Dad’s Army is a BBC television sitcom about the Home Guard during the Second World War which ran for 9 series, regularly gained audiences of 18 million viewers and is still repeated worldwide. The show was voted into fourth place in a BBC poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom and 13th in a list of the 100 Greatest British TV Programmes. The series has influenced popular culture with the catchphrases and characters being well known.
TV scriptwriting, it seems is best done in partnership. There are many examples but the combination of Dad’s Army writers, David Croft and Jimmy Perry has to be one of the best.
For a partnership to work there would have to be strong astrological connections between the two writers and probably the actors playing the main characters. An good example was the connection between John Esmonde and Bob Larbey for ” The Good Life “ where writers had their Suns in square aspect and their Moons in trine.
But for real sympathy, its helpful if a pair of writers have similar astrology. Croft and Perry are as close as you can get.
Croft and Perry had their Suns at 14 and 15 degrees Virgo respectively. As they were born in consecutive years, they shared many of the aspects of the slower moving planets, the Sun’s opposition with Uranus in particular.
It would be great to have David Croft’s birth time, so we didn’t have to do a noon chart, but it is perfect that Jimmy Perry has the Sun in the 3rd house of written communication.
Croft had the Moon in Pisces whilst although Perry had his in Leo, it was conjunct Pisces ruler, Neptune.
For such a partnership, Mercury, the planet of written and spoken communication would be crucial and to have it in Libra would be an ideal placing for anyone wishing to write in a partnership. Staggeringly both Croft and Perry had Mercury in Libra conjunct Saturn, inconjunct Uranus, sextile Neptune and square Pluto. This is scriptwriting from the same astrological hymn sheet.
Dad’s Army was originally Perry’s idea based on his own experiences as a 17 year old in the Home Guard. In 1964, his wife introduced him to Croft, and the relationship would prove significant to both their careers. That this was the turning point in both of their lives was reflected by the fact that Pluto was conjunct both of their Suns in 1964.
The fact that both have Mercury conjunct Saturn, the ruler of old age, seems very appropriate considering their writing was about exactly that.
Much of the comedy was based around satire of these characters, which would be typical of the Sun opposite Uranus, but the portrayal was largely sympathetic and gentle, evinced by the fact that both writers had this opposition in Virgo and Pisces, signs that are well known for their empathy with the underdog.
The one chart however, that really provides an astrological signature for the show and particularly the character he played was that of Arthur Lowe, the actor who played Captain Mainwaring. As has been pointed out often in these articles, the chart of an actor who is strongly associated with a particular part, will invariably describe the role as well as the individual.
As Captain of the local Home Guard and town’s bank manager, George Mainwaring is a pompous, blustering figure with overdeveloped sense of his importance ( Sun opposite Jupiter ).
Mainwaring believes in following rules and orders, sometimes to a ludicrous degree ( Sun in Virgo ). He is class conscious and a snob, considering himself middle class and looking down on anyone he considers beneath him ( Sun opposite Jupiter ). Mainwaring’s pomposity and snobbery work against him, as he is frequently dependent on those in the Home Guard that he considers beneath him ( Sun opposite Jupiter in Pisces )
As a bank manager, he is efficient if ruthless and stingy ( Sun in Virgo ) as a military commander he can at first glance be seen as barely competent, his plans often resulting in chaos ( opposite Moon in Pisces ).
Despite his shortcomings as a leader, Mainwaring considers himself an excellent military tactician ( Sun in Virgo ). His height and background are frequently mocked as indicating a Napoleon Complex ( Sun opposite Jupiter ).
Mainwaring has several redeeming qualities, notably a deep concern for the welfare of the men under his command. At heart, he is a kind-hearted man ( Moon in Pisces ) with a deep-rooted sense of duty ( Sun in Virgo ).
It is Mainwaring’s numerous flaws from the Virgo / Pisces opposition that fuel much of the comedy in Dad’s Army and Croft and Perry’s sublime understanding of this situation come from the fact that they both have the Sun in Virgo opposite Uranus, the planet of insight, in Pisces.
