbed by this, but Walker denies all knowledge of ever meeting him before. It is clear that Mainwaring isn't convinced. He orders Jones to group the prisoners together for some drill. However, his knowledge of Italian isn't perfect, and the prisoners end up crashing into the fence!
That evening, Walker is skulking about outside the dungeon/hut, where he meets the Italian General. He tells Walker that it is too risky to keep doing whatever they're doing. Walker insists that they'll get the prisoners out in the escape tunnel and they'll have the radios working by dawn. They arrange to meet later, and sneak away, not knowing that Godfrey, who had been caught short, has overheard their conversation and alerts the platoon, leaving them all shocked, horrified and disgusted when they learn Walker is a traitor.
The platoon gather outside the dungeon/hut with the tunnel, and rush in. But it's too late, they have already escaped through the tunnel. Pike deduces that it's underneath the stove, and he's right. Mainwaring takes Pike and Jones through the tunnel, while Wilson, Godfrey and Frazer will try to stop Walker from loading the prisoners in Jones's lorry .
They confront Walker outside the lorry, and Walker admits that he is using them as cheap labour to get some radios repaired for some clients. Mainwaring still hasn't arrived by this time, so Wilson and Walker travel down the tunnel to help Mainwaring out. But it is Jones who saves the day, by prodding Mainwaring with his bayonet!
Suddenly, they see Captain Bailey arrive, and Mainwaring remembers that he rang GHQ about the regular troops' departure. After listening to Walker's explanation, Mainwaring orders Walker and Wilson to take the POWs back through the tunnel, and tries to stall Captain Bailey from entering the hut, but it is no use, he enters the hut before Wilson and Walker arrive with the POWs. Jones is determined to bluff their way out, so following an idea from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, they send the same prisoners round again and again, but their plan is ruined when the missing prisoners emerge from underneath the stove!
- The guise of a tunnel under a stove in a cellar in a prison camp came from the episode Battle School.
- The episode title is drawn from the song "Don't Fence Me In".
- A number of references are made to opera in this episode. Mainwaring complains about "guarding a lot of comic-opera soldiers" when first trying to communicate with the Italians, Godrey says "Your tiny hands are frozen, come and warm them by the fire" — which is from an opera. It is the only Italian he knows.