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ISBN: 978 1445 891323

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SERiES EigHT

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 1966
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THE NAVY LARK
Series eight
SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 1966
episodes one to thirteen
‘This afternoon HMS Troutbridge recommissions for a further series of adventures in a
lengthening chronicle of naval outrage,’ announced producer Alastair Scott Johnston in the
Radio Times as The Navy Lark returned for its eighth series, ‘Whatever else one may say about
this motley crew – and many have found the English language inadequate to express their
feelings on the subject – no one can deny their incredible capacity for survival in an unkind world.
Where anyone else would suffer court martial and disgrace, they slide out from under, leaving
many senior, but less agile, gentlemen to take the rap.’
Although the seventh series chronicling the bunglings of the Troutbridge crew had
aired on the BBC Light Programme from July to October 1965, they had in fact been
recorded months earlier from November 1964 to February 1965 once it was clear that its
unacknowledged television incarnation – Rediffusion Television’s commercial sitcom HMS
Paradise – would not be recommissioned for a further run. However, shortly before recording
on The Navy Lark concluded in late February 1965, Alastair Scott Johnston proposed a new
programme format from writer Lawrie Wyman for production as a semi-spin-off from The
Navy Lark in the same vein. This time, new tales of incompetence would be set against the
backdrop of the British Embassy of Tratvia, a fictitious country first named in the seventeenth
show of the sixth series back in January 1964. A pilot for The Embassy Lark was recorded in
June 1965 which led to further recordings from December 1965 to February 1966.
In the new show, Derek Francis and Frank Thornton starred as British Ambassador Sir
Jeremy Crighton-Buller and his first secretary Henry Pettigrew. The fifth edition – taped on
Sunday 2 January 1966 – was in fact a cross-over with The Navy Lark, recounting the visit of
HMS Troutbridge to Tratvia and featuring appearances from Stephen Murray as Lieutenant

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Murray, Ronnie Barker as the eternally unfortunate Commander Bell and the rotund AB
Johnson (as well as a rare appearance as a Potarneylander, another fictional country which
had featured in earlier series of The Navy Lark) plus an uncredited contribution by Lawrie
Wyman himself as AB Tiddy. Of the other cast members from The Navy Lark, Richard Caldicot
played similarly officious roles to his usual character of Captain Povey in the second and
ninth episodes, Heather Chasen played herself – alias the Turkish Ambassador to Tratvia
– in the thirteenth show, and Jan Waters (who had deputised for Heather Chasen in early
editions of the seventh series) featured in the third and seventh editions. The thirteen
episodes of The Embassy Lark debuted on Tuesday 15 March 1966 at 7.31pm on the Light
Programme and ran through to Tuesday 7 June.
In the meantime, Alastair Scott Johnston had also been considering further escapades
on the ocean waves for his established show. Con Mahoney – the Assistant Head of Light
Entertainment (Sound) – informed the producer on Wednesday 16 February 1966 that it
was planned to commission a further run of thirteen editions of The Navy Lark for broadcast
by the Light Programme on Sundays from around late July. The commission also noted
that Lawrie Wyman had been guaranteed a repeat of each show as with the last series.
The regular cast were booked for the new shows on Tuesday 22 February, with recordings
scheduled to take place at the Paris Theatre at 8.30pm on Sundays from 1 May to 24 July.
Then on Thursday 10 March, Con was able to confirm to Alastair that the new shows would
air at 1.30pm on Sundays from 24 July to 16 October, with repeats on Wednesdays at 8pm.
Since the previous series, Stephen Murray’s stage work had continued with productions
such as Forests of the Night in Dublin and then Hostile Witness at the Haymarket in London
from September 1965. Leslie Phillips had made a couple of films during 1965 – You Must
Be Joking and Doctor in Clover – and had just been touring in the musical On the Level; he
was also about to enter the world of film production with the thriller Maroc 7 which was to
start shooting in the summer. Jon Pertwee’s run in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to
the Forum had concluded at the end of July 1965 since when he had appeared in Little Red
Riding Hood at Wimbledon over Christmas and then worked on Carry on Screaming! at the
start of 1966. Richard Caldicot had also featured in a BBC television sitcom called Pet Pals
during 1965, while Ronnie Barker was about to join the cast of a new BBC1 sketch show, The
Frost Report, in which he would be partnered with Ronnie Corbett and John Cleese.

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When the new series of The Navy Lark started recording from Sunday 1 May, the first show
found the HMS Troutbridge crew again returning from leave, and WREN Chasen recalling
how – during the previous series – she had dated CPO Pertwee to make her long-term
beau and former fiancé Mr Phillips jealous. This narrative then blossomed from the second
episode, in which it was Number One’s turn to become romantically linked with Captain
Povey’s secretary. In the fourth episode, Jon Pertwee – always keen to play numerous roles
with funny voices – resurrected one of his characters from yesteryear. This was Commander
Wetherby of security, an eccentric character who was familiar to long-term radio listeners
as Wetherby Wet from the 1940s naval service show Waterlogged Spa and whose stuttering
speech patterns were based on those of a lady who had worked in the tuck shop at a
public school which Pertwee had attended. The episode also referenced an advertising
campaign of the time for Schweppes tonic water featuring actor William Franklyn (‘Ssssh…
You know who’).
With four episodes taped, on Friday 27 May it was decided that two of the recording
sessions would be cancelled during July and that on both Sunday 10 and Sunday 24 July, a
second show would be recorded at 9.15pm after the scheduled one. By now, Jon Pertwee
was rehearsing another stage show entitled There’s a Girl in My Soup which was to open to
rave reviews at the Globe Theatre in London in mid-June.
The fifth episode saw references to the popular American espionage adventure show The
Man from U.N.C.L.E. (and the heroes’ adversaries at THRUSH) which was a big hit on BBC1,
and also the return of Sir Willoughby Todhunter-Brown, a veteran guest character from the
series. There was then a rare reference to Potarneyland from CPO Pertwee in the seventh
edition. The eighth recording – transmitted tenth – made on Sunday 19 June was a crossover episode with The Embassy Lark, complete with the other show’s theme tune – Town
Band – played as Sir Jeremy Crighton-Buller (an old friend of Commander ‘Porky’ Bell) and
Henry ‘Hot Lips’ Pettigrew (who was at school with ‘Bunny’ Phillips) alighted from their
official car to board Troutbridge for a return trip to Tratvia.
In the fortnight’s gap following the ninth recording, on Tuesday 5 July, Con Mahoney
contacted Alastair and informed him of ‘important programme changes’ for the Light
Programme which meant that The Navy Lark would now air six weeks later than originally
planned; the Corporation had managed to acquire the services of top ATV comedians

