BROADCAST: 21 Feb 1956 [1]


Script by Spike Milligan


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service.
GRAMS: Piano chords by Mr Sellers. [2]
GREENSLADE: I will not appear in a show which employs musicians. Farewell!
SEAGOON: Wallace! Wallace! What are you saying?
GREENSLADE: I'm sorry Mister Seagoon. I am a member of the announcers union, and we've been instructed by Mister John Snagge. I tell you, I won't have any blacklegs in this show.
SEAGOON: Then Ray Ellington hasn't a leg to stand on! [3]
GRAMS: More piano chords by Mr Sellers.[4]
GREENSLADE: Stop it, stop it! I say, stop it! I'm leaving.
CAST: (Variously) Just a moment! Wal! You can’t go! We’ve got… &c
GRAMS: Horses hooves galloping into the distance.
SEAGOON: Curse! – he's gone, and we've no orchestra.
SPRIGGS: Never mind, I say. Never mind. Let me help you. I am Adolphus Spriggs, a non-playing musician. Allow me to do all the orchestral links sir.

SEAGOON: But supposing you're recognised by musicians?[5] You'll be assassinated!
SPRIGGS: Ooawhayah! Don't worry – I'll disguise myself as a bale of tobacco.
SEAGOON: Saved in the nick o' tine! Very well Spriggs, you can do the orchestral links. So, now let's start all over again, shall we?
GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service.
SEAGOON: By jove he's right, you know. We'll have to change out of these teddy-boy's clothes.[6] I thought we were on the Light! [7]
GREENSLADE: Wait a minute. What does all this mean?
SEAGOON: Nothing at all. But I wish to make a statement.
SPRIGGS: (Sings extended grand introduction. Ends with vocal cymbal snap.)
SEAGOON: Well done, Mister Spriggs. I'm sure nobody noticed the difference.
GREENSLADE: Look, just a moment. Isn't there an easier way of getting into this show?
SEAGOON: Of course not. It's the suspense that keeps them interested, you see. Some of our best moments in this show have been suspenses.
FX: Pistol shot.
MILLIGAN: (Distant) OOW!
FX: Body falls to floor.
SEAGOON: There's no need to take it so hard, Wallace. Sellers, fill him up with anti-freeze and lay him in the fridge! And above all be careful of the Tuscan Salami.
MILLIGAN: (Elderly idiot) The Tuscan Salami? Hiehohohowah…
GREENSLADE: Attention listeners. At this point we should have had four sharp, dramatic semiquavers. And by gad we will! Mister Spriggs…
SPRIGGS: (Vocal link) Bum, bum, bububu-bum!
SEAGOON: Thank you.[8] It was one day during my period of office as part-time strolling Prime Minister [9] that I was handed the ukulele parts for Lohengrin – but he was out at the time.[10] (Laughs) Ha ha ha! Ahem. However, that night two sound-effects men knocked on the door.
FX: Knock on door.
SEAGOON: (Calls) Come in!
FX: Door opens.
KING OF ITALY:[11] Buona sera, senor. I am ze King of Italy.[12]
SEAGOON: Splendid, Bonaspear. Have a cigarette. You’ll find the machine and papers in my spare boot.[13]
KING OF ITALY: Look, please don't joke. I come-a to ask just-a one-a question.
SEAGOON: Well, make it quick. I've got to collect my Union Jack from the launderette.
KING OF ITALY: Never mind about the Indian joke, mate.[14] What’s-a happened to Gina, the so-beautiful female Tuscan salami what the Italian peoples are giving you as a goodwill present?
SEAGOON: Oh, she's in the zoo with her mate.
KING OF ITALY: Not in ze zoo with her mate. Gina! Don't you ever read the newspapers?
SEAGOON: Not on my salary. Humph! Eighteen guineas for the Evening News? Ha! I'd never have given that Macmillan a job if I'd known (what)[15] he was going to do. Forty guineas for a pencil! (Laughs) Hee hee hee! Its disgusting.
KING OF ITALY: Stop-a this! You find that so-beautiful Tuscan salami Gina or it is war.
FX: Door closes.
SPRIGGS: (Dramatic vocal link.) Tum, tum tum tummm! [16]
SEAGOON: You're getting better, Mister Spriggs! Dear listeners – let me explain. (This was terrible news, you understand.) Gina was one of a pair of Tuscan salamis which were given to Britain by Italy and were the sole breeders of the rare Tuscan-type sandwich salami as used in all espresso bars and the well-known hors d'oeuvres. This is known to you all I understand, but Greenslade – let John Snagge explain. Put the record on.
(Pre-recording) SNAGGE: Last night, over a sleepy Houndsditch,

a new and secret missile of terrifying potentiality was successfully tested. It is the so-called ‘Hot Dog’ – a pre-heated salami fitted with a warhead. [17]

