I've just got the first three episodes of 'Sailor' from a DVD library. this TV documentary follows the Ark Royal at sea. The first episode covered the lads on a run ashore in Diamond Lil's. I reckon the strippers won't look quite the same now. They'll be in their mid fifties. This was shot in 1976.

It was quite fun watching a Phantom pilot having six goes at landing on, and the third episode covered a Sea King lifting a sick american sailor off a nuclear sub in a heavy swell. Both the patient, and our crewman were washed off the casing by a huge goffer. But the subsequent rescue went well.

I hadn't seen this series the first time round. It ws quite evocative. I left the navy in 1970.

What was noticeable was the 'casualness' on the flight deck, compared with the yanks. This can only come from a confident practiced crew. Some of the haircuts and sideburns surprised me.... and the josser!

I look forward to getting the next three episodes.

Was anyone in it, who is lurking around RR now?

Just watched the next three episodes of Sailor, aboard the Ark Royal in 1976.

It included a chopper pilot who has his wife aboard RFA Tigress so he can nip across for a quick shag during RAS's...a broken jackstaff on the RAS... and 'Wilf. Anyone here remember Wilf? Wilf was a dummy operated by one of the lads, who had his own TV show aboard and was given more respect than the CO.

It also featured 'Wilf' singing the alternative version of 'Bye bye Blackbird'. I must get those lyrics.

There was also a man overboard in roughers, but it was a false alarm, and a run ashore in Puerto Rico. Quite evocative stuff.

The skipper was Captain Wilfred Graham, by the way, known as 'Big Wilf' by Little Wilf!

Whatever happened to Little Wilf?
andym said:
Canaldrifter said:
Whatever happened to Little Wilf?

He got promoted to 1SL! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Isn't it interesting, though, that the guy who had his hand up Wilf's bum could say almost anything he liked about any of the ossifers and get away with it. In fact they thought it was hilarious, including the Skipper and Commander.... yet if he had said those things without operating a dummy's gob at the same time he would probably have ended up in cells.

I did notice that the Fleet MAA was never around when Wilf appeared..... and Wilf's operator moved his lips and spoke in his own voice.

What a glorious opportunity! Wish I had thought of getting a dummy instead of an official warning!

But we never had our own TV on the Vic....
Further to the above, watched the last 4 episodes today. A bit disappointing. Not nearly as good as the first six.

A sods opera including the infamous magic roundabout scene (which was good), a run ashore in Florida, plus a marriage that lasted just 2.5 years, homecoming... nothing spectacular.

What was interesting was the follow up eight years later. Fleet MAA Tom Wilkinson's tears at seeing the Ark being broken up, Twinkle trying to adapt to civvy life, Captain (now Admiral Rtd) Graham taking charge of the coastguard... and another coastguard member, Wilf, the puppet and his mentor, both awarded an MBE for contribution towards morale at sea.

End of an era.

On the DVD there was a bonus episode 'Med Patrol'. That was crap. Very wooden. Very posed.

So.... any other good naval documentaries worth getting?


I remember watching a follow up programe a couple of years later.when they took the fleet joss up to inverkeithing to see the Ark being dismantled.He cried
There was one "Warship Eagle" as ships company we got to see the the bits from the cutting room floor which were hilarious.


War Hero
The Ark was dismantled at Cairnryan, I went on a jolly from Prestwick & flew over it. Tommy Wilkinson is still attending reunions of the Aircraft Handlers Branch.
Yank flightdecks are something else, I went onboard USS Forrestal in 1981, during flying stations. I was accosted by a bible basher handing out leaflets on the flightdeck, An air mech was working on an F-14 radio system just pulled it out of the aircraft & delibrately dropped it, saying I couldn't be fucked to work on it, i'll just get a replacement.
The F-14 were caked in salt, The guy wouldn't believe that we washed our aircraft down & kept them salt free.
yorkie-s said:
I remember watching a follow up programe a couple of years later.when they took the fleet joss up to inverkeithing to see the Ark being dismantled.He cried
I think I said that...

canaldrifter said:
What was interesting was the follow up eight years later. Fleet MAA Tom Wilkinson's tears at seeing the Ark being broken up,


I served on her at the time , March 1972 to January 1978 , with a 6 month gap in the middle during a refit , remember the camera crew well , camera man was married to the actress Nerrass Hughes , I appeared in 2 of the episodes , so many memories , not to sure about the spelling of her first name , I will be corrected I'm sure , :wink:


Lantern Swinger
I was a " Roof Rat " on the Ark during her last commission, 1977-1979. Worked mainly as the LSO Talker on the landing sights during aircraft recoveries. Had some brilliant runs with her, especially the states. Its true what they say about the Florida girls, they all love a sailor, sometimes two at a time!.


War Hero
Old Hand, got to ask you this mate, are you a member of the Aircraft Handlers Association? If not, and might be interested, please send me a PM and I'll send you the details.
RoofRat :cool:


RR, just as a matter of interest, in your association do you have a guy named Ian St George. He was an AH on Victorious and used to be my driver when I was postie.

Semper Strenuissima.


War Hero
Onions, no sorry mate. We have one Saint and one George, but no Ian St George.
When would this have been? 62/63 we had a "Stan" George in our mess on the Vic, he was a driver.
Canaldrifter said:
So.... any other good naval documentaries worth getting?
Big intake of breath... puffed out already, here goes...

I can particularly recommend the Imperial War Museums series of DVD's: The Royal Navy at War. I have two of this series (of five): Naval Instructional Films and Know Your Own Navy. They contain a series of shorter films which are interesting, instructive and at times very funny.

They also have another one I recenly bought on eBay called Close Quarters on the submarine service, which I will hopefully remembr to take with me to Murcia and get our boats expert Nutty to evaluate it and write a DVD review (in a sentence) for you later. :wink:

There is also one called Shipyards and Docks at War and another just for the Booties called The Royal Marines at War.

Finally in my list is a very funny film in 1950's BBC English about the G Spot. A BBC Documentary available for £150 from the BBC or considerably less from John Douglas! The Youngest Sailors.

Similar threads

Latest Threads