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Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise to record a series of six radio shows which they wanted
to schedule. When the double tapings resumed, in the tenth show (broadcast eighth),
CPO Pertwee made a dig at the ATV series Mrs Thursday in which a char lady had been left
controlling shares in a major company and suddenly became a rich business tycoon. Having
proved popular before, Commander Wetherby returned in the eleventh show (broadcast
ninth) and was now accompanied by the hay-fever stricken Captain Ignatius Aloyious
Atcheson (played by Michael Bates) and the blunt speaking northern figure of Commander
Hardcastle (portrayed by Ronnie Barker); this trio would become a most popular group of
characters with the audience.
When the series aired, its return was heralded on the cover of the Radio Times for
3–9 September 1966 which carried a photograph of Leslie Phillips, Stephen Murray, Jon
Pertwee and Heather Chasen saluting the flag. Inside the listings magazine, Alastair Scott
Johnston provided his usual promotional text alongside a shot of Sub-Lieutenant Phillips
and Lieutenant Murray. ‘The greatest compliment the author, the cast and I have received,
however, is the warmth and friendship we always seem to find in the Royal Navy itself, and
this is deeply appreciated by us all. Even our sister ship, HMS Troubridge, having found herself
the butt of much ribald humour, now enters harbour with all her loudspeakers belting out our
signature tune! She finds this convenient as her progress to the dockside is thereafter remarkably
unimpeded. Even Mr Harold Wilson, when he was Leader of the Opposition, on being informed
on a television interview of some highly unlikely occurrence on his return from a trip to America,
was heard to remark, “But this is just like The Navy Lark!”’
The HMS Troutbridge coat of arms accompanied the programme billing which promised
to continue the ‘chronicle of events aboard HMS Troutbridge’ and also promoted Jon
Pertwee’s appearances at the Globe Theatre. As originally planned, the episodes aired at
1.30pm on Sundays with a repeat at 8pm on Wednesday. Since the third episode saw the
return of another popular character – Mr Queeg, the incompetent engineering officer
aboard Troutbridge – to prevent confusion over performers an exercise from the previous
series was repeated, with a continuity announcement subsequently explaining, ‘Some
listeners appear to have thought that Chic Murray, the well-known Scottish comedian, is playing
the part of Lieutenant Queeg in the series. Well, in fact he’s not. The part of Lieutenant Queeg is
just another of the many voices of Ronnie Barker.’

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THE NAVY LARK
SERIES EIGHT
SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 1966
Announcer: David Dunhill [13]
Produced by Alastair Scott Johnston
Regular cast unless indicated: Stephen Murray, Leslie Phillips and Jon Pertwee with Richard
Caldicot, Heather Chasen, Ronnie Barker, Tenniel Evans and Michael Bates.
Note: none of the episodes were originally given titles. The ones here have been adopted for
easy reference and are in line with previous BBC Audiobooks/AudioGO releases.
Due to the age and, in some cases, the off-air source of these recordings, the sound quality
may at times vary.

Episode ONE: Where Is Troutbridge?
Broadcast 4 September 1966 (recorded 1 May 1966)
CPO Pertwee seems very generous in buying all the drinks aboard the train as the crew of
HMS Troutbridge return from leave. But when the party arrive at Portsmouth, they discover
that there is more travelling in store since their hapless frigate is actually in Chatham...

EPISODE TWO: The Float a Peddle Fiddle?
Broadcast 11 September 1966 (recorded 8 May 1966)
Knowing Troutbridge’s destination in advance of departure for the Mediterranean,
Pertwee prepares to make a fortune from Nunkie’s float-a-peddles being smuggled in the
ship’s ammo locker. However, when Mr Phillips hears that their destination is Norway, it
becomes necessary to deploy Mr Murray into a romantic liaison with Heather to determine
Troutbridge’s sailing orders...

Programme notes, episode synopses and cast
The Navy Lark Appreciation Society can be contacted at:
biographies researched and written by Andrew Pixley The Navy Lark Appreciation Society, Honeysuckle Cottages,
Clippings supplied by Steve Arnold
Little Street, Yoxford, Suffolk IP17 3JQ
Web address: www.navylark.org.uk

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Episode Synopses

A change to the intended running order was made at short notice before the eighth
broadcast; the crossover episode with The Embassy Lark was due to air on Sunday 23
October, but this was replaced by the tenth recording, brought forward from Sunday
6 November. Similarly, the following week, the eleventh recording was rescheduled to
transmit on Sunday 30 October. The two deferred recordings then aired over the next two
weeks, after which the sequence continued as planned. In the meantime, not only had
recordings resumed on The Embassy Lark through to December 1966, but BBC1 viewers had
seen Leslie Phillips and Ronnie Barker as a Foreign Office third secretary and his opposite
number at the Russian Embassy in a new sitcom called Foreign Affairs.
Audiences for the new run of The Navy Lark began at just under six million in September,
but by the end of November were over eight million, reaching a peak of almost nine million
for the penultimate show of the series. Reaction Index scores also remained strong, with
two shows registering 67 on the BBC’s scale of measurement. As a favourite element of the
Light Programme line-up, it was no surprise when on Tuesday 3 January 1967, Con Mahoney
wrote to Alastair Scott Johnston about The Navy Lark to ‘confirm that Lawrie Wyman may
proceed with the writing of our next series which should amount to 20 programmes in all.’