SEAGOON: Yes, dear listeners. And strange to relate, these fiendish weapons were not manufactured, but bred in captivity.
SPRIGGS: Dramatic chord!… (sings) Lom-ta-dai-ya-hoi-a-hoi.[18]
FX: Knock on door. Door opens.
CONSTABLE: Inspector McGregor, the part-time Prime Minister to see you, sir.
SEAGOON: Thank you. Here’s an airing-cupboard – have fun. Now Inspector McGregor, what's the latest on the salami situation?
GRAMS: Distant bagpipes behind. (Shadow all McGregor’s lines)
MCGREGOR: Sir, it appears they got away with the female, but the male is still safe.
SEAGOON: Who got away?
MCGREGOR: We’re no quite certain sir, but there's been a leakage.
SEAGOON: I know, it's this cold weather. My pipes have had it too, you know.
MCGREGOR: Evidence points to the Foreign Office, sir.
SEAGOON: It's rude to point.
MCGREGOR: Shut up, sir! Those two missing diplomats, Burgess and McTeeth.[19]
MCGREGOR: Aye, aye, they've fooled us all. Under the pretence of going out to buy a copy of Pravda,[20] they took a taxi from Dover to Ostend. That’s what fooled us! We thought they'd take the boat.
SEAGOON: And then?
MCGREGOR: They took the road to Berlin.
SEAGOON: What on earth did they take a road to Berlin for? They've got roads there already. Where are they now?
MCGREGOR: Nobody knows. The moment they crossed the Polish frontier into Russia and settled in Moscow in a flat on Gorky Street, we lost all trace of them, sir.[21]
SEAGOON: Great leaping lurgi's.

MCGREGOR: Arrrrgh!

SEAGOON: The British people mustn't learn a word of all this. Publish a white paper about drains, and have the Albert Memorial retouched. But wait a minute – if they only have the female salami, its no good to them without the male.[22]
MCGREGOR: On the contrary. Professor Farlov the Off-White Russian scientist,[23] is about to perfect a synthetic imitation Russian-speaking Tuscan male salami that may completely deceive the unsuspecting female.
SEAGOON: Gad! Then there's not a moment to be lost. McGregor!
MCGREGOR: Aarrrr Sirrrrr?
SEAGOON: Take me to the launderette!
MCGREGOR: Aarrrr - RRrrrrr – RRRarrrrRRrrrRRR… (Does motorbike imitation.)

GRAMS: Swell bagpipes, speed up and fade.

GREENSLADE: The sound of bagpipes has been specially added for Scottish listeners. And now the Tuscan Salami Scandal, part erm…
CYRIL: 'Ere. Stop the show! Hang on a minute – I got a beautiful boy singer 'ere. 'E's got a song you never 'eard nothing like it in all your natural. It’s a marvellous new wonder song. It is straight from me own County Down in the old Ireland. Melody! It’s got feelin', pathos, Samos, Guernsey, Rockall and Sark. (Oh, I'm referrin' to the old Graham Sark of course.) [24] This boy 'ad 'is tonsils specially sprayed with Footo, the Wonder Boot Exploder.[25]
SPRIGGS: (Sings) Ooo-eee…
CYRIL: Not yet, Adolphus. Not yet! Save it. Save it. ('E's dead keen this boy, dead keen! North Korean Johnnie Ray,[26] I'm not kidding you. Never put a tonsil wrong.) 'Ere, I say, you’ve got the cultured talkin' voice, ‘aven't you?

CYRIL: Well, talk this bit what I writ 'ere.
SECOMBE: Right-oh then. (Announces) Presenting Adolphus Spriggs, the voice of mediocrity, direct from his triumph in Lew, near Leslie in Regent Street,[27] in the wonder song “I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas.” Take it away, boy!
SPRIGGS: Can I have my introduction please?

PIANO: Piano introduction.

SPRIGGS: (Sings) I’m walking backwards for Christmas

                              across the Irish sea.

                              I’m walking backwards for Christmas

                              it’s the finest thing for me.

                              I’ve tried walking sideways,

                              and walking to the front

                              they just look at me

                              and say “It’s a publicity stunt.”

                              I’m walking backwards for Christmas

                              to prove my love for you.

And now ladies and gentlemen, I shall walk backwards singing the song at the same time, at no extra charge.

(Self fade)     I’m walking backwards for Christmas…[28]

FX: Body falls to floor.
SPRIGGS: (Distant) Aaaah!

GRAMS: Body into water.

GRAMS & OMNES: Hysterical applause. (Cries of ‘More!’)

SPRIGGS: Thank you. I'd love to give you an encore, but I'm too expensive.
GREENSLADE: Three months have passed away, and so fortunately has Adolphus Spriggs – and no news yet of the missing diplomats or the kidnapped salami. With Italy threatening war…
KING OF ITALY: (Distant) Yes! yes…
GREENSLADE: Shut up, King of Italy!