There is an aspect pattern in Astrology called an Easy Opposition. This is where an opposition is linked to a third planet which is in trine ( 120 degrees, in the same element ) to one and sextile ( 60 degrees, in a sympathetic element ) to the other.
This means that the tension and challenge created by the opposition flows easily towards the third planet and finds an effortless expression through it.
Mainwaring’s Sun in Virgo / Moon conjunct Jupiter opposition in Pisces makes an Easy Opposition to a Mars / Saturn conjunction in Cancer.
The planet that rules old age is Saturn. An army is ruled by Mars. The sign most associated with parents and family is Cancer, Mars is the most masculine of energies so in Cancer would be fatherhood. So the astrological symbol of Dad’s Army must be Mars conjunct Saturn in Cancer.
This placing also neatly describes the vast majority of the shows episodes where the platoon venture out on military manoeuvres ( Mars ) only to be frustrated or restricted ( Saturn ) by the inevitable consequences of their old age ( Saturn in Cancer ).
The Mars / Saturn conjunction in Cancer is the crucial symbol for the whole show and is the source of most of the comedy. Mars and Saturn is a critical theme in many great comedies as the audience likes nothing better than when the greatest plans of action come a cropper. We can all anticipate the inevitable disaster and enjoy it even more as a result.
Dad’s Army was obviously the turning point in Arthur Lowe’s life as evidenced by Pluto’s transit to the Easy opposition sextile Mars and opposite Jupiter when it was first broadcast in 1968. It reached its peak between 1970 and 72 when Pluto was conjunct Lowe’s Sun.
The Mars / Saturn / Cancer link was confirmed when the show was first aired on July 31st 1968.
The chart for the first episode has an extremely close T Square with the Moon opposite Saturn focusing onto an apex Mars in Cancer !
The one sign that is most associated with old age is Capricorn and the one planet is Saturn, its ruler.
Clive Dunn / Corporal Jones has the Sun in Capricorn with the Moon conjunct Saturn. Jones’ Sun is square to Mars, so he also has the Dad’s Army Mars / Saturn signature.
Continuing the Virgo theme, Jones has the Moon in the sign opposite to Uranus, the same aspect as Croft and Perry.
This opposition focuses by T square onto Venus in Sagittarius which is why Jones is constantly referring to favourable memories of old campaigns in foreign lands. He fondly recalls his participation in the Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan, facing the “Fuzzy Wuzzies” under the command of General Kitchener.
Jones’ Sun in Capricorn is square to Mars, the planet of war and he is extremely fond of bayonet warfare, “the cold steel”, and the fact that “they don’t like it up ’em!”. Despite his advanced years and physical failings, Jones is extremely excitable. Whenever action or danger is imminent he becomes near-hysterical and runs around frantically shouting “Don’t panic!” at the top of his voice (usually at some inappropriate moment, such as when holding a hand grenade). This is not from fear, however, but of extreme eagerness, a courageous man, Jones is always the first to volunteer for any activity (regardless of any potential danger) and is extremely keen when doing so.
This is all such a beautiful expression of the Sun in Capricorn square Mars.
Capricorns are known for being slower in their movements and reactions than any other sign, but when the Sun is square Mars the movements are often agitated and awkward. Jones is invariably one step behind the rest of the platoon in any drill manoeuvre, but his final step feels sudden and pronounced, particularly as everyone else has stopped.
Jones has Mercury in Capricorn in opposition to Pluto. Mercury in Capricorn is generally reserved but opposite Pluto would have a tendency to go over the top. In true Capricorn style he will not volunteer his opinions unless requested to. ” Permission to speak, sir ” is a favourite catchphrase, but once this is granted it will be followed by long, rambling explanations and anecdotes whenever he wants to make a point.
Even from the young age of 40, Clive Dunn’s trademark character was that of a doddering old man. This first made an impression in the show ” Bootsie and Snudge,” where he played the old dogsbody Mr Johnson at a slightly seedy gentlemen’s club. The show ran from 1960 to 63 which coincided with his most important Pluto turning point as it was conjunct his Moon / Saturn conjunction.
After Dad’s Army ended, Dunn capitalised on his skill in playing elderly character roles by playing the caretaker at a village hall, Charlie Quick in the children’s TV series ” Grandad “, from in 1979 with Pluto square his Sun.