EPISODE THREE: A Sticky Business
Broadcast 18 September 1966 (recorded 15 May 1966)
When a special refuelling exercise is brought forward in the schedules, Troutbridge is the
only vessel available to take part. The crew are given orders to depart at midnight and
make a rendezvous with the tanker, the Admiral Drake...

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EPISODE FOUR: Buoys Will Be Buoys

EPISODE NINE: Mr Phillips’ Promotion

Broadcast 25 September 1966 (recorded 22 May 1966)
It is decided that a British ship will take part in an exercise to recover a space capsule, with the
splashdown simulated by HMS Makepeace. However, this new assignment for Troutbridge coincides
with CPO Pertwee having just acquired a supply of rather dubious lead...

Broadcast 30 October 1966 (recorded 10 July 1966)
Captain Povey is horrified to receive a memo saying that Mr Phillips is due for promotion to
Lieutenant, pending an examination board. And knowing that advancement is due, Mr Phillips’
attitude makes life insufferable for the rest of Troutbridge’s crew...

EPISODE FIVE: Steamship Day

EPISODE TEN: Pertwee and the Tratvian Beer

Broadcast 2 October 1966 (recorded 29 May 1966)
Having returned from a fruitless search in the Irish Channel, the crew of HMS Troutbridge find
themselves involved in a charity event being organised by Captain Povey’s wife Ramona. The worthy
cause is the Society Of Temporarily Embarrassed Ancient Mariners Whose Socks Are Held In Pawn... and
the fireworks are to be supplied by CPO Pertwee who claims to have a relative ‘in the trade’.

Broadcast 6 November 1966 (recorded 19 June 1966)
(Our special guests were Sir Jeremy Crighton-Buller, played by Derek Francis, and Henry
Pettigrew played by Frank Thornton)
CPO Pertwee is curious about a special cargo being secured in Number 2 Hold for transportation
to the British Exhibition Stand at the trade festival in Tratvia. Accompanying the mysterious
merchandise for the journey will be the ambassador Sir Jeremy Crighton-Buller and his first
secretary Henry ‘Hot Lips’ Pettigrew...

EPISODE SIX: Farewell to HMS Varsity
Broadcast 9 October 1966 (recorded 5 June 1966)
(without Tenniel Evans)
‘...and that’s why they called it the Murmansk Run.’ Mr Murray is overcome with nostalgia when
he discovers that his first command, the inshore mine-sweeper HMS Varsity, is due to make its
final voyage to the breakers yard. Unfortunately his final visit to the vessel coincides with an
unauthorised salvage operation being conducted by CPO Pertwee and AB Johnson...

EPISODE ELEVEN: The PM Papa
Broadcast 13 November 1966 (recorded 26 June 1966)
Sir Willoughby Todhunter-Brown has become the Prime Minister’s Personal Assistant and Private
Adviser, and in his new role needs to be transported to France – along with his wife – in order to
deliver a speech at a reception in his own unique style...

EPISODE SEVEN: The Army Lark

EPISODE TWELVE: Getting Rid of Pertwee

Broadcast 16 October 1966 (recorded 12 June 1966)
The crew are on their guard when invited for secret talks with the Admiral, and discover that
Troutbridge will take part in a combined exercise with an army platoon. The objective is to land
troops for a nuisance raid on the Belgian coast, and the army unit commanded by Lt Plummer
includes one Sergeant Coggins, an old enemy of Pertwee’s...

Broadcast 20 November 1966 (recorded 24 July 1966)
Attempts by Captain Povey to have Pertwee dismissed for various misdemeanours coincide with the
arrival of Aunt Morpeth with further demands that her nephew, Taffy Goldstein, is made up to Petty
Officer. Povey realises that he could use both the problems that he is presented with to solve each
other...

EPISODE EIGHT: Just the Ticket

EPISODE THIRTEEN: Off to Sea at Last

Broadcast 23 October 1966 (recorded 10 July 1966)
Murray’s courting of Heather is frustrated by the provision of inappropriate theatre tickets and dining
arrangements made via the Ebenezer Pertwee Ticket Agency and Travel Bureau. Forced into hiding,
8 CPO Pertwee lays plans to make Murray a hero in Heather’s eyes before he can safely emerge...

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Broadcast 27 November 1966 (recorded 24 July 1966)
Following a mysterious phone call to Captain Povey, HMS Troutbridge is ordered to put to sea. While
a sweepstake on the vessel’s destination is soon set up, Pertwee decides that now is the time to get
out of the mission on the grounds of sickness...
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BONUS EPISODE: THE EMBASSY LARK
SERIES ONE, EPISODE FIVE: National Grumpshnog Week
Broadcast 12 April 1966 (recorded 2 January 1966)
Starring Derek Francis as Sir Jeremy Crighton-Buller, Frank Thornton as Henry Pettigrew, with Francis
de Wolff as the King of Tratvia, Charlotte Mitchell as Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller, Michael Spice
as Simpkins, David Fallon as the Chinese Ambassador and special guests from the crew of HMS
Troutbridge, Stephen Murray and Ronnie Barker [also Lawrie Wyman – uncredited].
National Grumpshnog Week is a week-long orgy in Tratvia which has resulted in the resignation of
every previous British Ambassador. Playing safe, Pettigrew asks the Navy to send a cruiser to foster
good relations with Britain. Unfortunately the Navy cannot send a cruiser, but sends the biggest ship
it can. A ship called HMS Troutbridge...

