Dad’s Army fury: EU official sparked bitter fallout with UK over Brexit comment

Dad's Army: Best Moments

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More than 50 years after it first aired on the small screen, Dad’s Army continues to leave hundreds of thousands of viewers in stitches at the cursed antics of the Home Guard squadron. Infamous catchphrases ‘put that light out!’, ‘we’re doomed!’ and ‘stupid boy!’ have become ingrained in British culture thanks to the genius of Jimmy Perry and David Croft. At its peak, the programme boasted audiences of a staggering 18.5 million.

Channel 5 delves deep into the British classic on Saturday evening.

Dad’s Army: Secret Lives and Scandal features never-before-seen interviews with some of the original cast and their family, as they offer an insight into secrets behind the hit show.

They reveal the inside story of life behind the scenes at Dad’s Army – the personal troubles, the affairs, the drinking and more that went on during the nine magical series.

One place Dad’s Army wouldn’t expect to be mentioned admittedly, was in talks over the UK’s Brexit deal.

Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, compared British negotiators to characters from Dad’s Army.

He spoke to BBC Panorama in March 2018, at which point the UK and EU had published a draft agreement on Brexit, yet much of it had not actually been agreed.

Mr Timmermans said EU leaders expected Britain to be “brilliant” in negotiations, but this was short lived.

He said: “Then I thought, ‘Oh my God, they haven’t got a plan, they haven’t got a plan’.

“Time’s running out and you don’t have a plan.

“It’s like Lance Corporal Jones, ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic!’ Running around like idiots.”

Played by Clive Dunn, Lance Corporal Jones was renowned for being the world’s worst worrier and coined the iconic catchphrase “they don’t like it up em!” when discussing potential Nazi attacks.

Mr Timmermans’ reference went down like a lead balloon.

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Lord Callanan, a Brexit minister, used another Dad’s Army quote to fire back.

He brilliantly said: “Mr Timmermans needs to stop with the childish insults, and if he was such a big fan of Dad’s Army he would know the riposte from Captain Mainwarig to such comments: ‘Stupid boy’.”

The UK left the EU in January 2020, with an 11-month transition phase culminating on December 31 of the same year.

A landmark free trade deal was signed with Australia earlier this year, alongside an agreement with Japan.  More are expected to follow in the coming months and years.

Discussions remain ongoing, however, around the Northern Ireland protocol.

The amusing Dad’s Army row between Mr Timmermans and Lord Callanan came as little to surprise to one European diplomat.

He told The Times in July 2018: “It always seemed inevitable that Dad’s Army would become the metaphor for Breixt, especially with [Boris] Johnson about to enter stage right.”

Brexit didn’t work out too badly after all, with an Italian MEP recently saying it will ultimately be the best decision in the longer term.

Antonio Maria Rinaldi told “They said five years ago that Brexit was going to be an apocalypse. I think it has been a godsend, instead.”

Any Remainer hopes of guiding Britain back into the EU suffered a crushing blow last week, as two People’s Vote campaign directors resigned.

One former staffer spoke to The Guardian: “This is a sorry end to a promising campaign which held the Government to account for a shoddy Brexit deal.”

Britain, meanwhile, continues to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic and flex its muscles with the freedom Brexit brings.

Dad’s Army: Secret Lives and Scandal airs tonight on Channel 5 from 9.30pm.

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