The Tales of Para Handy

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The Tales of Para Handy
The Tales of Para Handy titles.png
Title screen capture
Starring Gregor Fisher
Rikki Fulton
Carolyn Pickles
Sean Scanlan
Andrew Fairlie
Paul Young
Music by Phil Cunningham
Country of origin Scotland
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 9
Original network BBC1
Original release 31 July 1994 – 21 August 1995

The Tales of Para Handy is a Scottish television series set in the western isles of Scotland in the 1930s, based on the Para Handy books by Neil Munro. It starred Gregor Fisher as Captain Peter "Para Handy" MacFarlane, Sean Scanlan as first mate Dougie Cameron, Rikki Fulton as engineer Dan Macphail and Andrew Fairlie as Sunny Jim. These four made up the crew of the puffer Vital Spark which was employed by the Campbell Shipping Company, headquartered in Glasgow and run by Andrew Campbell (Paul Young), Para Handy's brother-in-law and owner of the Vital Spark.

The series followed the Vital Spark's adventures around the coastal waters of west Scotland and the various schemes that Para Handy would get himself and his crew involved in. These involved transporting a bull aboard the Vital Spark, trying to marry Sunny Jim off, avoiding the sale of the Vital Spark by Campbell and being held hostage at gunpoint by a religious nutter.

Most of the guest stars in the series were well known faces in Scottish comedy and had starred in the sitcom Rab C. Nesbitt, which also stars Gregor Fisher in the title role. An episode of the second series, 'Para Handy's Piper', guest starred future Tenth Doctor David Tennant in one of his early acting roles.

The music for the series, including the theme, was written and composed by Scottish folk musician Phil Cunningham.[1] The theme tune is a composition entitled "Manus Lunny's Terracotta Plower Pop".[2]

It ran from 1994 to 1995 on BBC One for a total of nine episodes.

The ship featured in the series is being restored at Crinan Boatyard on the Argyll coast and has reverted to her original name, 'Auld Reekie'.[3]



Season 1

Episode Title Original airdate
1 "Para Handy, Master Mariner" 31 July 1994 (1994-07-31)
2 "Para Handy, Poacher" 7 August 1994 (1994-08-07)
3 "Salvage!" 14 August 1994 (1994-08-14)
4 "A Night Alarm" 21 August 1994 (1994-08-21)
5 "The End of the World" 28 August 1994 (1994-08-28)
6 "A Treasure Trove" 4 September 1994 (1994-09-04)

Season 2

Episode Title Original airdate
1 "The Fortune Teller" 31 July 1995 (1995-07-31)
2 "Para Handy's Piper" 7 August 1995 (1995-08-07)
3 "The Malingerer" 21 August 1995 (1995-08-21)

Home video[edit]

The first six episodes were officially released on UK VHS immediately following their original broadcast. The UK also saw release of the entire series on a 3-DVD set in October 2017.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Phil Cunningham - Music Commissions". Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Cunningham, Phil. "Manus Lunny’s Terracotta Plower Pop". Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  3. ^ VIC 27: The steam puffer "Auld Reekie"

External links[edit]