The Navy Lark was a radio sit-com about life aboard a British Royal Navy frigate named HMS Troutbridge, (a pun on HMS Troubridge, an actual Royal Navy destroyer) based in HMNB Portsmouth, though in series 1 and 2 the ship and crew were stationed offshore at an unnamed location known simply as "The Island." In series 2 this island was revealed to be owned by Lt Cdr Stanton. The series was transmitted on the BBC Light Programme and subsequently BBC Radio 2. It was produced by Alastair Scott Johnston. Laurie Wyman conceived the idea and wrote the scripts (with George Evans from quite early on, but who was not name checked until the 12th Series onwards). For most of its run, it starred Jon Pertwee, Leslie Phillips and Stephen Murray.

Plot

Programmes were self-contained, although there was continuity within the series, and sometimes a reference to a previous episode might be made. A normal episode consisted of Sub Lieutenant Phillips, scheming Chief Petty Officer Pertwee and bemused Lt. Murray trying to get out of trouble they created for themselves without their direct superior, Commander (later Captain) "Thunderguts" Povey finding out. Scenes frequently featured a string of eccentric characters, often played by Ronnie Barker or Jon Pertwee

Republic of Potarneyland

The Republic of Potarneyland, a country situated somewhere on the Indian subcontinent, is featured in several episodes. Over the course of the series, it is revealed that Potarneyland had recently been granted independence from Great Britain, and had joined NATO because the Potanis considered it to be a "free gift scheme". During Series 3 of The Navy Lark, a Potarneyland frigate, the Poppadom, appears in several episodes manned by various Potani officers voiced by Michael Bates and Ronnie Barker.

Cast

Production

The series used accents and characterised voices to supplement the humour, as well as a good deal of innuendo.

The show's theme tune was a traditional hornpipe called St Ninian's Isle. The programme also featured musical breaks with a main harmonica theme by Tommy Reilly and several enduring catchphrases, most notably from Sub Lieutenant Phillips: "Corrrrr", "Ooh, nasty...", "Oh lumme!", and "Left hand down a bit". "Ev'rybody down!" was a phrase of CPO Pertwee's, necessitated by a string of incomprehensible navigation orders by Phillips, and followed by a sound effect of the ship crashing. Also, whenever Pertwee had some menial job to be done, Able Seaman Johnson was always first in line to do it, inevitably against his will: "You're rotten, you are!". The telephone response from Naval Intelligence (Ronnie Barker), was always an extremely gormless and dimwitted delivery of "'Ello, Intelligence 'ere" or "This is intelligence speakinTemplate:'".

Other recurring verbal features were the invented words "humgrummits" and "floggle-toggle" which served to cover all manner of unspecified objects ranging from foodstuffs to naval equipment.

Reception

The series made household names of Leslie Phillips, Jon Pertwee and Richard Caldicot, but Ronnie Barker's versatile contributions were only recognised after he had become better known through television comedy. Michael Bates later appeared on television as Blamire in Last of the Summer Wine and as Rangi Ram in It Ain't Half Hot Mum. Judy Cornwell was later to appear in the short series Moody and Pegg, but became best known when she was cast as Daisy, one of Hyacinth Bucket's sisters in Keeping Up Appearances. Dennis Price returned for a guest appearance in the fourth series episode A Hole Lieutenant

Repeats can regularly be heard on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Sequels and adaptations

There were several radio sequels, including The Embassy Lark and The Big Business Lark. The TV Lark was intended to be a replacement for The Navy Lark starting with what would have been the series' fifth season. This situation came about due to the head of light entertainment believing that "forces" based humour had had its day and television was the next "big thing" so Lawrie was told to create a show with the same cast in an independent TV station situation. Alastair Scott Johnston and Lawrie Wyman tried to stop this folly but were overruled, hence the arrival of The TV Lark. The entire cast had been drummed out of the service (as the announcer puts it) and hired by Troutbridge TV Ltd. Janet Brown joined the cast due to the absence of Heather Chasen for this season. However, mainly due to public pressure, the production team of Alastair Scott Johnston and Lawrie Wyman managed to revert the show back to nautical capers, even though episode ten of The TV Lark revealed that CPO Pertwee had arranged to flog almost the entirety of HMS Troutbridge. Storylines in The TV Lark nudged back to Naval origins across the ten shows until they were finally reunited with Troutbridge and acceptable storylines once more. 10 episodes were made but unfortunately Episode 9 is lost. The nine surviving episodes are available on YouTube.[3]

In 1959 a film version was made, written by Laurie Wyman and Sid Colin and directed by Gordon Parry. It starred Cecil Parker, Ronald Shiner, Elvi Hale, Leslie Phillips and Nicholas Phipps.

Wyman co-wrote with three other writers a television sitcom HMS Paradise (Associated-Rediffusion, 1964-5) set in a naval shore establishment in which Caldicot played Captain Turvey, but only one series was made. The entire series has been wiped, but a rumour exists that one episode still exists.

The show was condensed from 30 to 27 minutes by Transcription services, then the discs were then exported around the world except for South Africa. As Springbok Radio was a commercial station the BBC refused to allow the station to re-broadcast the British shows so the station acquired the scripts from Lawrie and edited them to around twenty five minutes, to accommodate the commercial breaks. The revised show was recorded by them in front of a live audience. All the UK associations were kept for the Durban audiences which must have been incomprehensible on occasions. Excerpts of these broadcasts can be heard on the Springbok celebration site and occasionally Pumamouse.

Episode guide

1st Series Spring 1959

  • 1. A-01 Mar 29 59 The Missing Jeep
    2. A-02 Apr 5 59 Operation Fag End (pilot episode)
    3. A-03 Apr 12 59 Number One's Chair
    4. A-04 Apr 19 59 The Fairground Lights
    5. A-05 Apr 26 59 The Comfort Fund
    6. A-06 May 3 59 Stuck up the Inlet
    7. A-07 May 10 59 The Admiral's Party
    8. A-08 May 17 59 The Hank of Heather
    9. A-09 May 24 59 The Multiple Mine
    10. A-10 May 31 59 The Gun Mechanism Test
    11. A-11 Jun 7 59 The Whittlesea Bay Yacht Regatta
    12. A-12 Jun 14 59 The Psychology Test
    13. A-13 Jun 21 59 A Watch on the Initiative
    14. A-14 Jun 28 59 An Exercise in Filming
    15. A-15 Jul 5 59 The Smuggling Spy
    16. A-16 Jul 12 59 The Whittlesea Carnival and Fête

2nd Series Autumn 1959

  • 17. 2-01 Oct 16 59 New at the Helm
    18. 2-02 Oct 23 59 Fatso's Box Brownie
    19. 2-03 Oct 30 59 Bring Back the Barge
    20. 2-04 Nov 6 59 The Mock Action
    21. 2-05 Nov 13 59 Going Dutch
    22. 2-06 Nov 20 59 The Figurehead
    23. 2-07 Nov 27 59 Gunboat To Gumba
    24. 2-08 Dec 4 59 Johnson Finds Treasure
    25. 2-09 Dec 11 59 The Charter Trip to Antarctica
    26. 2-10 Dec 18 59 Cementing Relations
    27. 2-11 Dec 25 59 Strike up the Band
    28. 2-12 Jan 1 60 The Route March
    29. 2-13 Jan 8 60 A Trip up the Thames
    30. 2-14 Jan 15 60 Radar Talk Down System
    31. 2-15 Jan 22 60 A Crisp Romance
    32. 2-16 Jan 29 60 The Lighthouse Lark
    33. 2-17 Feb 5 60 Pertwee Posted to Portsmouth
    34. 2-18 Feb 12 60 Johnson's Diet
    35. 2-19 Feb 19 60 Tug Of War
    36. 2-20 Feb 26 60 Return To Potarneyland
    37. 2-21 Mar 4 60 The Cross Country Run
    38. 2-22 Mar 11 60 The Morning After
    39. 2-23 Mar 18 60 The Admiral's Present
    40. 2-24 Mar 25 60 Secret Mission to Calais
    41. 2-25 Apr 1 60 Mr Murray Goes Sick
    42. 2-26 Apr 8 60 The Portarneyland Fishing Limit

