BROADCAST: 3 April 1956 [1]

Script by Spike Milligan


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service.

GRAMS: Short sharp train whistle.

GREENSLADE: I would like to…

GRAMS: Train pulls out of station. Speed up till infinity.

SECOMBE: Well, that got rid of him! In the meantime here is – THEGS! Yes, THEGS! That's the short way of saying The Highly Esteemed Goon Show. Hahaha! T.H.E.G.S!!!

GRAMS: Gracie Fields singing ‘Isle Of Capri – alter the speed wildly.

MILLIGAN: Gad! How Our Gracie has changed.[2]

SELLERS: Yes. I tell you that Isle of Capri is a sinful place.

SECOMBE: Don't interrupt, Ned. Ned, don’t interrupt. Rest your head on this razor blade and listen to the story of 'The Pevensey Bay Disaster.’

ORCHESTRA: Timpani roll with terrific crescendo. End on a thin chord.

SECOMBE: Thank you. Ha-hum. Here to open the tale of the great disaster is poet and tragedian – William J. MacGoonigal.

ORCHESTRA: Scene setting music.

MacGOONIGAL:[3] Oooooooo – ‘Twas in the month of December

in the year of eighteen eighty-two,

the railways lines near Pevensey Bay

were buried under the snoo.


MacGOONIGAL: All thro' the night the blizzard fiend

did like a lion roar,

the snow rose up from inches three

to inches three foot four.

(self fade) And ooooh the snooooo....

GRAMS: Blizzard. Fade behind.

SEAGOON: My name is Neddie Seagoon, engine driver extraordinary. On the night of the great English blizzard I was dragged from the warm seat in Leicester Square and taken before the director of the famed Filthmuck and Scrampson’s Railway.[4]

LEW: Neddie! Little-tittle Neddie, sit down. Here, have a chopped liver cigarette.

SEAGOON: No thanks, I always chop my own.

LEW: Good luck. Listen Schlapper, listen – the lines between the Hastings and Pevensey Bay station are under twenty feets of schnow. Neddie, we wants you to drive a schnow-plough and clear the line before midnight.[5]

SEAGOON: I'll do it.

LEW: Good, schlapper! [6] Here's a kosher wine gum. Off you go.  

SEAGOON: Thank you and goodbye.

FX: Door closes.

SEAGOON: My duty was obvious; free the line at Pevensey Bay before midnight leaving it clear for the Hastings Flyer to come through. Having given the listeners the plot,[7] I made my way towards Euston Station.

GRAMS: Distant wind howling.

MORIARTY: Pardon me, little low suite type man.

SEAGOON: (Narrative) The stranger had stepped out of a dark overcoat. Another man stood at his shoulder.

GRYTPYPE: Have you a match?

SEAGOON: Only my own private one.

GRYTPYPE: Don't look so worried. My friend and I here are Members of Parliament.

SEAGOON: If you're politicians, why are you begging in the gutter?

GRYTPYPE: Liberals.[8]

SEAGOON: I understand. Can I help?

MORIARTY: Yes. Are you walking Euston station way?


GRYTPYPE: Thank you, little Nurk. Have a gorilla.

SEAGOON: No thanks. This street is non-smoker.

GRYTPYPE: Neddie, my heavily-oiled friend here and I are rather anxious to get to Pevensey Bay station tonight.

SEAGOON: You'll never do it. There are no trains.

GRYTPYPE: We know. Perhaps a lift on your snow-plough?

SEAGOON: Out of the question. It's against the rules.

GRYTPYPE: We have money.

SEAGOON: (Keen) Money?

GRYTPYPE: Yes. To prove we're not lying, here's a photograph of a shilling.

SEAGOON: (Shock) Uuuuurgh! What wealth!

GRYTPYPE: Yes. And there are more photographs where that came from.

SEAGOON: (Aside) Gad, with that treasure horde I could buy another match. (Aloud) No! I will not be tempted.

GRYTPYPE: Very well. Moriarty, plan two. I'll play the violin.

