Museum Piece
Series 1, Episode 2
Museam Piece.jpg
Air Date 7th August 1968
Written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft
Director David Croft
Producer David Croft
Length 30 minutes
Original Audience Figures 6.8 million
Previous episode The Man and the Hour
Next episode Command Decision
List of episodes

Museum Piece was the second episode of the first series of Dad's Army, which aired for the first time on 7th August 1968.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Mainwaring comes up with an idea for getting the platoon some much needed weapons: "Operation Gun Grab". The plan is to requisition any firearms from a local museum of Historic Army Weapons, but to do so the platoon must first find a way to outwit the 88-year-old caretaker—who happens to be the father of Lance-Corporal Jones.

Plot[edit | edit source]

It is a few weeks since the platoon's first parade, and in the manager's office at the bank Mainwaring and Wilson discuss a recent exercise which involved the platoon using a 'demolished bridge' to cross a river. Unfortunately, during the exercise Pike fell in after being the only one to follow Mainwaring's orders to attempt to cross the river without using the bridge. Mainwaring confides in Wilson that he does not think he has the unthinking obedience required to make an efficient fighting unit, and is sure that one of his men told him to "get stuffed!"

Wilson asks Mainwaring about the weapons situation, and Mainwaring reluctantly informs him that it will be a further six weeks before the platoon's weapons and uniforms arrive, so they must make do with one shotgun, seventeen carving knives, Jones' assegai and Bracewell's number three iron! They receive a letter from the Peabody Museum of Historical Army Weapons, informing them that they have to close their account with the bank for the duration because the curator has joined the navy.

Mainwaring's ears prick up at the name of the museum, and he deduces that some of the equipment on display there could be used by his Local Defence Volunteers. Wilson is not so sure, but Mainwaring organises "Operation Gun Grab", and tells Miss King to write a letter to give to the caretaker in charge.

"Hello, dad! It's me; young Jack!"

On parade, Jones informs Mainwaring that he will not be able to get anything from the museum, because the caretaker in charge is Jones' 88-year-old father! True to form, the cantankerous old man refuses to let the platoon in—instead arguing with his son about a lady named Elsie—so they decide to try force, using scaling ladders and battering rams, but to no avail. When they try to scale the museum, Jones senior puts a damper on their plans by soaking them in cold water! Mainwaring decides to take a more tactical approach, and Jones says a bottle of whisky will do the trick. Walker gives Frazer (who will be disguised as an ARP Warden) a bottle of whisky to tempt the old man with, if he does not respond to Frazer's insistence that there is a light showing.

Walker and Jones discover the Chinese rocket gun

All goes well, and the platoon sneak into the museum. Jones finds a halberd and breastplate, Pike and Walker find an elephant-shooting musket, and Godfrey finds a case of .303 carbines—which unfortunately have already been requisitioned by the ENSA! The platoon prepare to leave, defeated, until Jones and Walker find a Chinese rocket gun, and wheel it back to the church hall.

The hand-cart driver, a boy scout, is asked by Jones and Walker to try to get it going. Mainwaring calls the duo over and says that he praises their initiative, but the weapon is too antiquated—even for them! As they prepare to make petrol bombs, the boy scout gets the weapon working, and it begins firing rockets forcing the platoon to dive for cover.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Main cast[edit | edit source]

Supporting cast[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • The exterior of the museum was actually Oxburgh Hall, a National Trust property in Norfolk.
  • When Mainwaring recounts that he believed he heard one of his men tell him to "Get stuffed!", Wilson suggests that the man in question might have been Private Frazer, though Mainwaring is doubtful. Evidence from future episodes suggests that the most likely culprit was Private Walker; he demonstrated similar behaviour in The Lion has 'Phones.
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