3rd Series 1960

  • 44. 3-01 Nov 2 60 In Portsmouth for a Re-Fit
    Nov 5 60 Wrens Reunion at the Royal Festival Hall
    45. 3-02 Nov 9 60 Refitting Ebeneezer Pertwee
    46. 3-03 Nov 16 60 Sea Trials of the Poppadom
    47. 3-04 Nov 23 60 Mutiny Aboard Troutbridge
    48. 3-05 Nov 30 60 The Explosive Biscuits
    49. 3-06 Dec 7 60 Sir Willoughby Takes Over The Island
    50. 3-07 Dec 14 60 Mount Rumpus Atoll
    51. 3-08 Dec 21 60 Mr Murray's Houseboat
    52. 3-09 Dec 28 60 Johnson's Birthday
    53. 3-10 Jan 4 61 Povey's Unexpected Leave
    54. 3-11 Jan 11 61 Families' Day
    55. 3-12 Jan 18 61 Falmouth Ghost Ship
    56. 3-13 Jan 25 61 Onabushkan Flu
    57. 3-14 Feb 1 61 The Efficiency Expert
    58. 3-15 Feb 8 61 The Floggle Grummit Missile
    59. 3-16 Feb 15 61 The Hitch Hiking Counterfeiter
    60. 3-17 Feb 22 61 Commodore Goldstein
    61. 3-18 Mar 1 61 Mr Phillips Has Navigation Tuition
    62. 3-19 Mar 8 61 CPO Pertwee and the Laundry
    63. 3-20 Mar 15 61 The Surprise Wedding

4th Series 1961

  • 64. 4-01 Sep 15 61 Returning from Leave
    65. 4-02 Sep 22 61 Captain Povey's Spy
    66. 4-03 Sep 29 61 The Secret Of Nessie's Youth
    67. 4-04 Oct 6 61 The Northampton Hunt Ball
    68. 4-05 Oct 13 61 Hijacked
    69. 4-06 Oct 20 61 Admiral Troutbridge
    70. 4-07 Oct 27 61 Relatives and Reservations
    71. 4-08 Nov 3 61 Humgrummits on the High Seas
    72. 4-09 Nov 10 61 Are Captain and Mrs Povey Married?
    73. 4-10 Nov 17 61 Cine Cameras at Sea
    74. 4-11 Nov 24 61 The Citizen Adjustment Course
    75. 4-12 Dec 1 61 A Hole Lieutenant
    76. 4-13 Dec 8 61 Spy Catching in Casablanca
    77. 4-14 Dec 15 61 Mount Pot Erupts
    78. 4-15 Dec 22 61 Captain Povey's Shop
    79. 4-16 Dec 29 61 Leading Seaman Goldstein's Party
    80. 4-17 Jan 5 62 The Invitation
    81. 4-18 Jan 12 62 The Cornish Exercise
    82. 4-19 Jan 19 62 A Strange Hobby
    83. 4-20 Jan 26 62 Mr Phillips Get Engaged
    84. 4-21 Feb 2 62 The Sinking of the Bubble Car
    85. 4-22 Feb 9 62 Long John Pertwee
    86. 4-23 Feb 16 62 The Admiral's Accident Report
    87. 4-24 Feb 23 62 Over the Sea to Rosyth
    88. 4-25 Mar 2 62 The Return of Sir Frederick Flatley
    89. 4-26 Mar 9 62 The Ship's Concert

Christmas special 1962

  • 90. S-01 unaired Calling The Antarctic -0Not broadcast in the UK.

