Friday, 29 March 2013

Friday 29 March 1963

As the downbeat title suggests, there's a pretty depressing time in store for King Dickie this week.  First, the good news: he and his men are in sight of Jerusalem, which it's been the king's lifelong ambition to reach.  The not-so-good news is that his allies are beginning to lose their stomach for the fight with hordes of Saracens.  Grumbler in chief at the camp is Austria's Duke Leopold (Francis De Wolff), a thoroughly untrustworthy character who's had quite enough of all this crusading malarkey.

Dickie's still got a few more loyal chums, like Guy of Lusignan (habitual B-movie lead Conrad Phillips), but in his case it's mainly because if everything goes how Richard plans he'll be crowned King of Jerusalem.

However, France's King Philip has decisively backed out, throwing Richard's campaign into turmoil.  His plan for every man in the camp, including servants and others with no background in fighting, to take up arms  against the Saracens seems doomed to failure.  Other less than keen members of the campaign include this sadly uncredited chap from Burgundy, with one of the most remarkable false beards ever seen on screen.

But, strangely enough, there don't seem to be many Saracen types about.  Richard sends two of his most trusted men, Sir Geoffrey and Sir Gaston, to the city in disguise to reconnoitre.  And thoroughly panto they look.

It turns out that Saladin and his men have mysteriously left the city, and it looks ripe for the taking.  Could Richard succeed in conquering it with just the few men who remain faithful to him? It's certainly an exciting prospect for him: he's taking time out to savour the sight of Jerusalem's towers, which he swore to reach before he died.  Sharing the view with him is a very young, practically unrecognisable Anton Rodgers as loyal Sir Kenneth.

In the city Geoffrey and Gaston are captured by a thief they've crossed in the past (Peter Duguid).  The way he rapidly slaps both their faces when they're at his mercy is a joy to behold.

The brave knights escape with the aid of the thief's faithless girlfriend Farah (Anna Gerber), who gives them a terrible warning: Saladin is returning to Jerusalem with one of the biggest armies ever assembled!

When the knights get back to tell Richard about this, he sorrowfully realises that his dream of capturing the Holy Land is at an end.  It's all very sad - as long as you don't think too much about the bad bits of, you know, conquering and killing and all that.

Radio Minus 50: The TV Lark - Back in the Navy

The TV Lark's abandonment of telly show spoofs in recent weeks in favour of maritime adventures has been a less-than-subtle clue that taking the characters out of a naval setting had come to be regarded as a mistake.  So it's not a huge surprise that week's episode sees the whole TV station idea scrapped and, at the end of the episode, the Navy Lark name resurrected.  This is how it's all explained:

The latest episode of TTV's show Ship Ahoy with Jolly Jack is to be filmed at the Admiralty records office, which Pertwee seems mysteriously reluctant to visit, pleading a touch of the creeping disasticles.  He's scared that the people at the records office "know what we did in the service, and who we did in the service, and how much for", which certainly gets the imagination going.  At Pertwee, Murray and Phillips' meeting with Commander Pearson of the records office Pearson drops the bombshell that they were all discharged from the navy by mistake, and that they are now all to be recalled back into service.  The thunderous audience applause at this announcement gives some indication of how little the TV station format will be mourned.

It turns out the discharge was in fact a deliberate mistake: Pearson's predecessor was another of Pertwee's ne'er-do-well relatives, Uncle Tobias, who accepted a hefty bribe from his nephew in order to make it.  The rest of the episode revolves partly around the mystery of why exactly the Chief Petty Officer was so keen to leave the navy in the first place.

Obviously as well as our three leads, Fatso Johnson, Taffy Goldstein and even Captain Povey are recalled to action too, and Povey's dimwitted secretary Vera decides she likes working with her boss so much that she joins up too.  The de-mothballing of HMS Troutbridge reveals the reason for Pertwee's sharp exit: there's not much of it left, the majority having been sold off by the dodgy seaman.  It may seem a pretty serious offence, but I'm sure it'll all be forgotten about in a couple of weeks - as will our characters' detour into the world of broadcasting.

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