THE EMBASSY LARK
SERIES ONE
MARCH - JUNE 1966
Using the name of a foreign country mentioned in a previous edition of The Navy Lark, in
early 1965 writer Lawrie Wyman began to sketch out the details of the Republic of Tratvia
and the capital city Lentzau on the River Savac as the setting for a possible new radio sitcom.
The humour would arise from the characters working and living at the British Embassy of
this antiquated little country, notably the Ambassador and his First Secretary along with a
manservant – a trio not unlike the three main characters of The Navy Lark. Viewing Lawrie’s
notes, producer Alastair Scott Johnston suggested that a monarchy would be funnier than a
republic, noting ‘Republics are dull, monarchies are glamorous’. In addition to Wyman’s main
characters of a put-upon, luckless new British Ambassador to Tratvia, a lothario first secretary
and a wily embassy aide who could acquire anything by dubious means, the producer
also suggested that an economic attaché could be another fruitful character to add to the
mix. Vaguely called The Embassy Lark as a working title, it was felt that comedy actor Derek
Francis would be ideal as the Ambassador, Frank Thornton – whom Lawrie Wyman had been

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impressed with as Commander Fairweather in HMS Paradise – could be the First Secretary
and Sid James, then well-known for the Carry On film series and – before that – Hancock’s
Half Hour would be perfect as the Manservant, forming the three main staffers at the British
Embassy in West Tratvia, located in the kingdom ruled over by a decadent monarch.
On Wednesday 17 February 1965, Roy Rich – the Head of Radio Light Entertainment
– informed Alastair Scott Johnston that Denis Morris, the Chief of the Light Programme,
was happy to commission a pilot script for The Embassy Lark; Lawrie Wyman was formally
commissioned on Monday 22 February and had soon delivered his first tale of diplomatic
chaos. The third lead role – that of the manservant – had been dropped, with the character’s
abilities to acquire local materials or services to suit any situation being amalgamated into
the talents of the First Secretary. By early May, the series was entitled Our Man in Tratvia,
and actor Nicky Henson had been considered for one of the key roles in the show, although
ultimately he was not cast. It was hoped to record a pilot for Our Man in Tratvia on either
Sunday 13 or Sunday 27 June at the Playhouse Theatre. Roy Rich gave the okay for the
recording on Tuesday 18 May, but admitted that he was unsure about the title assigned
to the series, resulting in The Embassy Lark being retained for a few weeks before briefly
becoming The Embassy Game. On Wednesday 19 May, Alastair Scott Johnston booked a
pilot recording for Sunday 13, hoping that Paul Whitsun-Jones would join the regular cast,
presumably to play the over-bearing King Hildebrande III.
The ‘Trial Recording for [the] Light Programme’ of The Embassy Game was conducted at
8.30pm on Sunday 13 June at the Playhouse. While Derek Francis played the ill-tempered
Sir Jeremy Crighton-Buller, the British Ambassador to Tratvia, and Frank Thornton was Henry
Pettigrew, the smooth and crafty first secretary, as planned, Francis de Wolff portrayed
King Hildebrande III rather than Paul Whitsun-Jones. The oblivious Ambassador’s wife,
Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller, was played by Charlotte Mitchell (who also voiced the aged
embassy switchboard lady Martha), Michael Spice portrayed the embassy aide Mr Simpkins
and Fraser Kerr provided various other voices needed during the show. The shows opened
with a fanfare from the Conroy Library recording State Visit by ‘Bob Sharples’ (the professional
name of Robert Standish) and the main theme was another ‘Sharples’ composition, Town Band.
Commenting to Roy Rich about the pilot recording on Thursday 24 June, Alastair

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Scott Johnston said he felt that it played ‘very successfully for a first show, with some minor
reservations’. One issue was that ‘we economised too much on the cast’ so the characters lacked
variety and depth, but he also felt that ‘we were right to go all out for a funny plot line’, noting
that in later episodes the scripts could focus more on characterisation. In particular, he felt
that Lawrie Wyman could write better material for Frank Thornton – whose performance in
the pilot had been impressive. The producer also wanted to avoid The Embassy Lark being
perceived as an ‘upper class’ show. These sentiments were echoed by Roy Rich when he
commented on the pilot to Denis Morris the next day.
The reaction of the Light Programme Chief was rather mixed as he indicated in a memo to
Roy Rich on Tuesday 29 June: ‘parts of this programme were terrible and some of it quite funny’
he commented, noting in particular that a scene set in the British cabinet was ‘banal and
stupid’, if not ‘offensive’. However, the potential for the show was clear and on Thursday 8 July,
Con Mahoney – the Assistant Head of Light Entertainment – told Alastair Scott Johnston that
he could proceed with eight programmes plus an option on five more either to broadcast at
the end of 1965 or in the first quarter of 1966. The pilot script would also have to be rewritten.
In fact when Alastair commissioned the scripts from Lawrie Wyman on Thursday 15 July, it
was decided that the existing pilot would be broadcastable after a small section of it was
re-recorded, so only seven new scripts were required immediately. In particular, Alastair Scott
Johnston asked the BBC Copyright Department to be very careful in who would own what
rights to the new series, observing that the Corporation had previously ‘missed the bus’ with
regards The Navy Lark which had resulted in a loss of potential income from the 1959 Herbert
Wilcox movie, and also the confusion over the HMS Paradise series from Rediffusion.
On Thursday 14 October, the producer approached Henry James of 10 Downing Street to
enquire if Donald Maitland, the recently appointed Head of News Department at the Foreign
Office, would be happy to be contacted to give advice on certain aspects of the scripts and
storylines. By the start of November, the recordings were scheduled to take place at 8.30pm
on Sundays, starting on 5 December and running – hopefully – for three months, excluding
Christmas Sunday. The first taping would be at the Paris, with the remainder at the Playhouse.
By Tuesday 16 November, Con Mahoney was able to confirm to Alastair Scott Johnston that
The Embassy Lark would be broadcast on Tuesday nights at 7.31pm from 15 March onwards
for an initial eight weeks.

