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Room at the Bottom
Series 3, Episode 6
Room at the Bottom
Air Date 16th October 1969
Written by Jimmy Perry & David Croft
Director David Croft
Producer David Croft
Length 30 minutes
Original Audience Figures 12.4 Million
Previous episode Something Nasty in the Vault
Next episode Big Guns
List of episodes

Room at the Bottom is the sixth episode of the third series of Dad's Army, which was originally transmitted on Thursday 16th October 1969. It is notable for being one of the earliest examples of television episodes being restored to full colour using the chroma dots technique, having only been preserved as a 16mm black-and-white telerecording previously.


After discovering that he is not entitled to hold the rank of Captain, Mainwaring is demoted to private and takes his place in the ranks.


Wilson is sitting at Mainwaring's desk when Captain Bailey arrives. He asks Wilson about how long Mainwaring has been in charge. Wilson says it was ever since they were Local Defence Volunteers. Bailey is surprised because there were no commissions in the LDV, and Wilson admits that Mainwaring made himself a captain, and Bailey tells him that it is more ordinary to have a lieutenant in charge of a platoon, so Mainwaring must remove one of his pips. Wilson is delighted, and is even more delighted when Walker brings him his new hat: a beret.

Wilson practises what he is going to say to Mainwaring, who then arrives, announcing that he has recruited a Drill Sergeant for drill practice. He tells Mainwaring about Bailey's visit, but Mainwaring laughs it off. Wilson rings GHQ, and speaks to a sergeant, who knows nothing about it. Mainwaring waits for Wilson's explanation, and concludes that Wilson is jealous of him, and that is the reason why he bought a beret. GHQ rings; Mainwaring answers, and is shocked to learn that Wilson was telling the truth.

Godfrey sees Mainwaring removing his pips, offering to assist based on his former experience in tailoring, but is quickly dismissed by Mainwaring. Mainwaring is determined to make sure nobody finds out, but Godfrey blabs to the rest of the platoon. Frazer, Jones and Walker wonder whether he has been promoted. When the parade is about to be dismissed, Mainwaring emerges from the office with a rubber tyre on his shoulders, covering up his badge of rank. Walker and Frazer point out that they cannot salute Mainwaring unless they can see his badge of rank. Mainwaring is about to reveal the truth, when the Verger comes rushing in, saying that the Bismarck has been sunk. Mainwaring quickly dismisses the platoon, the Navy having "saved his bacon."

Next day, Captain Bailey returns and tells Wilson that Mainwaring has not even been commissioned as a lieutenant, and he must join the ranks. He adds that Wilson will be in charge for the time being. He gives Wilson the news in an envelope and leaves via the main hall to avoid Mainwaring. Wilson hands Mainwaring the letter, and quickly leaves the office. He hears a shot, and thinks Mainwaring's committed suicide. He and Jones rush in, and Jones explains that it was his rifle, and they help a stunned Mainwaring into a chair.

Wilson commands the next parade and admits he will be leading them on the divisional scheme on Sunday. Mainwaring enters, wearing a private's uniform, nobly declaring that the protection of the town must come before pride. The platoon are stunned as he joins the ranks. Wilson calls the platoon to attention, but Mainwaring is late, while Jones has improved. However, the roles are soon reversed.

Suddenly, Drill Sergeant Gregory turns up and immediately begins barking orders, insulting many members of the platoon. However, he is soon given a taste of his own medicine when they practice sloping arms. Jones mucks it up, and accidentally drops his rifle on the Drill Sergeant's foot.

At the exercise, Wilson is not making a good job of leadership. Jones is the scout, but ants climb up his trousers, and he has to take his trousers off to get rid of them. Believing it is the signal to advance, the platoon move forward, but soon find themselves in an ambush, and it is a disheartened platoon that heads back to Walmington. Sponge remarks there will soon be no platoon for the new officer to take charge of. Therefore, the platoon decide to write to GHQ, asking for Mainwaring's commission, Walker offering a couple of bottles of scotch "if it will make any difference". Frazer declines to write with his colleagues, instead writing at home and asking for promotion himself!

As a result of the letters, Mainwaring is reinstated and everything is back to normal... almost. He and Wilson then muse on the events of the past few days. When Wilson laughs at the fact that Mainwaring had had no authority whatsoever to command the platoon, the latter then shocks Wilson by saying that he, therefore, had had no authority to promote him to sergeant in the first place. Wilson realises what Mainwaring is implying, but the latter plays on the moment by saying that he was sure everything would be sorted out ... and then says nonchalantly, "Perhaps you'd like to borrow my penknife!"

Colour restoration of the original television recording[]


The original recording unscrambled

This episode of Dad's Army, after its original broadcast on BBC One in October 1969 and repeat in 1970, had only survived as a 16mm black-and-white film telerecording made for overseas sales to countries not yet broadcasting in colour.

This 16mm black-and-white film version had been transferred from the original 625 line PAL colour videotape before that tape was wiped and reused for reasons of cost. In 2007, James Insell, a preservation specialist at the BBC Archive, established the Colour Recovery Working Group and in 2008 a new technique developed by member Richard Russell was used to restore the episode back to colour.

The technique relies on the fact that some 16mm black-and-white film telerecordings may actually contain the original PAL colour sub-carrier burned into each film frame as a pattern of fine "chroma dots" and the software is able to decode these back to colour at the rate of a frame per four seconds. This process is completely different from the artificial colouring technique that was applied to some black-and-white films during the 1980s — with The Guardian describing the group's new descrambling process as "akin to turning an omelette back into an egg".

After being re-mastered with a high quality audio soundtrack, the resulting restored copy was a true representation of the episode as originally recorded and is now kept as the BBC Archive copy — this was broadcast again in colour for the first time since 1970 on Saturday 13 December 2008 on BBC Two, but has so far yet to be made available commercially on DVD. The DVD box set Dad's Army: The Complete Collection features Room at the Bottom in black-and-white, as the colour restoration had yet to begin at the time of release. Many years later in 2023, the colour copy was released as special feature on the DVD of Dad's Army: The Missing Episodes.


  • According to the Verger's announcement concerning the sinking of the Bismarck, the first half of this episode must be set on 27th May 1941.