The Navy Lark: Series 12 and 13

The Navy Lark: Series 12 and 13

The Classic BBC Radio Sitcom


The twelfth and thirteenth series of the long-running nautical comedy, plus bonus documentary Radio Lives: Jon Pertwee

Everybody down! Prepare for more navigational blunders and maritime misadventures as radio's favourite frigate puts to sea once more.

Collected here are the complete Series Twelve and Thirteen of the much loved show - including the 200th episode, 'Sir Willoughby at Shanghai', in which Troutbridge takes the Governor and his wife on a trip to China - only to find itself under attack... Plus, Lieutenant-Commander Murray and his wife Rita celebrate their first anniversary and move out to married quarters, the crew lock horns with evil, world-dominating Oriental mastermind the Master, and Sub-Lieutenant Phillips is up for promotion: but will his Lord Nelson fantasy help or hinder?

Stephen Murray, Leslie Phillips and Jon Pertwee star in these 23 hilarious episodes, with a supporting cast including Richard Caldicot, Heather Chasen, Tenniel Evans and Michael Bates, and guest stars including Norma Ronald, June Whitfield and Elizabeth Morgan.

Also included is a special episode of Radio Lives, looking back at the life and career of Doctor Who, Worzel Gummidge and The Navy Lark star Jon Pertwee.

NB: Some of the language on this recording reflects the era in which it was first broadcast, and due to the age of the source material, the sound quality may vary

Production credits
Scripted by Lawrie Wyman and George Evans
Produced by Alastair Scott Johnston
Starring: Leslie Phillips, Jon Pertwee, Stephen Murray, Richard Caldicot, Michael Bates, Heather Chasen and Tenniel Evans
With Lawrie Wyman, Norma Ronald, June Whitfield, Elizabeth Morgan

Remastered by Ted Kendall
Thanks to Keith Wickham

Note: none of the episodes were originally given titles. The ones here have been adopted for easy reference and are in line with previous commercial releases

For more information on the programme, contact:
The Navy Lark Appreciation Society
Honeysuckle Cottage
Little Street

Episode guide

First broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on the following dates:

Series 12
The Put-A-Horse-Out-To-Graze Fund 16 May 1971
Impressions For Survival 23 May 1971
The Beard-Growing Race 30 May 1971
The Mysterious Radio Signals 6 June 1971
Operation Recovery 13 June 1971
The Slogan Contest 20 June 1971
Sir Willoughby At Shanghai 27 June 1971
Operation Cowes Barge 4 July 1971
Number One's Anniversary 11 July 1971
The Loch Ness Monster 18 July 1971

Series 13
The TV Documentary 26 March 1972
The POW Escape Exercise 2 April 1972
Number One's Married Quarters 9 April 1972
The Newhaven-Dieppe Smuggling Run 16 April 1972
The Bumble Spit Lighthouse Affair 23 April 1972
The Tonipouhaha Treasure 30 April 1972
The USA Navigator Swap 7 May 1972
Son Of A Sea Lord 14 May 1972
Hypnotising Ramona 21 May 1972
The Master Of Sardinia 28 May 1972
Opportunity Knockers 4 June 1972
Friday The 13th 11 June 1972
The New NAAFI 18 June 1972

Radio Lives: Jon Pertwee first broadcast BBC Radio 4, 31 October 1996

© 2024 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2024 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd.

About the author

Lawrie Wyman

The Navy Lark is the second longest-running comedy in British radio history (the topical Friday night show, Week Ending, which ran from 1970 to 1998, is currently the longest). In 1958, writer Laurie Wyman announced that he wanted to build a series around talented comic actor Jon Pertwee. Having secured Pertwee as the lead, he looked for other main characters and is quoted in the Radio Times as saying 'I felt we needed an idiot, and there was no one better at playing idiots than Leslie Phillips - so we got him.' The first episode of the series went out on 29 March 1959 and, from the start, the light-hearted and affectionate spoof on the Senior Service won many fans - some of the highest order! On the occasion of the show's 21st anniversary, for example, the crew were asked by WRNS to put on a special performance. They duly obliged, and in the audience that night at the Royal Festival Hall was Her Royal Highness the Queen Mother. Sir Charles Lambe, who was the first Sea Lord at the time, had also visited the studio during rehearsal. The crew of HMS Troutbridge were a motley bunch: Jon Pertwee, who actually served in the Navy during the Second World War, played the conniving Petty Officer and was established as a household favourite by the series. Leslie Phillips was the vague chinless wonder Sub-Lieutenant. His parrot cry of 'left hand down a bit' has passed into A Dictionary of Catch Phrases, whose author Eric Partridge writes 'within two years, it was a standard piece of Navalese'. The young Ronnie Barker (long before attaining fame as a television comedy actor) also appeared in the series, playing two parts: (Un)Able Seaman Fatso Johnson and Lieutenant-Commander Stanton. The Navy Lark gripped the nation for the best part of twenty years. Its signature tune, composed by Tommy Reilly and James Moody, was the jaunty Trade Wind Hornpipe and did much to contribute to the popularity of the series. The key to the show's popularity, though, was its irreverent but essentially gentle humour and, most of all, the many-voiced talents of its stars. As Leslie Phillips remarked in 1987, 'I caused more damage to Naval property than the Navy had done in two world wars'. The final episode was broadcast on 18 January 1976. However, the crew all jumped on board one last time for a Jubilee Special on 16 July 1977.
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