Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Biggles Flies Undone, err I mean North
August 2, 2009 3:26 PM   Subscribe

The awesome Michael Palin, who's comedy group used to gently mock Biggles adventure stories back in the Python days, has been reading a 1940's Biggles adventure book "Biggles Flies North", on BBC Radio 7. It's available worldwide via BBC iPlayer, five episodes available as I post, but episode one expires today, so there's no time to waste.

BBC iPlayer doesn't trim its recordings very well, so you always have to skip to about a minute and a half in, to get to the Biggles goodness.
As a Biggles virgin, I've really been enjoying them.
posted by w0mbat (32 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Damn, the novel is from 1939, so it's not strictly speaking a 1940's book. Sorry.
posted by w0mbat at 3:28 PM on August 2, 2009


...and I used the wrong form of 'whose'. What can I say, I am an idiot.
posted by w0mbat at 3:29 PM on August 2, 2009


Hand me the substances Algy!
posted by yoink at 3:36 PM on August 2, 2009


Ha, just discovered that someone has put the not-so-gentle Python pisstake I was alluding to up on the intarwebs.

"Get your clothes on, Algy," murmured Biggles curtly.
"Shan't," returned Algy, teasingly
"He's coming at us out of the sun!" yelled Ginger anxiously.
"Put your bloody trousers on, Algy," repeated Biggles grimly.
posted by yoink at 3:41 PM on August 2, 2009


Wait. Biggles is a real thing?
posted by DU at 3:59 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


So where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday? And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you through?
posted by doubtfulpalace at 4:06 PM on August 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


Let me be the first to say "ANOTHER Palin thread?"
posted by wendell at 4:06 PM on August 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wait. Biggles is a real thing?

Wow; I can't imagine not knowing that. It's like someone saying "so, you mean there really is a comic called 'Superman'?" Obviously Biggles had no penetration at all in the US.

Not only Biggles but Algy and Ginger too. Though the drug use and gay sex remains very much between the lines in the books.
posted by yoink at 4:09 PM on August 2, 2009


Wasn't the insane little dog in the Reid Fleming comics named Algy? Hmmmm....
posted by pdxjmorris at 4:19 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Many US Python fans started out thinking that all the absurd characters and setups in the sketches were masterworks of surrealism, invented out of thin air. Only later do some of those fans find out that many Python sketches are parodies of actual persons, places and things.

Carry on, now.

posted by gimonca at 4:37 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obviously Biggles had no penetration at all in the US.
None. Nada. Zip.
Which is why any reference to Biggles always produced a sense of befuddlement. I always assumed I was missing out on some big Brit in-joke. Like the line from Thick as a Brick, "So where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?"
I just sort of shrugged at the funny name.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:59 PM on August 2, 2009


Biggles was totally unaware that, earlier on, James Bond was still sitting outside a small café in the South France observing the Alien spaceship. Mangy Azadinuff glided seductively to his table.

"Yourrrrr drrrrrink, Misterrrrr Bond," she said, her heavy Eastern European accent nearly obscuring the meaning of her words.

"Thank you," James smiled, furtively glancing down the front of Mangy's dress at the ample bosum revealed as she bent forward and placed the glass on the table. Without changing his expression, James noted the false bosum, concealing the phial of poison. He looked up into the sky in time to see the UFO move off. James leapt into action, pushing Mandy aside and upsetting the table with its lethal drink, he sprinted across the road.

Gendarme Alfons Dêplode turned his attention to shouts at the café. He watched as a man left the wreckage of a table, glass and transvestite waitress to sprint across the road, into an Aston Martin, and accelerate up the street at an "excessive" speed. With the lightening reactions of all Policeman, he put his foot down and accelerated off in hot pursuit. He hardly gone a couple of metres when a truck pulled out of a side turning, causing him to career across the road, up onto the pavement, hitting two departing cinema-goers, before running head first into a lamp post. Lying on the ground at the foot of the lamp post, he dwelt briefly upon the folly of chasing a 180 mph Aston Martin on foot.