CAST: (Variously) Shut up! Shut up Eccles! &c
GREENSLADE: …With Italy threatening war, the breeding of ground-to-ground missiles at a standstill, and with Arsenal three – Tottenham two, the situation was desperate.
SEAGOON: Yes, and what’s more from the Zoo itself came the Zoo Manager himself bearing grave tidings.
FX: Coconut-shells hooves approaching.
ECCLES: Haaallo. Ooh, this is serious.
SEAGOON: What is?
ECCLES: I just split my leopard-skin tights. That leopard will never be able to wear 'em again.
SEAGOON: Stop these animal-type jokes. Are you really the manager of the Zoo?
ECCLES: Yeah. All them wild animals – I'm in charge.
SEAGOON: No wonder they're wild.
ECCLES: What, what, what?
SEAGOON: Now, what’s the trouble?
ECCLES:[29] Ah, well the Chairman of the Zoological Society asked me to see you.
SEAGOON: He did?
ECCLES: Yep. He wants you to fill a vacancy. Step in this cage.
SEAGOON: Don't be a charlie. My soup’s on fine.[30]
ECCLES: Oooh! I'm sorry. Well, he wanted me to give you this telephone.
ECCLES: He's on the other end.
FX: Telephone hand piece picked up.
CHAIRMAN:[31] (on phone) I say, look here, I'm speaking from the elephant house.
SEAGOON: Oh, a trunk call.
GRAMS: Elephant trumpeting.
CHAIRMAN: The elephants don't wish to know about that. No, its this male salami.
SEAGOON: You mean old Fred?
CHAIRMAN: Yes, yes. He's starting to pine you see. He's shrunk quite a bit already, and if we don't get Gina back quick he'll be down to the size of a small frankfurter.
SEAGOON: That’s no good as a guided missile.
SEAGOON: Leave it to me. I'll think of something.
FX: Hand piece down.
SEAGOON: I've got it. We must send two absolutely trustworthy Foreign-Office types to Russia to steal Gina back again.
FX: Telephone hand piece picked up.
SEAGOON: Hello, Labour Exchange?
OFFICIAL:[32] (on phone) Yes, the fact is – yes.  
SEAGOON: Can you send up two absolutely trustworthy Foreign-Office types for Top Secret duty?
OFFICIAL: I can do that for you. (Raves)
SEAGOON: Thank you.
FX: Replaces phone. Door opens suddenly.
GRYTPYPE: (Approaching) Sorry we're late Neddie, but we only just got the message.
MORIARTY: Sapristi-stolen-salami! What do you want us for?
SEAGOON: Just a minute. What are your names?
GRYTPYPE: I'm Grytpype-Thynne, former gypsy saxophonist to the House of Romanov [33] and temporary railway saboteur of the Russian railways,[34] and my friend here is Count Serge Moriarty.
GRYTPYPE: Only because he couldn't afford flannel.
SEAGOON: Oh, I see. Now are you sure that you're both utterly trustworthy patriotic Englishmen and unimpeachable security risks?
GRYTPYPE: My dear sir, our Union Jacks are at the same laundrette as yours.
SEAGOON: Proof positive. (Laughs) Ha ha! (Aside) But wait, dear listeners, how did these complete strangers know that my private Union Jack was at the laundrette? Is someone talking indiscreetly? (Aloud) Wait here, gentlemen. Help yourselves to a glass of samovar from the saucepan on the hob.
FX: Door shuts.
MORIARTY: He's gone
GRYTPYPE: Quick. Rifle his desk, photograph the plans of the male salami, telephone the Kremlin and mind that bust of Queen Victoria.
GRYTPYPE: Meanwhile I'll play two quick choruses of "When I'm Cleaning Windows" on my leather euphonium just to cover any noise.[35] Now get going.
MORIARTY: Right. (Extended effort over following.)
FX: Hammering; wood saw; glass breaking; rapidly. Moriarty continues through.
MORIARTY: Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Ha! Look what I found!
GRYTPYPE: Let me see. (Gasps) Moriarty, you've done a great day's work!
MORIARTY: That’s why I'm feeling tired.
GRYTPYPE: You Siberian spy! Do you know what this paper is? It's the plans of a female salami!
MORIARTY: But we don't need them! Our agents, Burgess and McTeeth, took Gina the female salami with them to Moscow.
GRYTPYPE: That’s what the world and Beaverbrook thinks.[36] The truth is quite otherwise. Those fools Burgess and McTeeth got hungry on the way and ate the only female Tuscan salami this side of the spaghetti curtain.
MORIARTY: Sapristi noodles! Then the male salami's no good.
GRYTPYPE: Not at all. You know the fiendish Professor Pavlov has already nearly completed an artificial male salami. With these plans of the female he can breed a million more and bombard Soho with its own deadly kind
MORIARTY: Sapristi! Sapristi! Then this means…
GRYTPYPE: Yes! The Tuscan Salami Scandal Part Three, which begins with a substitute for Ray Ellington.
SEAGOON: That’s me, folks! Presenting Neddie Seagoon with his nineteen-oh-nine-type phonographic request recital, complete with a set of non-explodable records.
GRAMS: Short sharp hand grenade.
SEAGOON: Curse! A dud. Now, first of all for Mrs Hieronymus Clun of four, ‘The Villas’ Cleethorpes Sinks, here is the very record she hasn't asked for; “The Rites of Spring”, by Ripsi-Korsettsoff [37] played by the Gulf Stream Tearoom Quartet from the oblique position.
GRAMS: Orchestral excerpt. Vary the speed wildly.
SEAGOON: Thank you. Songs my mother loved. Now you know why father shot her. And now, Private Wretch of the fourth Mudguards has asked for a record of his sergeant falling down a manhole. And here it is accompanied (without orchestra), by Geraldo.[38]
FX: Footsteps, distant scream, body falls to floor.
SEAGOON: Ah, yes; patriots all. Now on the serious side, Elsie Sprugg and Gladys Legge of ‘Rowton House’ Champagne Bar, have asked for a record of Sir William Cludge conducting the Four in Jeopardy with knee-bracket accompaniment and silent dogs with the Massed Bands of the Hybrid Spahi's Banjo Society and the fourth Coolies Harmonica Chorus, recorded in the natural surroundings of the living room of Jim Davidson's Saxophone Parlour and part-time Egg Hatchery with a solo by Rawicz and Landauer. Well, Elsie and Gladys, (wry) …we haven't got it. But, here is a record of Fred Clute and his Nubian Monsters playing cribbage! [39]
GRAMS: Speeded-up accordion band.
SEAGOON: Thank you. Finally, Miss Frewina Kellogg would like to hear Sabrina sing.[40] So would I. Goodnight, Housewives, and once again, a Merry Christmas!
GRAMS: Anonymous closing theme. Sudden suspense chord.
GREENSLADE: And so, Neddie Seagoon packs his horn-type phonograph and collection of chipped cardboard records. Leaving behind his plasticine needle, he hurries to consult the head of M.I.5, Sir Henry Crun, to make a double security check on Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty.
FX: Knocking at door. Snoring over. Knocking continues under.
CRUN: Ah, dear, dear, dear. Why must people call in the middle of the night? Why can't they come at a reasonable…? Argh… Min?
BANNISTER: (Mouth breathing) Whatwhatwhatwhat… Yes, Buddy?

