ON August 18 last year, we wrote of a two-man Edinburgh Fringe show – BBC Tees presenter Bob Fischer, 47, and 31-year-old Gateshead-based television producer Andrew Smith – in undiluted appreciation of Last of the Summer Wine.

In the Fringe bar, Belhaven bitter not Beaujolais, sat David Benson and Jack Lane, another thespian pairing with a passion for Dad’s Army.

“If your show comes to the North-East, we’ll be there like a shot,” we promised – and, last Tuesday, they paraded at The Witham arts centre in Barnard Castle.

The headline above may thus be self-explanatory. Had the show been about Air Force or Navy, it might have been Witham and Blues.

Properly it’s the Dad’s Army Radio Show – a reprise in which the pair mimic 25 characters and, visually and vocally, do it quite wonderfully. In script it’s little different from the series which began 51 years ago in July and remains the only thing worth watching on Saturday night television.

Were extras needed, the largely elderly Witham faithfuls looked pretty much up to the part. One’s a not-quite-dead ringer for Old Mr Blewitt; several might double as the matronly Mrs Fox.

We’re seated, coincidentally, behind the Bishop of Durham and his wife. “I used to really enjoy Dad’s Army when I was younger, but don’t get much time these days,” says the Rt Rev Paul Butler, very much in mufti. It’s his first visit to a Witham production.

The first of three episodes is the one about the giant explosive wheel in which the Walmington-on-Sea platoon are on “special duties” – peeling potatoes, digging latrines – the second the Mums’ Army episode which writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft always thought their favourite.

The third, almost inevitably, is the classic involving the captured, fish and chips-chomping, German U-boat crew – “Don’t tell him, Pike” – in which there’s also a Jones-inspired debate about how to tell if parachutists are nuns or Huns. Hairy legs, remember.

Directly in front of us, the bishop’s shoulders rise and fall rhythmically, like the late Sir Edward Heath when trying to control guffaws of nature. The bishop also seems pretty amused when the hostage vicar has a gun held to his head.

They’re peripatetic, with or without Jones’s van. One night it might be a parish hall in Aberdeenshire, another the Carnegie Hall, Thetford.

They’ve played Darlington and Middlesbrough, too, but now the season appears over. Very likely they’ll be on the march again in 2020: Do tell him, Pike.

MORE from an earlier generation, the Durham Age UK men’s breakfast – every third Wednesday, indoor market, 9.30am – set us a little quiz.

Post-prandially, members were invited to suggest within five years how many years it is since the following toys first hit the play list. Hoola-hoop, Crayola crayons, Lego, Monopoly, Mr Potato Head, jigsaw. teddy bear, yo-yo, space hopper, Barbie.

Amusement only, answers at the foot of the page.

THE Searchers, if not dad’s army then most certainly golden oldies, retired on Sunday after three number ones and 60 years making music. Lead guitarist John McNally, there from the start, is pushing 78; bass player Frank Allen, who joined in 1964, is but a bairn of 75.

The occasion prompts an email from John Brownbridge, born and raised in Toft Hill, long in leafy Lewes and a Searchers fan since formative youth. He first saw them, he thinks, playing from the back of a trailer in Shildon Rec – what, not from that venerable bandstand? – a recollection subsequently amended to what Shildon folk called the Scouts’ Field.

In March he attended two of the farewell tour concerts, but found Sunday’s final bow – in Milton Keynes, where else? – long sold out.

Here’s the thing, though. John’s certain that the Scouts’ Field gig was in the summer of 1963, the year that the Liverpool group topped the charts with Sweets For My Sweet.

Which came first? Were The Searchers propelled to fame from the back of a lorry in Shildon? Does anyone else remember it or, needles and pins in a haystack, maybe even have a picture?

ALL that inevitably recalls the occasion, early 1970s, that Britain’s No 1 played Shildon and lost.

An elderly Thames van pulled up one evening, about 11pm, as I was walking home. The passenger, a chap in dark glasses, asked if I knew the way to the GR Club. GR, it should be explained, was George Reynolds.

Told that I’d be passing it a couple of miles on, the passenger budged up to the female driver and invited me to jump in. Soon it became clear that they were Peters and Lee – Lenny Peters was blind – who’d topped the charts two weeks earlier with Welcome Home.

George had booked them as unknowns, waited anxiously outside for fear of a no-show. The couple politely pointed out that they’d kept their side of the bargain, despite sudden stardom, asked if they might have a few bob more.

George produced the contract from his leather jacket, asked what it said. “£10,” said Dianne Lee, and ten quid’s what they got.

THE column a couple of weeks back marked the 50th anniversary of the death of aviation pioneer Ernie Brooks, killed when his gyrocopter crashed at Teesside Airport.

A restored Brooklands Mosquito now has a home at Sunderland Air Museum. Now Ernie’s nephew Trevor, who restored the craft, hopes to place a blue plaque on the house in Tudhoe Colliery, near Spennymoor, where Ernie designed and built the gyrocopter in a shed at the bottom of the garden.

The plaque’s already made. He awaits permission from Durham County Council to erect it.

TREVOR’S plaque’s virtues include that of brevity. The seem may not be said for the wording of the proposed blue plaque outside the Old Well, a very good pub in Barnard Castle.

It reads: “The Old Well Inn was known as the Railway Hotel. In circa 1877, when it was being used as a billet, the soldiers of the Durham Fusilier Militia who were initially delighted to known that they were being put up in a hotel, on seeing the accommodation, revolted. The landlord was charged under the Mutiny Act with providing unfit conditions. The Old Well Inn has come a long way and has no risk of mutiny now.”

Asked its views, Barney town council recommended what the inky trade used to call a bit of subbing. “It’s not a blue plaque they need,” said Coun John Blissett, “it’s a blue wall.”

…and finally, the play being the thing, the years since those toys’ debuts are 61 (hoola-hoop), 116 (Crayola crayons), 86 (Lego), 81 (Monopoly), 70 (Mr Potato Head), 259 (jigsaw), 117 (teddy bear), 91 (yo-yo), 50 (space hopper), 60 (Barbie).

Among us oldies, the most successful got four out of ten