The Navy Lark - First Day Out of Dock
"We present the return of The Navy Lark", says announcer Robin Boyle - perhaps I just imagined the relief in his voice. As I predicted last week, the gang's adventures in broadcasting have been forgotten about - Boyle glosses over the past 10 weeks worth of shows by saying our cast of characters have been "rescued from Civvy Street". CPO Pertwee's theft of the majority of HMS Troutbridge, which we last week discovered was the reason for this venture into Civvy Street, has also been wiped from everyone's memories. Pertwee's main concern this week is what's happened to his collection of pin-ups: "Every last dollop of feminine pulchritude has been whipped off me walls!"
The task for this week is to get the Troutbridge out of dry dock and back to sea. Distraught foreman Michael Bates, convinced this will mean the destruction of the dockyard, begs for a more competent team to accomplish this. "Come on old chap, blow for daddy," Leslie Phillips alarmingly tells him (it turns out he's offering him a handkerchief). Initially Phillips forgets to let the water in before trying to get the ship out of dock, causing the ship to nearly take off (one man in the audience seems especially tickled by the notion it could have been "the first flying frigate").
There's also a new Commanding Officer to contend with - Ronnie Barker's nervous Commander Bell, a former aircraft carrier captain assigned to the Troutbridge as punishment for some unspecified crime. Meanwhile, Captain Povey's driven to the edge of a nervous breakdown by his secretary Vera's intense stupidity: "I want you to take down everything I say" "Ooh, you are awful!"
The TV jokes haven't quite been dispensed with. As predicted, when the Troutbridge finally gets going it takes half the dockyard with it. "If we pick up much more on our bows," remarks Pertwee, "we'll be known as HMS Steptoe and Son."