The TV Lark 1963

  • T01.Opening Night
    T02.Advertising Drive
    T03.The Party Political Broadcast
    T04.Back to Portsmouth
    T05.Serial Programming
    T06.The African Incident
    T07.Yours, or MINE!!!
    T08.The Portarneyland Election
    T09.
    T10.Back in the Navy

5th Series spring 1963

  • 91. 5-01 Apr 5 63 First Day out of Dock
    92. 5-02 Apr 12 63 (100th edition)
    93. 5-03 Apr 19 63 A Deliberate Bashing
    94. 5-04 Apr 26 63 Whittlesea Regatta
    95. 5-05 May 3 63 HMS Troutbridge Gets a Rocket
    96. 5-06 May 10 63 The Ghost Ship

6th Series autumn 1963

  • 97. 6-01 Sep 27 63 Wren Chasen Returns
    98. 6-02 Oct 4 63 On the Carpet
    99. 6-03 Oct 11 63 The Bungalese Spies
    100. 6-04 Oct 18 63 Troutbridge's Party
    101. 6-05 Oct 25 63 Rescuing Admirals
    102. 6-06 Nov 1 63 Demise of the Depth Charges
    103. 6-07 Nov 8 63 The Struggle for Promotion
    104. 6-08 Nov 15 63 Fred Computables
    105. 6-09 Nov 22 63 Stormy Weather
    106. 6-10 Nov 29 63 Chasing the Kepeac
    107. 6-11 Dec 6 63 The Submerged Island
    108. 6-12 Dec 13 63 The Sicilian Secret Agent
    109. 6-13 Dec 20 63 German's Troutbridge
    110. 6-14 Dec 27 63 Confirming Povey's Rank
    111. 6-15 Jan 3 64 The Calais Dock Strike
    112. 6-16 Jan 10 64 Johnson's Memoirs
    113. 6-17 Jan 17 64 The Emperor of Tratvia
    114. 6-18 Jan 24 64 Open Day
    115. 6-19 Jan 31 64 Stuck on a Sandbank

7th Series 1965

  • 116. 7-01 Jul 11 65 Back in the Muck Again
    117. 7-02 Jul 18 65 Smugglers in the Solent
    118. 7-03 Jul 25 65 Mr Murray Is Victimised
    119. 7-04 Aug 1 65 The Poveys Move House
    120. 7-05 Aug 8 65 Captain Povey Reports Sick
    121. 7-06 Aug 15 65 Admiral Pertwee's Fleet
    122. 7-07 Aug 22 65 Let Loose with a Chopper
    123. 7-08 Aug 29 65 Making a Right Pig's Breakfast
    124. 7-09 Sep 5 65 The Mysterious Pudding Mine
    125. 7-10 Sep 12 65 The Hovercraft Training Course
    126. 7-11 Sep 19 65 Sabotaged Floggle-Toggle Box
    127. 7-12 Sep 26 65 The Portarneyland Training Exercise
    128. 7-13 Oct 3 65 Going on Leave to Croydon

Christmas Special 1965

  • 129. S-02 unaired Not broadcast in UK.

8th Series 1966

  • 130. 8-01 Sep 4 66 Searching for Their Ship (a.k.a. Where is Troutbridge?)
    131. 8-02 Sep 11 66 Float a Peddle Fiddle
    132. 8-03 Sep 18 66 Gumming Up the Works (a.k.a. A Sticky Business)
    133. 8-04 Sep 25 66 Buoys Will Be Buoys
    134. 8-05 Oct 2 66 Steamship Day
    135. 8-06 Oct 9 66 Farewell to HMS Varsity
    136. 8-07 Oct 16 66 Blowing Themselves Up (a.k.a. The Army Lark)
    137. 8-08 Oct 23 66 Buying Tickets (a.k.a. Just the Ticket)
    138. 8-09 Oct 30 66 Mr Phillips Promotion
    139. 8-10 Nov 6 66 Pertwee and the Tratvian Beer
    140. 8-11 Nov 13 66 The PM Papa
    141. 8-12 Nov 20 66 Getting Rid of Pertwee
    142. 8-13 Nov 27 66 Off to Sea at Last

