Royal Navy comedy sank without trace | Nostalgia

In 1959, a television version of the radio programme The Navy Lark was produced. I informed readers back in June 2018, wrongly it seems, that HMS Portchester Castle was the destroyer used in the production.

By Bob Hind
Sunday, 1st December 2019, 7:00 pm
HMS Paradise, a new comedy programme, filmed entirely in Portsmouth, was aired in 1964. It was not a great success.
HMS Paradise, a new comedy programme, filmed entirely in Portsmouth, was aired in 1964. It was not a great success.

Fred Vintner, from Suffolk, tells me I was wrongly informed and that it was the minesweeper HMS Reedham that doubled as HMS Troutbridge.

Fred, from Portsmouth, left the city in 1969 to go to college and ended up working in Middlesex in 1972.

He thought HMS Troutbridge was real because he knew friends’ fathers who were either going to work on board ships or were dockyard craftsmen dragging half of HMS Victory home at the weekend to flog off! As if… why would you think the radio programme would deviate from the truth as you knew it?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Another booklet published by Ralph Cousins. This one is about Thorney Island.

In 1964 Southern Television broadcast this version of The Navy Lark which was partly scripted by Lawrie Wyman and Sid Colin of Navy Lark film fame.

Sadly the series failed to get syndicated at the right time of day in 1964. It was broadcast between 5.30pm and 7pm by the various regional companies when people were returning home from work and eating their evening meal before settling down to watch TV later. Television viewing was different back then.

HMS Paradise was filmed entirely around Portsmouth and included aerial filming from helicopters and the use of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle for a Christmas spectacular with Val Doonican as a special guest.

The Royal Navy was entirely behind the the production and it was Lawrie’s wish to use Portsmouth locations, not studios, whenever possible.

Point Barracks, Broad Street, Old Portsmouth in the 1930s, from Portsmouth Point An Illustrated History by Gower Lloyd.

Of the 26 shows filmed, most reels were destroyed but the rumour mill has it that just one episode still possibly exists.

HMS Paradise was set on the fictional island of Boonsey off the Dorset coast. Nothing much happened there except for dodging work and fiddling. There was an early warning system in case any top brass from the Admiralty decided to visit.

It starred Frank Thornton (later the floorwalker in Are You Being Served? and Last of the Summer Wine) Clive Dunn’s wife Priscilla Morgan also appeared in it.

Only 26 episodes were made and then it sank without trace. It seems that many Portsmouth people were used as extras and I wonder if there is anyone who can remember taking part in the production?

Historic Thorney Island

Only a short hop east from Portsea Island, former RAF base Thorney Island, near Emsworth, is well worth a visit.

What attracts many are the graves of former aircrew killed in the Second World War. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the foundations of the Church of St Nicholas were laid in AD 683 although the earliest references to the church itself are from 1266.

This 72-page book is available from Ralph Cousins on (023) 9248 4024 at £6.

Gower gets to point with new book

Gower Lloyd has produced another book on Point, Old Portsmouth. It has 212 pages and more than 500 photographs from the turn of the last century to today. I will show more views in later pages.

It’s available from New to You Books at High Street, Cosham. Gower will be signing copies at Palmerston Road precinct, Southsea, on December 8 and December 14.

Here we see the old Point barracks on the left with its12ft wall that was taken down in 1962.