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Flint of the Flying Squad

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Episode 12 of the third series was broadcast on 27 January 1953, and can be located on page 24 of the Radio Times. It was titled ‘Flint of the Flying Squad’, which is undoubtedly a reference to another BBC radio serial of the same name.

Flint of the Flying Squad – originally Flint of Scotland Yard – was a detective series created by Alan Stranks that ran for a few years in the early 1950s. Here’s a listing for an episode from April 1952.

I’ve not been able to locate any recordings, but apparently the theme tune was the ‘Theme from the Last Rhapsody’, which has a very film-noir-esque introduction, particularly when played on the piano. A full orchestra version is available on Spotify.

The show emerged from another police drama, PC 49, also written by Stranks. Producer Vernon Harris wrote about this series' 100th episode in the Radio Times of 27 February 1953.

While you can’t listen to Flint of the Flying Squad, you can read it. Stranks worked with artist George Davies to turn Flint into a cartoon strip. Syndicated in the Daily Express in the UK, it also appeared in newspapers all over the world, such as the Shepparton Advertiser in Australia and the Barbados Advocate in, er, Barbados.

(taken from the Barbados Advertiser, 24 June 1952)

There’s another (tenuous) Goon Show link here. Flint of the Flying Squad was also produced by Vernon Harris, who went on to become a screenwriter for films including Oliver!, which featured one Harry Secombe as Mr Bumble. Harris was also a script editor on films such as The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

Back in Goonland, and the Goons’ version of Flint, once again Graham Stark appeared in place of Spike Milligan. However, Milligan was evidently on the mend as he was able to liaise briefly with the authors of the ‘Both Sides of the Microphone’ column in the Radio Times:

Although illness has prevented Spike Milligan from taking his usual irresponsible part in The Goon Show for the past few weeks he has continued to write the scripts in conjunction with Larry Stephens. We are glad to learn that Spike is now making a good recovery and hopes to rejoin the show at the end of the month. In the meantime two ‘friends of the Goons’ – Dick Emery and Graham Stark – will continue to alternate as Spike’s deputy. Spike tells us that the monotony of his enforced idleness was briefly lightened by a listener who sent him a news item cut from a national newspaper which inadvertently paid a unique tribute to the Goons. The cutting, part of a police court report, said: ‘He was sent to an approved school at Bristol five years ago for three years, but goon conduct got him out in twenty-one months.’

(from ‘Both Sides of the Microphone’, Radio Times issue published 23 January 1953)

See page 9 of the issue for the original article, and an insight into the life of Ted Ray of Ray’s A Laugh. As well as providing Peter Sellers with an early platform on radio (proof is on page 36 of the same issue), it appears Ray was an Arsenal fan. A man of impeccable taste, evidently (although he would probably be glad to have missed the most recent game).

To show how much the Goons were getting out and about outside of the show, an hour before Sellers raised a laugh with Ted Ray on the Home Service on 29 January, Harry Secombe was larking about on Educating Archie, future Goon Show co-writer Eric Sykes’ first big hit. See page 37 for proof.

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