Home Television Comedy Vital Spark, The

Vital Spark, The

1 9 6 6 – 1 9 6 7 (UK)
1 9 7 4 (UK)

This BBC comedy series was set in the western isles of Scotland in the 1930s and based on the Para Handy stories by Neil Munro.

Roddy McMillan starred as Peter “Para Handy” MacFarlane, the captain of the puffer Vital Spark, based on the Clyde.

The series followed the Vital Spark‘s adventures around the coastal waters of west Scotland and the various schemes that Para Handy got himself and his crew involved in.

John Grieve costarred as Dan Mcphail the engineer, with Walter Carr as Dougie and Alex McAvoy as Sunny Jim.

A pilot of the show was originally broadcast in August 1965 as an episode of the BBC’s Comedy Playhouse series. Two series’ were then commissioned by BBC Scotland and transmitted in early 1966 and autumn 1967. Both series were made in black-and-white.

An hour-long colour TV special was made in March 1973 featuring the same cast and a further six colour episodes – essentially remakes of previous scripts – were broadcast in autumn 1974.

Peter “Para Handy” MacFarlane
Roddy McMillan
Dan Macphail
John Grieve
Walter Carr
Sunny Jim
Alex McAvoy