Para Handy - Master Mariner

1959 | United Kingdom

Comedy series produced by BBC Scotland based on the skipper and crew of a 'puffer' (small cargo boat) - 'The Vital Spark' written by Neil Munro and first published in 1905 in the "Looker On" column of the Glasgow Evening News. Munro continued writing these hilarious stories for most of his working life. He published them in three book collections: 'The Vital Spark'(1906), 'In Highland Harbours' (1911), and 'Hurricane Jack of the Vital Spark'(1923). 

The show quickly became a popular Friday night series with viewers for its easy-going humour and colourful characters which included Para Handy played by Duncan Macrae, Dan Macphall (John Grieve), Dougie (Roddy McMillan) and Sunny Jim (Angus Lennie) and their less-than legitimate dealings along the West Coast of Scotland. 

The series ran briefly for 6 episodes between 1959 and 1960 but the crew's adventures were revived in 1965 for an episode of Comedy Playhousewhere Roddy McMillan returned this time as the skipper, Para Handy. 

Following that three series were made (entitled The Vital Spark) up to 1974. There might have been another series in 1977 but a pilot episode starring Billy Connolly, although filmed-was never aired. Then in 1990 Gregor Fisher (then famous for his Rab C Nesbitt character) returned to play the old sea salt in 9 50-minute episodes of The Tales of Para Handy.

Published on January 17th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.