Friday, 3 May 2013

Radio Minus 50: Friday 3 May 1963

The Navy Lark: Troutbridge Gets a Rocket

I've thought for a while that The Navy Lark needs a rocket up it, and this week that's exactly what happens.

The episode begins with announcer Robin Ray sharing some interesting thoughts on the telephone: "When the phone rings you never know who's going to be on the other end.  It could be a beautiful blonde who's feeling lonely, or the income tax inspector, who's feeling awkward."  We don't get long to ponder over how frequently a BBC announcer is called by lonely blondes before the plot gets going.  There's a naval intelligence scheme underway to shoot a man into space from a frigate: and HMS Troutbridge has been chosen for the job, being the most expendable.  Captain Povey tries to keep what's going on quiet as long as possible, but CPO Pertwee has his suspicions: "There's a dirty great dollop of dodgy doo-dah about to descend on us."  However, Povey's promise of a round-the-world trip for one lucky crew member makes the Troutbridge chaps more amenable.

Obviously the scheme turns out to be a disaster, with Leslie Phillips being accidentally shot into space while giving the rocket the once-over.  The highlights of the episode are a conversation between Mr Murray and Welsh Nationalist fanatic Taffy Goldstein about the celebration of Bonfire Night in Wales: "If he'd got away with it Guy Fawkes would have been a Welsh national hero.  What better way to get us home rule than blowing that parliamentary den of iniquity sky high?", and an exchange between ironically thick Intelligence man Ronnie Barker and Captain Povey's equally slow-witted secretary Vera that's so corny it's endearing:

"Here, how about you and I having a date?"
"Well you can have one if you like, but I prefer nuts."
"Ooh, in that case we should get on very well together."

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