ORCHESTRA: Violin solo. 'Hearts and Flowers'.[9]

MORIARTY: (Pleading) Neddie – little Neddie, have a heart, lad. We must get to Pevensey Bay station tonight. Pevensey Bay station tonight or we get KILLED! You see Neddie, at midnight the Hastings Flyer is coming through. All we want to do is derail it, blow it up, open the mail van and take the gold bullion inside.

SEAGOON: Stop! You're breaking my heart. I cannot refuse so simple a request. Be at platform three in ten minutes or platform ten in three minutes, whichever suits you best. But remember – (self fade) bring me my photographs of the money.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic woodwind chords. Fade under.

MacGOONIGAL: Ooooooooooooo!

Thro' the night the blizzard raged,

it covered Pevensey Bay station.

But inside the ticket office there

the staff were in charge of the situation.


GRAMS: Distant blizzard. Continue faintly under.

BANNISTER: (Singing) Bim bom biddle-um biddle dee!

Yim bom biddle doh.

Yim biddum ninym ninym niddlyum badowry,

Yim bum biddle boh…  

CRUN: Min, Min! Minnie, Minnie – stop that sinful singing.

BANNISTER: It’s not sinful – it's the modern-style singing, buddy.

CRUN: I'm not interested in the modern styles, Min. I'm more worried why we haven't sold any tickets today.

BANNISTER: I can't understand it.

CRUN: Neither can I. It's the peak of our winter tourist season.

BANNISTER: What's the weather like outside?

CRUN: I can't see for all this snow coming down.

BANNISTER: Oh dear. I think we'd better lock up for the night, Henry.

CRUN: Yes, yes. Only an idiot would come out on a night like this.

FX: Knocking on door.

CRUN: Ohhh –  

FX: Door opens.

GRAMS: Howling winds.

ECCLES: Hellooooo.

CRUN: Oohhh, ooohh! How do you do sir?

ECCLES: Fine, fine, fine. I'm the famous Eccles.

CRUN: (Calls) It’s the famous Eccles, Min.

ECCLES: Well, I’d better be getting along now.

CRUN: Oh. Goodnight.

FX: Door closes.

GRAMS: Blizzard sounds fade.

CRUN: What a nice man to come a-visiting on such a night.

BANNISTER: A lovely man Henry.

CRUN: Did you see that beautiful brown paper suit he was wearing?

BANNISTER: I did, Henry – I did. There's a lot of money around these days you know.

CRUN: Yes, yes, there is. There must be. Well, off you go to bed Min. I think I'll keep the ticket office open a little longer just in case there's a sudden rush from the Continent.

BANNISTER: Ok buddy. (Self fade) Yim biddim…

CRUN: (Self fade) You never know…

GRAMS: Blizzard swells. Hold under.

MacGOONIGAL: Ooooooo!

And thro' the night the snow-plough train

was racing down the line.

A lonely spectator who saw it pass

looked up and said...

ECCLES: Fine, fine.

GRAMS: Steam locomotive labouring up incline.

SEAGOON: Gad – race on steel juggernaut! It's a wonder men can live at this speed.

GRYTPYPE: Can't we go any faster?

SEAGOON: Faster? Ha ha – you mad fool. We're doing eight miles an hour now.

GRYTPYPE: Come on – be a devil.

SEAGOON: Right. Stoker?


SEAGOON: Take another twig out of the safe and hurl it on the furnace.

THROAT: Right.

SEAGOON: Now, what's the steam boiler pressure?

THROAT: Ninety eight degrees.

SEAGOON: Right – run my bath.

MORIARTY: Don't be a fool! This is no time to take a bath! It's getting late.[10]

SEAGOON: Nonsense – plenty of time. According to the hairs on my wrist it's only half past ten.

GRYTPYPE: (incredulous) The hairs on your wrist say half past ten?


GRYTPYPE: You must be mad.


GRYTPYPE: The hairs on my wrist say eleven-thirty.

SEAGOON: Still time for a bath and Max Geldray!


MAX GELDRAY – “One, Two Button my Shoe” [11]


ORCHESTRA: Return to the story link.

GRAMS: Train chugging through the driving blizzard.

SEAGOON: As I sat having my bath in the back of the snow-plough, a foul trick was played.

GRYTPYPE: Hands up, Neddie. Drop that soap! Moriarty, tie his hands then hide them where he can't find them.