Another favourite ancient character from Dad’s Army was Private Fraser played by John Laurie.
Fraser / Laurie has the Moon in Capricorn, a placing notable for its austerity and pessimistic view of the world. His Moon is opposite Mars in Cancer. So another one with the Mars / Saturn Cancer signature.
His Moon / Mars opposition focuses by T Square onto the Sun in Aries and Mercury at the end of Pisces.
Private Frazer is a dour, Scottish undertaker ( Moon in Capricorn ) trouble-stirring, exaggerating and wild-eyed ( Moon opposite Mars ).
He hails from the “wild and lonely” Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, an apparently desolate and bleak place ( Mars in Cancer ) that appears to have informed most of his pessimistic, dark tendencies( Moon in Capricorn ).
Frazer makes no secret of his desires for increased rank and power within the platoon ( Moon / Mars apex Sun in Aries ). To that end, Frazer is frequently negative and hyper-critical of his superior officers and their decisions, and clearly considers Captain Mainwaring, Sergeant Wilson and Lance Corporal Jones barely fit for command.
To reach his ends, Frazer is somewhat two-faced; he has a Machiavellian tendency to doubt people and their situations ( Moon in Capricorn ) and is usually responsible for gossiping and sowing the seeds of unease or insubordination amongst the other members of the platoon ( apex Mercury in Pisces ).
A notoriously miserable and miserly soul, Frazer is known for his bleak, pessimistic outlook on life. His catchphrase was ” We’re doomed ” a perfect expression of the Moon in Capricorn opposite Mars in Cancer T Square apex Mercury at the end of the last sign, Pisces.
John Laurie had two peak Pluto periods in his life. One was between 1917 and 1919 with Pluto opposite his Sun and square his Moon when he abandoned a career in architecture to serve in the First World War, an experience that haunted him throughout much of his life
The second was between 1973 and 74 when Pluto was opposite his Sun and square his Moon in the middle of the Dad’s Army run.
The period in between saw him as prolific Shakespearean and Hitchcock actor but he was known as Private Fraser.
In Laurie’s own words ” I’ve played every part in Shakespeare, I was considered to be the finest Hamlet of the twenties and I had retired, and now I’m famous for doing this crap.” Typical Capricorn Moon opposite Mars.
Another old soldier in the Dad’s Army cast was Arnold Ridley, who played Private Godfrey. Ridley saw active service in the First World War, sustaining several serious injuries, his left hand was left virtually useless by injuries sustained on the Somme, his legs were riddled with shrapnel, he was bayonetted in the groin and the legacy of a blow to the head by a German soldier’s rifle butt left him prone to blackouts.
He rejoined the army in 1939 as a captain in the Second World War, although he was discharged on health grounds in 1940 and subsequently joined the Home Guard.
He played many parts as an actor but only achieved fame as Godfrey.
Ridley / Godfrey was another ageing Capricorn with the Sun in square to a Libra Moon. This is a particularly interesting placing when we considered Libra’s constant search for peace and harmony.
Godfrey is a gentle, mild-mannered and kindly old man ( Sun in Capricorn ) who was a conscientious objector in the First World War, ( square Moon in Libra ).
Godfrey never married although he did once have a young lover but the reason they did not marry was that they were not of the same social class. Instead he lives with two sisters and is constantly referring fondly to his sister Dolly ( Moon in Libra square Sun in Capricorn ).
His age has given him a notoriously weak bladder, which lets him down and postpones all platoon activity, and his catchphrase is “May I be excused, sir?”. As Libra rules the kidneys and the bladder this is another perfect symbol of the Sun in Capricorn square to the Moon in Libra.
Arnold Ridley’s Pluto turning point came in 1977 – 79 with Pluto conjunct his Moon and square his Sun as Dad’s Army came to an end.
Other characters who were not so ancient included Ian Lavender who played Private Frank Pike the youngest member of the platoon.
Aged 17 when the series begins, he is not old enough to join up, but this doesn’t stop Lavender / Pike also having the Mars / Saturn conjunction in Cancer that makes him a perfect member of Dad’s Army.
