Friday, 8 March 2013

Radio Minus 50: Friday 8 March 1963

The TV Lark: Ship Ahoy!

Ship Ahoy! marks another stage in The TV Lark's gradual transformation back into its predecessor, as TTV's irascible director general and his old pal Admiral Ironbridge commission a new show about naval matters, Ship Ahoy with Jolly Jack - which means our cast will now be spending most of their time on board ship.  Even more than Naval matters the pair are fascinated by a garment worn by Floor Manager Pertwee: "Creeping Ivy! Look at the bird on this feller's tie!" ("Creeping Ivy!" is another phrase I can see making it into my daily vocabulary).  "She looks like my first girlfriend," Pertwee says in defence of the handpainted scantily clad nymph adorning his neckwear.  "Which part of her?" Leslie Phillips leers, and we have to imagine his eyes popping out of his head.  It's fair to say that an armed forces-themed sitcom in the early 1960s is not the first place to look for gender equality.

Deputy Controller Povey's not overly keen on the idea of his useless team embarking on a new naval adventure and predicts, in a line perhaps only Kenneth Williams could really carry have carried off successfully, "We will rue this day! This day will be rued!"

The surviving tape of this episode is, again, one with poor sound quality, so it's not all that easy to work out what's going on.  The team's plan to make a film about a minesweeper sees them on board a ship commanded by their former CO Commander Stourton.  He's played by Ronnie Barker in Peter Sellers-esque useless old dodderer mode, and gets the episode's best lines ("Just because I'm daft you think I'm an idiot, don't you?").  Stourton's convinced that the TTV crew are all Russian spies, but doesn't seem especially bothered about it: "Give my regards to everyone in Moscow!"

Like last week's episode, Ship Ahoy! sees the gang's ship get stuck and need to be towed by Pertwee's Uncle Ebenezer's tug (he's an even dodgier character than his nephew).  It's not hard to see why the BBC thought The Navy Lark was getting a bit repetitive.  Still, clearly it's what the audience wanted.

Bizarrely, the biggest laugh from the studio audience tonight is in response to a reference to "unemployment in the north".  I suppose you had to be there.

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