SEAGOON: What a fiendish move! You naughty men – I'll write to The Times about this…  

FX: Furious pen scratching on paper.

SEAGOON: Dear Sir - I wish to complain about an outbreak of hand-tying on snow-ploughs whilst taking hip baths.

GRYTPYPE: (furious) Give me that letter – you'll not send that. Now then lad…

FX: Furious writing.

GRYTPYPE: Dear sir, today I heard the first cuckoo. There – sign that.

FX: Pen.

SEAGOON: You swine!

GRYTPYPE: Good. Moriarty, post it. That'll put them off the perfume.

MORIARTY: Yes. I'll just tie his hands again.[12] (Effort) Argh – there.

GRYTPYPE: Good. Now cut the knot off so he can't untie it.


SEAGOON: Steady with those scissors. OOOW!

MORIARTY: Here – put it in your pocket. Now together – one… two…

SEAGOON: (Hurriedly) No, don't throw me out.


SEAGOON: (Self fade) Heeeeeeeelp!!!

GRAMS: Burst of steam. Rattle of railway carriages going into distance.

SEAGOON: Ahem. I lay gasping on the railway bank. With the knot of my bonds in Grytpype-Thynne's pocket it looked pretty hopeless for me.

ORCHESTRA: Bass drum playing marching rhythm.

BLOODNOK: (Approaching) Ooo ooh, ooh oh! I say, I say – have you seen a band go this way?

SEAGOON: No. I'm sorry – I've only just arrived here.

BLOODNOK: I must find them! They might be playing a different tune from me by now. Wait a minute… I know you! Aren't you Neddie Seagoon, the singing dwarf and current number one with the Grades?[13]

SEAGOON: If you put it that way I am. And you – aren't you the blackguard embezzler, no-good soak and layabout, Denis Bloodnok?

BLOODNOK: If you put it that way – I am. And what are you doing here?

SEAGOON: I've just been thrown off a train.

BLOODNOK: Any decent driver would have done the same!

SEAGOON: If my hands weren't tied I'd strike you down with my mackerel pie and thunder straw.

BLOODNOK: Your hands are tied?



SEAGOON: Bloodnok, take your hands off my wallet!

BLOODNOK & BASS DRUM: (going off – march rhythm as before) Three pound ten - four pound, four pound ten…

SEAGOON: Come back with my wallet! The devil, he's gone. Thank heaven he didn't find my money belt.

GRAMS: Huge whoosh.

BLOODNOK: Aeioughh.

SEAGOON: Take your hands off my money belt!

BLOODNOK & BASS DRUM: (Quick exit – march rhythm as before) Ten…. Merry Christmas.

SEAGOON: The devil – taken all the money I stole from the kiddies' bank. But time was wasting. I had to warn the approaching Hastings Flyer of the plot to derail her. So thinking, I stumbled forwards through the blizzard. I made a pair of snow shoes but the heat of my feet melted them. Suddenly, from a nearby frozen pool I heard...

GRAMS: Splash. Trudgeon stroke.

ECCLES:(Distant - singing) In the good old summer time –

in the good old summer time.

I love swimming the _____ [14]

SEAGOON: I say, you with the concrete underpants, don't you feel cold in there?

ECCLES: (Distant) Nope. I got my overcoat on.

SEAGOON: Listen, I've got to get to Pevensey Bay Station as soon as possible.

GRAMS: Splashes. [15]

ECCLES: Oo. You’d better get there as soon as possible. I'm the famous Eccles.

SEAGOON: I don’t wish to know that. HEY! That tricycle against the wall – whose is it?

ECCLES: Mine – a present from an admirer.

SEAGOON: Could you drive me to town on it?

ECCLES: Oh, the tricycle isn't mine. The wall was the present.

SEAGOON: Well, drive me there on that.

ECCLES: Right – hold tight.

GRAMS: Cranking noises. Combustion engine. Fire bell. Steam whistles Rolling stock wheels going over points. All sped up to maximum. Fade into distance.

GREENSLADE: The sound you are hearing is Neddie and Eccles driving a wall at speed. We thought you ought to know. Meantime, at Pevensey Bay station.