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Richard Caldicot from The Navy Lark joined the cast for the first recording on 5 December
for which David Fallon replaced Fraser Kerr in playing numerous additional roles, notably
that of Fey Young Too, the Chinese Ambassador. Ronald Fletcher took over as the series
announcer from Robin Boyle who had handled these duties on the pilot and – as with The
Navy Lark – Derek Francis and Frank Thornton took first and second billing on alternate
weeks. Jan Waters – another member of the cast for The Navy Lark – featured in the next
recording, while in the first recording of 1966 the cast was joined by Stephen Murray, Ronnie
Barker and Lawrie Wyman in a cross-over tale featuring characters from The Navy Lark.
On Monday 3 January 1966, Alastair Scott Johnston was informed that Roy Rich had
agreed to the commission of the five optional shows to make a full run of thirteen. Jan
Waters returned in the seventh episode, with David Fallon also creating the character of Carl
from the Tratvian State Police. Richard Caldicot returned for the episode taped at the end of
January in which Charlotte Mitchell also originated the role of Magda who was to become
the palace secretary.
A photocall for the cast in full, formal costume was staged at the former Georgian
townhouse of Apsley House on Piccadilly at the corner of Hyde Park on the morning of
Sunday 13 February prior to recording the eleventh episode (which featured comedy actor
Derek Nimmo); Alastair Scott Johnston was delighted to find that this was easily arranged
since the curator of the property was a fan of The Navy Lark. This provided publicity images
of Sir Jeremy and his wife, Pettigrew, King Hildebrande III, Simpkins and the Chinese
Ambassador... while Lawrie Wyman provided his own vehicle as the Embassy car.
On Friday 18 February, the producer laid out the transmission dates for the show. The
revised re-edited pilot would commence the run on Tuesday 18 March and the remaining
editions would follow in order of recording. However, there would be no repeats until the
seventh edition which would receive a Home Service transmission two days later at 9.30pm
on Thursday. After the conclusion of the series on the Light Programme on Tuesday 7 June,
the Home Service would then continue with ‘delayed repeats’ of the earlier shows – with the
exception of the pilot – from Thursday 16 June to Thursday 14 July. Alastair had also prepared
three general trailers for his new series which could be broadcast from late February in the
lead-up to the series’ debut. Recording on the series concluded on Sunday 27 February when
Heather Chasen – another stalwart of The Navy Lark – joined the cast.

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‘Being a chronicle of events in and around Her Britannic Majesty’s Embassy to the Kingdom of
Tratvia’ was how the billings for The Embassy Lark described the new series in the pages of
the Radio Times. Alastair Scott Johnston introduced his new show within the pages of the
listings magazine: ‘To Britons abroad, the British Embassy is the one bastion of civilisation in
an alien land. If you drive the wrong way up a one-way street, can’t pay your hotel bill, or have a
punch-up with someone who turns out to be related to the Minister of the Interior, the Embassy
will somehow get you out of the muck. All this looks very different from inside the British Embassy
to Tratvia where Sir Jeremy Crighton-Buller and the First Secretary, Henry Pettigrew, endeavour to
survive amidst the slings and arrows of malevolently outrageous fortune. They have to cope with
the majestic figure of King Hildebrande III, whose idea of subtle diplomatic pressure would more
appropriately be called blackmail; and with the Ambassador’s wife, Lady Daphne, who serenely
sails through the most frightful situations dropping bricks with generous abandon. The Russian
Ambassador, whose Embassy is – most uncomfortably – next door, must be outwitted; and the
Chinese Ambassador, whose Embassy is unstrategically situated between the main railway line
and the goods yards, must occasionally be rescued from his state of siege behind the levelcrossing gates. Lawrie Wyman has written the stories (he’ll be writing more Navy Larks later
this year), and when you know more about our sterling Diplomatic Service we hope perhaps
you won’t begrudge them their only real ‘perk’ in life – a world-wide ability to park a car without
getting nicked.’
An Audience Research Report on the debut episode made uneven reading when issued
on Wednesday 13 April. The show had scored a low Reaction Index of only 56, with the report
noting that the average of ‘less sophisticated comedy shows’ was then 57; also the show had
attracted an audience of less than a million, below the average for this slot. On the positive
side, the comments of a Housewife opened the overview by describing the programme
as ‘Utterly impossible, slick and very clever. A most enjoyable half hour.’ It was agreed that the
Embassy setting was an original one and offered opportunities for ‘happy chaos’ while a
Teacher felt the show featured ‘some really wonderful characters’. However, a quarter of
the sample audience disliked the show, feeling that the storyline was thin and the script
desperate, certainly not up to the standards of The Navy Lark or The Men from the Ministry.
Most of the sample enjoyed the show ‘up to a point’ but felt there was room for improvement.
The cast were however praised, particularly Frank Thornton, while in addition to

