The Navy Lark Spin Offs
The Navy Lark remains one of radio’s best loved and longest running at 15 series over 244 episodes. It’s also table for having perhaps the most spin offs.
Sadly as little of the material still seems to exist we don’t get to hear about it. So for today’s post we are going to put that right as best we can by remembering the spin offs.
The TV Lark, 1963
Perhaps more a variation rather than a spin off. We reach series 5 of The Navy Lark. However as we start the series there is a difference. The popular show has now become the TV Lark, although most of the original cast are still here.
The TV Lark was intended as a replacement for The Navy Lark, when the then head of BBC Light Entertainment felt that “forces” humour was becoming a little dated and TV was the next “big thing”.
Consequently writers Alistair Scott Johnston and Laurie Wyman were instructed to create a new show with the same cast and set it in an independent TV studio. The writers tried to prevent the idea becoming reality but were overruled and consequently the crew of HMS Troutbridge found themselves all aboard the TV Lark.
Comedian Janet Brown joined the crew for this series in the absence of cast regular Heather Chasen.
The TV Lark lasted just 10 episodes as, mainly due to public pressure, the production team of Alastair Scott Johnston and Laurie Wyman managed to revert the show to nautical capers.
Storylines in The TV Lark nudged back to naval origins across the ten episodes until they were finally reunited with Troutbridge, which continued for another six episodes as the fifth series of The Navy Lark.
The entire crew of HMS Troutbridge have been drummed out of the service and hired by Troutbridge TV Ltd. However their antics on dry land are no better than at sea and it’s not long before they find themselves back aboard Troutbridge for some more Navy Lark.
Sadly no clips are available but the series is included as part of the BBC Radio Collection’s series 5.
Channel: BBC Light Programme
Written By: Alistair Scott Johnston and Laurie Wyman
Original Transmission Dates: 20th January – 29th March 1963
The Embassy Lark, 1966
From the pen of Laurie Wyman, co-writer of The Navy Lark, we get The Embassy Lark.
This ran for 3 series totalling 42 episodes on BBC Radio between 1966 and 1968, with a slightly different cast, although regular cast members Ronnie Barker, Stephen Murray, Laurie Wyman and Leslie Phillips reprised their Navy Lark roles in two episodes.
The show was broadcast between the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th series of The Navy Lark
The show was set in the British Embassy in the fictional country of Tratvia.
Stories revolved around the various (mis)adventures of the British Ambassador Sir Jeremy Crichton-Buller and his First Secretary Henry Pettigrew (who had previously appeared in an episode of The Navy Lark) as they tried to keep smooth relations between Tratvia, Whitehall and the other Embassies (China, the USSR and the U.S.).
Derek Francis – Sir Jeremy Crichton-Butler
Frank Thornton – Henry Pettigrew
Channel: BBC Light Program
Written By: Laurie Wyman
Original Transmission Dates: 15th March 1966 – 11th June 1968
One episode is believed to still exist in the BBC archives.
The Big Business Lark
This one was more of a use of the ‘Lark’ brand than a proper spin off as none of the original cast reprised their roles.
The Big Business Lark ran for 1 series of 13 episodes in 1969. This one went out between series 10 and 11 of The Navy Lark.
The show is set in the boardroom of fictional company British United Plastics, and concerns the business machinations of the chairman, Sir Charles Boniface, and his son and deputy chairman, Frank Boniface.
Stories included landing an order to provide the Red Army with plastic tents, a trip to America to make a good deal from another board member’s mistake and an attempt to find a plastic novelty made by the firm for breakfast cereal boxes.
Jimmy Edwards – Sir Charles Boniface
Frank Thornton – Frank Boniface
Channel: BBC Radio 2
Written By: Laurie Wyman
Original Transmission Dates: 6th July – 28th September 1969
On TV and The Big Screen
Way back in 1959 during series one of the popular radio series The Navy Lark hit the big screen. Loosely based on it’s radio counterpart and featuring some of the original cast it did not enjoy the success it’s radio counterpart did.
Read about it in our Navy Lark film post
HMS Paradise, 1964
Alongside three other writers , Laurie Wyman co-wrote a TV sitcom HMS Paradise in 1964.
It featured none of the original Navy Lark cast and whilst it was intended as a standalone sitcom, it’s strong similarity to the popular radio series makes it a candidate for a spin off.
HMS Paradise ran for 1 series but clocked up 26 episodes along the way.
The series is set set at a Royal Navy station on an island off the Dorset coast where very little actual work takes place.
The entire series is considered lost.
Frank Thornton – Commander Fairweather
Robin Hunter – Lieutenant Pouter
Richard Caldicot – Captain Turvey
Ronald Radd – CPO Banyard
Angus Lennie – Able Seaman Murdoch
Priscilla Morgan – Amanda
Graham Crowden – Commander Shaw
Ambrosine Phillpotts – Mrs Turvey
Written By: Maurice Wiltshire, Laurie Wyman and Lew Schwarz
Production Company: Associated Rediffusion Television for ITV
Original Transmission Dates: 16th July 1964 – 7th January 1965
Well, a bit of a long one but that’s it the spin offs from The Navy Lark. If anyone knows if any of them have been included on commercial release please do let us know and we’ll update the post.