South East Wales

Live grenade prop used in Dad's Army play

Dad's Army episode
Image caption Dad's Army was screened from 1968 to 1977

A theatre group staging a production of Dad's Army narrowly avoided the production going with a bang after using live grenades as props.

The grenades had been found in a garage owned by a cast member's father-in-law during a clear-out after his death.

The grenades were being used in a rehearsal when a Magor Players' cast member realised they could be live.

Police were called and carried out a controlled explosion.

The play was an adaptation of the popular TV comedy Dad's Army which was screened from 1968 to 1977.

Keith Poultney, who was taking the role of Corporal Jones - catchphrase "Don't Panic" - followed his character's advice and remained calm even as he realised the bomb in his hand was live.

Image caption Corporal Jones' catchphrase was 'Don't Panic'

The grenades had been mounted on a display plate and it was only once they were removed it became apparent they still had the pins in.

He told BBC Radio Wales: "It was during rehearsals fortunately. It would have been a bit unfortunate in a crowd of 100 people.

"It was in a rehearsal just prior to doing a live show.

"I held them several times and handed them around to friends. We'd driven down from Droitwich in Worcestershire with them rattling around in the back of the car."

Once Mr Poultney realised the potential danger, he put them in a field outside his house and contacted the emergency services.

"The police just said 'keep well clear and we'll get the bomb squad down'," he said.

The police blew the grenade partially apart to make it safe but much to Mr Poultney's disappointment the group were not allowed to have them back as the World War I devices are crown property.

"It was a bit unfortunate because they just blew part of the hand grenade away to examine them, so when you had your hand on them, they looked like complete grenades, so I though we could still use them as props," he explaned.

In the end, they had to carve a replica out of wood.

Mr Poultney said of the two-night play run: "It was all done in good fun.

"I don't think anyone could be as good as the original one was but I think we paid a fair tribute to them."

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