FX: Phone rings. Phone off hook.

CRUN: Hello, Pevensey Bay station here.

GRAMS: High speed recording of Milligan gibberish.

CRUN: I'm sorry, he's not in.

FX: Phone down. Door opens.

GRAMS: Blizzard up.

FX: Door closes.

GRAMS: Blizzard out.

SEAGOON: (gasping) Mr. Crun – has the snow-plough been through yet?

CRUN: No, I’ve had the door locked all day.[16]

SEAGOON: Thank yuckabakkakas, we're still in time. First I must get these bonds untied. Have you got a knot?

CRUN: Yes, several.

SEAGOON: Quick, glue one onto my bonds then untie them.

GREENSLADE: Listeners, as knot-gluing and untying has no audible sound we suggest you make your own – within reason, that is.

GRAMS: Fred the Oyster.[17]

SEAGOON: I knew someone would spoil it. But now my hands were free – now for action.

CRUN: What is all this about, may I ask?

SEAGOON: Shhh, listen! What's that noise?

GRAMS: Train pulling into station. Play slightly faster than normal speed.

SEAGOON: It is! It is!

CRUN: It's the snow-plough come to clear the line!

SEAGOON: No! The two men on that snow-plough are train robbers. We must stop them!

CRUN: Don’t you worry, nickey-nickey noo! The moment they step through that door I shall let them have it with this leather blunderbuss.

FX: Knock on door.

CRUN: (Panic) Eryergh!

SEAGOON: (Whispered) It's them. (Aloud) Ahem. Come in, nice men.

FX: Door opens.

GRAMS: Cannon shot.

FX: Drop huge load of cutlery and metal oddments.

BLUEBOTTLE: You rotten swines you!!! What are you trying to do to Blunebontle? I was walking along collecting numbers like a happy boy train spotter when BLUNGE! There was a blinding flash – I reeled backwards clutching my forehead – I looked down and my knees had gone! You swines you!

SEAGOON: Little cross-eyed hairless pipe-cleaner, were you followed up the platform by two men?

BLUEBOTTLE: I'm not going to tell you, shooting at me like that.

SEAGOON: Come, come now,  little two-stone Hercules. Tell me… tell me if you saw two men and you can have this quarter of dolly mixtures.

BLUEBOTTLE: Cor, dolly mixtures! Thinks – with those-type sweets I could influence certain girls at playtime. That Brenda Pugh might be another Rita Hayworth.[18]

SEAGOON: Then you'll tell me?

BLUEBOTTLE: YES! I saw the two nice mens walking up the line towards the signal box, yes.

SEAGOON: We must stop them! But we'll pause first to hear Ray Ellington.


RAY ELLINGTON – “I Want You To Be My Baby” [19]


GREENSLADE: Well now, we rejoin 'The Great Pevensey Bay Disaster’ inside the signal box west of Pevensey Bay station, which will play a vitally unimportant part in the story.

GRAMS: Blizzard.

WILLIUM: (Snoring) Zzzzzzz… mate.

FX: Phone bell rings.

WILLIUM: Oh struth! Cor stone-the-blind-crows-stones, mate.

FX: phone bell rings.

WILLIUM: Oow! Ooooow! Oooow! What’s that, mate?

FX: Phone rings.

WILLIUM: Oooh! It's the talking telephone a-ringing, mate.

FX: Phone rings.

WILLIUM: Oh! There it goes again, mate…

FX: Phone rings.

WILLIUM: …and again! And unless I'm mistooked, it's a-going to go…

FX: Phone rings.

WILLIUM: …again mate.

FX: Phone off hook.

WILLIUM: Hello, hello – Pevensey Bay signal box man here, mate.

SEAGOON: (On phone) Listen mate, put the signals to danger. Stop the Hasting Flyer!

WILLIUM: Oh. Well I'll do that mate…

FX: Blackjack on punching bag.

WILLIUM: (Agony) Owaowah owwhaooo, mate!

SEAGOON: (On phone) Hello, hello? Hello, hello mate? Hello, hello mate – mate hello!

FX: Phone down.

GRYTPYPE: All very nicely done, Moriarty mate. Now let’s see – there's a bridge to the right? Good. Take these sticks of dynamite, place them in the centre of the span, run the wires back here, and when the Hastings Flyer comes across, we just press the plunger.

MORIARTY: Hie hou ha ha ha! Aha hei hou hou! Then the money… The bullion van… Hie hou ha ha ha! Money!

GRYTPYPE & MORIARTY: (Singing) April in Paree!

                                                  We’ve found a charlie….[20] (Self fade)

FX: Jiggling phone hook to make connection.

SEAGOON: (Fade in) Hello, signal box! Hello, hello signal box! He's hung up.

ECCLES: We'd better go and cut him down.

SEAGOON: You're right. Eccles, get your wall started.


BLUEBOTTLE: What about me, Captain? Can't I come in this game?

SEAGOON: Yes – only an idiot would leave you behind.

ECCLES: (Distant) Leave him behind!

SEAGOON: Silence, the famous Eccles!

ECCLES: Silence, the famous Eccles.

SEAGOON: Bluebottle – take this photograph of a red flag, go and stand on the bridge near the signal box and if the Hastings Flyer approaches, stop it at all costs!

BLUEBOTTLE: Oh good! I will… I will be a hero! My picture will be in the East Finchley Chronics.[21] 'Boy hero Bluebottles Saves Train from Crashing.'[22] Heioughei! Here, that will make that Muriel Bates run after me, but I will play hard to get. “I'm sorry Miss Bates. Shall I tell you that I am a busy boy hero. I have certain matters to attend to. D’you know that I have to be photographed with Sabrina.”[23] He-he, yes! That is what I'll say – yes. Here, (thinks) – that Sabrina’s a nice big…

SEAGOON: Here Bluebottle, stop those thinks! (Thinks, he’s right though – that Sabrina is a fine lady… )

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes – he he! I’d better start wearing long trousers soon.

SEAGOON: Thinks… It’s about time I started wearing them too. Ahem.

BANNISTER: Oooh, Mister Secrune, don't leave us alone with those two train robbers about. We'll all be murdered in our long trousers.

SEAGOON: Don't worry, Miss Bannister. Here, take this copy of the Nursing Mother. If you're attacked don't hesitate to use it.

BANNISTER: Oooh! Safe at last. Oooooo…

SEAGOON: My dear madam, with your face you'd be safe in Portsmouth on pay night.

Come men, we must hurry! The hairs on my wrist say it's quarter to needle nardle noo.

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes, forward to the bridge.

ORCHESTRA: Tatty version of the Boys' Brigade March. Segue into dramatic link.

GRAMS: Blizzard – swell and hold under.

WILLIUM: Ow ow ow! You hit me on me head and tied me up, mates.

MORIARTY: Shut up mates! Sapristi yukkukkukkukkakoo! Grytpype, the hairs on my wrist say it is midnight o'clock, and there’s no signs of the Hastings Flyer!

GRYTPYPE: Steady, frog-eater, steady. Obviously the blizzard has delayed the train.

MORIARTY: Well, I'm not going to wait any longer – my nerves are strained to breaking point.

ORCHESTRA: Pluck guitar string fortissimo.

MORIARTY: There goes one now! I tell you Grytpype, I can’t stand the strain…

GRYTPYPE: Shut up, will you! Shut up! Open your mouth…


GRYTPYPE: Close it.


GRAMS: Grenade explosion.

FX: Drop a handful of ivory dominoes into bucket.

MORIARTY: You swine! My teeth! You put a grenade in my mouth… All my choppers have gone! My teeth…

GRYTPYPE: Napoleonic swine! Frog-eating fiend – now control yourself.

ORCHESTRA: Bass drum playing marching rhythm in distance.

BLOODNOK: (Distant) Oh ohohhhao…

GRYTPYPE: Great goose hooks! Look, it's a military gentleman walking up the line, banging a drum.

MORIARTY: You English are so musical.

GRYTPYPE: Yes, the woods are full of them, you know. Now let's sit quietly and wait for the Hastings Flyer.

MORIARTY: (Self fade) But my teeth! I must have my teeth!

GRAMS: Blizzard up. Then under.

BLUEBOTTLE: Captain, captain! Look what I found in the bridge.

SEAGOON: Dynamite! Thank heavens you found it.

BLUEBOTTLE: Thank you, heavens.

SEAGOON: Good. Now put it somewhere for safety.

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes, I will. Moves right, puts dreaded dynamite under signal box for safety. Does not notice dreaded wires leading to plunger in signal cabin. Thinks – I'm in for the dreaded deading alright this week alright.

SEAGOON: Men, our two train robbers are up in that signal cabin. Eccles, you go up the line and try to stop the Hastings Flyer. I'll try and put the signals to danger.


SEAGOON: Bluebottle, you keep me covered with this photograph of a gun. Right – let's go in!

FX: Door opens.

SEAGOON: Hands up!

GRYTPYPE: So Neddie, you managed to get your hands free.

SEAGOON: Yes – they never cost me a penny, thanks to the National Health! [24]

GRAMS: Distant train whistle.

MORIARTY: Listen! It's the Hastings Flyer with all the money on board. Oh, we’ve been foiled!

SEAGOON: Yes! I've got to stop it or it'll crash into the snow plough at Pevensey Bay station.

GRYTPYPE: Oh, er – look, you can easily stop it. Just press this little plunger with the wires leading out the window.

SEAGOON: Right. (Effort) Ugh!

GRYTPYPE: (aside) There goes the bridge, Moriarty...

GRAMS: Tremendous explosion.

FX: Drop a load of off-cuts, bricks and assorted rubbish onto hard surface.

BLUEBOTTLE: (Distant) You rotten swine you! You’ve deaded Bottle again.

GREENSLADE: Yes, they were all deaded. But who got the money in the bullion van from the Hastings Flyer?

BLOODNOK & BASS DRUM: (Marching rhythm fading into distance.) Ohh! I’m in....

ORCHESTRA: End theme.

GREENSLADE: That was The Goon Show – a BBC recorded programme featuring Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan with the Ray Ellington Quartet and Max Geldray. The orchestra was conducted by Wally Stott. Script by Spike Milligan. Announcer: Wallace Greenslade. The programme produced by Peter Eton.




[1] At 1.15pm on Sunday 20th November 1955, the driver of the Britannia Pacific 70026 ‘Polar Star’, hauling ten coaches from Treherbert, South Wales to Paddington, failed to notice a low speed crossover signal just west of Didcot on the line to Swindon. The engine jumped the tracks and rolled violently down an embankment, dragging seven of the carriages with it, killing eleven passengers and injuring 157. By an extraordinary co-incidence, the Goon Show recorded that night at the Camden Theatre concerned a railway disaster. Aghast, the Corporation hastily arranged for the episode ‘China Story’ (17/5th) to be broadcast two days later instead of the recorded show, re-performed an amended version of the script a month later (‘The Hastings Flyer – Robbed!’), and relegated this recording of the original script to the 3rd of April the following year, two weeks after the end of the sixth series.


[2] Our Gracie’ refers to Gracie Fields (1898-1979), British actress, singer and comedienne, born Grace Stansfield above a fish and chip shop in a back laneway of Rochdale, Lancashire. An unashamed ‘northerner’, her talent, good humour, ability to self parody and natural audience rapport made her one of Great Britain’s best loved artists between the wars. During the 30’s she became the world’s highest paid star – her shows, films and appearances guaranteed sell-outs, and her recordings guaranteed hits. Milligan had a strange attitude to her – he loathed her style of Lancashire humour, her strident voice and the public she attracted, but seemed to be grudgingly fond of her cheerfulness and practicality, particularly during the War. Fields had released the recording ‘Isle of Capri(by Grosz and Kennedy) in October of 1934. By the time this show was recorded, her star was well and truly set.     


[3] Sellers. William Topaz McGonagall (1825-1902) was a Scottish poet of such appalling talent that ‘he backed unwittingly into genius.’ Milligan developed a great fondness for his verses, often imitating his weak vocabulary, inappropriate imagery and clumsy rhythms with Goonish verses of his own.


[4] Therefore Milligan was setting this episode prior to 1st January 1948, when the railways were nationalised by the labour government of Clement Atlee.


[5] Pevensey, in East Sussex on the southern coast of Great Britain, played a vital part in Milligan’s early adult life. It was near here that he joined the 56th Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery in 1940 as a young recruit, breaking free of his family for the first time, finding lifelong friendships, became addicted to jazz, and the ability to write off-the-wall humour. Although his regiment was stationed at Bexhill On Sea, the four towns Hastings, Bexhill, Pevensey and Hailsham, (a suburb of Eastbourne) all featured heavily in the first book of his war memoirs. He first refers to Pevensey as an observation post, preferred by most of the soldiers because the ‘birds were easier to lay, but you had to be quick because of the tides’. (Adolf Hitler; My Part in His Downfall – Michael Joseph, p 36)


[6] Milligan often puts these quasi Yiddish-isms into the mouth of his London Jews. The closest word to what Lew (a parody on Lew Grade) says is ‘schlepper’ which means a ‘sponger, panhandler, hanger-on or free-loader.’


[7] Milligan gives him a raspberry at this point. Secombe giggles and says: “What about the working class?” repeats his lead line, and continues.


[8] After laying the foundations of the modern welfare state in the early 20th century, the Liberal party under Lloyd George and Asquith had torn itself to shreds prior to WWII due to factional disputes and ill-made alliances. In the 1935 general election the party was reduced to just 21 MPs. By the end of the war, there was cautious optimism in Liberal circles that the nation’s mood for reconstruction would serve them well, however it was Labour that benefited the most from the radical zeal of the electorate. The party’s leadership was wiped out in the following election and the urban representation disappeared. When in 1950 the party was able to secure only nine seats, reduced by 1957 to just five, the outlook did indeed look bleak.

[9] Originally appearing in a work by the Hungarian composer Alphons Czibulka (1842-1894), the theme was adapted and arranged by the American composer Theodore Moses-Tobani in 1899 as a violin solo. It was traditionally used as background music in silent films at moments of cloying sweetness.


[10] Another Milliganism. Bathing in a moving vehicle was a tantalising piece of nonsense that appealed to Milligan. Many great Goon Show scenes involve baths moving at speed - eg: “Moriarty, start the ladder and balance that bath on top.” (Christmas Carole - 1/10th), “There at the other end of the lifeboat was a – gas stove!”… (Knocking on metal door) MORIARTY: “Just a moment please. I’m in ze bath!” (The Batter-Pudding Hurler of Bexhill On Sea – 3/5th), “Bicycling rapidly to Victoria Coach Station, Seagoon hired a self-drive charabanc with anti-spy hook and forced-jet salami gun… SEAGOON: Driver!? BLOODNOK: (Off) What do you want? I’m in the bath.”  (The Tuscan Salami Scandal – 23/6th).


[11] A jazz standard famously often associated with Billie Holliday. No two references can agree on the writers, but the names include Charles Tobias, Johnny Burke, Paul Rusincky while the music was composed by Arthur Johnston.  The number first appeared in the film “Pennies From Heaven” (1936) starring Bing Crosby, Madge Evans and Louis Armstrong, and was subsequently recorded by many of the greatest artists of the time, including an early 1937 version by Henry Hall conducting the BBC Dance Orchestra. Many listings of the number refer to it as “One, two, buckle my Shoe,” but the original verb is “button” refering to the buttons on the outside edge of spats which were commonly worn by snappy male dressers during the jazz era.

[12] A self-reflexive joke. I believe Milligan was making fun of his own script. He had Seagoon write to the Times complaining about an outbreak of hand tying, whilst his hands were tied. Spike loved testing the intelligence of his audiences and  the patience of his audiences.


[13] Secombe was a popular act with Lew Grade. Expanding his theatrical enterprises in 1954 to television, Grade’s consortium of backers had formed Associated TeleVision the previous year, of which Grade was deputy managing director under Val Parnell.  Secombe often appeared on Grade’s circuits, both theatrical and broadcasting.


[14] Eccles is singing a version of the Tin Pan Alley song ‘In the Good Old Summer Time’ written by Evans and Shields and first published in 1902. The final line is Eccles’ own composition and ends indecipherably.


[15] This is conjecture. As Milligan speaks, an off-mic sound effect occurs almost simultaneously.

[16] Another Milliganism was the concept of vehicles (in this case trains) running through houses. An example of ‘transference of utility’ it seems to have been based on the concept of habitations; a town is where you live; a train runs through the town; a house is where you live; therefore a train can run through your house. The most notable examples in the Goon canon are the trains in “Yehti” (24/5th);


SEAGOON: Mr. Crun, a train just ran through your cellar.

CRUN: A train? My goodness, what time is it?

SEAGOON: Twelve fifty-six.

CRUN: Ooh quick! Open that door!

FX: Door Opens.

GRAMS: Train Whistle. Fast train passes.

CRUN: The mails must go through!


and shipping in “The Africa Ship Canal” (22/7th)


BLOODNOK: What! Well if you think I'm going to run downstairs and open the door

every time a ship wants to come through, you're barmy.


An extension of this utility is the aeroplane that fails to get airborne due to its obedience of city traffic rules. This is found in “Wings Over Dagenham” (15/7th).


[17] ‘Fred the Oyster’ was a grams insert that was concocted for ‘The Sinking of Westminster Pier’ (21/5th) and made regular appearances from then on in the shows. A fantastically long raspberry with various distortions, it was, said Milligan “…made up for me out of three or four donkey farts played slowly, then speedily and edited.”


[18] Rita Hayworth (1918-1987), dancer, actress and model, was the pin-up girl for servicemen in WWII and a beauty icon for women. Considered the quintessential sex goddess of her age, she made 61 films, endured five abusive marriages and never won an academy award.


[19] Written by the astonishingly talented American jazz lyricist and vocalist Jon Hendricks (1921 - ), the song was picked up first in 1952 by Louis Jordan, then covered in 1955 by the diamond-in-the-rough voice of Lillian Briggs who scored a #18 on the Billboard charts with her version. Hendricks went on to form the vocal group ‘Lambert, Hendricks and Ross’, releasing a library of legendary recordings built on their extraordinary vocal discipline and jazz improvisational techniques. Hendricks went on to become known as ‘the James Joyce of lyricists’ and became the first American jazz artist to teach at the Sorbonne in Paris.


[20] Originating from the 1932 Broadway musical ‘Walk a Little Faster’, by Duke and Harburg, Grytpype and Moriarty were getting into the habit of singing it in moments of triumph, often – as in this case, altering the second line.


[21] East Finchley gained a certain notoriety from the Goon Show, associated as it always was with Bluebottle and his Mum and her oft-mentioned drawers. Peters Sellers lived for a long time at 211b High Street, East Finchley with his mum, but that was probably a co-incidence.


[22] This subject often appeared in ‘Boys Own Annuals’ from the early part of the century – a young lad stopping a country train from certain disaster, usually unaided or with a faithful hound, and was a common story on both sides of the Atlantic. As late as the 1950’s, Rin-Tin-Tin was involved in a similar plot on his newly recreated TV show.


[23] The sixth series became ‘Sabrina Country’ as the happily married Spike Milligan quietly steamed with forbidden passion for this talented young miss (born 1936 and originally named Norma Sykes), from Stockport, Cheshire.  Known for nothing else except her looks, figure and Miltonesque name given to her by Arthur Askey, whose dumb blonde sidekick she played in the 1955 ITV series ‘Before Your Very Eyes’, she is referred to in episodes 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23 and 24 of the sixth series. By the next series, Spike had gone through some sort of sexual withdrawal, as she was mentioned only twice.

[24] The greatest legacy of the war for all Britons was the creation of the National Health Service, established by the Labour Government to provide the first system of medical care, free at point of need, there had been in any

Western democracy. When the NHS opened for business that July morning in 1948, there was a flood of people to surgeries, hospitals and chemists. Within 15 months 5.25 million pairs of free spectacles had been distributed, 187 million free prescriptions had been dispensed, and 8.5 million people had received free dental treatment. Most effected were working class women, children and the elderly who had never qualified for the previous system of health insurance. Remarks like this one, were commonly heard in Britain even a decade after its unveiling, and complemented the many moving accounts of the queues of unwell, impoverished people surging forward for treatment in the early days of the scheme, not as beggars, but as citizens with a due sense of self respect.