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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Captain Beaky and his Band

Jeremy Lloyd is most famous for writing sitcoms, Are You Being Served and 'Allo 'Allo being his most famous creations, both co-written with David Croft.

More pertinent to this blog are a series of characters and poems he created that uniquely spawned a hit song, albums and books. Captain Beaky and his Band inspired what could possibly be seen as an early viral campaign, "Hissing Sid is Innocent". Written in the late 1970s, the album had poems spoken to music and read by a variety of stars of the day. Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Petula Clarke, Twiggy and Keith Michell were amongst the performers. Michell also illustrated the books.

The then Radio 1 breakfast DJ, Noel Edmonds headed the Hissing Sid is Innocent campaign, which led to t-shirts, posters and other paraphernalia.

Lloyd also wrote a book (in 1984) called  The Woodland Gospels According to Captain Beaky and His Band. In this book Beaky and his band retell New Testament stories, I'm not aware of it, until now. The Amazon reviews seem quite favourable.

So here's the Captain Beaky poem with a Top Of The Pops appearance by Keith Michell below that.

The bravest animals in the land are Captain Beaky and his band
That's Timid Toad, Reckless Rat, Artful Owl and Batty Bat
They march through the woodlands singing songs
That tell how they have righted wrongs

Once Hissing Sid, an evil snake, kept the woodland folk awake
In fear and trembling every night
In case he gave someone a bite
Said Artful Owl, 'We'll lie in wait
And one of us will be the bait."
Said Captain Beaky, "Have no fear! For I alone will volunteer!"

"No, make it me!" Said Reckless Rat
I'll stand there in my reckless hat
When Hissing Sid picks up my trail,
I'll just lasso him with my tail!"

"Oh, good idea" said Timid Toad, "We'll hide a long way down the road.
And when you've overcome resistance,
We'll rush along to your assistance."

Said Batty Bat, "I've got a wheeze!
I'll fly and hide up in the trees!
If Hissing Sid should slither by
I'll drop a boulder from the sky!"

Said Artful Owl, "The idea sound…how will you lift it off the ground?"
Poor Batty Bat just scratched his head,
"I hadn't thought of that," he said.

Said Owl, "The rest of us hold back. There's only one that he'll attack."
Said Timid Toad, "I like your plan."
"Good luck," said Owl, "For you're the man!"

So Timid Toad, his eyes a-popping,
Into the woodland night went hopping
Captain Beaky waved his hand, followed by his trusty band
That's Artful Owl and Reckless Rat, and above the trees flew Batty Bat.

"Stop!" Said Beaky, "I hear squeaking!"
"It's Batty Bat" said Owl, "He's speaking!"
"It's all in code," said Reckless Rat
Said Owl, "I'll just decipher that."

"A dash, a dot, two short, two long…
I rather think we've got it wrong.
It reads 'can clearly see the road,
Hissing Sid has captured Toad!'"

"Quick men!" said Beaky, "No delay!
"You mustn't let him get away!"
And leaping off, said "Follow me!"
And ran head first into a tree.

"Dot dot dot" squeaked Batty Bat.
Said Beaky, "Quick! Decipher that!"
Said Reckless Rat, "Perhaps we're gaining?"
"No," said Owl. "He says…it's raining"

Oh, how they ran to save poor Toad,
For they must find that snake's abode
Guided by old Batty Bat
Dot dot go this way dash, go that!

Then Hissing Sid's lair they spied
Were they too late? Was he inside?
Said Reckless Rat, "I'll get a pole
And stop him going down his hole!"

Then into sight the snake came hopping,
Right past his hole, no sign of stopping
Said Reckless Rat, "That's rather funny,
"There's something jumping in his tummy."

Said Captain Beaky, "Well I'm blowed!
Hissing Sid has swallowed Toad!"
And as the snake hopped out of sight,
Off they chased into the night.

At last they found him, tired and dizzy
And pulled out Toad, who said "Where is he?
For left alone, I felt quite sick,
And hopped into a hollow stick

Said Owl, "A clever step to take!
You jumped into that slippery snake."
"That was brave of Toad", said Rat
"That's just my sort of plan!" said Bat

Said Captain Beaky to his men,
"Well we'll not see Hissing Sid again!"
And as they marched off down the road,
They sang in praise of Timid Toad

Above them flew ol' Batty Bat,
With his wings stretched out, like that
Owl's idea, the clever fella
To have a flying umbrella.

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