As Doctor who gets ready to celebrate it’s 60th anniversary later this week we are looking back at some of the show’s comedy connections. Today it’s the turn of the third Doctor Jon Pertwee, who starred in the long running Radio comedy The Navy Lark.
Broadcast on the BBC Light Program and subsequently BBC Radio 2.The Navy Lark was a radio sitcom that revolved around life aboard a British Royal Navy Frigate – HMS Troutbridge, based in HMNB Portsmouth. It ran for a mammoth 244 episodes over 15 series between 1959 and 1977.
Popular myth among fans has it that Jon Pertwee is frequently quoted as having suggested the idea of a forces comedy based on the Royal Navy. However writer Laurie Wyman and Alastair Scott Johnston both contemplated an Air Force and an Army themed sit-com before going to the BBC with ‘The Navy Lark’.
The Navy Lark was hugely popular with listeners. This popularity lead to a number of spin offs. There was a big screen version in 1959 and radio sequels that include The Embassy Lark, The Big Business Lark. Another adaptation/sequel came with The TV Lark.
There was also the TV series HMS Paradise, which bore many similarities to The Navy Lark and ran for 26 episodes from 1964.
Episodes were self-contained stories, although there was continuity within the series and there would sometimes be a reference to a previous episode.
A normal episode consisted of Sub Lieutenant Phillips, scheming Chief Petty Officer Pertwee and bemused Lt. Murray trying to get out of trouble they created for themselves without being found out by their direct superior, Commander (later Captain) “Thunderguts” Povey.
Scenes frequently featured a string of eccentric characters, often played by Ronnie Barker.
Written by: Laurie (which he changed to Lawrie) Wyman (with George Evans from very early on but not name checked until the 12th Series onwards).
Produced by: Alastair Scott Johnston (no hyphen because Scott was his second or middle name)
Broadcast On: BBC Light Program, subsequently Radio 2.
Original Run: 29th March 1959 – July 16th 1977