9th Series 1967

  • 143. 9-01 Jul 2 67 Back from the Antarctic
    144. 9-02 Jul 9 67 Fishing in Troubled Waters (a.k.a. Fishers off the Faroes)
    145. 9-03 Jul 16 67 Cleaning Up (a.k.a. A Filthy Ferryboat)
    146. 9-04 Jul 23 67 Doing a Disastrical (a.k.a. Jigsaws and Jemmies)
    147. 9-05 Jul 30 67 The Naval Review
    148. 9-06 Aug 6 67 Going Caravaning (a.k.a. The Curious Caravan Case)
    149. 9-07 Aug 13 67 Having a Bit of Trouble with the French (a.k.a. Frenchmen in J.41)
    150. 9-08 Aug 20 67 Tangling with the Law (a.k.a. The Police Drop In)
    151. 9-09 Aug 27 67 Mr Murray's Endurance Course
    152. 9-10 Sep 3 67 Women in the Wardroom
    153. 9-11 Sep 10 67 Troutbridge's Silver Jubilee
    155. 9-12 Sep 17 67 Computerising (a.k.a. CECIL the Navigation Computer)
    156. 9-13 Sep 24 67 A Russian Rendezvous
    157. 9-14 Oct 1 67 The Bugged and Burgled Beer
    158. 9-15 Oct 8 67 Picking up the Poppadom
    159. 9-16 Oct 15 67 Cuthbert Joins the Navy
    150. 9-17 Oct 22 67 The Flying Machine
    160. 9-18 Oct 29 67 Sub Lt. Philips at Dartmouth
    161. 9-19 Nov 5 67 Frying Up
    162. 9-20 Nov 12 67 Troutbridge in Quarantine

10th Series 1968

  • 163. 10-01 Oct 13 68 Lighting Up (a.k.a. Troutbridge Electrifies Portsmouth)
    164. 10-02 Oct 20 68 The Redundancy Drive
    165. 10-03 Oct 27 68 The Smugglers Return
    166. 10-04 Nov 3 68 Captain Trotter Takes Charge
    167. 10-05 Nov 10 68 The Anti-Submarine Missile
    168. 10-06 Nov 17 68 Accredited (a.k.a. Sub-Conductor Phillips)
    169. 10-07 Nov 24 68 The South Kawowan Summit
    170. 10-08 Dec 1 68 Pertwee's Enlistment Expires
    171. 10-09 Dec 8 68 Capt. Povey Takes Over
    172. 10-10 Dec 15 68 Sir Willoughby Goes to Kawowa
    173. 10-11 Dec 22 68 The Padre's Birthday
    174. 10-12 Dec 29 68 The Portsmouth Kiosk
    175. 10-13 Jan 5 69 The Radio Beacon
    176. 10-14 Jan 12 69 The Wrong Uniform
    177. 10-15 Jan 19 69 Harold Wilson Reviews the Fleet
    178. 10-16 Jan 26 69 Relief of the Weather Ship
    179. 10-17 Feb 2 69 Bunging Up (a.k.a. The Mickey Mouse Toothbrush)
    180. 10-18 Feb 9 69 The Brick Smugglers

11th Series 1969

  • 181. 11-01 Dec 28 69 The Squatters
    182. 11-02 Jan 4 70 Admiral Hunting (a.k.a. What is the S.S.E.?)
    183. 11-03 Jan 11 70 The Promotion Ladder
    184. 11-04 Jan 18 70 Stranded
    185. 11-05 Jan 25 70 StarrSir Willoughby's Party
    186. 11-06 Feb 1 70 Fleet Initiative Test
    187. 11-07 Feb 8 70 C.P.O. Pertwee's Long Service Medal
    188. 11-08 Feb 15 70 The Phenomenal Pertwee Tug
    189. 11-09 Feb 22 70 The Security Clampdown
    190. 11-10 Mar 1 70 The Anniversary and the Washing
    191. 11-11 Mar 8 70 The Forbodians Hijack Troutbridge
    192. 11-12 Mar 15 70 Getting Spliced (a.k.a. Number One Gets Married)
    193. 11-13 Mar 22 70 The Honeymooners Return
    194. 11-14 Mar 29 70 C.P.O. Pertwee and the Lead Half Crowns
    195. 11-15 Apr 5 70 Dartmouth Naval College Has Had a Narrow Escape (a.k.a. Sup-Lt Phillips to Leave for Dartmouth)
    196. 11-16 Apr 12 70 The Mark 31 Radar

