Writer Leslie Thomas revisits his Malayan war memoirs but this time the result is more akin to “Confessions of a National Serviceman”.
1950: a group of British soldiers are stationed at Tanglin Barracks in Singapore for their National Service. Given an extra six months of active service on the eve of their return to Blighty, and despondent at the thought of more fighting with the guerrillas in the jungle, young conscripts Private Brigg (Robin Askwith) and Private Jacobs (George Layton) turn their attentions to the local girls.
Most of their boredom is relieved in the local nightclub where Juicy Lucy (Fiesta Mei Ling) helps to distract the lads from the trials of war. Eventually, delectable nurses Bernice (Pamela Stephenson) and Valerie (Lynda Bellingham) attract their interest.
Back at the barracks, the lads continue to endure the seemingly endless parades before Sergeant Wellbeloved (Edward Woodward), a brash regular down whose back runs a large streak of yellow. More sympathetic to their plight is the kindly, bumbling Colonel Bromley-Pickering (John Le Mesurier) and Sergeant Driscoll (Nigel Davenport), a regular NCO threatened with early discharge due to failing eyesight.
Miriam Margolyes appears as Elephant Ethel, a prostitute at the Golden Grape whorehouse. Among the other well-known faces in the cast are Robin Nedwell as Lt Grainger (pictured above) who sends Brigg’s platoon on a mindless pig hunt in the bandit-infested jungle; Warren Mitchell as a Welsh reservist, and Irene Handl as Mrs Phillimore, a fading relic from the British rule in India who seems unable to grasp the idea that the sun which was alleged never to set on the Empire has disappeared with some violence down the plug-hole.
Robin Askwith is a crude substitute for Hywel Bennett and the lavatorial humour sits uneasily alongside the stabs at drama.
John Le Mesurier
Fiesta Mei Ling