Danger Man! Not So Jolly Roger

I was sure I had blogged about this, but if I have I can't find it. This is the last black and white Danger Man episode and it's a stunner.
For a start the human chameleon John Drake becomes the cool DJ Johnny Drake, or JD. How cool is that?
For another the setting is about as groovy as you could want. At the time we didn't have many licensed radio stations in the UK and the inability of the BBC stations to cater to the audience for pop music led to a proliferation of pirate radio stations. Naturally pirate radio continues, but the setting places the episode firmly in the latest trends in 1960s Britain.
Many of these stations were based off shore to take advantage of a legal loophole, but this Danger Man sets Radio Jolly Roger on the Red Sands Sea Forts in the Thames estuary. They are still there and an internet search demonstrates loads of nostalgia for their time as several pirate radio stations. That's right, the uber-cool Danger Man series recorded an episode on location at a genuine pirate radio station, Radio 390. You can see contemporary pictures of its use as a radio station here and hereThis page shows more of the workings of the pirate station.
So to be honest it would be a bit difficult for this Danger Man to go wrong. One of the things I like best at fifty years' remove is the sight of a radio station which now seems so old-fashioned, dependant as it was on analogue media.
If I have a criticism it is that once Drake arrives at the sea fort it is fairly obvious what is going on. I have another criticism which is the bizarre choice of the Blue Danube Waltz to signal that they are signalling. It is completely off genre from the other music. If you like the records played on the radio station, you can find details of them here.
So despite a predictable plot, this episode of Danger Man makes up with sheer sixties chic.


  1. Chicago Calling:

    Annie's a shorthand typist
    Working at the BBC
    Her brother Jack is in prison
    Doing three years for forgery

    Her sister Josie's in Holloway
    And in Dartmoor there's her Uncle Jim
    And her dad runs a pirate radio ship
    But she never talks about him …

    - from What A World!, by Benny Hill

    Growing up in Chicago in the '50s and '60s, we had more over-the-air radio than we knew what to do with - AM and FM.
    The national networks were scaling down, and local stations that specialized in all different kinds of music were proliferating, under the sort-of strict scrutiny of our Federal Communication Commission.
    Every major city, and most of the minor ones, had stations that played any musical genre that you could name: Pop, Rock, Country, Classical, Jazz, Spoken Word/Comedy, Easy Listening, Nostalgia, and any combination of these that presented itself.
    I mention all this in order to try to explain to you in the UK how we in the US can't quite comprehend the whole idea of "pirate radio" as presented in this episode.
    You might say that we in the States were spoiled when it came to access to various kinds of radio.
    The first time I played the above-quoted Benny Hill song for friends over here, I was at a loss to explain that lyric to them: I was able to explain the prison references well enough, but the idea that simply broadcasting music might be illegal - that was beyond our ken …

    Today, fifty-plus years on, it's almost like describing life on another planet.

    I would only ask that you bear this in mind, for the benefit of your trans-Atlantic patrons.

    1. Point borne in mind, Mike. And of course the same issue applied to our paucity of television stations.


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