Pike has the Sun at the end of Aquarius in conjunction with Mercury and Venus in Pisces in opposition to the Moon in Virgo. Health is often an issue for Virgoans and Pisceans are known for having a delicate disposition.
When Pike is about to receive his call-up papers, it is revealed that he has a rare blood type that excludes him from military service. Pike is sickly and unhealthy but most of his “illnesses” stem from his mother’s protectiveness, and she tells him to always wear a scarf for fear of catching a cold. The Moon rules the mother so its position in Virgo sums this up nicely.
Apparently the character of Pike was based on Jimmy Perry himself when he joined the Home Guard as a 17 year old at the beginning of the 2nd World War. Perry’s mother was also worried about her boy catching cold. Of course Perry also has a Virgo / Pisces opposition.
Arthur Lowe / Captain Mainwaring also has a Sun / Moon opposition from Virgo to Pisces. The really fascinating thing about Mainwaring and Pike’s synastry is the link between their Mars / Saturn conjunctions.
Mars and Saturn are opposites, their energies are antithetical. Mars is all about action and assertiveness, Saturn is all about restriction and obstruction. Mars is all go, Saturn is all stop. When the two planets are in conjunction, its like driving a car with one foot hard down on the accelerator and the other simultaneously on the brake.
The fascinating thing is that Mainwaring’s Mars is conjunct Pike’s Saturn and Pike’s Mars is conjunct Mainwaring’s Saturn.
Pike often feels shouted at or forced to do something by Mainwaring. Mainwaring’s Saturn authority role upsets Pike and his response is to threaten to set his Mum on the superior officer ( Sun / Moon opposition ).
For Mainwaring, Pike’s incompetence is the epitome of everything that is wrong with the platoon and it is symptomatic of their Mars / Saturn failures. Mainwaring’s response is to call Pike ” You stupid boy “, a catchphrase widely voted as the best put down in TV history.
Another character that falls into a similar category for Mainwaring is his assistant Sergeant Wilson, played by John Le Mesurier.
Although not as ancient as the others, Wilson / Le Mesurier still has Mars in Cancer which makes him a fully paid up member of the platoon.
His Sun is at 15 degrees Aries in exact square to Mainwaring’s Saturn.
Saturn is all about being held back and not given things easily, forcing the individual to work hard for anything.
Ariens have a natural ease in action as if it were the simplest thing in the world. They don’t perceive obstructions, they just get out there and do it. As most of the comedy in the show comes from Mainwaring’s Mars / Saturn conjunction, where his efforts to assert himself are always met with obstacles, his relationship with Wilson is key.
Tension and comedy between Wilson and Mainwaring is heightened by their difference in social class, Wilson had an upper middle class childhood and a public school education, prompting resentment from the lower middle class Mainwaring, who had to work his way up and views Wilson as having it easy. Mainwaring frequently emphasises his superior rank at the bank and in the Home Guard to maintain his authority and superiority over Wilson.
Wilson’s Neptune is exactly conjunct Mainwaring’s Mars. Neptune’s role is one of gentle subversion and Wilson undermines his superior through casual charm and frequent concern at Mainwaring’s plans, querying, “Do you really think that’s wise, sir?”
Wilson is carefree, cheerful and well-spoken, a true Arien but with the Moon in Scorpio, more complex than he first seems. He has an aura of mystery particularly around his relationship with Mavis Pike, Frank’s widowed mother. It is clear that Wilson and Mrs Pike are unofficially living together and there are many comedic moments around Frank Pike’s calling him Uncle when the audience knows he is the biological father.
Wilson’s Moon has an extraordinary connection with Pike’s chart, creating a T Square with the young lad’s Sun and Moon ( his mother ). This is a powerful depiction of the secretive relationship between the three of them.
Pluto’s major transits marked important stages in John Le Mesurier’s life in Dad’s Army. It was opposite his Venus when the show began in 1968, in square to his Mars in Cancer when it was at its peak and opposite his Sun when it was taken off air in 1977.
Another fascinating character is Private Joe Walker, a black market spiv, played by James Beck.