12th Series 1971

  • 197. 12– 1 May 16 71 The Put-a-Horse-out-to-Graze Fund
    198. 12– 2 May 23 71 Impressions for Survival
    199. 12– 3 May 30 71 The Beard-Growing Race
    200. 12-04 Jun 6 71 The Mysterious Radio Signals
    201. 12-05 Jun 13 71 Operation Recovery
    202. 12-06 Jun 20 71 The Slogan Contest
    203. 12-07 Jun 27 71 Sir Willoughby at Shanghai
    204. 12-08 Jul 4 71 Operation Cowes Barge
    205. 12-09 Jul 11 71 Number One's Anniversary
    206. 12-10 Jul 18 71 The Loch Ness Monster
    207. 12-11 Jul 25 71 The Forbodian Attaché

13th Series 1972

  • 208. 13-01 Mar 26 72 The TV Documentary
    209. 13-02 Apr 2 72 The P.O.W. Escape Exercise
    210. 13-03 Apr 9 72 Number One's Married Quarters
    211. 13-04 Apr 16 72 Operating for Profit (a.k.a. The Newhaven-Dieppe Smuggling Run)
    212. 13-05 Apr 23 72 The Bumble Spit Lighthouse Affair
    213. 13-06 Apr 30 72 The Tongipouhaha Treasure
    214. 13– 7 May 7 72 The US Navigator Swap
    215. 13– 8 May 14 72 Son of a Sea Lord
    216. 13– 9 May 21 72 Hypnotising Ramona
    217. 13–10 May 28 72 The Master of Sardinia
    218. 13-11 Jun 4 72 Opportunity Knockers
    219. 13-12 Jun 11 72 Friday the 13th
    220. 13-13 Jun 18 72 The New NAAFI

14th Series 1973

  • 221. 14-01 Jul 29 73 The Montezuela Revolution
    222. 14-02 Aug 5 73 The Island Swordfish
    223. 14-03 Aug 12 73 Bunged in the Brig (a.k.a. Bunged in the Rattle)
    224. 14-04 Aug 19 73 Kidnapped Down Under
    225. 14-05 Aug 26 73 The Digital Isles Go Unstable
    226. 14-06 Sep 2 73 Egbert Hitches a Ride
    227. 14-07 Sep 9 73 Povey an Admiral at Last
    228. 14-08 Sep 16 73 The Bergan Horse Trials
    229. 14-09 Sep 23 73 Captain Povey's Wig
    230. 14-10 Sep 30 73 Brain Pill
    231. 14-11 Oct 7 73 Operation Showcase
    232. 14-12 Oct 14 73 Living the High Life (a.k.a. CPO Pertwee Yachtmonger)
    233. 14-13 Oct 21 73 The Talpinium Shell

15th Series 1975

  • 234. 15-01 Nov 9 75 Sequel to the Talpinium Shell
    235. 15-02 Nov 16 75 NANA
    236. 15-03 Nov 23 75 Helen, the New Wren
    237. 15-04 Nov 30 75 Relief for Station 150
    238. 15-05 Dec 7 75 Black is Beautiful
    239. 15-06 Dec 14 75 Sidney and the Stamp
    240. 15-07 Dec 21 75 Riding to Victory (a.k.a. Commander Murray Becomes a Showjumper)
    241. 15-08 Dec 28 75 Horrible Horace
    242. 15-09 Jan 4 76 Officer's and Gent's Lib
    243. 15-10 Jan 11 76 The Case of the HGM Mark 5
    244. 15-11 Jan 18 76 Uncle Wilberforce Pertwee

Special 1977

  • 245. S -03 Jul 16 77 Queen's Silver Jubilee Edition


References

  1. Obituary of Ronnie Barker in The Times (small mention of The Navy Lark near the end of the first page)[1]
  2. Obituary of Tenniel Evens in The Independent
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxzyjvQ-U1Q&playnext=1&list=PL1648E9C584DA7894

External links

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