Poo-ooor Robin …

School holidays, late 1960’s, someone has an ingenious TV scheduling idea – lets try daytime TV.

I can just see the board meeting at the BBC now, oak panelled room full of cigar smoke, brandy decanters, bath chairs and assorted maids to assist the old duffers that make up the BBC board of directors all meeting for their monthly chin wag and set-the-world-to-rights session.

Some young upstart of a producer addresses them and explains his plan to revolutionise TV during the school summer holiday – they’ll show a French TV series about an Englishman who is shipwrecked on a coral island and befriends and then enslaves a “native” and teaches him the English way, such as cleaning your masters straw boots every morning, ensuring your master has a nice kipper for his breakfast when he awakens, and holding your masters straw umbrella above his head when he goes out for a walk on the beach in the midday sun.

The board of directors love it, one mentions that it reminds them of the Daniel Defoe novel “Robinson Crusoe”, another comments that he knew Daniel Defoe, nice chap. The young upstart producer assures them that this story is nothing to do with the Defoe novel and that no royalties will be payable, in any case it was made in France and it will be their fault if Defoe’s lawyers contact the BBC, the director who befriended Defoe explains that the novelist died 200 years earlier so there will be no copyright issues and everyone is happy again.

They go for it, but then discover that the film is broadcast in the French language, damn those Johnny Foreigners, so they hand the series over to the Shocking Dubbing Department who have recently won awards in TV circles for their work on the shockingly dubbed “Tales From Europe” series of childrens programmes. They pull it off and “Robinson Crusoe” becomes an instant hit among schoolchildren everywhere, every summer holiday, for decades.

“Day 72 and wance aga-yan ah am aluurn”
“Poor Robin”
“Fack off parrot”
“Pooooor Roar-bin”
“Ah weell ring your facking neck yuu stoopid bard, carn’t yuu see ah am herm-seek, carn’t yuu say anny-think else except “poooor Roar-bin” ?”
“You didn’t teach me anything else”
“Well dern’t say anytheenk then yuu mangy avian yuu”
“Teach me something else and I’ll cheer you up then, who’s Friday for instance”
“What ? What ? Whaart do yuu know abart Friday”
“Well I hear you calling his name out every night, you seem to enjoy that, teach me about Friday”
“Yuu fackin nosy bas’tard parrot yuu, yuu marnd yuur own business abart me arnnd Friday”
“Only trying to help old boy, only trying to help”

We loved it, never missed an episode, cried when it finished.

Friday came back to London with Poor Robin and was placed as an exhibit in the newly founded London Zoological Society in Regents Park.

Poor Robin turned to drink and lived on the streets for twenty years until he was run over by a brewers dray cart in Soho.

The parrot was elected Member of Parliament for Bow in 1798 and completed 20 years of public service being promoted to Education Minister in 1812, he is now stuffed and resides on the Members Terrace Bar.


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