CRUN: There’s somebody knocking, Min.
BANNISTER: Yes, Henry, yes. There’s somebody knocking.
CRUN: One of us will have to answer the door, Min.
BANNISTER: You answer it, Henry. I can't find my boot in the dark.
CRUN: Well then, turn on the light, Min.
BANNISTER: I can't, Henry.
CRUN: Why not?
BANNISTER: When its dark I can't find the light.
CRUN: I've just had a clever idea, Minnie
BANNISTER: Have you, Henry?
CRUN: Yes, Min dear. It is a very clever idea.
BANNISTER: Oooooh! How did you come to think of it, Henry?
CRUN: You know it came to me when I was thinking about … er… Min?
CRUN: I've forgotten what it was I was thinking about when I got the idea.
BANNISTER: Oh. Never mind Henry. What was the idea?
CRUN: I've forgotten, Min.
BANNISTER: Oh. (Mouth breathing.)
CRUN: Min?
CRUN: He's stopped knocking, Min.
BANNISTER: Perhaps he's gone away, buddy.
CRUN: Oh dear, what a pity.
BANNISTER: Why, Henry?
CRUN: I've just remembered the clever idea I had.
BANNISTER: Oh. What was it, Henry?
CRUN: Well, we should throw the key out of the window, Min.
BANNISTER: Oh. That was a clever idea, Henry.
CRUN: It was, wasn't it! (Going back to sleep.)
CRUN: Mmmm?
BANNISTER: Supposing he comes back?
CRUN: He won't be able to get in, Min. You can't get in without the key you know. You must have the key to get in.
BANNISTER: But he hasn't got the key, Henry.
CRUN: What key, Min?
BANNISTER: (Strongly) The key to the door!
CRUN: Well, then he won't be able to get in, Min.
BANNISTER: No, no, Henry. I know that.
CRUN: He must have the key, Min, otherwise he can't get through the door
BANNISTER: I know. But you've got the key, Henry!
CRUN: Yes, and he can't get in. He must have the key you know. You can't get in without keys…
BANNISTER: (Impatient) Why don't you throw the key out of the window, Henry?
CRUN: Oh, that's an idea, isn't it?

BANNISTER: It’s a clever idea.

CRUN: How did you ever think of such a clever idea?
BANNISTER: (Thinks) What idea, Henry?
CRUN: (Lost) The.. idea… that… what… What was the idea?
BANNISTER: I don't know. I've no idea, Henry.
CRUN: But you said you had one, Min.
BANNISTER: Had one what?
CRUN: (Irritated) What I'm asking you!
BANNISTER: (Irritated) What are you asking me about?
CRUN: (In a temper) You stupid old…! I was asking you about…

