The Navy Lark
Volume 18
Back From the Antarctic

Starring: Jon Pertwee, Leslie Phillips, Stephen Murray, Tenniel Evans and Ronnie Barker
BBC Audio
RRP: 12.99
ISBN 1 846 07146 1
Available 04 September 2006

HMS Troutbridge sails Back From the Antarctic - the long way round - with a mini armada in tow, "a floating international breakers yard". In the Naval Review the harbour empties and nobody seems to know where all the ships have gone. When Troutbridge's Silver Jubilee rolls around Chief Petty Officer Pertwee steals his colleagues clothes - but why? And Sub-Lieutenant Phillips at Dartmouth sees the navy's worst navigator go back to school to learn his trade, with no sign of improvement...

The show was originally conceived in 1958 as a vehicle for Jon Pertwee by writer Laurie Wyman. Once he'd secured his leading man he set off to collect the remainder of his crew. "I felt we needed an idiot, and there was no one better at playing idiots than Leslie Phillips - so we got him," explained Wyman.

The show was a runaway success for almost 20 years and spawned several sequels and spin offs including The Embassy Lark and The Big Business Lark. There was also The TV Lark, which was intended as a direct replacement for the radio show's fifth season. The idea behind the TV show was that the crew of HMS Troutbridge had been drummed out the navy and had washed up in a television station.

After just ten episodes the crew were back on board their ship and the TV endeavour ended in favour of the more popular wireless adventures. For Chief Petty Officer Pertwee, Sub-Lieutenant Phillips, Number One and Captain Povey it was back to sea again.

The four episodes on this volume are good, solid Navy Lark from 1967. And while they'll not be converting people into new fans they'll certainly be entertaining those listeners who've already set sail on HMS Troutbridge.

Anthony Clark

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