BROADCAST: 27 Dec 1955 [1]

Script by Spike Milligan


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service.

GRAMS: Short sharp train whistle.

GREENSLADE: I would like to…

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

GREENSLADE: (Over) Aaaaahhhhh… (Self fade)

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

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

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

MILLIGAN: Oh silence! I tell you all – that Isle of Capri is a sinful place.

SECOMBE: Shut up Tom!

MILLIGAN: Silence Dick!

SELLERS: (As Lew) ... you sing so good Jim!

SECOMBE: … Ned! Rest your bonze on this razor blade and listen to the story of 'The Hastings Flyer – Robbed!’

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

SECOMBE: Thank you and goodbye. Here to open the tale of the great drama is poet and tragedian – William J. MacGoonigal.

ORCHESTRA: Scene setting music.

MacGOONIGAL:[3] (Over) 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 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. Now listen Schlapper, the lines between the Hastings and Pevensey Bay station are under twenty feet of schnow already. Neddie already, we want you to drive a snow-plough and clear the line before midnight.

SEAGOON: But that would be a dangerous task!

LEW: It is! It is!

SEAGOON: I'll do it!

LEW: Good schlapper, good! [5] Here's a kosher wine gum. Off you go!

SEAGOON: Thanks very much.

FX: Door closes.

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

GRAMS: Distant traffic.

MORIARTY: Oooyhaah! Pardon me, little low suite type man.

SEAGOON: Aaahi! (Narrative) The stranger had stepped out of a dark overcoat. Another man stood on his shoulders.

GRYTPYPE: Have you a match?

SEAGOON: Only my own private one.

GRYTPYPE: Don't look so worried. My friend and I here are only MPs.

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

GRYTPYPE: Liberals.[6]

SEAGOON: I understand. Can I help?

MORIARTY: Sapristi gnuckles, yes. Are you walking Euston station way?

SEAGOON: Sapristi gnuckles, yes.

MORIARTY: Could you give us a lift?

SEAGOON: I’ve just had my dinner.

MORIARTY: Then you’re full up!

SEAGOON: Needle nardle noo!

GRYTPYPE: Any room in the boot?

SEAGOON: Sorry – there’s a foot in it.

GRYTPYPE: Curse! We’ll have to run alongside you.

SEAGOON: I’ll go slow.

GRYTPYPE: Thank you nurk. Have a gorilla.

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

GRYTPYPE: I see. Neddie, little Neddie – my heavily-oiled friend here and I are rather anxious to get to Pevensey Bay station tonight.[7]

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: And there are more photographs where that came from.

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

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

ORCHESTRA: Violin solo. 'Hearts and Flowers'.[8]

MORIARTY: (Pleading) Oh ho hohohouh! Neddie – have a heart, lad. We must get to Pevensey Bay station tonight. You see Neddie, at midnight the Hastings Flyer is coming through. All we want to do is hold it up, blow open the mail van and take the gold bullion inside. That’s all Neddie. I swear.

SEAGOON: Stop! (weeping) 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.

And ooooooooo…

GRAMS: Distant blizzard. Continue faintly under.

BANNISTER: (Singing) Bim bom biddle-doh!


a hundred and seventeen,

I’m a cool and solid hundred and seventeen,

yim bum biddle dee boh… &c [9]

CRUN: Minnie, Minnie – would you stop that sinful singing Min, you!

BANNISTER: You’re a square, buddy. This is the modern-style singing, buddy.

                    (Sings) Yim bum biddle dee doh…

CRUN: It’s cornful! It’s cornful! 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 that Henry.

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

BANNISTER: What's the weather like out?

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

BANNISTER: I think I'd better lock up for the night, Henry. (Self fade – singing)                       Seventeen….

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: Helloo. I'm the famous Eccles.


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

CRUN: Goodnight.

FX: Door closes.

GRAMS: Blizzard sounds fade.

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

BANNISTER: What a nice man to come a-visiting, Henry.

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

BANNISTER: I did, Henry. There's lots of money around these days. It’s sinful!

CRUN: Yes, yes. Well, off you go to bed Min with your saxophone and I'll keep the ticket office open a little longer. You never know, there might be a sudden rush from the continent.

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

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.

MacGOONIGAL: Ooooooo!

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 fool – 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: And while you’re at it, what's the steam boiler pressure?

THROAT: Ninety eight degrees.

SEAGOON: Right – run my bath.

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

SEAGOON: Nonsense, there’s 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.

MORIARTY: I can vouchsafe for that. He set them right by the hairs on Big Ben this morning.

SEAGOON: Bully for Ben! Still time for a bath and Max Geldray.


MAX GELDRAY – “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” [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! Moriarty, tie his hands…


GRYTPYPE: … 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, lad. Now…

FX: Furious writing.

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

FX: Pen.

SEAGOON: No! You fiendish swine!

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

MORIARTY: I'll just tie his hands again.[12]

SEAGOON: (Struggling) Oooh – aahi!

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

MORIARTY: Right! …put it in your pocket.[13] Now together…


SEAGOON: Don't throw me out!


SEAGOON: (Self fade) Heeeeeeeelp!!!

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

SEAGOON: (Panting)

GRAMS: Blizzard swells.

SEAGOON: 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! I say, have you seen a band go this way?

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

BLOODNOK: Have you? I must find them, you know. 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, current number one with the Grades? [14]

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.

SEAGOON: Pleased to meet you.

BLOODNOK: 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!

FX: Cash register.

BLOODNOK: (going off) Three pound ten – four pound…

SEAGOON: Come back with my wallet you… The military fool. He’s gone! Thank heaven he didn't find my money belt. You devil from Ahmednagar! – taken all the money I stole from the kiddies' bank.[15] But time was wasting. I had to warn the approaching Hastings Flyer of the plot to rob 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…[16]

SEAGOON: I say, you – don't you feel cold in there?

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

                    (sings) I love melody divine…

SEAGOON: Listen, you with the concrete vest listen – I've got to get to Pevensey Bay Station as soon as possible.

GRAMS: Splashes approaching closer. [17]

ECCLES: Oooh. I'm the famous Eccles.

                    (sings) In the good old summer time…

And I’m the famous Eccles,

                    (sings) in the winter time as well.

SEAGOON: Good luck to you for a start. Hey! That tricycle against the wall – whose is it?

ECCLES: Mine. It’s a present from an admirer.

SEAGOON: Could you drive me to town on it?

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

SEAGOON: Well, drive me there on that then.

ECCLES: Right. Get on the wall and 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 [18] – has the snow-plough been through here yet?

CRUN: No, no. I’ve had all the doors locked today. [19]

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

CRUN: Yes, yes.

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. [20]

SEAGOON: I knew someone would spoil it. (Thank you Fred the oyster!) But now my hands were free – now for action.

CRUN: Yes, but what is all this about?

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

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

SEAGOON: Hear it? It can’t be… It is! It is! Yes, yes, yes!

CRUN: It's the snow-plough come to clear the line. (Fibrillations.) Hurraaayyyy…

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

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

FX: Knock on door.

CRUN: Aah! Ooh!

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 doing to Bluebottle? 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 little two-stone Hercules. Now, tell me if you saw two men and you can have this quarter of dolly mixture.

BLUEBOTTLE: Cor, dolly mixtures! Thinks – with these type sweets I could influence certain girls at playtime. That Brenda Pugh might be another Rita Hayworth.[21]

SEAGOON: Then you'll tell me?

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

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

BLUEBOTTLE: Oooh! Smashing.


RAY ELLINGTON – “I Want You To Be My Baby” [22]


GREENSLADE: Thank you Ray Ellington. I’m sure you mean well. We rejoin 'The Hasting Flyer – Robbed!”

GREENSLADE & BLUEBOTTLE: (Shadowing) Inside the signal box, west…

(Short pause)

GREENSLADE & BLUEBOTTLE: (Shadowing) Inside the signal box, west…

GREENSLADE: Will you shut up Bluebottle!

BLUEBOTTLE: Will you shut up Bluebottle – shut up!

GREENSLADE & BLUEBOTTLE: (Shadowing) Inside the signal box, west of Pevensey Bay station, which will play a vitally unimportant part in the story.

GRAMS: Blizzard.

WILLIUM: [23] Hello, hello – the Pevensey Bay signal box man here, mate.

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

WILLIUM: Oh. Well I'll do that and I’ll…

FX: Blackjack on punching bag.

WILLIUM: (Agony) Owaowah owwhaooo aahooow, mate!

FX: Jiggling phone connection.

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

FX: Phone down.

GRYTPYPE: All very nicely done, Moriarty mate.

MORIARTY: Ooh hahaha mate.

GRYTPYPE: Now let’s have a look. The bridge to the right, isn’t it? Good. Now take these sticks of dynamite, place them in the centre of the span, run the wires back here – when the Hastings Flyer comes across we press the plunger.

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

GRYTPYPE & MORIARTY: (Singing) April in Paree!

                                                  We’ve found a charlie….[24] (Self fade)

FX: Jiggling phone hook to make connection.

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

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

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

ECCLES: Right.

BLUEBOTTLE: What about me, Captain? Can't I come in the 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: Now, 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: I will… I will be a hero! My picture will be in the East Finchley Chronics.[25] “Boy hero Bluebottle.” [26] Heioughei! That will make that Muriel Bates run after me, but I will play hard to get. “I'm sorry Miss Bates. I’m a busy boy hero. I have got certain matters to attend to. I have to be photographed with Sabrina.” [27] Yes, he-he! That is what I'll say. Here, (thinks) – that Sabrina’s a fine big…

SEAGOON: Here Bluebottle, stop those naughty thinks at once! (Thinks, he’s quite right though – that Sabrina is a fine big girl, isn’t she – yes… )

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

BANNISTER: Oooh dear, Mister Secrune, don't leave us alone with these two train robbers about. We'll all be murdered in our beds I tell you. [28]

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. Ooh!

MORIARTY: Shut up mates! Sapristi gnuckles! 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: I can’t wait any longer – my nerves are strained to breaking point.

ORCHESTRA: Pluck guitar string fortissimo.

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

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! You put a grenade in my mouth. All my choppers have gone! My teeth… (Raves)

GRYTPYPE: Let that be a lesson to you. Now control yourself.

ORCHESTRA: Bass drum playing marching rhythm in distance.

MORIARTY: What’s that?

GRYTPYPE: Great goose hooks! Look, it's a military gentleman walking up the line, and he’s 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.

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

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

GRAMS: Distant train whistle.


GRYTPYPE: What’s that?

MORIARTY: It's the Hastings Flyer with all the money on board. We’re going to lose it!

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

GRYTPYPE: Look, you can quite easily stop it. Just press that little plunger with the wires leading out of the window.

SEAGOON: Right. (Effort) Ugh!

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

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

BLUEBOTTLE: (Distant) You rotten swine you!

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

BLOODNOK & BASS DRUM: (Marching rhythm fading into distance.) Ohh! Aah!....

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] See notes for episode 10 for the explanation of the co-incidence which caused this episode to be recorded twice.

According to Wilmut, this script – the second performance of the material, is identical to that for ‘The Pevensey Bay Disaster’, (originally recorded in November 1955) and incorporating the timing cuts made for that occasion; only the announcements are changed to ‘The Hastings Flyer.’

This is not strictly true. Firstly the announcement is always ‘The Hastings Flyer – Robbed!’ The BBC wished to distance the plot as far as possible from the idea of a crash, and suggested that Milligan stress instead the idea of it being a robbery, not a crash.  For example, compare Moriarty’s speech about their plan:

               PBD: All we want to do is to derail it, blow it up… (‘Pevensey Bay Disaster’)

               HFR: All we want to do is to hold it up, blow open the mail van… (‘The Hastings Flyer – Robbed!’)

Later, as Seagoon stumbles through the snow:

               PBD: I had to warn the approaching Hastings Flyer of the plot to derail her. (‘Pevensey Bay Disaster’)

               HFR: I had to warn the approaching Hastings Flyer of the plot to rob her. (‘The Hastings Flyer – Robbed!’)

Apart from multiple small changes like these, a number of other gags are cut – for reasons which are not clear. Willium’s snoring scene in PBD is cut in HFR. Seagoon is goosed with the scissors in PBD but not in HFR. There is a gag about Seagoon being number one with the ‘Grades’ (a reference to Lew Grade) in HFR but not in PBD, while Minnie is obsessed with the recent chart buster ‘Seventeen’ (by Boyd Bennett and His Rockets) in HFR but not in the earlier PBD.

On the whole, the performance by the cast of ‘The Hastings Flyer – Robbed!’ is reasonably slipshod, with a huge amount of ill disciplined interjections and broken lines making it hard to follow at times. Most of the gags worked better in the November recording, although the GRAMS, increasingly important to Milligans writing, were overall better timed in this second performance.

[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. Fields had released the recording ‘Isle of Capri (Grosz and Kennedy) in October of 1934. By the time this show was recorded, her star was well and truly set. She lived out the long years of her retirement on the Italian island of Capri.


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


[6] 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. When in 1950 the party was able to secure only nine seats, reduced by 1957 to just five, the outlook did indeed look bleak.


[7] Pevensey, in East Sussex on the southern coast of Great Britain, played a vital part in Milligan’s early adult life. It was here that he joined the 56th Heavy Artillery regiment in 1942 as a young recruit, breaking free of his family for the first time, finding lifelong friendships, jazz, and the ability to write off-the-wall humour. The four towns -  Hastings, Bexhill, Pevensey and Eastbourne all feature heavily in the first book of his war memoirs “Hitler; My Part in his Downfall.” (Michael Joseph - 1971)


[8] 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.


[9] Spike is paraphrasing the hit “Seventeen” (Bennett/ Young) a current rock-a-billy chart buster by ‘Boyd Bennett and his Rockets’ released in May 1955.

[10] Another Milliganism. Bathing in a moving vehicle was a tantalising piece of nonsense that appealed to Spike. 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] Making history as one of the first songs especially composed for a film to become number one in the same year as its movie release, the song was written by Webster and Fain for the movie of the same name starring William Holden and Jennifer Jones. The 1955 recording by ‘The Four Aces’ on Decca reached number two in Britain and number one on Billboard and Cashbox.


[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 1/ the intelligence of his audiences and 2/ the patience of his audiences.


[13] There seems to be an excision here. The joke excised is found in the original script of “The Pevensey Bay Disaster”:

SEAGOON: Steady with those scissors. OOOW!

MORIARTY: Here – put it in your pocket.


[14] 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 appeared often on Grade’s circuits, both theatrical and broadcasting.


[15] Ahmednagar in the state of Maharashtra, the Republic of India, was Milligan’s birthplace.


[16] 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.


[17] This effect had been mis-timed in the first performance.

[18] Secombe mis-times his entrance, and repeats the beginning of the line.


[19] 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 house is where you live; a train runs through the town 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).


[20] ‘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.”


[21] 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.


[22] See notes for Ellington’s performance of this song in episode 10 “The Pevensey Bay Disaster.” The arrangement is the same for both performances.


[23] Milligan has deleted the extensive gag about Willium saying ‘mate’ as he snores.


[24] 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.


[25] 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. (A-hem.)


[26] Much of this part of the show has been heavily censored by Spike on instructions from the BBC. All references to the train actually crashing were to be avoided out of respect to the victims and families of the fatal crash at Didcot.


[27] 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.


[28] Underneath Secombe’s reply, Milligan attempts to recommence Bannister’s version of the song “Seventeen.”