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Pettigrew – the most popular character – the Ambassador and his dithery wife received
favourable mentions.
A couple of weeks later, an Audience Research Report on the third edition fared little
better, attracting a smaller audience of barely over half a million and with a Reaction Index
still languishing at 56. ‘A mixed reception’ noted the report in which a Housewife decreed
that the new series was ‘A very worthy companion to The Navy Lark. I have a weakness for well
served corn and I dote on Lawrie Wyman’s brand of humour.’ Most listeners though found the
show too farcical, with any element of satire lost in ‘a custard pie affair’ resulting in something
far removed from The Navy Lark or The Men from the Ministry.
From May, recording on The Navy Lark occupied Alastair’s attention. In the meantime for The
Embassy Lark, the repeat edition on Thursday 23 June was scheduled at the earlier time of 7.30pm
because of a concert at the Royal Festival Hall from 8pm, while the repeat scheduled for Thursday
14 July was also shifted to this slot to allow for special French-theme programmes to celebrate
Bastille Day. By July, the Reaction Index had actually risen as high as 63 for the penultimate Home
Service repeat, having seen a general rise since the low scores of the first weeks.
On Tuesday 12 July, Roy Rich informed Alastair Scott Johnston that the BBC Board of
Management ‘asked me to pass on their warmest congratulations on the current series of The
Embassy Lark’ and noted that – as such – he had requested permission to commission a
second series. Three days later, Con Mahoney sent a memo to the producer confirming a firm
commission for nine more shows with an option on a further four. In the meantime, Alastair had
commissioned a long and detailed report about his new show which had posed 23 questions to
2,000 members of the BBC Audience Panel. The feedback arrived in early August and indicated
that the audience felt that the show featured ‘stereotyped characterisation’, was ‘not really
believable’, often that the ‘storyline was not strong enough and the situations were too predictable’
and revealed that a number of listeners ‘expressed strong dissatisfaction with noisiness of the show.’
This was all something to keep in mind for the second series which – at the end of August – was
scheduled for a series of double recordings from October 1966 to January 1967.

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THE EMBASSY LARK

EPISODE THREE: Security

Episodes written by Lawrie Wyman
Produced by Alastair Scott Johnston
Starring: Derek Francis (HE Sir Jeremy Crighton-Buller KCMG British Ambassador to Tratvia), Frank
Thornton (Henry Pettigrew, First Secretary, British Embassy)
Announcer: Robin Boyle [1], Ronald Fletcher [2-13].

Broadcast 29 March 1966 (recorded 12 December 1965)
With Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller/Miss Bobsworth), Jan Waters (Russian
Colonel), David Fallon (700), Michael Spice (Security Chief/Simpkins).
Since the walls between the British and Russian Embassies are so thin, the two nations can hear
most of each other’s conversations clearly enough anyway. But when Sir Jeremy finds a bugging
device on the mantelpiece, London is informed and a top secret service agent is despatched to
Tratvia...

Note: none of the episodes were originally given titles. The ones here have been adopted for easy
reference.

EPISODE ONE: The New Ambassador
Broadcast 15 March 1966 (recorded 13 June 1965)
With Francis De Wolff (The King of Tratvia/Turnbull/Grant), Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne
Crighton-Buller/Beatrice/Martha/Mrs Grubb), Michael Spice (Simpkins/Prime Minister), Fraser Kerr
(Mr Grubb/Pilks/Foreign Secretary).
For the sake of a local by-election, the British government desperately needs an overseas
export order for the K9105 aircraft and this becomes the first objective for Sir Jeremy CrightonBuller when he arrives to take up his role of British Ambassador in the antiquated monarchy of
Tratvia. But before he can meet King Hildebrande III, Sir Jeremy needs suitable apparel since his
formalwear has gone missing...

EPISODE TWO: Overseas Economy
Broadcast 22 March 1966 (recorded 5 December 1965)
With Richard Caldicot (Minister for Economy), Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller/Miss
Trent/Martha), Michael Spice (Simpkins/Chauffeur/Toastmaster/Photographer), David Fallon (The
Chinese Ambassador/Curator).
Miss Trent arrives at the Embassy for help – she has lost her hotel. Ever ready to help a pretty
young lady, Pettigrew arranges for an Embassy car to drive her round the capital … not expecting
that the Embassy Rolls will be pressed into service concurrent with a visit from the Minister for
Economy and Overseas Establishments...

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EPISODE FOUR: The Princess
Broadcast 5 April 1966 (recorded 19 December 1965)
With Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller/Martha/Princess), Michael Spice (Simpkins/
Benchley), David Fallon (Encyclopaedia Salesman/Ernie).
The Foreign Office objects when Sir Jeremy lumps his poker losses into his claim for £173.10s
expenses for entertaining the American Ambassador. A chance appears to claim the money back
when the Embassy hears that a princess will be arriving with a trade group. But it’s not that sort
of a princess...

EPISODE FIVE: National Grumpshnog Week
Broadcast 12 April 1966 (recorded 2 January 1966)
With Francis de Wolff (The King of Tratvia), Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller/
Martha), Michael Spice (Simpkins), David Fallon (The Chinese Ambassador/Tratvian Boatman) and
special guests from the crew of HMS Troutbridge, Stephen Murray (Number One) and Ronnie Barker
(Potarneylander/Commander Bell/AB Johnson) [also Lawrie Wyman – uncredited (AB Tiddy)]
National Grumpshnog Week is a week-long orgy in Tratvia which has resulted in the resignation
of every previous British Ambassador. Playing safe, Pettigrew asks the Navy to send a cruiser to
foster good relations with Britain. Unfortunately the Navy cannot send a cruiser, but sends the
biggest ship it can. A ship called HMS Troutbridge...