Interestingly Walker doesn’t quite have the Mars in Cancer that runs through these charts. His Mars is at the end of Gemini, the younger sign just before Cancer. But Walker still has the Mars / Saturn connection as the two planets are in opposition.
This is particularly appropriate to the character. When Mars and Saturn are in conjunction, the individual invariably displays the energies of both planets themselves. It is as if something in them is trying to be assertive whilst another part of their character is trying to restrain themselves.
With the opposition between these two planets the Mars part comes from the individual, but the Saturnian restraints always come from other people, so there is a constant battle against the obstructions created by authority figures.
Walker has the Sun in Pisces opposite Neptune, the perfect symbol of a likeable but slightly shifty figure who could easily be deceptive and even a con man.
He has the Moon in Leo, which gives him a natural confidence in opposition to Mercury in Aquarius which points to having the gift of the gab, a smooth talker and operator. This opposition focuses by T Square onto Jupiter which shows it brings him considerable rewards through his business dealings.
Walker was the second youngest member of the platoon but a constant thorn in Mainwaring’s side as he doesn’t share his idealism and makes cheeky and witty interruptions ( Moon in Leo opposite Mercury in Aquarius ) during his serious lectures. He is good-natured ( Moon in Leo ) but is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to make a few bob through his many “business” connections and his ability to mysteriously conjure up almost anything that is rationed or no longer in the shops due to the War – for a price ( T Square apex Jupiter ). He also demonstrates keen improvisational skills and cunning; as a result, owing to these attributes and his cheerful willingness to use tactics that Mainwaring might not consider to be ‘cricket’, he is usually responsible for getting the platoon out of many of the scrapes that they find themselves in ( Sun in Pisces opposite Neptune ).
Walker is supposedly allergic to corned beef, he was conscripted, only to be discharged when it was found that corned beef fritters were the only rations left for the soldiers to eat. Rules and regulations do not work for Pisceans with the Sun opposite Neptune, who are exceptionally good at finding ways round them.
A Pisces Sun opposite Neptune also indicates a desire to escape from the harsher aspects of day to day reality often through the use of drink or drugs. James Beck died suddenly with pancreatitis, which was probably to heavy drinking at the age of 44 in 1973 as the transiting Neptune was square to his Sun.
The amazing frequency with which the Mars / Saturn / Cancer theme comes up in all these charts shows the power of this astrological image of Dad’s Army.
Mars conjunct Saturn is one of the strongest themes in comedy and it is the simplest one that makes audiences laugh. A funny character has to come a cropper in some way, and it works best if his misfortunes are an inevitable consequence of his own over enthusiastic nature.
People with Mars and Saturn in conjunction carry this fate with them. Their enthusiasm to act quickly and decisively always gets them into trouble because the frustrating power of Saturn is equal to their assertive Mars. The difficulties they encounter ( Saturn ) invariably pushes them to try harder ( Mars ) which gets them into more difficulties with a vicious circle effect fast emerging.
The sign that the conjunction is in will show us why their enthusiasm brings its own problems. In The Good Life, the main character Tom Good, played by Richard Briers has Mars conjunct Saturn in Aquarius, and the comedy here is that his over idealistic, unconventional Aquarian plans to achieve self sufficiency bring their own limitations and problems along with them.
In Dad’s Army, the failures and getting into scrapes come as an inevitable consequence of their age because the Mars / Saturn conjunction is in Cancer, the sign that is most strongly associated with the past.
In some ways it could be seen as a harsh commentary on the inevitability of ageing and the problems that this brings up. The fact that it isn’t, and is widely viewed as a gentle comedy that works for everyone is largely down to the Virgo / Pisces theme in the charts of many of the main characters but particularly the writers Croft and Perry.
David Croft and Jimmy Perry both had the Sun in close conjunction in Virgo in opposition to Uranus in Pisces so a gentle, sympathetic satire would always have been the result of their efforts.
Their shared Mercury conjunct Saturn in Libra ensured that it would be about old men but it was Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring who brought all this to fruition.
Lowe also had a crucial Sun Virgo / Pisces opposition but his was reflected onto the Mars / Saturn conjunction in Cancer. The rest, as they say, is comedy history.