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Miss Janet King, played by Caroline Dowdeswell, was a junior clerk in the Walmington-on-Sea branch of Swallow Bank in five out of six episodes of the first series (1968) of the BBC TV comedy series Dad's Army, set during the Second World War.

The character Edit

Janet King was a bubbly blonde whose character, according to the series' creator David Croft, was introduced at a fairly late stage in the scripting because the BBC's head of comedy Michael Mills believed that the programme, about a group of mostly elderly men who volunteered for service in the Home Guard, needed a "soupçon of sex" [1]. Miss King appeared in five episodes, including the first (The Man and the Hour, 1968), in which, on 14 May 1940, she advised the manager of the bank, George Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe), that the Secretary for War, Anthony Eden, was about to make a wireless broadcast announcing the creation of the Local Defence Volunteers (later the Home Guard). Suitably inspired, Mainwaring promptly appointed himself captain of the Walmington LDV.

The significance of the roleEdit

Despite the minor and comparatively short-lived nature of her part, Janet King was (with the possible exception of Private Walker's girl-friend Shirley, played in later series by Wendy Richard) virtually the only young woman to have a recurring role in Dad's Army. Others - such as the fiancée for a very short while of Private Pike (Miss King's male contemporary in the bank), Sergeant Wilson's daughter who once visited him on leave from the WRNS, and assorted waitresses, land girls and service personnel, usually flattered by Wilson for the prettiness or smartness of their outfits - were essentially brought on to support the story-line of particular episodes. Croft and his fellow scriptwriter Jimmy Perry were later to redress the balance in their series Hi-De-Hi! (1980-88), based in a holiday camp in the late 1950s.

1971 filmEdit

Miss King made a brief re-appearance in the 1971 feature film of Dad's Army. Played on that occasion by Harriet Rhys, she was waiting outside the bank - Martin's Bank in the film, as opposed to Swallow's in the TV series [2] - when Mainwaring arrived to open it up in the morning. Once inside, Mainwaring told her that her choice of lipstick might give the bank a bad name.

NotesEdit

  1. Graham McCann (2001) Dad's Army
  2. Martin was Jimmy Perry's choice of name in his original TV scripts, but it was changed to Swallow for copyright reasons: see Graham McCann (2001) Dad's Army

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