FX: Distant knocking.
BANNISTER: (Enraged) Don't you start shouting at me again! I'm… (Goes off mic and returns) Oooaaahhhh!  Once round the room does me good, you know.
CRUN: He's knocking again, Min.
BANNISTER: I know, Henry! I know!
CRUN: One of us will have to answer the door, Min.
BANNISTER: You answer it Henry. I can't find my boot in the dark.
SEAGOON: (Shouting in distance.) Hey! Hey there! If you don't want to come down, throw me the key and I'll let myself in.
BANNISTER: Throw him the key, Henry.
CRUN: That’s a very clever idea, Min. I'll just open the window…
FX: Window opens.
CRUN: Watch out! Here it comes.
FX: Key on pavement. Key down drainpipe into water.
SEAGOON: (Shouting in distance.) Dash-it! I missed it. Its gone down the drain.
CRUN: Oh dear, they've fallen down the drain. Now he can't get in, Min. You can't get  in without the key, you know.[41] I wish he hadn't come. Why did he have to come, Min?
BANNISTER: I don't know Crun! You'd better ask him. I don't know…
CRUN: That's an idea, I'll ask him, yes. (Calls out) I say, Why did you come?
SEAGOON: Well, aren't you Sir Henry Crun, Head of M.I.5?
CRUN: (Close) He wants to know if I'm Henry Crun, Min.
BANNISTER: Well, tell him! Tell him…
CRUN: (Calls out) I've got to tell you, I'm Henry Crun, Head of M.I.5. What do you want, sir?  
SEAGOON: Do you know anything about two men called Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty?
CRUN: (Close) Do I know anything about two men called Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty, Min?
BANNISTER: Yes, you do, Henry! Yes.
CRUN: (Calls out) Yes I do, Henry.  
SEAGOON: Well, do you consider them absolutely trustworthy?
CRUN: (Close) I can't hear him. We should never have come to live here at the top of the Albert Hall, you know.
BANNISTER: Well, ahhh – give him an evasive answer. Tell him to clear off, buddy.
CRUN: (Calls out) Clear off, Buddy!  
BANNISTER: (Calls out) Clear off.[42]

FX: Window closes.
SEAGOON: (Close) The fools! (Calls out) Can anyone here tell me anything about Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty?
BLUEBOTTLE: I can, my Captain![43] Enter Bluebottle with large bounding strides. Springs into air. Spring!
GRAMS: Body into water.
BLUEBOTTLE: (Distant) Aaiiiyie! Who left that manhole cover off?
SEAGOON: Never mind, tiny nerk. I'll join you.
GRAMS: Second body into water.
SEAGOON: Now wring out those wet socks and tell me what you know.
BLUEBOTTLE: I bear terrible news, my Captain. Them two naughty mens, Mr. Thynne and Mr. Morinanty are wicked-type, Russian-style spies. They've stolen your plans of Mrs. Salami and are fleeing the country in a captive balloon. Look, there it is now!
SEAGOON: Quick, after them!
CAST: Vocal simulation of “The Devil’s Gallop.” [44] End with snappy “Shave-and-a haircut, two-bits,” routine.
GREENSLADE: Bicycling rapidly to Victoria Coach Station, Seagoon hired a self-drive charabanc with anti-spy hook and forced-jet salami gun. In a matter of weeks they had reached the Chiswick Alps,[45] and the balloon was directly below them.[46]
GRAMS: High altitude wind.
SEAGOON: Look! Look! – that balloon! There's something suspicious about it. Hand me my binoculars. Yes. The envelope is addressed to Moscow. Hahaha! You can't fool me. Thats no balloon, its a MiG fighter in bloomers.[47] (Calls) Driver!
BLOODNOK: (Off) What do you want? I'm in the bath.
SEAGOON: We must attract their attention. Send up a smoke signal and tell them to come out with their hands up.
BLOODNOK: I'm sorry, no smoke signals. This charabanc's a fumeless carriage, madam.
SEAGOON: I'm not madam . . .
BLOODNOK: At your age it doesn't really matter, does it. Pass the soap, would you?
SEAGOON: Then load the salami gun with this ground-to-ground explosive sausage
BLOODNOK: I'm sorry we haven't got any explosive sausages in stock.[48]
SEAGOON: Cardboard courier Bluebottle!
BLUEBOTTLE: Yes Captain!
SEAGOON: Take your socks off and slide these rockets up your boots.
BLUEBOTTLE: Here, mind what you're doing with them. Harm can come to a young lad like that. (Giggles) Eeeheeheee – they tickle!
SEAGOON: Right. Now get into this long barrel.
BLUEBOTTLE: Oh, right-ho then. (Slightly off) Ohh. It's all dark in here. Just like Piccadilly Underground only with the…
SEAGOON: Quick! Close the breech.
FX: Breech closing.
GRAMS: Missile launch. Shell trajectory. Explosion.

