Monday, March 27, 2006

Singalong-a-Secret Army

Secret Army, for those not paying attention at the back, was a gritty BBC drama about the French Resistance. As if ashamed of its brilliance, the BBC then made ‘Allo ‘Allo.

Like Blake’s 7 without the feather boas and laughs – but with songs. Each week, Natalie the waitress would sit at the piano in the Candide, singing sad songs while all around her airmen were tortured, collaborators dangled from piano wire and kindly monks were mown down with machine guns.

To go back to Blake’s 7 for a minute, imagine if Cally had had a piano on the Liberator. Would the show not have been even more fabulous? Each week she’d hammer out chansons like “Do it again!” , “Waiting at the old wall”, or “I’m just the girl next door.”

Complete Sidebar: Blake’s 7 was going to have lyrics for a while. Producer Vere Lorrimer penned something about lost loves and furthest stars. It never got anywhere, but he was inspired by Gene Roddenberry, who penned words to the Star Trek theme (curiously also about love and furthest stars) when it was initially composed. While the words are rarely perfomed outside the wide, lycra-clad circles of fandom, it meant that Roddenberry was able to claim half the royalties from the theme.

Anyway, back to Secret Army. Last night the King’s Theatre in Islington lovingly recreated the Candide, complete with champagne and authentic paysan dishes such as garlic mushrooms and sausage rolls. We sat, crowded round tiny tables and on ancient chairs, as the lights fell around a piano and a table containing those French bistro specials of a glass of water and a candle jammed into a carafe.

A brief burst of the Secret Army theme on the piano (stifled giggles), then on strode Natalie, still in fine form as she belted her way through songs about putting on a brave face while your love is lined up against a wall.

It was a magical evening - not least for proving that Secret Army fans are just as mad as any other fans – step forward the Scottish man who believed they were still making the show.

Any yet, we left hungering for more. Sarah Jane sings? Mulder mon Amour? What about Commander Data singing show tunes? Oh, actually, they’ve done that one.

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