In the second of the new Up . . . series, Frankie Howerd plays Lurkalot, a humble 12th-century serf who sells chastity belts in the local market.
Our poor hero is really the twin brother of King Richard the Lionheart, but he is quite unaware of his royal birth. Tricked out of his heritage by evil barons, he is a mere serf at Custard Castle, the ancestral home of his master Sir Coward de Custard (Graham Crowden).
It’s all quite cosy and medieval until Sir Braggart de Bombast (Bill Fraser) arrives and then it’s just evil.
Sir Braggart has no sooner lifted his visor than this awful lecher and despoiler of virgins is laying dark plans to seize the castle and carry off the lovely Lobelia de Custard (Anne Aston from The Golden Shot) to have his foul way with her – although he won’t be the first – Chopper the Woodman (Billy Walker), Snod the Ploughboy and Nerk the Shepherd have already seen to that!
“Innocent little flower? She’s been in more beds than a geranium.”
Lurkalot, determined to save the fair Lobelia, takes her to the blacksmith’s forge and fits her into the special Mark III chastity belt and locks her up securely.
Thwarted thus, the villainous Sir Braggart declares war on Sir Coward who promptly leaves for the Crusades.
Lurkalot heads off too, to persuade King Richard to return to England. Arriving at the Crusader’s Arms, Lurkalot finds everything going on except the war and when he stumbles over a couple in the dark he discovers that it is none other than King Richard himself (also played by Frankie Howerd), trying out Kama Sutra techniques with Scheherazade (Eartha Kitt).
This is only the beginning of a long series of riotous adventures in which the two Frankies vie with each other as to which can produce the most laughs.
A glance at the credits – produced by Ned Sherrin, script by Sid Colin, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, score by Carl Davis – raises one’s hopes for this medieval incarnation of Frankie Howerd’s TV hit Up Pompeii!.
But, sadly, expectations are soon dashed as it becomes clear that Lurkalot is a pale imitation of his ancient ancestor Lurcio, and that there are few comic highlights to brighten these “dark ages”.
As dependent as he was on handcrafted material, Howerd looks very ordinary beside the infinitely more versatile supporting cast of top character comics.
Lurkalot/King Richard the Lionheart
Sir Coward de Custard
Sir Braggart de Bombast
Nick the Pick
Landlord of the Blue Boar
Reporter (Our Man in the Holy Land)
Mistress of the Bed Chamber
Archbishop of All England
Winifred (Winnie The Pooh)
Chopper the Woodman
Lobelia de Custard
Long John Baldry
Sir Grumbel de Grunt