Friday, 1 March 2013

Radio Minus 50: Friday 1 March 1963

The TV Lark: On Safari

Starting off with a joke speculating on what happens to the flats Barry Bucknall fixes up and the Sunday papers David Frost reviews on That Was the Week That Was (apparently Pertwee gets  hold of them), On Safari's one of the more entertaining TV Larks.  The main objects of spoof this week are husband and wife wildlife filmmakers Armand and Michaela Denis, incarnated here as Maggie and Arnold Crump (Janet Brown and Ronnie Barker, whose Arnold voice sounds uncannily like Ren & Stimpy and Futurama voice artist Billy West).  Maggie and Arnold want a TTV crew to accompany them on safari in Africa to make a new series of their popular show Up the Creek with the Crumps.  Leslie Phillips isn't keen though: "We can't go there, the chaps aren't even English!"

It soon becomes clear that the safari idea is just another ruse by writer Lawrie Wyman to get the regular characters aboard ship for the majority of the episode again, as they voyage out to Africa.  Taffy Goldstein's particular fired up with Nationalist fervour this week, relating how his Aunt Morpeth addressed a mammoth audience of 64 people about the disgrace of her nephew only being second cameraman due to his nationality.  If that's not bad enough, there's a new stereotype to deal with this week in the form of Michael Bates' irascible Scots captain.  The episode's most memorable moment comes when the ship gets torn in two (it's a long story) and an unruffled Leslie Phillips announces, "You're not going to believe this, but with absolutely no effort at all I'm doing the splits."  It's quite clear that Phillips is far too dim to know how to be ruffled: a search for him later on in the episode is called off when it emerges he's been shopping for postcards and then been completely unable to find a pillar box.

Apart from a very brief encounter with a lion, precious little actual safari-ing goes on.  Once again the highlight is the very serious announcer who pipes up after the episode's finished.  This week he gives us the invaluable information that Jon Pertwee can be found appearing in "Come Inside" at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, and gives us another much too detailed synopsis of next week's show, ending with an encouragement to "run for cover lads, our mob are about!" in the sort of tone usually reserved for announcing a particularly tragic motorway accident.

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