FX: Door opening.
MILLIGAN: Record for you.
SEAGOON: Quick, put it on.
BLUEBOTTLE: You rotten swine you.
SEAGOON: Curse it, missed. We've wasted an entire Bluebottle. Wait a minute. Where's that balloon? It's not ahead. It's not astern. It's not on either side of us!
GREENSLADE: Meanwhile, directly above them.
GRAMS: High altitude wind.
: They're right underneath, Moriarty. Release the piano.  
MORIARTY: Piano away!
GRAMS: High altitude wind stops.
: Meanwhile, directly below.
SEAGOON: Bloodnok, have you ever had the feeling that you were going to be struck by a piano?
BLOODNOK: What? Oh, what nonsense! We're not the type.
GRAMS: Grand piano falling to pavement. Jangling strings. [49]
SEAGOON: Ooowoow!
GRAMS: “Last Post” on trombone.
GREENSLADE: We found him lying prostrate in the ditch, amid the ruins of a bent Bloodnok and a piano. Gently, we raised his feet.
SEAGOON: Ooowoowoowoow. Have they escaped?
GREENSLADE: No, sir. They were shot by the customs for leaving the country without a piano.
SEAGOON: Ah. Good work! Then, there's just one question left. Has my Union Jack come back from the laundrette?
SEAGOON: Good. Lay it over me. This floor’s parky.
GREENSLADE: And so we laid him on a parquet floor, and over him we raised this simple inscription: - Sleeping. Call me in time for the next Goon Show. [50] (Sings the first phrase of  That was the Goon Show, a BBC recorded program featuring Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan, who also wrote the script. We also heard from Adolphus Spriggs, the North Korean Johnny Ray, and the Three in Jeopardy, unaccompanied by the orchestra not conducted by the conductor. The announcer was Wallace Greenslade, the program produced by Pat Dixon. Now Ladies and Gentlemen, will you please stand for the signature tune. Mr Norwich?

[1] Spike’s genius at improvisation was put to good use in this broadcast which was affected by a strike by the  Musicians Union. According to the US Billboard 10 March 1956,

“The British Broadcasting Corporation faced up to an ultimatum from the Musicians Union over a pay demand … and ran their musical programs without live orchestral backing. Issue revolves around a demand from the MU that the corporation bring its rates in line with those paid by the commercial contractors – an increase which would cost the BBC something like $1,500,000 a year.

Union affiliation in the BBC was low. The BBC had traditionally refused to accept unionism, until the Beveridge Report (released during the War) suggested that the BBC recognise ‘any organisation able to prove that it had a membership of not less than 40 percent of the total of that class in the Corporations employ’. Eventually the National Union of Journalists was accepted as a negotiating body for news and editorial staffs and foreign broadcast monitors on 1 January 1955, the first union in the UK to be accommodated at the bargaining table by the BBC. The Musicians Union on the other hand was a well-organised but troublesome lot and had often given the Corporation a headache. It was an extremely strong organization nationally, but one that the BBC could not ignore given that its musical performers were almost all union members. On its side the Union was on record as saying that it had ‘greater difficulty in making agreements with the BBC than with any other employers.’

Eventually in March, the Ministry of Labour intervened in the dispute, ordering an increase in the minimum rate for orchestral players of £2 per week and a reduction in work loads.

The plot of the show itself is based on two news worthy events: the recent purchase of the UK’s first intercontinental ballistic rocket in 1954, and the defection Burgess and Mclean, two Russian moles inside MI5, in May 1951. The repercussions of both events were still being felt throughout Whitehall and in the press. Milligan rose well to the occasion, patched up the script with “concert party” material – Spriggs singing Milligan’s new parlour-song, “I’m Walking Backwards for Christmas,” and Secombe doing a splendid version of “Housewives Choice.” Overall, he manages to come up with material that, performed in the setting of an industrial strike, gains strength and cohesion from its juxtaposition of  Russian spies, foreign imported goods, weird science overlaid by a ‘make-do’ concert-party atmosphere in the face of  rabid industrial action.


[2] This piano introduction is very snappy. Sellers playing could not have achieved the level of exactness that this short phrase exhibits. I suspect it has been tidied-up in the editing room.


[3] Ellington himself was not able to appear in this show due to the aforementioned  industrial action.


[4] As Roger Lewis observed in “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers” (p.160) – “Sellers’ characters have the urge to vamp, twang and fiddle, but they are barely better than gifted amateurs… [Part of] his success was based on playing bunglers and the outclassed.”  Sellers later portrayed the concert pianist Henry Orient in the 1964 film “The World of Henry Orient”. His imitation of a concert pianist is very persuasive.


[5] This line was deleted from the original broadcast.


[6] “Teddy Boys” were a British sub-culture of the 1950’s partly inspired by the clothes styles worn by dandies in the Edwardian period. Their taste in music was jazz and skiffle, but gradually became identified with rock and roll as the decade continued. The film “Blackboard Jungle” (1955) had a huge influence on their identity, encouraging an increase in their aggressive, rebelliousness and violent anti-social behaviour.


[7] “The light” meant the ‘light entertainment’ network. During the war it had been the BBC Forces Programme.

[8] Someone – probably Milligan, blows a raspberry.


[9] Milligan rather liked the image of “strolling” as part of a job description – (as in “I’m only a strolling vagabond…” a song he used often in the shows.)  His scripts featured a “strolling Home Office trichologist” (The Choking Horror – 22/6th); a “strolling brain surgeon” (The Raid of the International Christmas Pudding – 17/6th); a strolling Home Office pathologist (Scradje! – 26/6th); and a “strolling knee-clapper”, (The White Neddy Trade – 19/8th.)  Seagoon had also been a strolling Prime Minister in “The Jet-Propelled Guided Naafi” four shows earlier.


