The original Captain Beaky and His Band album has been entertaining my family, at least, for as long as I can remember. My father would even put it on voluntarily - showing it's not just for the kids. For me, that album -is- Beaky, but as you'll see, there's really a lot more to it. The best way to explain the history of Beaky is straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak)...

 

"A graveyard on a Summer's night the spectres dance in sheer delight and down a moonbeam slides a ginger cat in plimsolls and a paper hat...."

This was all I could find of a poem I wrote aged 12. Last year, aged about 40 something, I finished it. The poems had been written on the backs of envelopes, film scripts and in letters to friends over a period of years. When there appeared to be some interest in publishing them I found I was turning out old boxes of papers and writing to friends asking if I had by chance written them a poem, and if so, could I have it back. Keith Michell sent me some that I had completely forgotten writing.

Keith and I met when we were working together in Robert and Elizabeth at The Lyric. He being the leading man while I clanked on and off stage in Household Cavalry armour, as a dotty lover of his girlfriend's sister. To pass the time I would scribble about the trials and tribulations of a lonely frog or a penniless French mouse (both situations closely akin to my circumstances at the time) and Keith, an excellent artist with a great sense of humour, illustrated them. Our collaboration ceased abruptly when the Management allowed me to appear in a film, on the condition I would be back for the evening performance. All my part required was that I should stand in front of a cannon and be shot. The explosion blew me across the studio, resulting in a lot of surgery and a get well slowly card from my understudy. I convalesced for part of the time in Jamaica and wrote Dilys the Dachshund on the back of an old record cover, which I received intact, minus Joe Loss's Greatest Hits,12 years later.

The reason I was suddenly trying to recover the poems was due to Lance Percival reading one on the radio show 'Start the Week'. A publisher expressed interest, but I was told that at least 30 would be required to make up a book. About this time I got a call from Keith: could he read some on a TV show? Delighted, and please could I have them back? Fate was obviously taking a hand, for a few days later I met Jonathon Rowlands, whom I had known in LA when I was writing 'Laugh In'. I discovered that together with his partner, Hugh Murphy, his company had produced the Sir John Betjeman albums, of which he gave me copies. I was enchanted by Jim Parker's music, to which the poems were read, and showed him mine. In between writing 'Are You Being Served?', Jim, Hugh and I worked together for a year, with me writing new poems, Jim composing the music and Hugh producing the album. I still find it hard to believe that these characters have come to life as a book and a record album, but they have and I'm delighted as they are.

Jeremy Lloyd 1977.

 

So there you have it. Incidentally, Jeremy Lloyd is also responsible for inflicting 'Allo 'Allo on us. The song "Captain Beaky" peaked at number 5 on the UK charts in 1980. Not bad going for a song about a bunch of animals.

Site (c) 1998 - 2002 K Rayner. Lyrics, cover art and music (c) them what made 'em.