'Dad's Army' group in grenade panic

An amateur drama group staging an adaptation of the wartime sitcom Dad's Army had an uncomfortably close shave after they mistakenly used live grenades as props.

The grenades, which had been found in the garage of a cast member's father-in-law following a clearout after his death, were being used in a rehearsal when a member of the cast realised they could be live. Police were called and carried out a controlled explosion.

Keith Poultney of the Magor Players, who was taking the role of Corporal Jones in the production – whose catchphrase "Don't panic" seems particularly pertinent in this case – said he had struggled to remain calm when he realised the grenade in his hand was live.

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

"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 he became aware of the danger the weapons posed, he carefully placed them in a field near his house and contacted the emergency services.

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

They blew the grenades partially apart, making them safe – but, much to Mr Poultney's disappointment, his troupe were not allowed to have them back to use as props because First World War devices are technically crown property.