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Audio Comedy Review


The Navy Lark
Volume 23 - A Fishy Business


Starring: Jon Pertwee, Leslie Philips, Stephen Murray and Ronnie Barker
BBC Audio
RRP: £13.25
ISBN: 978 1 408 46689 6
Available 28 April 2011

And so the BBC’s CD releases of the adventures of HMS Troutbridge steam on and on... Quite why the episodes are bundled up with no heed paid to transmission order remains unclear, but there’s little harm done by mixing ‘em up as things on board really never changed much.

The four episodes on volume 23 are...

Steamship Day [originally broadcast on 02 October 1966]: It's the annual charity event, Steamship Day, and CPO Pertwee offers to supply the fireworks. But they look remarkably similar to Troutbridge's distress flares...

A Fishy Business [originally broadcast on 05 November 1967]: CPO Pertwee's latest plan is to open up a fish and ship shop on Nunkie's tug. But why does using depth charges get him his supply of fish?

Troutbridge in Quarantine [originally broadcast on 12 November 1967]: The Admiral wants Troutbridge repainted so it looks smart for a NATO exercise. But Pertwee's just sold all the paint in order to clear his bar bill...

Troutbridge' Electrifies Portsmouth [originally broadcast on 13 October 1968]: Troutbridge returns to port after months away. But Mr Phillips has upset the dockyard electricians...

By the time these episodes were broadcast, The Navy Lark had become a mainstay of the BBC’s radio comedy output alongside Round the Horne. What’s interesting is that the latter show strained at the limits of what it could say and pushed the notion of ‘acceptable’ humour ever closer to modernity - not least in respect to homosexuality and political and social satire.

The Navy Lark, on the other hand, remained cosy and rooted in the decade of its creation - the programme never set sail for the liberal shores of the 1960s, preferring instead to sail around in circles in an age that was rapidly vanishing over the horizon. But that was undoubtedly a major part of its charm and popularity - a warm nostalgia for a gentler time, which the cast milked enthusiastically.

One final note - Troutbridge in Quarantine was the last episode to feature Ronnie Barker and for that alone this CD set is worth it... if you’re a fan of the show.

Left hand down a bit!


Anthony Clark

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