He sang that funky little groover Captain Beaky - the record - and illustrated that sizzling best seller - Captain Beaky - the book!
The bravest animals in the land are Captain Beaky and his band
That's Timid Toad, Reckless Rat, Artful Owl and Batty Bat
They march through the woodlands singing songs
That tell how they have righted wrongs
Once Hissing Sid, an evil snake, kept the woodland folk awake
In fear and trembling every night
In case he gave someone a bite
Said Artful Owl, 'We'll lie in wait
And one of us will be the bait."
Said Captain Beaky, "Have no fear!
For I alone will volunteer!"
"No, make it me!" Said Reckless Rat
"I'll stand there in my reckless hat
When Hissing Sid picks up my trail,
I'll just lasso him with my tail!"
"Oh, good idea" said Timid Toad,
"We'll hide a long way down the road.
And when you've overcome resistance,
We'll rush along to your assistance."
Said Batty Bat, "I've got a wheeze!
I'll fly and hide up in the trees!
If Hissing Sid should slither by
I'll drop a boulder from the sky!"
Said Artful Owl, "The idea sound… how will you lift it off the ground?"
Poor Batty Bat just scratched his head,
"I hadn't thought of that," he said.
Said Owl "The rest of us hold back - There's only one that he'll attack."
Said Timid Toad, "I like your plan."
"Good luck," said Owl, "For you're the man!"
So Timid Toad, his eyes a-popping,
Into the woodland night went hopping
Captain Beaky waved his hand, followed by his trusty band
That's Artful Owl and Reckless Rat, and above the trees flew Batty Bat.
"Stop!" Said Beaky, "I hear squeaking!"
"It's Batty Bat" said Owl, "He's speaking!"
"It's all in code," said Reckless Rat
Said Owl, "I'll just decipher that."
"A dash, a dot, two short, two long…
I rather think we've got it wrong.
It reads 'can clearly see the road,
Hissing Sid has captured Toad!'"
"Quick men!" said Beaky, "No delay!
You mustn't let him get away!"
And leaping off, said "Follow me!"
And ran head first into a tree.
"Dot dot dot" squeaked Batty Bat.
Said Beaky, "Quick! Decipher that!"
Said Reckless Rat, "Perhaps we're gaining?"
"No," said Owl. "He says…it's raining"
Oh, how they ran to save poor Toad,
For they must find that snake's abode
Guided by old Batty Bat
Dot dot go this way dash, go that!
Then Hissing Sid's lair they spied
Were they too late? Was he inside?
Said Reckless Rat, "I'll get a pole
And stop him going down his hole!"
Then into sight the snake came hopping,
Right past his hole, no sign of stopping
Said Reckless Rat, "That's rather funny,
"There's something jumping in his tummy."
Said Captain Beaky, "Well I'm blowed!
Hissing Sid has swallowed Toad!"
And as the snake hopped out of sight,
Off they chased into the night.
At last they found him, tired and dizzy
And pulled out Toad, who said "Where is he?
For left alone, I felt quite sick,
And hopped into a hollow stick"
Said Owl, "A clever step to take!
You jumped into that slippery snake."
"That was brave of Toad", said Rat
"That's just my sort of plan!" said Bat
Said Captain Beaky to his men,
"Well we'll not see Hissing Sid again!"
And as they marched off down the road,
They sang in praise of Timid Toad
Above them flew ol' Batty Bat,
With his wings stretched out, like that
Owl's idea, the clever fella
To have a flying um-ber-ella
The origins of Captain Beaky stretched back over twenty years. The name came about because the author, Jeremy Lloyd (creator of Are You Being Served?), was nicknamed “Captain Beaky” at school because of his rather long nose.
Over a period of twenty years, Mr Lloyd scribbled down various short poems on the backs of envelopes, film scripts and in letters to friends - featuring such characters as Dilys the Dachschund, Harold the lonely frog, and Captain Beaky and his band.
In 1977, a book of these poems was published, and an album of music was released. The music was written by Jim Parker. The album featured such stars as Peter Sellers and Twiggy, but neither book nor record sold well. The band’s rise to fame in 1980 was brought about after Radio One DJ Noel Edmunds heard Captain Beaky on Junior Choice and played it on his own show.
Captain Beaky, the single, charted at No. 40 in February 1980 and had soon crashed into the Top Ten, reaching No. 5.
I well remember the impact. I don't personally believe that Hissing Sid was innocent, but the slogan cropped up everywhere, sprayed on numerous brick walls, scrawled on school exercise books, inscribed on car stickers, badges...
My mate Pete and I had a bit of a ding dong about it.
Said Pete: "Sid was probably asleep - with his mouth open. Toad said he hopped in voluntarily, thinking Sid was a hollow stick."
"Rubbish," said I, or words to that effect. "Hissing Sid was out to capture Toad - it was a trap!"
"You know your trouble, mate? You always think you're right!" said Pete, huffily.
"Huh! That's rich comin' from YOU!" I sulked...
In retrospect, it seems the controversy might have been a symptom of an endearingly whimsical streak infecting the general population.
Or were we just stupid?