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Vital Spark

Glasgow University Library Special Collections

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Vital Spark

The crew of the "puffer" Vital Spark and her crew: from the left, Para Handy (Roddy McMillan), the engineer Dan McPhail (John Grieve) Dougie the mate (Walter Carr) and Sunny Jim (Alex McAvoy), the cook and deck hand.

The Vital Spark was the follow-up to BBC Scotland's successful (but long-lost) Para Handy: Master Mariner series of 1959-1960 that had starred Duncan Macrae as Para Handy. Three series of The Vital Spark were written by Duncan Ross, updating the original stories to depict characters struggling to maintain their traditional values and ways of life in a rapidly-changing world. The programmes were produced by Pharic MacLaren and broadcast between 1965 and 1974.

The stories of Para Handy, written by journalist Neil Munro (1863-1930), concern the comic adventures of the eponymous captain and the crew of one of the small steam-powered cargo boats, or "puffers", that carried goods to ports and islands along the west coast of Scotland.

Reference: STA Mn 11/6 (i)

Glasgow University Library, Special Collections

actors, BBC Scotland, captains, comedians, comedies, cooks, deck hands, engineers, mates, Para Handy: Master Mariner, puffers, screw lighters, television programmes, Vital Spark

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