Friday, 19 April 2013

Radio Minus 50: Friday 19 April 1963

The Navy Lark: A Deliberate Bashing

A Deliberate Bashing is one of the more entertaining Larks, because it adds a twist to the show's usual format.  As the title implies, this week the crew of HMS Troutbridge are actually trying to cause the damage that usually comes to them so naturally.  And as you might expect, they prove as inept at intentionally bashing another ship as they are at everything else - even Phillips' in depth reading of Sinbad the Sailor hasn't improved his navigation skills.

In a reversal of the usual procedure, Captain Povey puts Murray, Phillips and Pertwee up to (lightly) ramming Troutbridge into its sister ship, Makepeace.  The reason for this about face? Well, Povey's wife's away for the weekend, and she's left her mother to look after him.  Her method of looking after involves viciously bossing Povey around and generally treating him like a slave, so he's desperate for an excuse to come back into work - which an "accident" would amply provide.

"Be a chap's chap," Phillips says to Povey, sniggering at the fearsome Captain finding himself in such a clichéd comedy position as being dominated by his mother-in-law.  Povey explains that his father-in-law disappeared after a works outing and the only thing heard from him since has been a rude postcard from Africa: "Obviously a chap's chap, Sir" Pertwee intriguingly observes.

Yes, the fearsome mother-in-law's one of comedy's most ancient stereotypes, but Janet Brown plays it marvellously: the best parts of the episode are the strangely sadomasochistic domestic scenes, with the terrifying Mrs Crump forcing Povey to do the most undignified domestic tasks while referring to him as "Hitler".

Writer Lawrie Wyman works in another Hanna-Barbera reference this week, Pertwee explaining to Phillips that 1800 is "6 o'clock, sir.  Between your Huckleberry Hound programme and the news on the telly."  Wyman even makes an appearance in the show this week, as phlegmatic Waterguard Bert Tiddy, baffled by why Troutbridge has nearly managed to hit the Makepeace 42 times.

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