SOUNDS of the past came to life at the Haymarket Theatre as Dad’s Army Radio Hour visited Basingstoke.

Dad’s Army is one of, if not, my favourite TV programmes that I’ve ever seen, and not having been born when the original episodes were on air, both in radio and on TV, it was certainly a treat to see a live version.

I have had the pleasure before of seeing Jack Lane (Wisdom of a Fool) and David Benson (Think No Evil of Us: My Life With Kenneth Williams and Boris: World King) before, at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh last year, where they were also performing Dad’s Army Radio Hour, and they certainly did not disappoint both times.

Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s TV classic was adapted for radio by Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles, and it is this that informs the basis of the show, which uses the radio scripts with a dash of the TV show put in as well.

The pair performed the scripts of three classic episodes, calamity after calamity in ‘Round and round went the great big wheel’, a personal favourite of mine, ‘Mum’s Army’, and the episode containing one of the show’s most famous lines, ‘The Deadly Attachment’.

What is most impressive about the show is the skill exhibited of vocal mimicry from Lane and Benson, who perform a total of 25 characters between them with incredible skill and style. There are no characters that seemed slightly off, and the pair performed each character with impeccable skill that if you closed your eyes and listened, that even the most well-versed fan could be fooled.

Personal vocal highlights include Jack Lane’s Captain Mainwaring and Private Pike, and David Benson’s Sergeant Wilson and Private Godfrey.

However, closing your eyes would have deprived you of one of the highlights of the show for me, which is watching the performers at work.

Lane and Benson stand in front of the microphones and allow their full bodies to be a part of the performance. From seeing Lane employing Arthur Lowe’s slight hand movements, to Benson’s incredible facial expressions, from the eye-rolling ‘you’re doomed’ of John Laurie (as Frazer) to the pleasant face of Arnold Ridley (as Godfrey), it really was a sight to behold.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the pair’s performances was the sheer range of characters that they played between them, from posh army officers to widows and usherettes in ‘Mum’s Army’, every time they opened their mouths, it was an absolute treat.

While the attention may well be on the performers on stage, mention must be made of the sound designs of Tom Lishman, who really captured the feeling of the show perfectly.

Dad’s Army is a TV and radio show that has (and will) last throughout the years and holds a special place in the hearts of many (including me), so it is important to get right.

So, is it a case of ‘you’re doomed’ or ‘don’t panic’? Well, they needn’t have panicked, as the audience laughed along with every joke and applauded to ‘don’t tell him, Pike’.

Benson and Lane were magnificent and every Dad’s Army fan should see this if they can.