1 9 8 4 – 1 9 8 6 (UK)
12 x 30 minute episodes
In Fairly Secret Army, writer David Nobbs took the basics of his Jimmy Anderson character from The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin extended the personality and landed a new series.
But while the same actor, Geoffrey Palmer, played the part, viewers were no longer seeing Jimmy but Harry – retired Major Harry Kitchener Wellington Truscott, a right-wing fanatic who believed the country was overrun by “right-on feminists, do-gooders and left-wing anarchist sympathisers”.
True, there were many similarities between Harry and his role-model, and like Jimmy, Harry is a retired army Johnnie – formerly a major with the Queen’s Own West Mercian Lowlanders.
Trouble is, although the services have retired him, Harry has not retired the service. He is singularly unqualified to do anything else, and still talks like a military machine (‘cock-ups’, ‘nosh’, ‘caper’, ‘hush-hush’, ‘mum’s the word’, and so on).
One of the many highlights of The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin was the episode in which Jimmy displayed to Reggie his secret cache of rifles, put aside “in case the balloon goes up”.
In Fairly Secret Army that inflatable object – Harry believes – is about to ascend. He supposes there’s a battle to be fought, to “rekindle the spirit of the British Lion” by forming a group dedicated to fighting the “wet-leftie-feminist-loonies” taking over the country.
He and his fraudulent and dangerous right-wing cronies set out to rescue the country from itself. They’re destined to fail, fighting among themselves much of the time. No surprise, really – Harry has been a failure all his life, not to mention two sandwiches short of a picnic.
And naive to the point of being ripped off at every turn, he doesn’t have a clue how to relate to people, least of all the opposite sex, with one wrecked marriage behind him and more failings ahead, despite becoming engaged to Nancy. “Treacherous chaps, women.” Indeed.
Shot on film and without an audience, Fairly Secret Army lasted two seasons but received little attention from viewers or critics. As Harry would have said, “awkward blighters”.
The second season revamped the format quite considerably, and begins with Truscott getting amnesia after his army’s HQ (based at his girlfriend Nancy’s house) is blown-up.
Truscott’s group is hired by British Intelligence to infiltrate a Marxist cell, which includes his estranged son Paul. It ends with Truscott successfully defeating the terrorist plot and suggests that, now that he is a media celebrity, he may go into politics.
By the end of the last series, Harry has softened enough to accept that he loves his son – even if he is a gay Marxist terrorist.
Major Harry Kitchener Wellington Truscott
Sgt Major Throttle
Crazy Colin Carstairs
2nd Lt Bagnall
Michael J Jackson
A Chap Worth Following | Operation Charm | Romance Plughole | The Pulses Quicken | Eight Bods . . . Need More | When The Talking Had To Stop | I’ve Got A Job For You | Odd Chaps, Women | This Could Be Extremely Dangerous, Sir | One Mistake. Whole Caboosh Plughole | Ever Tried Making Love To A Marxist? | You’re Going To Be A Hero, Harry | Treacherous Chaps, Causes