[10] Secombe mispronounces the title of Wagner’s opera apparently on purpose, putting the stress on the second syllable – Lo-HEN-grin.


[11] Sellers, in his ‘all-purpose’ Latin accent.


[12] There is no King of Italy. The last King – Umberto II (1904-83) of the house of Savoy, reigned for a month from May to June 1946. He and his house were removed by a plebiscite, after which the constitution of Italy was altered to forbid any future restoration of the Monarchy. He was widely considered homosexual, despite his marriage. A ‘Tuscan salami’ – a delicacy stuffed with fennel, (finocchio = ‘gay’ in Italian)  could have been meant as a backhanded way of implying a homosexual. If it was, it would have been lost on an English audience.


[13] Milligan liked silly machines. Here’s another one. It appears a few times throughout the shows:

CRUN: Oh, you sinful woman, you... Always at the cigarette rolling machine you!

(“The String Robberies” – 16/8th)

[14] I cannot comprehend this. Does Milligan wish to imply that south Asians were involved with the dry cleaning business?


[15] Secombe seems to be struggling with the line from the start. Eventually he says “never have given that Macmillan a job if I’d known he was going to do.” It could be that Harry was reading a line pencilled in late in the rehearsals which may explain his tangle. Harold Macmillan (1894-1986) was at this time the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having taken the position in December 1955.


[16] Milligan seems to forget himself here. He does the voice of Eccles not Spriggs.


[17] The kernel of Milligan’s story once again seems to be the recent purchase by the British Government of  a number of MGM-5 Corporal missiles for front line nuclear defence.  Developed by Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the White Sands Missile Range, they were deployed to South Uist in 1954. Spike’s genius was not to use the mundane military machinery as grist for the Goon Show, but to exploit the idea beyond the obvious. The image of a sausage fitted with a warhead, could have  indicated  that Spike was implying the idea of genitalia.


[18] Under the following sound effect there is this exchange:

               SECOMBE: You were a fiddle short there.

               SPRIGGS: How dare you!

This exchange seems to put off the boys on the FX. They muddle the “knock-door opens” sequence and have to repeat it.


[19] He means Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, part of a ring of spies recruited during the 30’s at Cambridge University by Soviet scout Arnold Deutsch, to pass classified information to the Soviet Union. They defected to the USSR in mid-1951, though this was not confirmed until ten days prior to this episode being performed, when the pair called a joint press conference in a hotel room in Moscow and delivered a statement declaring their sympathy with the Soviet Union.


[20] “Pravda” the official political newspaper of the Soviet Communist Party.

[21] Intentionally or not, Spike gets this right. Yes, the principal radial street in Moscow is known as Gorky Street. Its correct name is Tverskaya Street.


[22] The implication of homosexuality here is the closest Milligan ever got to dealing with the forbidden subject.


[23] “Off-white” is Spike throwing mud in the eye of the incomprehensible labelling of sides in the Russian revolution. In the pre WWII period “White Russians” was the appellative given to the counter-revolutionary forces fighting the communist regime. As for Professor Farlov – Spike is probably spoofing the eminent professor of physiology, Professor Pavlov (1849-1936) who devoted his life to the investigation of conditioned reflex.


[24] Milligan is referring to Graham Stark (1922-2013) British comedian and actor. He was later to appear in the Goon Show “Who is Pink Oboe?” (11/9th). Sark is one of the Channel Islands.


[25] In the previous episode “Footo” had been “the athlete’s friend.” (“The Choking Horror” – 22/6th.)

[26] John Alvin Ray (1927-1990) American singer, songwriter and pianist. He was a teen idol in the 50’s in Britain as well as being known as the “cry-guy” for his hysterical sobbing during performances.


[27] Milligan is referring to Lew Grade (1906-1998) and his brother Leslie Grade (1916-1979) British theatrical agents, impresarios and producers. Lew was boss of ATV and its subsidiary ITC, major players in the diversification of the British television landscape.


[28]I’m Walking Backwards For Christmas” (Milligan 1955) was first performed on Seller’s edition of ‘The Listening Room’ (Dec 1955.) This is its first complete performance of the song on the Goon Show although Moriarty mentions it in the previous episode and sings two lines of it in “The Mighty Wurlitzer” (16/6th). Spike eventually recorded the number for Decca (DECCA F. 10756 – along with ‘The Bluebottle Blues’) in May, and the recording was released in August.


[29] Spike loses his place in the script for a moment.


[30] Unclear meaning.


[31] Sellers.


[32] Milligan.


[33] The House of Romanov was the final dynasty to rule in Russia, from 1613 until 1917, when the Emperor Nicholas II abdicated as a result of the February Revolution.


[34] To accuse someone of being a ‘railway saboteur’ was a feature of 1930’s Soviet life. Kaganovitch, Stalin’s minister for Railways, arrested thousands of administrators and managers during the Great Purges of the 30’s. Western newspapers of the period regularly carried stories of the trials of these ‘anti-Soviet’ criminals.

[35]The Window Cleaner” was a famous comedy number performed by the Lancastrian comic George Formby.


[36] Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook (1879-1964) business tycoon and politician. Beaverbrook’s paper “The Daily Express” often expressed his daily views on the world.

[37] A very clever take-off of the name of the Russian composer Rimsky Korsakov.


[38] Geraldo (1904-1974) one of the most popular British dance band leaders.


[39] This announcement makes a number of worthwhile cultural references.

·        Rowton Houses were a chain of working men’s hostels.

·        Spahi is a word from Spike’s childhood. It is probably the Hindi word ‘sipahi’ meaning ‘trooper’.

·        Jim Davidson (1902-1982) was an Australian-born band leader and saxophonist, who joined the BBC in 1948 as assistant head of variety (music), later becoming second-in-charge of the light entertainment unit. His support for the Goon Show was crucial for its survival.

·        Rawicz and Landauer were popular piano duo, famous from 1932 – 1970.

[40] The sixth series was ‘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.  She could neither sing, dance or perform in any meaningful way - she was known for nothing else except her looks, extraordinary figure and Miltonesque name given to her by Arthur Askey.

[41] Milligan (as Minnie) is vocalising continuously behind Sellers. At this point he says “Brown power.”

[42] This is arguably the best scene Milligan ever wrote for Min and Henry. Based on his parents who ‘never listened to each other,’ Milligan experimented during the Goon Shows trying to find situations where Min and Henry’s absent minded nattering could create genuine comedy. The three character ‘pairs’ that Milligan relied on for comedy were Moriarty & Grytpype-Thynne, Eccles & Bluebottle and Min & Henry. The first pair relied on deviousness for their humour; the second pair relied on naivety; while Min & Henry were, in the early series, a little lost in Spikes creative process, changing from imbecility to deviousness as the plot demanded, though never losing their middle class pretensions.

In an effort to keep them interesting, Spike had experimented in this series by adding Old Uncle Oscar to their scenes (played by Secombe), by making them play exotic parts – eg: the Dalai Lama and his acolyte, or by giving them true to life occupations – members of the Foreign Service, fire fighters, board members, lawyers, Parliamentarians, naturalists and station masters..

The shows in which Min and Henry fill true to life occupations are some of the most successful Spike wrote for the two, for  whereas Eccles and Bluebottle could sit in a hole and chat about anything at all for no reason  – (like pulling the birds, discussing their fathers legs or remembering bus rides up the Edgeware Road), Min and Henry needed context to give their comedy some effect. In this case the context creates the added bonus of suggesting that old fogies ran the Foreign Office.


[43] Audience applause.


[44]The Devil’s Gallop” by Charles Williams. Often used by the BBC for dramatic links in chase situations. Used famously by the Monty Python team a decade later during the final moments of the episode “No-one Expects the Spanish Inquisition.”


[45] Chiswick is a district in West London . It is not known for its high ground.


[46] Spike often resorted to the world of “Boys Own Adventures” when solving dramatic problems in the Goon Shows. Zeppelins and balloons in general make occasional appearances  after the 6th series starting with “The Choking Horror” (22/6th) followed by “The Great Bank Robbery” (7/7th); “Wings Over Dagenham” (15/7th); “Round the World in Eighty Days” (20/7th); “The Africa Ship Canal” (22/7th); “The Thing on the Mountain” (15/8th); “The White Neddy Trade” (19/8th) – the former two not strictly Milligan’s scripts; “World War One” (22/8th) and finally “The Last Smoking Seagoon” (6/10th.)


[47] The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 was one of the most successful swept-wing jet fighters of its time, making its mark on public consciousness during the Korean war.


[48] Spike is alluding to his earlier show “The Jet-Propelled Guided Naafi” (19/6th.)

[49] This is the second time Spike dropped a piano during the 6th series. The first is in “The Case of the Missing CD Plates” (5/6th) in October the previous year. The two FX recordings used for the crash are not the same.

[50] The inherit underlying subject implied in this show – homosexuality, was a strange subject for Milligan to tackle. He was uncomfortable with sexually taboo subjects, treating any moral departure from the norm as dirty and cheap. His treatment of Bloodnok’s sexual deviances for example is nothing more than voyeuristic and titillation. He seemed to like to think dirty but to act with total propriety. Tuscan salamis – sausages with meat flavoured with fennel (the Italian word for gays,)  was a very controversial subject to present on BBC in the 50s, not least because many returned servicemen would have been aware of the connection, and also because the subject of homosexuality in the secret services and elsewhere in society in general was being publically discussed more and more during this decade.

In January of 1954 Peter Wildeblood (1923-1999),  a novelist and playwright, was brought before the courts charged with 'conspiracy to incite certain male persons to commit serious offences with male persons’ ie ‘buggery’. The trial resulted in a government inquiry, resulting in The Wolfenden Report, which in 1957 recommended the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
The tie between these subjects – Italian sausages, the King of Italy (a reputed ‘old Queen’), the lack of a female salami, and the homosexuality of the spy community decamping to Moscow, seems to be the spark that set Milligan writing this odd but amusing episode.