Transmission date: 2nd November, 1982 (UK)
Written by Peter Richardson
and Pete Richens
Directed by Bob Spiers
Starring Adrian Edmondson
, Jennifer Saunders
, Dawn French
, Peter Richardson
The Comic Strip's hilarious spoof of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books follows the super wizard adventures of Julian, Dick, George and Anne - and Timmy "the dog" - as they spend their summer hols having slap-up meals and getting mixed up with scientists, villains, kidnappers, and various mysterious types. And a black luggage porter:
DICK (loudly) I say Ju, that man looks foreign.
GEORGE: I expect his name's Golliwog.
ANNE (laughing) Yes, or Tarzan.
JULIAN: I think we'd better call the police just as soon as we get back to Kirrin cottage.
This was one of the programmes shown on the day Channel 4 (UK) was launched, immediately showcasing the new channel's brash, rude, daring image (along with, er, Countdown). Viewers complained about the irreverence, swearing, homosexual references and suggested canine cunnilingus, but anyone even slightly cool thought it was fabulous, a fresh new alternative to the bland ITV bullshit and the musty old BBC's elder statesmanship. The Comic Strip gang viciously ripped the piss out of Blyton's outdated, racist, sexist rubbish, and made fun of plenty of other adventure story stereotypes - the solitary black man in the village who's bound to be up to no good, the clunky exposition ("As you know, he's a famous scientist and does a lot of top secret work for the government"), the constant references to how mature Julian is, secret passages, spunky girls, and the ridiculously simple plots (everybody clean shaven and posh is a goodie, anyone slightly unkempt or cockney is a baddie).
Timmy's wagging tail is seen sticking out of the girls' tent.
GEORGE: Oh Timmy. You're so licky!
ANNE: You shouldn't let him do that George. It's not hygenic.
GEORGE: We like it, don't we, Timmy?
Julian is frightfully grown up, Anne is a "proper little housewife", at one point dusting the logs in the campsite, and George is an unattractive tomboy. Along the way, Dick has strange feelings about the new boy, Toby, and starts expressing dangerous ideas about doing something different for a change, instead of going on hair-raising adventures. Luckily, clues keep cropping up to distract him from any thoughts of treason or male-male fumblings.
JULIAN Look, that car's got no motor tax.
GEORGE: Maybe it belongs to an illegal imigrant.
JULIAN: I shouldn't be surprised.
The funniest part of the whole episode is probably the bit everyone remembers best, and the bit that I still quote today, sometimes without even realising I'm doing it. You know the part in any kids' adventure story where they overhear a secret conversation? And they always come back saying "I couldn't hear exactly what they were saying, but there was something about a missing scientist and an atom bomb"? The way they always only hear the crucial words like "atom bomb" and never "so then I went to"? Behold the genius of the greatest overheard conversation ever:
LENIN: Right, let's run through our evil plan once more, Mr Knuckles.
KNUCKLES: Right you are, Mr Lenin.
DICK (inside tent) Wake up, Ju. I can hear voices.
JULIAN: I can't hear anything.
DICK: Listen - there it is again.
KNUCKLES: Blah blah blah - stolen plans - blah blah blah - missing scientists - blah blah blah.
KNUCKLES: Blah blah blah - atom bombs - blah blah blah - third world war - blah blah blah.
KNUCKLES: Blah blah blah - Kneecap Hill - blah blah blah - big secret - blah blah blah - kidnapped boy - blah blah blah - everything ties up - blah blah blah.
JULIAN (inside the tent) I say, did you hear that?
DICK: Missing scientists? Kneecap Hill? Big secret? What d'you think it all means?
JULIAN: I'm not sure, Dick. But it all sounds very queer.
DICK: Maybe it's some sort of clue.
JULIAN: My word you're right! Come on let's get some sleep now! I'm much too tired to solve this mystery tonight.
DICK: Me too!
It's the way Nosher Powell, playing Knuckles, delivers the lines - in a flat, bored, kids' nativity play voice, clearly sounding out every "blah". When the kids come overhear him again later on, he finishes it off with the killer line: "Blah blah blah - Rio - blah blah blah - De Janeiro - blah blah."
When they finally meet up and have a proper conversation, Knuckles seems unable to get the Blah's out of his speech ("Why if it isn't those nosey kids, blah blah"). When the gang finally track down Uncle Quentin, he turns out to be, by his own admission, "a screaming homosexual". Luckily, the police are swiftly on hand to arrest him as being gay is, thankfully, illegal, not to mention disgusting. Decency and good old fashioned spunk prevail, and the gang cycle off triumphantly, presumably to have another hair-raising adventure, or a slap up meal, or preferably both.
Thanks to www.csfanpage.co.uk for the excerpts from the script, transmission date, and for the simply wizard ham and turkey sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer.