BROADCAST: 29 Nov 1955 [1]


Script by Spike Milligan


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service.


ORCHESTRA: Thin chord in C. Cymbal snap.

GREENSLADE: What a beautiful melody.

SEAGOON: Glad you like it, Mister Greensleeves. It's the start of my great new Symphony Number Eight. [2]

GREENSLADE: Beautiful!

SEAGOON: Yes. Play it again lads.

ORCHESTRA: As before.

SEAGOON: Thank you lads. You'll be pleased to note that I also wrote "The Blue Danube Waltz."

GREENSLADE: And what about Johann Strauss? [3]

SEAGOON: Yes, I wrote that as well. But enough of me – and believe me there is enough of me. (Laughs) HAHAHA! Ahem. Listen now to the tale of "The Lost Colony."

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic introduction.

SELLERS: It was the spring of nineteen krid-naught hundred and thews. The place – the Karl Marx room at the Athenaeum Club in Commercial Road.[4] Inside were gathered important men, men of letters – letters like, "Dear Sir, my daughter tells me..." In one corner of a room, surrounded by a friend was Sir Neddie Seagoon, Master at Arms, Doctor of Legs, and Stoke-Newington twit. They are listening to the wireless set.

GRAMS: Recording: MILLIGAN: (Maniacal laughter) Ooh hahahaie! Oohh

                              hahahahaaaie! Oooh…

                              FX: Single gunshot.

GREENSLADE: You have just heard the Right Honourable R.A. Butler on the financial prospects for the coming year.[5]

SEAGOON: Well, well, well. Well, as I was saying, I said, “Sir Bernard, why not tie a gold plated Rolls Royce round her neck and throw her off Beachy Head?” [6]

LORD KNEES: Why did you say that?

SEAGOON: I haven’t the slightest idea.

LORD CRINGINGNUT: I say, do you always make rash statements?

SEAGOON: Only to people with rashes. The woods are full of them you know.


SEAGOON: Trees. (Laughs) HAHAHAHAHA! Trees! Woods are full of trees. A-hem. Well I think I'll nip down to the stock exchange and buy a few thousand shares in plastic and twill dustbins.

LORD KNEES: It's all right you buying these magnificent simulation shares, Seagoon, but what about the Empire? – it's falling to pieces old man.

SEAGOON: Gad yes Lord Knees, you're right. The Empire is in a state. (Declaims) Oh cruel fate of a fallen giant…

GRYTPYPE: (Approaching) Pardon me, sir, I couldn't help overhearing what you said.

SEAGOON: Why not?

GRYTPYPE: You're so blasted noisy.

SEAGOON: Steady, flunky. Who are you?

GRYTPYPE: My card.

SEAGOON: McCard. A Scotsman, eh? Hmm... Oh! Your card – I see. Mister Hercules Grytpype-Thynne, professional patriot, reasonable fees, will travel anywhere, own Union Jack, naked for pantomime.

GRYTPYPE: I can help you gentlemen reclaim portions of the Empire.

SEAGOON: Whitechapel?

GRYTPYPE: Yes, even that. But gentlemen of the Athenaeum Club, we shall need funds. Money!

GRAMS: Boots running away.

FX: Distant door slams.

SEAGOON: The cowards! They've all run away. I stayed… Good job you grabbed me.

GRYTPYPE: Good man. Now Lord Seagoon, I've been told that you have certain monies.

SEAGOON: Money? Me? (Laughs) Hehehehe! Rubbish!

GRYTPYPE: Empty your pockets.

FX: Drop a load of odds and ends.

GRYTPYPE: You're right – it is rubbish. One piece of brown string, eleven pence in notes, a Mickey Mouse watch,[7] remains of a small boiled chicken, a life sized statue of Sabrina [8] and a key.

SEAGOON: That's the key to my uncle's safe.

GRYTPYPE: A safe? Moriarty!

FX: Coconut shells approaching.

MORIARTY: Yes, yes?

GRYTPYPE: Wax impression.

SEAGOON: Wait! Who is this steaming French wreck?

MORIARTY: Sapristi nyuckles! [9] Have you never heard of the Champs Élysées?

SEAGOON: Yes. Why?

MORIARTY: My mother! – better known to you as Montmartre. You insult me – we must fight a duel. Take this pistol.

SEAGOON: I warn you, I never miss.

MORIARTY: Nor I. "One Shot" Moriarty they call me. Now back to back, (self fade) three paces and then we fire, monsieur.

FX: Boots on gravel; three footsteps. Pistol shot. Pause. Second pistol shot. Pause. Third pistol shot.

SEAGOON: (distant) Shall we reload?

MORIARTY: Thank you – (they wish to know that), no! But I accept your apology.

GRYTPYPE: Are you still interested in the Empire, Neddie?

SEAGOON: Gad, yes. I'd give anything to see the Union Jack flying over Grosvenor Square – piloted by an Englishman, of course.

GRYTPYPE: Neddie, let me tell you a tale. In sixteen twenty-six a Dutchman bought the land on which New York now stands from a Red Indian for a few paltry trinkets.

SEAGOON: What were they?

GRYTPYPE: A piece of brown string, eleven pence in notes, a Mickey Mouse watch, remains of a small boiled chicken and a life-sized statue of Sabrina.

SEAGOON: The very things I had in my pocket!

GRYTPYPE: Yes, it means Neddie that you are a direct descendant of the red Indian who sold the land.

SEAGOON: What?! You mean, my ancestors owned New York?

GRYTPYPE: Yes, and you know what New York is worth today?

SEAGOON: Forty thousand million billion dollars.

GRYTPYPE: Correct. How did you know?

SEAGOON: Just a shot in the dark.

MORIARTY: Forty thousand million billion dollars? That money must be worth a fortune!

SEAGOON: Well, to think that they sold all that for a piece of brown string, eleven pence in notes, a Mickey Mouse watch, remains of a small boiled chicken, a life sized…

GRYTPYPE: Yes, yes, yes, but what you don't know is that the man who bought New York in sixteen twenty-six has since died.



MORIARTY: Yes, and furthermore Neddie, he died without any heirs.

SEAGOON: He died bald?

MORIARTY: Yes, but only from the waist up.


GRYTPYPE: Well said.

SEAGOON: Yes it was, wasn't it?

GRYTPYPE: Neddie, (and this is most significant), it has been discovered that the sale of New York was illegal.

SEAGOON: GAD! There, I said it well again.

GRYTPYPE: Yes. It all means, of course, that New York really belongs to you.

SEAGOON: Me? Then I must be a Red Indian!

GRYTPYPE: That's it, Neddie. I'll prove it to you. Put your finger in your cake hole and wobble it about.

SEAGOON: (Indian war-whoops.) OoOoOoOoOo!

GRYTPYPE: There, you speak the language fluently.

SEAGOON: Yes, I do. (Louder war-whoop.) OoOoOoOoOo!

GRYTPYPE: Ha ha ha! No swearing yet.

SEAGOON: Now, what next?

GRYTPYPE: Well, you must dress like an Indian. Take off those Welsh goatskins and wash the woad off.

SEAGOON: Yes, all right! Ha ha! Oh, watch the old tenor’s...

FX: Drop bits of cutlery one by one onto floor.

SEAGOON: Oh there it is – the old tenor’s friend.[10] Gad, I say, this is fun! Ha ha! Whoop! There, down to my birthday suit.

MORIARTY: No man can look like that and live!

GRYTPYPE: Right, now stick this feather behind your ear and put on this Indian loin cloth.

SEAGOON: (Attempts Indian war-whoop) Aaaghaagh! (Sudden stabbing pain) Ooo! Come on! Who's the joker who put a thistle in it?

MORIARTY: Tell me little Neddie, can you paddle a zinc bathtub?

SEAGOON: Like a native.

MORIARTY: Good! You are going to make the cheapest Atlantic crossing to America ever.

SEAGOON: Not before I've heard Max Geldray play his leather ear-ack and graphite dog beard!

MORIARTY: Well said.


MAX GELDRAY - “Baia” [11]


GREENSLADE: That was Mister Max Geldray. Mister Geldray is always well supplied with work by his agents. In fact his bank balance now stands at four-hundred and eighty pounds in bright red letters. Now, we return you to the story ‘The Lost Colony’.

ORCHESTRA: Nautical theme.

GRAMS: Ocean sounds. Oars in water, distant waves on beach.

SEAGOON: Yes, I paddled my zinc bath towards my rightful heritage. After a mere thirteen months I entered the harbour of New York and pulled into the quay. I was given an ovation. I still have it on my mantelpiece to this day.

GRYTPYPE: (Aside) What Neddie didn't know was an American company, the makers of Filth Muck the detergent with the lead bubbles, had offered a prize of twenty dollars to the first idiot to cross the Atlantic in a zinc bath dressed as a Red Indian.[12]

SEAGOON: As I lay in hospital recovering from my trip, the phone rang…

FX: Foghorn.

SEAGOON: … in American.

FX: Phone rings. Snatched up.

SEAGOON: Hello, Grytpype?

GRYTPYPE: (On phone) Yes – but how did you know it was me before I spoke?

SEAGOON: Well, you're so tall...

GRYTPYPE: (On phone) So I am. But you too can be tall, Neddie. Buy my book, "How to be Three Inches Taller."

SEAGOON: Then what?

GRYTPYPE: (As before) Stand on it.

SEAGOON: Never mind those subtle jokes. What about New York, ehi? When do I get it? (Becoming overexcited) When do I, ehi, ehi, ehi? My heritage – when do I get it? Ha, ha, ha, ha!

GRYTPYPE: Yes, well you see there's been a bit of a brouhaha, Neddie.

SEAGOON: What what what what what what what what?

GRYTPYPE: Well, America it appears won't give up New York to anybody without a legal tussle.

SEAGOON: But I haven't got a legal tussle. My folks were poor!

GRYTPYPE: Never mind Neddie, the woods are full of them. But first I must get you an astute lawyer. Anyway, meantime you must disguise yourself as a beaver, swim cautiously up the Hudson, at all times keeping in touch by telephone.


GRAMS: Large splash. Swimmer disappearing into distance.

SEAGOON: I struck out with my powerful trudgeon stroke. By dawn of the needle nardle noo I had reached the Indian reservation of Standing Room Only!

BLOODNOK:[13] Aieargh ai-oh-ergh. Aaahhh… (War whoops) OoOoOoOoOo-arghh! Minnie-ha-ha, Little Bull, Big bull, Hiawatha and other Indian layabouts.[14]

SEAGOON: (War whoops) OoOoOoOoOo!

BLOODNOK: (War whoops) OoOoOoOoOo-ahh arghh!

SEAGOON: Are you really a Red Indian?

BLOODNOK: What? Yes, yes.

SEAGOON: Are you really a Red Indian?

BLOODNOK: Yes-I, yes-I, I am. Yes.

SEAGOON: Then why does the red keep coming off your skin?

BLOODNOK: I'm anaemic, that's why. (War whoops) Aaarrgh OoOoOoOoOo! Now Grytpype tells me you want an Indian birth certificate.

SEAGOON: I do I do. (War whoops) OoOoOoOoOo!

BLOODNOK: (War whoops) Awwwaawarghhhaa! Now, let's commence the mystical initiation ceremony. Chief Trouble-iz?

CHIEF TROUBLE-IZ:[15] Me here. You call? Needle-nardle-noo.

BLOODNOK: Start playing the ancient tom-tom.


ORCHESTRA: Flute solo. ‘Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son’.

BLOODNOK: Hey! That’s not a tom-tom. That’s a piper.

CHIEF TROUBLE-IZ: Yes – that Tom-tom the piper’s son.

BLOODNOK: I don’t wish to know that! Now, play that tom-tom or I’ll cancel your booking with Geraldo tonight. [16]

CHIEF TROUBLE-IZ: I play, cor-blimey.

ORCHESTRA: Tom-tom solo. Fade behind.

BLOODNOK: Aaahh. Oh brave Seagoon, step forward for the mystical initiation ceremony.

SEAGOON: (War whoops) OoOoOoOoOo!

BLOODNOK: (War whoops) Wooarghwoohghaa! Now – place a hundred dollars in the palm of your hand.

SEAGOON: (War whoops) OoOoOoOoOo!

BLOODNOK: Good. Now say after me – “this is your hundred dollars”.

SEAGOON: This is your hundred dollars.

GRAMS: Cash register. Coin in till. Cash drawer slams shut.

BLOODNOK: Ah, the old Jewish piano! Now, give me your wallet, will you? Thank you.

CHIEF TROUBLE-IZ: Look out, Bloodnok man – the police!

BLOODNOK: What! What!

FX: Single set of boots running away.

BLOODNOK: (Into distance) Ohhh arghhhh!

SEAGOON: Oh, it was a sad sight to see the noble red chief running away from the horrors of the white man. But nevertheless, before he had gone he had made me a full-blooded, half-breed, Welsh Red Indian.[17] I was now ready to claim New York! (War whoops) OoOoOoOoOoOoOo!

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic western link – Indian attack.

FX: Gavel on bench.

CYRILL: (Distant) Silence in court! The twenty-fourth court of the Brooklyn district of Manhattan is now in session. The case of Chief Ned Goon versus the United States of America, and I'll lay ten to one this schnorrer[18] gets thrown out on his ear. And now, the court will rise, Judge Foryourself presiding!

JUDGE:[19] Gentlemeeeeeen…(Tambourine trill and snap.) …be seated! Now, is the counsel for Chief Ned Seagoon ready?

BANNISTER & CRUN: (Variously) Yes, we're coming buddy. Oh dear.

JUDGE: C'mon, hurry up then. I've got a robbery to do at three.

CRUN: We have to get the documents you know.

BANNISTER: Must have the documents…

CRUN: Oh yes, the documents have got to be got.

BANNISTER: Yes, bravo Hen.

CRUN: Bravo, Min. You did bring them, Min, didn't you?


CRUN: The documents. You've got to have the documents.

BANNISTER: You've got to get them.

CRUN: You've got to get them, Min. (&c)

SEAGOON: (Narration) This then, was the great legal team, Bannister and Crun, who were to defend my claim. They were said to be the finest lawyers in Rockall.

CRUN: Chief Seagoon. Now what is this case all about?

SEAGOON: I'm a red Indian from Wales from the prairie you see – (War whoops) OoOoOoOoOoOo! … and New York belongs to me.

CRUN: And we're supposed to be defending you?

SEAGOON: Aye aye! (War whoops) OoOoOoOo!

CRUN: Your honour, we plead guilty but insane.

SEAGOON: I'm not insane!

CRUN: I'm not talking about you. I'm pleading guilty but insane. I repeat, we plead insanity.[20]

ECCLES: (Distant) I object!

CRUN: Why?

ECCLES: (Distant) That's my excuse.

CRUN: Who are you?

ECCLES: I'm the famous Eccles.

JUDGE: Oh, stop all this high-fallutin' talking, cor blimey. Chief Seagoon – state what you are claiming.

SEAGOON: I claim that New York belongs to me.

JUDGE: Yeah? New York belongs to you? Man, I sentence you to be deported, or America will leave the country, cor blimey. And to make it worse, I'm going to sing!

CAST: (Various cries of ‘No!’ “Get us out of here!’ etc)


RAY ELLINGTON QUARTET -  "I Love To Ride" [21]


SEAGOON: That night in my cell I sat depressed. For three years I sat in darkness – I kept my eyes closed. But by tapping on the water pipes, I managed to converse with another prisoner.

GRAMS: Recording: Random tapping on pipes – make it sound tentative, add lots of echo. Slight pause. Distant reply on pipes just as tentative with echo.

SEAGOON: In time we got quite friendly and had some quite chatty conversations.

GRAMS: Recording: Tapping on pipes at high speed. Lots of echo.

SEAGOON: For three years he and I communicated by tapping on the water pipes. It was all very silly really – we were both in the same cell. So in time I was paroled. My first thoughts were of revenge against America. I'd blow it up! If only I had a brave friend.

BLUEBOTTLE: I will be your brave friend, my captain. Enter Bluebottle making sign to audience for applause. I'll have to learn some more signs like that.

SEAGOON: Little clever finger manipulator, let me tell you who I am.


SEAGOON: I'm great Red Indian chief Ned Seagoon.

BLUEBOTTLE: What, a Red Indian? Bang-bang, you're dead! I am Indian scout of the plains and prairies, Blunebottle. Bange-bange, you’re dead. You’re now writhing on the ground. It’s all up with you Red Chief devil. I am the fearless lion-hearted Blunebottle, brave killer of Indians. Bang… (Terror) Eiaaaooh! There's a caterpillar crawling up my neck!

SEAGOON: Don’t worry, I’ll get David Attenborough to take it away.[22] Now, little East Finchley cardboard wreck, help me blow up New York and this quarter of dolly mixtures is yours.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ohhohhh! Well, dolly mixtures? Ooiyouhyngying! Thinks – with those type sweets my teacher Miss Gringe will keep me in after school. They think that would be a good game. He he he he!

SEAGOON: Bluebottle – stop those naughty thinks. Give me back those sweets. Now, where did you say this Miss Gringe lives?

BLUEBOTTLE: Oh-oooooo! I will not tell you where Miss Gringe is. You shall not harm a hair on her head.

SEAGOON: Why not?

BLUEBOTTLE: She's bald!

SEAGOON: Come lad, enough of this. New York is to be blown up.

BLUEBOTTLE: I'll go and get a pump.

SEAGOON: With dynamite, lad!

BLUEBOTTLE: Ohhh, ‘ere we go again! I'm frightened to do it alone.

SEAGOON: Oh, if only there was another idiot.

ECCLES: (Singing) Close the door, they're coming through the window,

close the door, they're coming up the stairs,

close the roof, they're coming through the ceiling,


GRAMS: Series of bizarre sound effects at high speed.

ECCLES: (Singing) are everywhere.

SEAGOON: Eccles, help Bluebottle with this dynamite.

ECCLES: Ok, I'll get it onto his back.

BLUEBOTTLE: No, I must not carry that. I'm the superior type brains I have got. You carry it, you're less clever than me.

ECCLES: Oh no I ain't. I'm clever. I got it up here.

BLUEBOTTLE: All right then, we will have a great test of brains. Whoever loses carries the box of dynamite.

ECCLES: Fine, fine, fine. We'll see who's clever.

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes, we will.

ECCLES: We'll see who carries the box.


ECCLES: Go on then. Give me a tricky question.

BLUEBOTTLE: All right then, I will. I'll give you a tricky one. What is one plus one?

ECCLES: (Pause. Sounds of straining.) That's got the box on my back. Hey, wait, wait a minute! You haven't answered a question from me yet.

BLUEBOTTLE: Give me one! My great brain is pounding.

ECCLES: Okay! (Aside) This'll get him, folks. (Normal) Now then – what's the name of the prime minister?

BLUEBOTTLE: Um – Lloyd George. [24]

ECCLES: It's a good job for you knew.

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes, yes I did.

ECCLES: Let that be a lesson to you.

SEAGOON: All right men, enough of this intellectual sparring. Now, take this dynamite down to the New York sewers, and at midnight set it off.

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes, follow me!

ORCHESTRA: Boys Brigade bugle call segue into dramatic link.

SEAGOON: At five to midnight I lay in my penthouse. Five minutes more, and I the red man will have revenged himself! (Maniacal laughter)

GRYTPYPE: Calm down Neddie. You’ve got nothing to worry about – your records are selling well. [25]

SEAGOON: Yes, the woods are full of them. [26]

MORIARTY: (Aside) Grytpype, what is the plan for this Charlie?

GRYTPYPE: Simple, Moriarty. The moment he blows up New York, we take him to the police and get the reward for handing in a felon.

FX: Phone rings


GREENSLADE: (On phone) Hello, Chief Seagoon?

SEAGOON: (War whoops) OoOoOoOoOoOo!

GREENSLADE: (On phone) Good. British Consul, Washington here.

SEAGOON: How do you do Mr Washington?

GREENSLADE: (On phone) Oh, fine, Jim. Fine, fine, thank you very much, Jim. Now, on the point of law, the United States government have discovered that you were right, and that New York is yours. Therefore, they have decided to give it to you.

SEAGOON: What? I'm rich! Rich! I'm rich… No! No, wait, wait!

FX: Frantic attempts to make phone connection.

SEAGOON: Hello? Get me Bluebottle! Bluebottle! Bluebottle, don't light the fuse under...

GRAMS: Enormous series of explosions. Collapsing masonry, bricks falling.[27]

GREENSLADE: Listeners will be relieved to learn that what they are hearing is not really New York being blown up. It is a recording special made to simulate the sound of New York being blown up. For this, a life size replica of New York was built at Wanstead and blown up. And all this, just for one pound a year! [28]

ORCHESTRA: Violin solo, “Hearts and Flowers”.

SEAGOON: Alas, New York all destroyed. Wait – what is this little blackened twig lying prostrate in the gutter? I'll pick it up.

BLUEBOTTLE: Put me down you rotten swine you. You have deaded me. I'm shattered and my beautiful cardboard sailor hat is all singed.

SEAGOON: Rest in pieces, little nurk. Your lot is better than mine. I, who have wilfully destroyed New York. New York, worth… Let me see – I've got it here on a piece of paper; four billion, three million, eight thousand, nine hundred and sixty-four dollars and sixteen cents. Now look at it – a blackened ruin!