Jacques Delecarr dazedly picked himself up off the floor, then bent to assist Marie to her feet. He wrinkled his nose and gazed at the mess spread down Marie's back. It was then that he realised one of the great philosophies of Mankind - "There is a 90% chance that anybody falling over in the summer will land in a discarded Ice Cream. During the winter it will be a dirty puddle of water. It is this Mathematical Law of Probability that maintains Dry Cleaners as a viable business proposition."

posted by netbros at 5:24 PM on August 2, 2009


I had forgotten that Biggles was elevated to rank of Cardinal.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:24 PM on August 2, 2009


I heard Sarah and Michael Palin are getting divorced. Sad.
posted by chasing at 5:32 PM on August 2, 2009


None. Nada. Zip.

Well then, no wonder you're all such bounders.
posted by pompomtom at 5:41 PM on August 2, 2009


Si Senor Biggles...
posted by Windopaene at 6:19 PM on August 2, 2009



Weird - my mum read 'Biggles Flies North' to my sister and I when we were kids.
posted by Flashman at 6:35 PM on August 2, 2009


For first timers I'd recommend 'Biggles in the Baltic' (they conduct daring raids on German U-boat facilities from a base deep inside a hollow island), and of course, 'Biggles Learns to Fly' - dogfights in the SE5 and the Sopwith Pup against the dastardly Hun.
posted by Flashman at 6:41 PM on August 2, 2009


For first timers I'd recommend 'Biggles of 266'... proper WWI Biggles, giving the Bosch what for, and in short-story format.
posted by pompomtom at 7:02 PM on August 2, 2009


Excellent post, but using the phrase "no time to waste" instead of "no-time tolouse"?

B+ only.
posted by yhbc at 7:11 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think Palin's takeoffs on Biggles and his ilk in Ripping Yarns were astonishing. I don't know why that series isn't more beloved today: "Escape from Stalag Luft 112B" and "Roger of the Raj" are hilarious.

Also, let me point out the very weird (YouTube link) Armstrong and Miller/Mitchell and Webb WW2 pilot sketches for the most recent Red Nose Day, featuring the always astonishing Geoffrey Palmer, OBE.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:17 PM on August 2, 2009


Weird - my mum read 'Biggles Flies North' to my sister and I when we were kids.
posted by Flashman at 6:35 PM on August 2 [+] [!]


For some reason, this strikes me as a bit eponysterical.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:17 PM on August 2, 2009


Obviously Biggles had no penetration at all in the US.
None. Nada. Zip.


Years ago I adopted a cat named Mr. Bigglesworth from my brother who named him.

My brother flies for the U.S. Army, though, so that might explain his familiarity and thus the namesakiness.
posted by Cyrano at 8:32 PM on August 2, 2009


Or he named after the cat in Austin Powers.
posted by smackfu at 8:45 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I tried listening to the 1st part. It's definitely not Michael Palin, and it's definitely not Biggles. It was the mention of a "Chevy Chevette" that clinched it for me. Apparently a bad link at BBC.
posted by neuron at 8:48 PM on August 2, 2009


Neuron - it is the right recording but the BBC haven't trimmed their off-air recordings properly.
Just skip the first couple of minutes, which is the end of a Bill Bryson book chapter.
posted by w0mbat at 9:46 PM on August 2, 2009


Has anyone worked out a way to download this, or is it streamed only?
posted by kjs4 at 10:04 PM on August 2, 2009


Obviously Biggles had no penetration at all in the US.
>None. Nada. Zip.


Except for this apparently totally obscure movie. I remember seeing it the theatre when I was 7.
posted by anazgnos at 11:06 PM on August 2, 2009


That? Not obscure enough. Dear lord that was a shit movie, and I was only watching it because (1) I'm a Biggles fan and (2), it looked so awful it was bound to be entertaining.

I was definitely wrong about (2).
posted by pompomtom at 11:28 PM on August 2, 2009


BBC iplayer digression: The Adventures of Sexton Blake is pretty awesome.
posted by juv3nal at 11:48 PM on August 2, 2009


NB. According to the blurb before the program, this series was first recorded in 1981.
posted by pharm at 1:18 AM on August 3, 2009


Many US Python fans started out thinking that all the absurd characters and setups in the sketches were masterworks of surrealism, invented out of thin air. Only later do some of those fans find out that many Python sketches are parodies of actual persons, places and things.

I was definitely one of those US fans, and while I was delighted every time I learned that things I only knew from Python sketches actually existed, going back and watching the clips, it felt like it had lost some depth of silliness.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:03 AM on August 3, 2009


« Older President Obama pencil topper....  |  Vortex Cannon : SLYT... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments