BROADCAST: 3 Jan 1956 [1]

Script by Spike Milligan


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service. Hip hip…

OMNES: (Smartly) Hooray!

GREENSLADE: Oh, what fun we’re having! Listeners will you excuse this breach of Corporation discipline, but well – it is the festive season, so – WHOOPEE! (Indian war-whoops.) WOWOWOWOWOWOWOO!

SECOMBE: Mister Greenslade! Stop taking those naughty elderly men's get fit hormones.

GREENSLADE: Get knotted, little Welsh bum. [2]

SECOMBE: What what what what what what what what what? Have a care, large  bloated-type announcing gentleman or I'll belt the back of that great, fat, greasy nut of yours.

GREENSLADE: Don't speak to me in those severe overtones. I'll have you know that I've been very ill – in fact I was at death's door twice.

SECOMBE: Why didn't you knock? (Laughs) Hehehe! Enough of this Noel Coward-type dialogue.[3] Remove those stained-glass corsets and give the listening listeners the old posh wireless chat there Wal.

GREENSLADE: Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the extraordinary talking-type wireless Goon Show.

SECOMBE: Hip hip…

MILLIGAN: (Raspberry) Phht!

SECOMBE: Thank you. Tonight's play was written by that great homeless author Lucky 'Smiling Jim' Milligan, the darling of Coventry,[4] now living in a damp leather wellington boot off the coast of Highgate.[5]

SPRIGGS: Tonight I present my masterpiece entitled “The Mighty Wurlitzer.”

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic introduction.

GRAMS: Reg Dixon’s recording of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue.

MILLIGAN: Hear that sound, listeners? Gnya heh!

SEAGOON: Yes, we can all hear it – Bach's Toccata and Fugue by Batch [6] written especially for Reg Dixon and his Blackpool Tower.[7] It was that music that meed me mooned to take up the organ, but – heh, that started many years ago in the Rhondda Valley bach. [8]

ORCHESTRA: “The Minstrel Boy to the War has Gone.” [9]

FX: Door opens.

MILLIGAN: Hear that sound listeners? A door.

SEAGOON: (Approaching) Sospan bach! [10]

MAI JONES: Who's that?

SEAGOON: I just brought your saucepan bach. (Laughs) Ha ha ha!

MAI JONES: Oh, it's Harry son back from the pit bach. You're back early from the pit bach?

SEAGOON: Yes, I found a piece of coal so they sent me ‘ome.

MAI JONES: Oh lovely. Now sit down on Grandad and eat your nice reeking black bread and goat pie bach.

SEAGOON: You killed the goat for Christmas bach?

MAI JONES: We had to – he ate the turkey see. Only way we could get it back bach.


SEAGOON: Puss, puss, puss! Come here, puss bach.

MILLIGAN: Meiouw, meiouw bach.

SEAGOON: That's the first time I heard a cat bark.

FX: Door opens. Galloping coconut shells fast.

ECCLES: Hello, Neddie bach.

SEAGOON: Oh, it's Eccles the brain.

ECCLES: He-ello Neddie! He-ello Neddie!

SEAGOON: What the hell are you talking about?

ECCLES: Aahhh, ooh! I've been taking talking lessons. He-ello Neddie! I'm going to be an actor. (Declaiming) “To be or not to be, that is the question…”

SEAGOON: Shakespeare, hah?

ECCLES: No, that’s Hamlet.

SEAGOON: Have you seen Richard the Third?

ECCLES: Oh no – he died before I was born.

SEAGOON: Dead? He can't be – only last week I saw him in a picture. [11]

ECCLES: Ooooh! Well it must have been an old one. (Declaiming) “Friends, Romans and countrymen, (and those living in Coventry,) lend me your ears. I come...”

SEAGOON: Shut up, Eccles!

ECCLES: Shut up, Eccles! Ooh that's me.

MAI JONES: Harry, what's this I hear – you playing the organ in the chapel?

SEAGOON: Oh yes, ma’am – play it lovely I do.

MAI JONES: Then why have half the congregation changed their religion?

SEAGOON: They don't appreciate a mu-shical genius, that’s why. You see, one day I'll be another Reg the Dixon, another Sandy the MacNabs. [12]

FX: Door opens.

MILLIGAN: Hear that sound, listeners? A door.

GREENSLADE: (English) Good evening, Mrs Seagoon bach. Look, 'tis I, isn't it bach.

SEAGOON: Who're you kidding?

MAI JONES: It's Greenslade the voice from under Milkwood,[13] lovely man he is too. Pull up Eccles and sit down.

ECCLES: Ohhhhhh.

GREENSLADE: Sorry, bach. Mrs Seagoon, may I see you alone?

MAI JONES: Ooohooohh, you devil! – and my husband still in the house as well. (Laughs) Hahaha!

GREENSLADE: Madam, I came here merely to discuss Neddie. The villagers have sent me here with this money to send Neddie away for a musical education, you see. (Fade into distance.) &c [14]

SEAGOON: And so Eccles and I left the village. As we reached the top of the hill we turned and waved and the villagers replied.

GRAMS: Rifle fire. Bullets ricocheting.

MILLIGAN: Hear that sound, dear listeners? Mm mmh...

GREENSLADE: For years we heard nothing from Neddie, and then one day...

MAI JONES: We heard nothing from him again.

GRAMS: Distant Welsh male voice choir.

GREENSLADE: We put a light in the window. Nothing much happened – except the house burnt down. The first people to see him again were two gentlemen purchasing arms for the Egyptians.[15]

GRAMS: Vintage motor car. Fade under.

GRYTPYPE: Yes, Moriarty and myself were searching the North African deserts for old derelict tanks and guns.

MORIARTY: (sings) I'm walking backwards for Christmas

across the Irish sea[16]

GRYTPYPE: Stop the car!

GRAMS: Engine backfiring. Wind down motor recording.

GRYTPYPE: I thought I saw a Greek urn buried in the sand.

MORIARTY: What's a Greek earn?

GRYTPYPE: It's a vase made by Greeks for carrying liquids.

MORIARTY: I didn't expect that answer.

GRYTPYPE: Neither did quite a few smart alec listeners. Drive on Moriarty.

GRAMS: Recording of Reg Dixon. Start softly and gradually crescendo as if approaching.

GRYTPYPE: No, wait... listen!

GRAMS: Swell recording of Reg Dixon. Bring in underneath sound of jet engine. Crescendo then fade both into distance.

MORIARTY: By the great sweaters of Sabrina! – did you see that, Grytpype?[17]

GRYTPYPE: Gad, yes! A man driving a cinema organ at speed.

MORIARTY: I can't understand it. The nearest Odeon is at Clapham.

GRYTPYPE: The poor devil must be lost.

MORIARTY: Lost? Sapristi Nabolers! – what's a cinema organist doing in the Sahara Desert?

GRYTPYPE: It might be Sandy on holiday.

MORIARTY: It's always sandy on holiday in Sahara. Look, he's turning round and he's coming back.

GRAMS: Recording of Reg Dixon; swell then gradually wind the speed down.

GRYTPYPE: Quick Moriarty, put on evening dress – it's a white man.

SEAGOON: I say – hello there!

GRYTPYPE: We say hello there too. Have a statue of George the Third.

SEAGOON: No thanks. They give me a headache.[18]

GRYTPYPE: Oh, bad luck.

SEAGOON: Ha ha! Needle nardle noo. I saw you parked here. I thought you might be having trouble with your car.


SEAGOON: What's wrong?

MORIARTY: We can't keep up the instalments.

SEAGOON: When did you buy it?

MORIARTY: Yesterday.

GRYTPYPE: I say, aren't you Ned Seagoon, the colden-voiced coon? [19]

SEAGOON: Yes, that's me.

GRYTPYPE: Well, at last we meet then, face to face.

SEAGOON: Horrible isn't it?

GRYTPYPE: Only for me.

SEAGOON: Remains to be seen.


SEAGOON: A turkey after Christmas. (Laughs) Ha ha ha ha!! (I say, look here…)

GRYTPYPE: (Aside) Man to man Neddie, how's the record selling?

SEAGOON: (Aside) Well, it's number scrimpson scree and throo on Housewives' Choice and third on the... [20]

MORIARTY: Stop this crazy-type talking! Let's get going, Grytpype. My wife is waiting for you to come home.

GRYTPYPE: Not so fast, crazy-type frog-eater. Neddie? Allow me to introduce my heavily-oiled friend here, Count Fred Moriarty – crack leather bucaine player and voted Mister Thin Legs of nineteen-twelve. [21]

MORIARTY: Correction please – Mister Thin Leg.


MORIARTY: Yes, I only entered one. Now Seagoon, tell us – what is that fifty-ton brass-bound contraption you're driving?

SEAGOON: It's a Wurlitzer. [22]

MORIARTY: We thought it was a mirage.

SEAGOON: A mirage? I've never heard of that make. (Laughs) Ha ha ha!!

GRYTPYPE: Gad, what wit. You're not the famous Evelyn Waugh, are you? [23]

SEAGOON: Heavens no. I wasn't born till nineteen-eighteen.

GRYTPYPE: Then you must be the famous nineteen-eighteen Waugh. (Laughs) Ha ha ha ha!

SEAGOON: Needle nardle noo!


SEAGOON: Three-ché.

MORIARTY: Sabrina.

OMNES: (Smartly) HOORAY!!

GRYTPYPE: I’m glad two-thirds of us agree. While the listeners are wondering what this all means, here is Max Geldray to pay his perforated Arab neck-twig and steam boot.


MAX GELDRAY “I’m In the Mood For Love.” [24]


GREENSLADE: The Mighty Wurlitzer, part two. Hip hip…

CAST: (Smartly) HOORAY!!

GREENSLADE: Ta. It did not take long for Grytpype-Thynne to realise that Neddie's mighty high-speed organ would make good gun barrels for the tanks now waiting at Antwerp for shipment to Egypt. [25]

SEAGOON: Mister Grytpype-Thynne and Mister “Thin Leg nineteen-twelve” took me to lunch at the swank Hotel des Wogs in Cairo.

GRAMS: Middle eastern music.

GRYTPYPE: Well, did you enjoy the meal, Neddie? [26]

SEAGOON: You ask me why I only play my organ whilst travelling at speed or faster. Well, I didn't want people to copy my technique – I didn't like them looking over my shoulder so the answer was, keep moving.

MORIARTY: You are brilliant! You’re the cleverest idiot I’ve ever met.

SEAGOON: Then you haven't met the man who pumps the organ – Eccles. [27]

FX: Approaching coconut shells.

ECCLES: He-ello, Neddie. (Declaims) “Now is the winter of our discontent...” [28]

SEAGOON: Shut up, Eccles!

ECCLES: Shut up, Eccles!


GRYTPYPE: Sit down Mister Eccles. Now that you're here, you can do something useful.


GRYTPYPE: Go away. No better still, put this to your head and pull the trigger.

FX: Pistol shot.

ECCLES: Awwwh!

GRYTPYPE: Thank you. Now Neddie, I suppose you must be wondering why we brought you here.

SEAGOON: You know, I've been wondering why you brought me here.

GRYTPYPE: Neddie, (very close) …Neddie, we've heard you play the organ and we don't rather think that you’ve got it.

SEAGOON: Rubbish. Next to Reg Dixon I'm the greatest player in the world.

MORIARTY: Nonsense! Ena Baga could play better than you.

SEAGOON: I'd like to hear Ena Baga try it. [29]

MORIARTY: Little tone-deaf lad, I am an authority on the organ playing. You haven't a hope in the world of becoming a great organ player.

SEAGOON: What!? (Sobs) Oo-oo-ooo-oh, what a terrible, turribule shock. For ten years I've studied organ playing in the sahara and now – failure, (and sunburn.) I ask you, what can I do with my fifty-ton brass-bound organ?

GRYTPYPE: May I make a suggestion?


GRYTPYPE: Well you could be the first man to break the world's land speed record in a Wurlitzer.

SEAGOON: I've never heard such a ridiculous idea.

GRYTPYPE: Neither have I, but there it is.

MORIARTY: Neddie, if you do this thing it would make Reg Dixon green with envy, lad.

SEAGOON: Mmm, that sounds interesting. What do you say, Eccles?

ECCLES: Nuttin', I'm dead.

SEAGOON: And it suits you.

FX: Pistol shot.


ECCLES: And it suits you too.

GRYTPYPE: Stop this crazy-type humour. Answer now, do you want to break the land speed record in a Wurlitzer?

SEAGOON: Alright. What have I to lose?

MORIARTY: Good work, Grytpype, we've got him. Oiyoiyoiyhahaoo!

GRYTPYPE & MORIARTY: (singing) April in Paris,

armaments for Egypt. [30]

ORCHESTRA:April in Paris’ – Count Basie arrangement, 3rd phrase.

SEAGOON: By raising an overdraft at the Bank of Jerusalem, (no mean feat in itself,) I shipped my organ and its crew to Daytona beach America for the record run. There we engaged the world's greatest military organ engineer. [31]

ORCHESTRA: Bloodnok Theme.

BLOODNOK: Aaaaaarggghh!! Slud! Blan! Yooiee! Ah, that's better.

MORIARTY: Don’t come near me! [32] (Close) Now Bloodnok remember, loosen all the nuts and bolts so that when he’s travelling at speed the whole organ falls to pieces.

BLOODNOK: Thank you for telling me the plot. Now then, what about the moolah?

MORIARTY: Moolah? No money until the sabotage is done.

BLOODNOK: WHAT?? Great heaps of green splat! [33](Chicken noises.) Bwark bwark bwaark bwaark!

MORIARTY: Stop using that fowl language!

SEAGOON: Hello! I presume you're Major Bloodnok come to help me maintain my organ.

BLOODNOK: I am – and how is the Wurlitzer this morning?

SEAGOON: Running like a bird. (Chicken noises) Bwa bwa bwa bwa bwaark! Bwak bwak bwaark! (I’m rather broody…) Yes, I warmed her up with Handel's ‘Largo,’ [34] then two laps with Reg Dixon's ‘Blackpool Nights’ medley.

BLOODNOK: What melody are you playing for the record run?

SEAGOON:Twelfth Street Rag.’ It's the fastest tune in the world. [35]

BLOODNOK: Well, to wish you luck I'll have a nip of brandy. Are you going to have a tiny tot?

SEAGOON: If I did it would be the sensation of the medical world.

BLOODNOK: Oh, you naughty-type Wurlitzer player you!

SEAGOON: Major, I want you to meet my organ pumper, Eccles.

ECCLES: Hello. Major!!!

BLOODNOK: Eccles?!

ECCLES: Major!

BLOODNOK: Private Eccles!

ECCLES: Private Eccles.

BLOODNOK: …My old batman. You remember me, Major Bloodnok?

ECCLES: I remember you Major Bloodnok.

BLOODNOK: Aeiough yes.

ECCLES: Aeiough yes.

BLOODNOK: You must remember the good times we had?

ECCLES: I remember the good times we had.

BLOODNOK: Remember that NAAFI bird?

ECCLES: I remember that NAAFI bird.

BLOODNOK: What was her name now? – Filthy Gladys.

ECCLES: Her name was Filthy Gladys.

BLOODNOK: Yes. ‘Course you were too young to enjoy it, but me and the lads – we had a wonderful time with her. Oooh dear!

ECCLES: Ooohh, you and the lads had a wonderful time with her.

BLOODNOK: Yes. I wonder what became of old Filthy Gladys?

ECCLES: I married her. And then I deserted.

BLOODNOK: Deserted!? Then why are you wearing that military medal?

ECCLES: All my clothes are at the laundry.

BLOODNOK: Heavens! You mean, they accepted them?

ECCLES: Only for burning.

BLOODNOK: Of course, of course! (Laughs) Ho ho ho ho hoh!

SEAGOON: (Laughing along) Ha ha ha ha ha! All was set then. Tomorrow the world's land speed record for Wurlitzers. In the meantime, Ray Ellington will play his canvas porridge bin and oiled groin book.


RAY ELLINGTON “Late Night Final.”  [36]


GREENSLADE: The Mighty Wurlitzer, part the three. Hip Hip…

OMNES: (Smartly) HOORAY!!!

GREENSLADE: Ta. Next morning on Daytona Beach a shock was in store for Neddie.

FX: Assorted tapping, sawing, filing, and knocking on metal. Occasional spanner dropped..

SEAGOON: Yes. To my horror a second great organ, the festival organ, was being prepared for an attack on the world's land speed record. [37]

FX: Tapping continues.

BANNISTER: (Sings) Yim bom biddle doh...

                              Yimba domba biddle doh…

                              Yimba domba diddle dee…

                              Ah, yakkabakkakakouka koh.

                              Yimba domba diddle… [38]

CRUN: Stop that sinful sexy crazy American-type rhythm singing

BANNISTER: Oh, you're corny buddy. Yes – remember what Jim Davidson said; “Get modern in six weeks or GET OUT!” [39] Ooh…

(Sings) Have you ever heard two love birds talk,

yabacca doo...

ya KOOL ya KOOL!

Yimba duppa dippy

 yuppa duppa din…

wry kum dippa doh…&c [40]

CRUN: (Over) Listen, you mustn't talk like that to me! I'm a friend of Paul Fenoulhet. [41]

BANNISTER: Aahhh naughty!

(Sings) Oh-yumba dippa doppa rakka doi!

          Yim bum biddle…

CRUN: (Towering rage) STOP IT MIN! You're driving me into a frenzy of evil dancing.

BANNISTER: No, I'm not going to stop my rhythm-type rhythm...

CRUN: BANNISTER: (Furious argument.)

(Sudden pause)

CRUN: BANNISTER: (Further furious argument.)

(Sudden pause)

CRUN: BANNISTER: (Even further furious argument.)

(Sudden pause)

BANNISTER: Oohhh ohhh…

CRUN: (Hysterical) STOP IT I SAY! Stop it! Stop that crazy rhythm, you sinful woman Min. Now let’s get on with the work. Have you cleared that E flat pipe yet?

BANNISTER: Yes buddy, yes. Try it now.

GRAMS: Tugboats on the Thames. (Wind the speed up a bit.)

MILLIGAN: Hear that sound, listeners? Yukkoi!

CRUN: Eureka! It's clear, Min. Oooh, it sounds real cool.

BANNISTER: Real cool buddy. (Extended)

CRUN: Get your woollen crash helmet on. I'm taking it out on a trial run.

BANNISTER: You're taking my crash helmet on a trial run, Henry?

CRUN: No, no, Min. Get in, buddy. Hold tight!

GRAMS: Aeroplane propeller starting. Wind up speed bit by bit. Bring in recording of Reg Dixon, gradually speed it up. Insert various back firings from time to time. Minnie over, screaming with each backfire. Speed it all up bit by bit and fade into distance.

SEAGOON: Great wrinkled things! – did you see that, Moriarty?

MORIARTY: Yes, I saw that Moriarty.

SEAGOON: Another organ trying to break the record. This is more than fat and bone can stand. (Calls out) Any of you spectators have any knowledge of that organ?

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes – I have certain knowledges. HOORAY! Large amounts of the au…[42] Archers are in the audiences. [43] Enter Bluebottle.

SEAGOON: Ah ha! It is a little cardboard East Finchley mechanic.


SEAGOON: Lad lad, now – (chuckles) He he he!... tell me, what speed does Mister Crun's organ do?

BLUEBOTTLE: No, I shall not telled you. I have been sworn to secrency by Mister Crunge and Miss Ballistrade.

SEAGOON: Lad lad lad! Tell me, and er… these two ounces of cardboard brandy balls are yours.

BLUEBOTTLE: Oooh, cardboard brandy balls! Thank you. Thinks; with these type sweets my prestinge will increase at school. Eh, thinks again; if I gave one of them to Winnie Hemp it might act like a love philtre on her – and then… (mischievous) He he he he!

SEAGOON: Thinks; you dirty little devil! [44]

BLUEBOTTLE: Thinks; are you referring to me?

SEAGOON: Thinks; yes I am!

BLUEBOTTLE: Thinks; you big, fat, steaming nit you!

SEAGOON: Thinks; take that!!

FX: Wallop. Try a flat newspaper on a wood board.

BLUEBOTTLE: Thinks; (pain) 0ooohhhhh!

SEAGOON: There, there – don't take it so hard! It was only in thinks.

BLUEBOTTLE: Mmm. Thinks; doesn't say anything, just thinks.

SEAGOON: Here lad – now here are the brandy balls. How fast does Mister Crun's Wurlitzer go?

BLUEBOTTLE: I will tell you. Eighty mumph.


BLUEBOTTLE: Yes. Eighty M.P.H – mumph.

SEAGOON: Gad gid! Mine's only ever done fifty mumph!

MORIARTY: Then it must be destroyed! (Sotto voce) This means more scrap for us, listeners. (Aloud) Here Neddie, put this bomb in the E flat organ pipe.

SEAGOON: I'm too fat to get in that.

MORIARTY: Er… Let me see now, who's thin enough to get in?

BLUEBOTTLE: Can I go home now, capatain? I got my...


GRAMS: Sudden single whoosh.

BLUEBOTTLE: (miles away) Goodbye.

SEAGOON: Bluebottle! Come down off that Mount Everest.

BLUEBOTTLE: No! No, you will dead me. 'Blange' you will go, and I’ll be blanged.

SEAGOON: Here's a picture of Sabrina.

GRAMS: Single whoosh.

BLOODNOK: Ooahh! Where? Where?

SEAGOON: Bloodnok, throw that sofa away. Bloodnok, come here! You'll do. Now put this bomb in Mister Crun's Wurlitzer.

BLOODNOK: What? Alright, I'll do it, but for fifty pounds.

SEAGOON: Gad! – there are no flies on you.

BLOODNOK: I know, but they'll be back in the spring again. [45]

SEAGOON: There, fifty pounds in used custard.

FX: Cash register.

GRAMS: Organ music. Swell then let it wind down like a vehicle coming to a halt.

BANNISTER: Ahh! There Henry - we've just done sixty miles an hour in the organ, buddy.

SEAGOON: I'll beat that. Stand aside. (Narration) So saying, I sprang into the cockpit of my Wurlitzer.

GRAMS: Propeller starting. Bring in Reg Dixon playing ‘Humoresque’ – drop a load of old pipes. Organ music stops.

MORIARTY: (Aside) Hooeigh argh! Good work, Bloodnok.

SEAGOON: (Approaching) Oohh ohh! Cruel, cruel fate. My Wurlitzer – fallen to pieces.

CRUN: Then we hold the record for Wurlitzers. Hooray!

SEAGOON: No, I'll not be forestalled or five-stalled. Out of my way!

BLOODNOK: So saying, he sprang into Crun's Wurlitzer and strapped himself into the leather playing seat.

GRAMS: Propeller starting up. Bring in Reg Dixon playing. Fade behind.

MORIARTY: Bloodnok, did you remember to put the bomb in?

BLOODNOK: Er, let me think. I’m almost…

GRAMS: Huge explosion.

GREENSLADE: And that, ladies and gentlemen, was how Neddie Seagoon broke the world altitude record for organs. Good Night.

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: 'Crazy Rhythm' playout. [46]



[1] One of the least funny shows Spike ever wrote, this Goon Show explores a Milliganesque conjunction of ideas which are typical of his notion of “things out of order with each other” but which fail to coalesce into a humorous plot. Milligan was obsessed with the idea of a piano as means of transportation; “Seagoon, take over the piano – I can’t steer anymore.” (‘Napoleon’s Piano’ 4/6th); “Can’t this piano go any faster? No, I’m out of practice – I haven’t played for years!” (‘The Mystery of the Fake Neddie Seagoons’ - 9/7th); “Here comes a man pushing himself along on a piano.” (‘Child Harolde Reward’ - 6/9th) “Actually I’m Ned Seagoon, licensed piano driver in E*” (‘The Seagoon Memoirs’ - 7/9th); and by extension (as in this script) a theatre organ. Milligan was to employ this image to better effect in ‘The Treasure in the Tower’ (5/8th) when Bannister uses a theatre organ as a treasure divining machine;

SEAGOON: Listen! I hear the sounds of a pipe organ.

CORNISH SAILOR: Argghh! It must be someone digging for treasure!

At the beginning of 1956 Spike was in the process of buying a new house and shifting his growing family from their cramped flat in Highgate to the new surrounds of Finchley, consequently his scripts were suffering from inattention and underdevelopment, (the process where you take an idea past its obvious application and create new contexts and resonances for it.) Three of the shows from this period (December – January 1955-56) suffer from limp writing, (The Lost Year’, ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer’ and ‘The Raid of the International Christmas Pudding), all containing individually brilliant Milliganesque ideas, but all unable to fulfil their humorous potential.

Spike joins together three main ideas in this script; the first was the arms build-up in the Middle East; the second was the breaking of the land speed record by Sir Malcolm Campbell; and the third was the career of the much loved English Theatre Organist, Reg Dixon. With almost too much material at his disposal, Spike came up with some of the limpest lines he ever wrote and one of the most incoherent plots, making a mess of the idea of driving a theatre organ at speed, and using the idea of buying arms for the Egyptians as a drab piece of political grandstanding, rather than making something humorous out of it. Milligan was sometimes not very careful to cover up the streak of bigotry that ran through his nature. Whereas the Welsh scene and the reference to ‘Hotel-des-Wogs’ in Cairo were amusing to the audiences of the 50’s, nowadays the stereotypes and snide racism grates badly on the modern conscience.

The most regrettable thing about this show however, is that the original recording has been censored, with some lines garbled and others lost, while Milligan’s printed script in ‘The Goon Show Scripts’ (Woburn Press 1972), is largely a rewrite, with Milligan frequently embroidering his original writing with edits that took his fancy. Even the ‘Goon Show Compendium’ Vol 4 which contains the re-mastered version of the original broadcast by Ted Kendal is unable to restore many of the excisions that the BBC in their wisdom inflicted on the tape. Most transcribers up until now seem to have been satisfied to write a version of the printed script (P.S.) of 1972. This transcription is of the actual show, without Milligan’s later improvements.

[2] The only way we know this is what Greenslade says is via the published script – ‘The Goon Show Scripts’ Woburn Press 1972. The BBC appears to have excised the central vowel of the word ‘knotted’ to avoid offence.


[3] Noël Coward (1899-1973) actor, writer, raconteur, was one of the most famous identities of the British theatre. After the war, his twee ‘tween-war dramas had gone well and truly out of fashion, until in 1955 he experienced an Indian summer of prestige, starring in a sell-out cabaret season in Las Vegas (released live on gramophone) and in three ninety-minute television specials for CBS alongside Mary Martin.  These were followed up by a new lease of life for Coward on the screen beginning with “Around the World in Eighty Days” in 1956, followed by “Our Man in Havana” in 1959 where his suave, sophisticated, weary man-about-town style endured him to a new generation of viewers.


[4] Milligan’s reference to Coventry is ironic. His solo act had been a tragic flop at the Coventry Hippodrome in June 1954. Secombe wrote,

Spike was at that time still developing his act… One night Spike had a particularly bad reception from a bewildered audience and, after delivering the immortal line ‘I hope you all get bombed again’ he walked off to his dressing room and locked the door.”

According to Alfred Draper’s book ‘The Story of the Goons’ the rest of the cast forced the door open to find Spike on the point of hanging himself. However Scudamore’s version of events is that he screamed at the hostile audience, telling them he knew they hated him, then stamping on his trumpet he stormed off the stage and locked himself in his dressing room for hours. Apart from the two references in this script, Eccles had also sung, “That man from Coventry…” under his breath in the previous show (‘The Greenslade Story’ 14/6th,) so obviously Milligan still felt deeply about the incident.


[5] Milligan and his increasing family – his wife June, toddler Laura and the new baby Sean, had been living in a cramped flat in Shepherd’s Hill, Highgate. A few weeks earlier Spike had bought, on a mortgage, a semi-detached house in Finchley, with a large garden and a stream at the bottom. The Goon Show references to Finchley start at about this juncture; “Little East Finchley Arab in brown suede shoes…”(‘The International Christmas Pudding’ 9/6th), “My picture will be in the East Finchley Chronics…” (‘The Pevensey Bay Disaster’ 10/6th) and “What brings you to the steaming hell of Africa from the steaming hell of Finchley?” (‘The Telephone’ 11/7th.)


[6] Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), German composer, organist, harpsichordist and choirmaster. Master of the German contrapuntal school, his works are considered the greatest flowering of the Baroque era, demonstrating maturity, elegance and technical perfection far above other composers of his day. The Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565, is one of the most famous compositions ever written for organ. Wally Stott, as was his habit, dovetails the end of his orchestral introduction nicely into the recorded Bach excerpt.


[7] Reginald Dixon (1904-1985) was an English theatre organist, best known as resident organist at the Tower Ballroom Blackpool from 1930 until his retirement in 1970. He was responsible for the venue installing the enormous ‘Wonder Wurlitzer’ in 1935, and it was on this organ that he recorded many of his greatest hits and made many of his famous organ broadcasts. Almost every week during the 50’s the BBC would feature a programme of theatre organ music, making him – and other organists like Ena Baga and Sandy McPherson, into household names.


[8] The Rhondda valley, (Cwm Rhondda) in South Wales, was one of the most famous British mining districts of the 19th century, famous too for its deplorable working conditions, militant labour organisations, non-conformist brand of Christianity, brass bands, choral associations and (by the 20th century,) rugby. By the time this Goon Show was aired, the antiquated mines of Rhondda were shutting down, leaving behind communities devastated by unemployment, racked with social problems and facing extinction.


[9] An Irish patriotic song, words by Thomas Moore (1779-1852) to a traditional melody. It is a particular favourite of choral societies and Celtic patriots.


[10] The addition of the word ‘bach’ to everything the Welsh characters say, is a joke based on the Welsh habit of using the word ‘bach’ (meaning ‘little one’ or ‘pet’) as a form of address.


[11] Seagoon is referring to the Laurence Olivier film “Richard III”, the cinematic realisation of Shakespeare’s play. It had opened in London in April 1955 to less than enthusiastic reviews, although opinion has since changed and the picture is considered to be one of Olivier’s best. Milligan seems to have been affected to some degree by the bard. Ever since the beginning of the 6th series he had included Shakespearean stage directions in many of his shows. Eg: “Exit Tucket and Treeze, fighting,” - ‘The Case of the Missing CD Plates’ (5/6th.)


[12] Sandy McNab was not an organist but a Scottish footballer (1911-1962) who played for two of Sunderland’s greatest victories. During the 50’s his name was used by Londoners as slang for a ‘cab’ and, by the application of secondary rhyming slang, as the word for ‘crabs,’ that is to say – pubic lice. I think Spike’s idea was that both Reg Dixon and ‘Sandy McNabs’ were attached to organs. The joke bewilders the audience.


[13] Under Milk Wood” was a ‘play for voices,’ written especially for the radio by the Welsh poet and playwright Dylan Thomas in 1954, premiering on the BBC’s Third Programme on the 25th January, two months after Thomas’ untimely death.  The play is narrated by two ‘voices’, the first being played in the original broadcast by Richard Burton (1925-1984.)  As an example of Spike’s 1972 editing, this reference was cut in that script.


[14] As Sellers (as Mai Jones) goes off-mic, he improvises, “Well really, I never thought it was like that you know…”

[15] A tit-for-tat arms race had began in the Middle East following the collapse of the 1949 Tripartite Agreement, which formally placed an embargo on weapons sales to the countries involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Following attacks by Israel on the Egyptian held Gaza Strip in 1955, which the Egyptian Army were unable to counter, and the impending agreed withdrawal of Britain from Suez, Egypt, under its new leader Gamal Nasser, negotiated a deal with Russia disguised as an Egyptian-Czechoslovakian transaction, for 200 new tanks. France, angry that Egypt was backing rebels in Algeria, retaliated by selling tanks to Israel. The stage was set for the impending Suez crisis of 1956.


[16] I’m Walking Backwards For Christmas” (Milligan 1955) was first performed on Seller’s edition of ‘The Listening Room’ (Dec 1955), and first fully performed on the ‘Goon Show’ in ‘The Great Tuscan Salami Scandal’ (Feb 1956).  This is actually the first time any line of the song appears in the show. Spike eventually recorded the number for Decca (DECCA F. 10756 – along with ‘The Bluebottle Blues’) in May of this year, and the recording was released in August.


[17] The sixth series became ‘Sabrina Country’ as the happily married Spike Milligan quietly steamed with forbidden passion for this grotesquely talented young miss (born 1936 and originally named Norma Sykes), from Stockport, Cheshire. She was currently featuring as Arthur Askey’s sidekick in ‘Before Your Eyes’ for ITV.


[18] Spike’s ongoing gag concerning firstly anthropoideal nicotine had started in ‘Napoleon’s Piano’ (4/6th). By the ninth show, he had switched to monarchical tobacco, “Have a picture of Queen Victoria.” continuing here with Victoria’s grandfather, the pitifully demented George III.


[19] A typical Milliganesque joke, and spelt exactly how Sellers pronounces it. Brought up in a colonial family conditioned to call natives by the deprecating appellatives of the times, Milligan’s use of the words ‘coons,’ ‘wogs’ and ‘niggers’ makes his writings uncomfortable reading nowadays. Here it is possible he is alluding to Paul Robeson (1898-1976), the Afro-American concert artist and activist, famous for his golden voiced rendition of ‘Ol’ Man River’ - who in the course of his career had visited Cwm Rhondda, singing for the families of the miners. He also developed an interest in the militant labour organisations of the coal-miners, seeing in them the ideals that he felt black-Americans needed in their struggle for social justice. He later starred in a film set in Wales, “The Proud Valley” (1940,) playing a black labourer who arrives in Rhondda and wins the hearts of the people.


[20] Secombe’s recent recording of ‘On With the Motley’ had entered the billboard charts the previous month at number 16, staying there for about 3 weeks. ‘Housewives’ Choice’ was the classic BBC morning radio programme. An appearance of a new release on this programme almost guaranteed a recording’s success. In ‘The Greenslade Story,’ John Snagge had threatened to ban Secombe’s disc on this programme, a terrible fate for a variety star like Harry.


[21] An extremely puzzling reference; Bucain(e) - (Bupivacaine hydrochloride) is an anaesthetic commonly used for caesarean sections, spinal epidurals or occasionally dental surgery. What Spike meant is hard to know.


[22] The Rudolph Wurlitzer company of Chicago, was one of the world’s leading manufacturers of orchestral instruments, (in opposition to the British company Boosey and Hawkes – see ‘Lurgi Strikes Britain’, 7/5th,) theatre organs, band organs, electric organs and jukeboxes.


[23] Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)  English novelist, journalist and reviewer. An irascible literary genius, his post war novel “Brideshead Revisited” (1945) had brought him fame and fortune. Interviewed for BBC radio in 1953 by Stephen Black, in a programme the ‘Spectator’ called “…the goading of the bull by the matador,” Evelyn’s irascible style and perceptive yet old fashioned ideas were painfully evident. Increasingly, young journalists who relished a literary stoush would beat a path to his door, hoping for an argument, a scandalous knock down or a memorable quote – all of which Waugh was quite capable of providing, depending on his mood. The first volume of Waugh’s War Trilogy – “Men At Arms” had recently won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature. It, among other novels and biographies of the war, would set off in Milligan a reaction against war writing which he saw as self serving and vainglorious and stimulated him to set about writing his own War Memoirs.


[24] A popular song written by McHugh and Fields and published in 1935.  Originally made famous by Frances Langford in the 1935 film ‘Every Night at Eight’ it became her signature tune, which she sung on various radio shows during the war years.  In 1936 the song was performed in the ‘Our Gang’ film ‘The Pinch Singer,’ a twenty minute short by the Little Rascals comedy team, an American series about neighbourhood children and the scrapes they get into. The performance by the nine year old Carl Dean “Alfafa’ Switzer (1927-1959) bears a very close resemblance to the character of Bluebottle – antsy, big-talking, cocky, self-important and with the biggest cow’s lick in cinema history. The performance is a riot, a keenly observed rendition characterised by poor breathing, feeble tone and beautifully pitched a whole quarter-tone flat.


[25] In a report published in Britain during the last week of December 1955 a spokesman for the Belgium scrap dealers in Zellick who were organising the shipment of tanks and military transporters to Egypt, protested that “the whole operation was absolutely legal.” His firm had sent through Antwerp more than twenty Valentine tanks, a number of Centurion tanks and more than a hundred bren-gun carriers, jeeps and spares. British opinion was highly inflamed by the fact that these armaments could be used against British troops in the Suez.


[26] In the 1972 script of this show, the following exchange takes place:

            SEAGOON: (Indigestion) Burp!

GRYTPYPE: Splendid!

These two lines make sense and seem to finish the joke off perfectly, but do not appear on any recording I possess, neither – oddly, are they on the newly released BBC Compendium version which supposedly restores all cuts.


[27] Strangely enough, this was a job that Milligan himself had actually done during the war. While convalescing from battle fatigue (as post traumatic stress disorder was then called) in the town of Maddaloni, Campania, Spike secured a small room next to the C of E chapel in which to bunk.

“I move in and am immediately seized upon to help. Sunday, the ‘pumper’ for the organ hasn’t shown, can I? There on my knees I am gainfully employed by the Lord. The handle should be lowered and raised with an air of delicacy, but Gunner Milligan is a jazz pumper with a beat-me-daddy-eight-to-the-bar. There is a sickening ‘CRACK’, I am left with the shaft…Exhausted I jack it in, the organ expires with a long groan and ‘Fissshhhhhhh’ as the last wind escapes.” (‘Where Have All the Bullets Gone’, Hobbs, 1985.)


[28] The first line of Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’.


[29] Rosina (Ena) Baga (1906-2004) was a renowned British pianist and theatre organist, replacing Reg Dixon as the organist at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool during the war, and later becoming famous as the leading exponent of the new Hammond organs, popular during the 1960’s as entertainment in the family home. Endlessly creative and adaptive, she released discs of organ arrangements of modern pop music including the Beatles and Bacharach, and even in her latter years appeared in film and television.


[30] April in Paris” (Harburg/Duke; 1932) was fast becoming a Grytpype-Moriarty standard. What happens here is more interesting than usual; Stott dovetails their version of the first two lines with the remainder of the first 16 bars of the Count Basie version. The Count Basie orchestra had toured Europe in 1954 making a huge sensation wherever they played, and the version Stott copies of the Wild Bill Davis arrangement (featuring the extraordinary five-piece saxophone ensemble) went on to become a best seller for Count Basie in 1957.


[31] Daytona Beach on the coast of Florida, USA, was the site of many early attempts to set new land-speed records. The final series of attempts to be made on the original beach circuit were made by the English racing driver Malcolm Campbell (1885 -1948 ) who broke the 246mph record first on the hard packed sand in 1931, returning the following year to break his own record with a run of 253mph in the “Bluebird IV”. The last land-speed record broken at Daytona was in 1935 when Campbell achieved 276mph after unofficially reaching 330mph on one of the runs. The beach was a dangerous place to attempt land speed records, with a distance of less than 500 yards between the Atlantic ocean on one side and the crowds of spectators on the other side, so in 1938 the track was moved four miles away to the purpose built Daytona International speedway.


[32] For some inexplicable reason, Sellers is doing an impression of a broody hen as Moriarty starts his line. Why, is uncertain.


[33] This line is in the 1972 script but is missing from the new Goon Show Compendium version of the episode. It seems clear though from the audience’s laughter that a line has been excised before the clucking noises.


[34]Ombra Mai Fu” – the most famous aria from the 1738 opera ‘Serse’ by George Frideric Handel (1685 - 1759), was a favourite of Victorian balladists and organists.


[35] The Twelfth Street Rag” was composed by Euday Bowman (1887-1949,) bordello pianist and ragtime composer. His various rags were named after the streets in the bordello district of Kansas City where he sometimes worked. The piece is considered to be the most famous example of Texas ragtime ever composed.


[36] Late Night Final” is credited to Don Lusher, trombonist in ‘The Ted Heath Band.’ The band had made a huge impact on British jazz in recent years and was, in the opinion of many, the only British band to seriously contend with any of the great US jazz bands. Don Lusher (1923-2006,)  trombonist, composer and bandleader was considered matchless as a performer and ranked one of the finest players of his day.


[37] Installed in London’s Festival Hall in 1954, the Festival Organ was designed by Ralph Downes and is still considered the “Rolls Royce” of British classical organs. The instrument, with 7,866 pipes, was recently restored at the cost of slightly over two million pounds.


[38] Milligan breaks up badly and is unable to finish.


[39] Jim Davidson (1902-1982), band leader, broadcaster and BBC producer, had arrived from Australia a decade previously and become assistant head of Variety. He was known as a ‘blunt tough Australian’, but with his military background and widespread theatre experience (both in the forces during the war and on the Australian Tivoli circuit,) he was a man who could deal with Spike on equal terms, and with whom Spike could identify. By the time Davidson retired, he estimated that he had produced 3500 live shows on radio, including a historic Beatles concert in the Royal Albert Hall in April 1963. He was given a farewell concert there on his retirement from the Corporation in September 1964. 


[40] I think this is possibly Minnie’s version of ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ a 1952 popular song by Shearing and Weiss.


[41] Paul Fenoulhet (1905-1979), British trombonist, trumpeter, French horn player, arranger and conductor. Worked with such band leaders as Percival Mackey, Jack Hylton and Carroll Gibbons before the war until forming his own band ‘The Skyrockets’ which he led until 1947. A noted arranger and conductor he went on to lead the BBC Variety Orchestra and later became the director of the BBC Radio Orchestra.

[42] There is an unrestored cut here. The BBC seems to have excised a word of two as what remains doesn’t make sense. I propose that the script probably said, “Large amounts of the audience for the Archers are in the audiences.” This is one of a number of cuts in the recording that are permanently lost. The P.S. is wildly at variance with the recorded performance at this point so it is impossible to confirm the original.


[43] Now in its sixth year, ‘The Archers’ was a successful soap opera broadcast on the BBC Home Service. The series (which still continues) regularly attracted up to 60% of the British listening audience. The BBC were not adverse to using such phenomenal figures to their own advantage. On the 22nd September 1955 – the night of ITV’s first broadcast, the Corporation arranged for the death of Grace Archer, the much loved heroine of the serial, thus commandeering the airwaves, plunging the nation into mourning and pushing the reviews of ITV’s opening night off the front pages of the newspapers the following day. Bluebottle’s line pokes fun at the fans of the soap opera, who he implies are the most well-trained of the BBCs audiences.


[44] I wonder why Milligan (way off mic) shouts out, “Bravo! Encore!” during the applause?


[45] Bloodnok’s flies had made their first appearance earlier in the 4th series: “Blast these flies. They’re everywhere!(Slapping)” ‘The Mummified Priest’ (17/4th). The idea reappeared again in the 6th series; “Bloodnok, there’s no flies on you! I know – shut that door!” ‘Shangri-La Again’ (8/6th);  then more regularly in the 8th series;

The heat and the flies! I should never have come to Timbuktu in the mating season.” ‘Spon’ (1/8th);  the implication being that flies (and by association filth) are associated with colonial locations; “Blast these flies. Get out of it! Singhez Thingz, take these flies out and sell them!” ‘The Burning Embassy’ (3/8th); particularly India;

Blast these flies!” ‘The Red Fort’(7/8th); but often they are associated with Bloodnok’s personal hygiene; “Not a decent angled mirror in the place. - Come along you flies, out you go!” ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ (10/8th.)


[46] In the published script there is an indication that Bluebottle shadowed all of Greenslade’s final announcements, following which there is this exchange:

               GREENSLADE: For heavens sake, shut up.

               BLUEBOTTLE: For heaven’s sake, shut up.

               GREENSLADE: Look, if you don’t stop ruining my announcing I’ll…

               BLUEBOTTLE: Don’t hit me – I’ll tell my dad.

               GREENSLADE: You do and I’ll tell my mother.

                                             (Fade on terrific argument.)

               ORCHESTRA: ‘Crazy Rhythm’ playout.

It is unclear what is the origin of this particular exchange. I suspect it could actually have been Spike’s original intention as it fits well with the current state of the Greenslade-Bluebottle relationship. Bluebottle’s newly found habit of shadowing Greenslade dates from this period. It could be that Eton demanded the effect cut from the original performance for timing reasons, or that he insisted on clarity for the reading of the credits.