CHIEF TROUBLE-IZ: Hmm. Me buyum. Me by wasteland, cor blimey.

SEAGOON: A Red Indian! Er… what'll you give me for it? Ten dollars? Fifty dollars?

CHIEF TROUBLE-IZ: Nope. Me give you (and I quote early part of show) – a piece of string, eleven pence in notes, a Mickey Mouse watch, some boiled chicken...

SEAGOON: (Screaming) Oh no! No! No!

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.

ORCHESTRA: Theme up and out. Playout.




[1] Confusingly, many of the Goon Shows carry twin titles, with the announced title at variance with the episode title. In the case of this show, both titles relate to American historical tales. In 1625 Dutch fur trading settlements along the Hudson river began construction of a defence structure named Fort Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, making their appropriation of native land legal the following year by ‘purchasing’ the land from a local tribe for trade goods to the value of 60 guilders. The actual items are listed in a letter to the directors of the East India Company dated November 1626; they include a duffel, cauldrons, axes, hoes, awls, Jews’ harps and wampum (currency-beads.) What gives the story relevance in the 50’s was that the US Congress had instituted a Commission in 1946 to adjudicate Native Americans’ claims against the federal government for centuries of treaty violations, fraudulent land cessions and financial mismanagement. All claims were expected to be presented before the end of 1956. In the case of claims concerning New York, the Commission eventually rejected all submissions due to the fact that Manhattan had been procured under the sovereignty of another nation (Holland) and therefore the Commission considered that it was not liable for any fraudulent activity concerning the sale.

The ‘Lost Colony’ refers to the second of Sir Walter Raleigh’s enterprises in Virginia. On July 22 1587, close to 120 English settlers landed at Roanoke Island, off the coast of present day North Carolina. The settlers established a fortified enclosure, built cottages and to the best of their ability attempted to establish cultivation. Their leader, John White, was forced to return to England almost immediately to procure additional supplies for the hapless colonists, but his return was delayed by the English-Spanish conflict. He finally mounted a resupply expedition in 1590, and returned to the settlement, only to find it deserted, the houses dismantled, and the bewildering word ‘Croatoan’ carved into a post of the fort. The settlers were never found.


[2] Milligan moved in a cosmopolitan world of London identities made up of writers, artists, actors, broadcasters and musicians. His eclectic tastes are demonstrated by the number of obscure references he makes to historical and current affairs, details of which litter the pages of the scripts and confound the listener half a century later. Many times his apparently outlandish references have actual real sources, which give his scripts a surprising complexity considering the random nonsense which, we are told, was the basis of the show.

The eighth symphony, for example, is not an idle joke. It is a reference to the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, (1872-1958). Considered the ‘grand old man’ of English music, his Eighth Symphony was in the process of completion as this episode went to air. The advent of a new work by Vaughan Williams (it was premiered the following May), was considered a matter of national significance in the 50’s, with the BBC and many highbrow journals and newspapers reporting on the imminent event.

[3] Johann Strauss (1825-1899), the Austrian composer of light music, operetta and song, was the most celebrated composer of his day. His waltz ‘An der schönen blauen Donau’ was composed in 1866.


[4] Situated at 107 Pall Mall, London, this gentlemen’s club represents the doyen of private clubs for the public intellectual. Members are generally men of inherited wealth and status, but allowance is made to accept men of distinguished eminence in Science, Literature the Arts and public service.

Commercial Road is in the East End of London and was created in the 1840’s as part of a slum clearance programme. Businesses considered too noisy or noisome for the city were encouraged to open premises there.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) was the German political theorist and founder of modern communism who had emigrated to London with his family in 1849, residing in Soho. Living in straightened circumstances for most of his life, the Athenaeum Club represented all that Marx considered exclusionist about the capitalist classes.


[5] For R.A.Butler (1902-1982) the chancellor of the Exchequer, who had once looked like a Prime Minister in the making, an austere winter lay ahead. After gifting the British electors with income tax cuts the previous spring, he had been forced to reign in an overheating economy by passing a crisis budget at the beginning of November, depressing the demand for goods and services and putting a dampener on spiralling wages. The price of local telephone calls rose 30%; sales tax was raised in some cases to 50%; there was a 5% hike in the tax on dividends, and the housing subsidy was slashed heavily. As Time Magazine said – “Britain is not bust but suffering too much boom”.