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Episode Synopses

EPISODE SIX: A Trip to London

EPISODE NINE: The Tratvian State Casino

Broadcast 19 April 1966 (recorded 9 January 1966)
With Francis de Wolff (The King of Tratvia), Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller),
Michael Spice (Simpkins), David Fallon (Australian Pilot).
The lease on the Embassy will expire in six months, and with a 600% increase for the current
premises, the staff look for a new property. However, to do this they need Tratvian currency,
and the only way for Britain to gain Tratvian currency is to encourage King Hildebrande to
do some shopping in London...

Broadcast 10 May 1966 (recorded 30 January 1966)
With Francis de Wolff (The King of Tratvia), Richard Caldicot (The Military Attaché), Charlotte Mitchell
(Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller/Martha/Magda), Michael Spice (State Casino Manager/Anton/
Croupier), David Fallon (The Chinese Ambassador).
The Embassy’s Military Attaché is suspicious of Pettigrew, who has recently purchased two sports
cars, a yacht and a den of iniquity in the country. It turns out that Pettigrew has been winning
vast amounts at the Tratvian State Casino... and since the Tratvian State Casino is rigged, King
Hildebrande is not pleased...

EPISODE SEVEN: The Spy
Broadcast 26 April 1966 (recorded 16 January 1966)
With Francis de Wolff (The Minister of the Interior), Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne CrightonBuller/Martha), Michael Spice (Simpkins), David Fallon (Carl/Chef), Jan Waters (Jane, the
typist/Mitzi).
Pettigrew is delighted when a pretty new young secretary arrives from the Whitehall pool
as temporary relief for Martha. Shortly afterwards, Sir Jeremy receives a visit from the
Minister of Interior – or the secret police – to demand that his top agent, who has defected
to Britain, is handed over …

EPISODE EIGHT: The Tratvian Jails
Broadcast 3 May 1966 (recorded 23 January 1966)
With Francis de Wolff (The King of Tratvia), Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller/
Martha/Greta), Michael Spice (Harold Symes/Simpkins), David Fallon (Tratvian Minister of
Information/Turnbull/Carl).
Pressman Harold Symes turns up on the doorstep of the Embassy demanding protection
as he is about to be arrested for publishing “the inside story of intrigue and corruption” in
the Tratvian government. The incident is embarrassing, even before it transpires that Symes
‘source’ is Lady Daphne!

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EPISODE TEN: The Hydro-Electric Scheme
Broadcast 17 May 1966 (recorded 6 February 1966)
With Francis de Wolff (The King of Tratvia), Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller/Magda/
Martha/Eliza), Michael Spice (The Russian Ambassador/Simpkins), David Fallon (The Chinese
Ambassador/Sammy/Peabody).
Crighton-Buller is summoned to meet the King along with the Russian and Chinese Ambassadors
and ordered to source top-line artists for a Royal Command Performance at the Tratvian State
Opera House a week on Wednesday. Pettigrew quickly realises that the selection of the three
countries matches those currently bidding for the Tratvian hydro-electric contract...

EPISODE ELEVEN: The Party
Broadcast 24 May 1966 (recorded 13 February 1966)
With Derek Nimmo (The Hon Clive Farningham Frogmore), Francis de Wolff (The King of Tratvia),
Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller/Magda), Michael Spice (The Russian Ambassador/
Simpkins), David Fallon (The Chinese Ambassador).
It is the morning after the night before, and the bleary Ambassador is reminded not only of the
drunken antics at the Chinese Embassy, but that he has also invited everyone else back to his
place tonight. Daphne then reveals that her brother, junior minister The Hon Clive Augustus
Farningham Frogmore, is coming to stay... and the alcohol fuelled revelry might just be enough
for Clive to get Sir Jeremy fired. Only the presence of the King can keep the Ambassadors’
behaviour in order...

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EPISODE TWELVE: Mr Pettigrew’s Promotion
Broadcast 31 May 1966 (recorded 20 February 1966)
With Francis de Wolff (Mr Lovelace), Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller), Michael Spice
(Simpkins), David Fallon (Williams).
Pettigrew is upset when a memo from Whitehall says that his recommendation for promotion
is ‘favourably considered’. The chance to become the consul in the rather dangerous territory
of Santa Bwana means that he has to modify his behaviour when the embassy is visited for
assessment by Mr Lovelace of Whitehall … in order for him not to get the job.

EPISODE THIRTEEN: The Turkish Ambassador
Broadcast 7 June 1966 (recorded 27 February 1966)
With Francis de Wolff (The King of Tratvia), Charlotte Mitchell (Lady Daphne Crighton-Buller/Magda),
Michael Spice (The Russian Ambassador), David Fallon (Chinese Ambassador/CJ) and Heather
Chasen (The Turkish Ambassador).
The British, Russian, American and Chinese Ambassadors are summoned to the palace where the
King reveals that he has decided to invite full ambassadorial representation from Turkey. Strong
relations with the new country are vital so a good impression is needed, and all the Ambassadors
are invited to meet their new colleague during an informal shooting party weekend at the Royal
Hunting Lodge.

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BIOGRAPHIES
Lawrie Wyman
Rather than serve in the Royal Navy, Lawrie Wyman was actually a lance-corporal
in the Army. After the war, he started writing comedy for radio and television with
shows like Happy Go Lucky and The Lighter Side. Teaming up with Len Fincham, he
wrote for Morecambe and Wise, and Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warriss. Concurrent with
The Navy Lark he wrote So I’ll Tell You and The Motor Way, and he transferred The Navy
Lark to TV as HMS Paradise. On radio he also wrote The Embassy Lark, The Big Business
Lark and Just the Job, the latter with his new co-writer, George Evans, with whom he
collaborated on scripts for Bless This House, Love Thy Neighbour and Carry On Dick.

