Plans have been drawn up to deploy 20,000 troops to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
They will be drafted in to guard key sites, including hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets.
Soldiers are being trained to drive oxygen tankers around the country and Army reservists may be called up to join a special ‘Covid support force’.
Richard Littlejohn is drawing on some familiar Dad’s Army characters to find a lighter side to the coronavirus pandemic
The news comes as former Met Police chief Lord Stevens urged the Government to ask tens of thousands of ex-coppers to come out of retirement to support the emergency services.
After Boris Johnson declared that Britain is on a war footing, it may also be time to bring back the Home Guard.
Let’s cross live to Walmington-on-Sea, which has already gone into lockdown. Captain Mainwaring is preparing to address his platoon…
MAINWARING: Fall the men in, Wilson.
WILSON: I say, chaps, would you mind awfully forming a neat line.
MAINWARING: Just get on with it, Wilson. Don’t you know there’s a war on?
WILSON: Well, sir, I heard the Prime Minister on the wireless claiming there was a war on. But I can’t help thinking he’s being a little, well, over-dramatic.
MAINWARING: Over-dramatic? We’re facing the gravest danger to our nation since 1940.
WILSON: Hardly, sir. It’s only a rather nasty strain of the flu.
MAINWARING: You’re talking tommy-rot, Wilson. It’s far more serious than that. We could be looking at half a million dead. The cottage hospital has built a makeshift morgue to store the corpses.
JONES: Half a million dead! Don’t panic, don’t panic!
MAINWARING: Calm down, Corporal. We beat the Boche and we’ll beat this coronavirus, too. For now, it’s all hands to the pump and we’re in the front line.
WILSON: If you insist, sir.
Dad’s Army was broadcast on the BBC from 1968 to 1977, today Richard Littlejohn has given the fondly remembered sitcom a modern twist by saying how these timeless characters would respond to the coronavirus pandemic
MAINWARING: I do insist, Wilson. The very fabric of our civilisation is teetering on the brink. It falls to us to maintain order. We’ll start by shutting down the Red Lion and the Marigold Tea Rooms. It would appear nobody is complying with the new social distancing regulations.
WILSON: The what, sir?
MAINWARING: The Government says we should all stay two metres apart until further notice so as not to transmit the virus.
WILSON: And how far is two metres, sir?
MAINWARING: Oh, about ten yards, give or take, I should think. Something like that. Better safe than sorry. JONES: Permission to speak, sir.
MAINWARING: Very well, Jones.
JONES: Mrs Fox and some of the other ladies from the Women’s Institute laid siege to my butcher’s shop at six o’clock this morning. I told them not to panic but they cleaned me out.
JONES: Every last sausage. They were like locusts. And I know all about locusts. I served in the Sudan, with General Kitchener. They’ve cleaned out Sainsbury’s, too.
MAINWARING: Are you saying there’s no meat to be had, anywhere in Walmington?
JONES: I can’t get another delivery until Monday. At this rate, we’re going to have to bring back rationing. But don’t you worry, sir, I saved you a nice bit of liver for your tea. Mrs Mainwaring likes a nice bit of liver, doesn’t she?
WILSON: How is Mrs Mainwaring coping, sir?
MAINWARING: Actually, she’s self-isolating.
WILSON: Oh, dear. Has she contracted coronavirus?
MAINWARING: No, no, nothing like that, Wilson. She’s been selfisolating for the past 30 years.
WILSON: Social distancing, so to speak?
MAINWARING: Yes, well, we all have our cross to bear, Wilson. Now pay attention, men. Jones, I want you to take a patrol to guard the Home & Colonial Stores in the High Street. We’re getting reports of looting.
GODFREY: I fear that’s right, sir. My sister Dolly said they’ve stripped the shelves of everything from margarine to flour. She was planning to make a batch of her upside-down cakes …
MAINWARING: What are you doing here, Godfrey? All over-70s are supposed to be self-isolating.
WILSON: Do you think that’s wise, sir? If we took any notice of that advice, half the platoon would have to stay at home.
MAINWARING: Yes, well, precisely. Anyway, upside-down cakes are the least of our problems. This is anarchy. Jones, to the Home & Colonial — at the double.
JONES: Right men, fix bayonets. Let’s give ’em a taste of cold steel. They don’t like it up ’em. They do not like it up ’em!
WILSON: Steady on, Jonesy.
PIKE: Can’t we just shoot them, Captain Mainwaring?
MAINWARING: Who said that?
PIKE: Me, Mr Mainwaring.
MAINWARING: Is that you, Pike?
PIKE: Yes, sir.
Cpt George Mainwaring’s wife has been self isolating, for some 30 years, in Richard Littlejohn’s modern pitch for the golden sitcom
MAINWARING: Why are you wearing a gas mask?
PIKE: My Mum said I couldn’t come out on parade unless I wore it. She says you can’t be too careful what with all these bugs about. Isn’t that right, Uncle Arthur?
WILSON: She was rather insistent, sir. You know what Mrs Pike is like when she gets a bee in her bonnet.
MAINWARING: Take it off immediately, Pike. That’s an order.
PIKE: You wouldn’t make me take it off if you’d seen that film Contagion at the Rialto with Jude Law and Kate Winslet and that bloke from Breaking Bad and Gywneth Paltrow as a woman who comes back from Hong Kong with a mystery illness and before she dies in agony she sleeps with someone who isn’t her husband Matt Damon and spreads it to everyone in Minnesota and Chicago and then it goes viral round the world…
MAINWARING: You stupid boy. (Enter the Vicar, looking agitated) What do you want, padre? Don’t you know there’s a war on?
VICAR: I want a word with you, Mainwaring. The verger has just telephoned from the vestry. There’s no toilet roll in the, er, facilities.
MAINWARING: Private Walker, do you know anything about this? WALKER: Not a clue, Captain. But I might just be able to help you out. As it happens, I’ve come into possession of two gross of toilet rolls. Izal, medicated. Topnotch gear.
MAINWARING: Where did you get that from?
WALKER: Ask no questions, Captain… VICAR: Never mind all that, this is an emergency. How much?
Who do you think you’re kidding Mr Johnson? Would the return of the Home Guard help Britain’s response to the coronavirus pandemic?
WALKER: To you, Rev, a fiver.
VICAR: A fiver a gross?
WALKER: No, a fiver a roll. Bog rolls are like gold dust right now.
VICAR: That’s extortion.
WALKER: Not extortion, supply and demand. Prices always go up in wartime. Warden Hodges is asking thirty bob for a cauliflower.
MAINWARING : Typical of Hodges. Profiteering from other people’s misery.
HODGES: Oi, Napoleon. Stop playing toy soldiers, get over the road and open the bank.
MAINWARING: I shall do no such thing.
HODGES: Look here, Napoleon. The stock market has crashed, the pound has fallen through the floor, interest rates are close to zero and I want my money out, now!
PIKE: Can I shoot him, Mr Mainwaring?
MAINWARING: Don’t tempt me, Pike.
FRAZER: Permission to speak, Captain.
MAINWARING: What is it, Frazer?
FRAZER: Did I hear you mention s o m e t h i n g a b o u t h a l f a million dead?
MAINWARING: That’s a conservative estimate.
FRAZER: So that would mean half a million extra funerals?
MAINWARING: I suppose so.
FRAZER: Then we’re not doomed, after all. Every cloud…
WILSON: Quiet everyone, the Prime Minister is addressing the nation. Turn it up, Frank.
BORIS JOHNSON: Don’t panic! DON’T PANIC!!!!