[6] Milligan is alluding to Sir Bernard Docker – chairman of British Daimler, and his wife Lady Norah Docker – former dancing hostess and social climber. Lady Docker’s complete disregard of the restrictions of the social status she had married into caused her husband quite a deal of embarrassment, when in 1955 it was reported that Lady Norah had lashed out at an employee of the Monte Carlo Casino. “It was a good sock I gave that man,” she bragged,  and he deserved it.” Lady Norah encouraged her husband to build show cars – the “Golden Daimler” limousine in 1951; “Blue Clover” (a two door sportsman coupe) in 1952; “Silver Flash” (based on a 3-litre Regency chassis) in 1953; and “Stardust” (based on the DK400 chassis) in 1954. Each vehicle was literally covered in gold plate. Sir Bernard was relieved of his position at Daimler the following year.

[7] In a foot note on p.56 of ‘Hitler: My Part in his Downfall’ Spike noted that he owned a Mickey Mouse watch which he had won in a colouring contest, having put his age down as eleven. Mickey Mouse watches were first manufactured in 1933 by the Ingersoll Waterbury Clock Company of Connecticut. The original Mickey Mouse watch had a round bezel and featured three little Mickeys on a rotating disk, the disk moving in increments with each second.


[8] What do you know! Sabrina (born 1936 and originally named Norma Sykes), from Stockport, Cheshire, turns up again in a sixth series script.  Known for nothing else except her looks, figure and Miltonesque name given to her by Arthur Askey, 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. The transcription Service version of this episode removes all references to her.


[9] A quick by-play occurs here. Seagoon says: “Yukkabakkaka”. Moriarty replies: “Sapristi-yukkabakkaka to you too!” before continuing.


[10] As far as I am able to tell, the ‘tenor’s friend’ was a sharpened piece of metal which, when applied to the bottom, enabled tenors to reach the top notes. Another on-line source explains it as a tenor’s genitalia. The clack of metal when this piece of equipment hits the floor makes me doubt this explanation.

[11] Written in 1938 by the Brazilian composer and arranger Ary Barroso (1903-1964), the full title is ‘Na Baixa do Sapateiro’, and it was one of the many sambas introduced to the USA in the late 30’s by Carmen Miranda (1909-1955). Becoming an instant international hit, it was included in the Disney live-action/animation film ‘The Three Caballeros’ (1944) and went on to be recorded by Bing Crosby and most popularly by André Kostelanetz and his orchestra. Carmen Miranda died after suffered a heart attack following an appearance on ‘The Jimmy Durante Show’ on August 4th 1955, and it is likely this performance by Geldray was some sort of tribute.


[12] Neddie was not the first to cross the Atlantic in a small conveyance. J.C. Buckley and Nicholas Primoraz sailed a 20’ lifeboat from Cork to Boston in 1866; a Mr Alfred Johnson crossed from New Brunswick to England in a gaff-rigged dory in 1876; Fred Norman and George Thomas performed a double crossing in 1880 – 1881 aboard a 16’ sailing vessel, (taking a twelve-month rest between voyages); a legless Italian, Teresìa Fava, sailed his homemade cutter from Naples to Newfoundland in 1926; while closer to Spike’s own times, Dr Alain Bombard crossed from the Canary Islands to the West Indies aboard a rubber raft in 1952, living entirely off the sea. The first man to row across the Atlantic was a Mr Tom McClean in 1969. A stubborn adventurer, he later re-sailed the voyage in a fit of rage after losing the record to someone in a smaller vessel. Taking a chainsaw, he sliced two feet off the bow of his own ship, patched it up and set sail in his truncated vessel, regaining the record. Mr McClean entered the annuls of British history again in 1985 when he settled on Rockall, surviving for six weeks on its sea girt crown so as to affirm British possession over the mighty rock. (See ‘Napoleon’s Piano’ – 4/6th)



[13] A running gag in this scene is that Bloodnok’s war whoops become gradually sillier and sillier, until they sound nothing like war whoops at all. This was a very characteristic Sellers touch – the inauthentic amateur.


[14] I suspect that this line was aimed not at Native Americans, but at the West Indian immigrants appearing on British Streets in the mid fifties. Mostly male, without family or stable income, many of these immigrants congregated in ghettos in inner city suburbs, formed gangs, developed relationships with white prostitutes, and displayed a general distain for sobriety and the law. White hysteria concerning immigration reached fever pitch in the next decade, not helped by police statements such as “…niggers are in the main pimps and layabouts, living off what we pay in taxes.” (Maureen Cain – 1973).


[15] Ellington. Other transcriptions have the name as ‘Troublitz’. I suspect that Milligan was parodying the saying: “The chief trouble is…”


[16] Geraldo was the British band leader Gerald Walcan Bright (1903-1974). A child prodigy he ran away from home at the age of 16 to play in a ship’s band, graduating from there to leading small dance band groups in the 20’s, touring Europe and Latin America, taking on a new name and forming his own ensemble at the Savoy called the ‘Geraldo Gaucho Tango Band’ in the 30’s. In the 40’s he became the supervisor of bands for the Entertainment National Service Association and his band entertained soldiery throughout Europe, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. Ellington was recording extensively during the mid 50’s (with Parlophone, Decca and Colombia), and his appearance with the Geraldo Orchestra was part and parcel of his burgeoning popularity.


[17] Milligan again used this idea concerning Ned’s welsh background in the next series – ‘Drums Along The Mersey’ (2/7th).


[18] Yiddish slang for ‘beggar’ or ‘moocher’. Groucho Marx uses the word in ‘A Night at the Opera’.


[19] Ellington.


[20] Inexplicably, Sellers sings the last five words.


[21] Written by Bill Campbell, and possibly recorded by him in the late 40’s with his group ‘Bill Campbell and the Harlem Eight’.

[22] David Attenborough (1926 - ) had only recently begun to make a name for himself as the narrator (and later the star) of ‘Zoo Quest’, broadcast on BBC television between 1954 and 1963. In each programme Attenborough would attempt to capture an animal for the London Zoo, and while doing so introduce footage of the surrounding habitat, inhabitants and local customs. The series was wildly popular and established Attenborough’s career as a naturalist and broadcaster.


[23] Written by Ebb and Klein, it was a released by the vocal group ‘The Stargazers’ in 1954, going on to reach number six in the UK charts. Along with Geldray and Ellington, the Stargazers had been part of the original musical line-up for ‘Crazy People’ which became the Goon Show, but left in March of 1953 partway through the second series. The Stargazer’s comic-pop antics seem very dated to listeners nowadays.


[24] David Lloyd George (1863-1945) was a Liberal politician – (well before they were in the gutter, see ‘The Pevensey Bay Disaster’ – 10/6th), who as an MP, controversially opposed the Boer War; was directly involved in the Parliament Act of 1911 in which the House of Lords lost their right of veto; became British Prime Minister in 1916 and was chief delegate to the Paris Peace Conference at the conclusion of WWI; secured the creation of the Irish Free State and was ultimately brought down by a scandal involving the selling of Peerages. He was responsible for the introduction of state financial support for the sick and infirm, known for decades afterwards as “going on the Lloyd George”.


[25] Philips B26205H: (78r.p.m.) ‘On with the Motley’ (Vesti la Giubba – from the Opera “Pagliacci” by Leoncavallo). Harry Secombe with Orchestra directed by Walter Stott. Two weeks after this episode Secombe’s recording entered the British charts at number 17 where it stayed for three weeks.


[26] This minor catch-phrase was making its third appearance. Milligan had tried it out first in ‘The Pevensey Bay Disaster’ although the listeners had not yet heard that episode due to a delay in its broadcast.


[27] In one way this episode is strangely prophetic. On February 26, 1993, an Arabian immigrant, Ramzi Yousef and his Jordanian friend Eyad Ismoil, parked a yellow commercial van in the public car park beneath the World Trade Centre, in New York City. The van contained a 680 kg urea nitrate-hydrogen gas enhanced device, intended to knock over the North Tower and domino the South Tower. The bomb blew a 30m hole through four sublevels of the car park, cut off the centre’s main electrical supply and filled the Tower with thick smoke to the 93rd level. Six people were killed and 1,042 injured.

This act of revenge against the USA was not the end of the matter, and the World Trade Centre was subject to an historic air-borne attack on September 11th 2001, which successfully destroyed the Towers. To many Goon-o-philes, the sight of New York subsumed in a cloud of smoke and pulverised concrete that day, eerily brought back to mind Seagoon’s prophetic words of 46 years earlier.


[28] English law required the public to pay 20 shillings a year for a radio licence - £1 in fact. A television licence cost £2 and a combined radio/television licence cost £3.  Every separate radio in the house (including the car  radio) had to have an individual licence.