Stephen Murray
Stephen Murray was born in Lincolnshire in September 1912, and he made
his professional acting debut in Much Ado About Nothing in Stratford in
1933. After working at Birmingham Rep, Westminster Theatre and at
the Old Vic, Stephen was commissioned as an Army officer during the
war. After 1945, Murray returned to the theatre and focused initially on
directing, touring Europe with his controversial interpretation of King
Lear. On stage, Stephen appeared in On the Rocks, School for Scandal and
Six Characters in Search of an Author, although his favourite performance
was as George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in Edinburgh in 1965. On
television, he starred in plays such as Thunder Rock and Marriage Lines. Stephen
died in April 1983 at the age of 70.

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Jon Pertwee

Richard Caldicot

The son of playwright Roland Pertwee, Jon was born John Devon Roland
Pertwee in Chelsea in July 1919. A keen performer, he trained at RADA in
the 1930s and was soon in demand on stage for his versatile character
work. After wartime Naval service, Jon entered radio by accident
where his vocal talents made him a star in The Waterlogged Spa and
Up the Pole amongst others. His film career included movies like
Murder at the Windmill, Will Any Gentleman? and several of the Carry
On... films while on television he was best known as the third Doctor
Who, scarecrow Worzel Gummidge and as the host of Whodunnit?
A showman all his life, Jon died in New York in May 1996.

Born October 1908 in London, Richard Caldicot enjoyed a long acting career,
often playing irritable authority figures. In demand in both comic and
serious roles, his movies included The Million Pound Note, Room at the Top
and The VIPs, while on television he was seen in If the Crown Fits, Moody in
..., Steptoe and Son, Pet Pals, The Beverly Hillbillies, Vanity Fair, Coronation
Street, Fawlty Towers, Minder, Bergerac, Lord Peter Wimsey and Casualty. He
was the only cast member of The Navy Lark to appear in the short-lived
television version, HMS Paradise, and on radio he also featured in The
Motorway Men. Working to the end of his life, Richard died in October 1995.

Leslie Phillips
Despite his famous well-bred ladies’ man image, Leslie Phillips was born
in the working class environs of Tottenham in April 1924. A child actor at
the Italia Conti School, he made his debut in Peter Pan at the Palladium.
Picking up his cultured tones from officers in the Durham Light Infantry,
Leslie appeared in comedy movies including The Smallest Show on Earth,
early Carry On... films and taking over the Doctor series. On television,
he starred in Our Man at St Marks and Casanova ’73 while his film work
includes Out of Africa and Empire of the Sun. Awarded an OBE in 1998, he
achieved acclaim with his one-man show On the Whole Life’s Been Pretty Good.
In 2007 he was nominated for a Bafta for his role in the film Venus and was awarded
a CBE in the 2008 New Year Honours List.

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Ronnie Barker
Born September 1929 in Bedford, Ronnie Barker trained as an architect and
worked in a bank before following his true vocation as an entertainer.
With a great deal of stage experience including work at the Oxford
Playhouse, he made his television and radio debuts in the mid-1950s
with I’m Not Bothered and Floggits respectively, and gave support
in British comedy films. The Frost Report gave him TV fame. Acting
– and writing under various pen-names – Barker’s TV work has
included The Ronnie Barker Playhouse, Frost on Sunday, Hark at Barker,
The Two Ronnies, His Lordship Entertains, Porridge, Open All Hours, Going
Straight, The Magnificent Evans and Clarence. Awarded the OBE for services to
entertainment, he died in 2005.

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Michael Bates

Heather Chasen

Born in December 1920 in Jhansi in what was British India, Michael Bates was
versed in many languages and dialects which made him much in demand
as a character actor. Entering films in the 1940s he appeared in I’m All Right
Jack, Bedazzled, Oh! What a Lovely War, A Clockwork Orange and No Sex Please
– We’re British amongst others. On television, his first starring sitcom was
Turnbull’s Finest Half-Hour, followed rapidly by the role of Cyril Blamire in Last
of the Summer Wine. Diagnosed with cancer in 1975, Michael continued to
work, appearing as Rangi Ran in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum through to his death in
January 1978.

Born July 1927 in Singapore, Heather Chasen and her mother escaped
on the last ship to leave before the Japanese occupation. Training
at RADA, she did a lot of stage work including a tour with Frankie
Howerd in Hotel Paradiso, appearing with Dame Sybil Thorndyke in
Call Me Jackie and receiving a Tony nomination as the New York lead
of A Severed Head. On television she appeared as Caroline Kerr in The
Newcomers and as Valerie Pollard in Crossroads. On stage, she has
enjoyed seasons at Chichester, done open-air Shakespeare at Regent’s
Park and appeared in The Mountain Women at the Royal Court.

Tenniel Evans
Born in May 1926 in Nairobi, Welshman Tenniel Evans spent his
childhood in Kenya before settling in England. His great uncle was
the illustrator Sir John Tenniel and his great-great aunt was Marian
Evans (George Eliot). On television, he has appeared in series such as
The Plane Makers, Budgie, War and Peace, The Fall and Rise of Reginald
Perrin, Yes Minister, The Citadel, Inspector Morse, Casualty and Heartbeat,
as well as featuring regularly in Shine on Harvey Moon, The Two of
Us and One by One. Tenniel has performed on stage across England in
everything from Shakespeare to modern drama. Before his death in June
2009, Tenniel spent his later years as a clergyman, writing an autobiography
about his childhood called Don’t Walk in the Long Grass.

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