BROADCAST: 6 Mar 1956[1]


Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens.


GREENSLADE: [2] This is the BBC home service. Enter a short idiot.

SECOMBE: Good evening, folks. I commence by walking backwards for Christmas.


SECOMBE: It's all the rage! [3] (Laughs) Hahaha! Next, an excerpt from ‘East Lynne.’ (Overacting) "Dead, dead, and never called me mother!" [4]

ECCLES: But you were his father.

SECOMBE: Shut up, the famous Eccles.

ECCLES: Shut up, the famous Eccles…(Extended)

GREENSLADE: Mister Seagoon, please remove that false bald woman's wig.

SECOMBE: And leave myself naked in the mating season? (Laughs) Ha-ha-ha! Never!

GREENSLADE: Very well, I sentence you to the highly esteemed Goon Show.

ORCHESTRA: Tatty minor chord.

SECOMBE: They can go home today. (Announcing) Presenting Wallace Greenslade and his daring announcement entitled:

GREENSLADE: “Le Salaire la Peur.”[5]

SECOMBE: Meaning "The Wages of Fear,” or in England…

WILLIUM: The fear of wages! (Terror stricken) Ohhhh!

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

GREENSLADE: Part one – The Missing Regiment.

GRAMS: Distant gunfire.

SELLERS: Burma, sixth of March, 1956.

SEAGOON: These Japs can't hold out much longer.

BLOODNOK: Oh, I don't know. This is the fourteenth year we've been fighting 'em.[6]

SEAGOON: Don't worry, Major. They can't stand much more of your drunken singing and bottle throwing.

BLOODNOK: I'm only doing my duty, sir! And they'd better surrender soon – we've had no food or pay since that silly telegram.

SEAGOON: Telegram? You know... Give it here.

FX: Letter opening.

SEAGOON: (Reading) “British Forces, Burma. Japan has surrendered – end of World War II. Book now for World War III." Signed Jim Mountbatten – dated August 1945! [7]

BLOODNOK: Yes, yes. Well, I've never shown it to you before because it was obviously the work of a practical joker.

SEAGOON: Well, I can only hope it is!

SINGHEZ THINGZ: (Approaching) Stop, stop, stop! A Japanese officer is attacking us with a white flag, hooray!

SEAGOON: Gad! And it's the new Mark III armour-piercing type white flag.[8]

THROAT: Cor blimey. I'm orf!

BLOODNOK: Ah, look, don't panic! I'll show that Jap a thing or two. Help me off with my jodhpurs now. Come along…

SEAGOON: No, Major, please!

BLOODNOK: Out of my way! [9] There, you Japanese devil – look at that!

SEAGOON: Dear listeners, from the waist downwards Bloodnok was tattooed with a pair of false legs – facing the wrong way!

BLOODNOK: Yes, they're all the rage you know.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO:[10] (Approaching) Ah! (Burst of cod-Japanese) Please do not shoot!

SEAGOON: (Calling out) Who are you, you yellow swine?

BLOODNOK: You remember me – Dennis Bloodnok.

SEAGOON: Not you! (Shouts) Come forward, military Japanese gentleman, but – keep your right leg raised.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: Please, I am General Yakamoto, Commander of all Imperial Japanese troops in that tree.

SEAGOON: Well, yellow devil?

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: Request, please. Have unexpectedly run short of ammunition. Please can we bollow two boxes until end of the war? [11]

BLOODNOK: You Japanese are always on the tap! You haven't returned our lawn mower yet.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: Ah yukkabah. I’m velly solly, but have not finished mowing jungle.

BLOODNOK: No. No more credit. Clear off!

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: Then am forced to sullender.

SEAGOON: Surrender? This means war!

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: War? I'm sorry, have no alternative. To whom do we sullender honourable Japanese military stores, please?

BLOODNOK: Stores? You've got stores?

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: Yes, I've got stores. One thousand tons of nitro-glycerine…


GENERAL YAKAMOTO: …and two-thousand cans of saké. (Aside) Saké being potent Japanese rice wine.

BLOODNOK: Saké being potent Japanese rice wine?


BLOODNOK: Ohhhh! I am forced to accept your two-thousand cans of saké-surrender. Stack it under my bed, will you.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: Ah, which are your tent, please?

BLOODNOK: The white one with the red cross on it and the er… three dummy nurses outside. Go on! Don't say you don't trust me.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: I don't trust you.

BLOODNOK: Swine! I told you not to say it. Hand me my Royal Engineers saxophone, issue type. (Going off) Now you Japanese devil – quick, march!

GRAMS: Regiment marching.

ORCHESTRA: (Over) Dodgy saxophone rendition of “Old Comrades March.” Fade into distance.[12]

SEAGOON: Gad, what a day this has been! A triumph for British arms! Now I must inform the War Office that after fourteen years of fighting, the Japanese army in that tree has finally surrendered.

FX: Payphone handset lifts; coins fall into change-box.

ORCHESTRA: Muted rendition of Land of Hope and Glory. Hold under.

FX: Dialling.

SEAGOON: Dial on, brave telephone! Send those triumphant, electric-type impulses a-thwart the sleeping continents to the automatic-type exchanges in London, and list...

FX: Phone rings over...

SEAGOON: …even now sounds the tintinnabulation of the phone bell that will arouse the helmsmen of England to whom I carry the victorious news!

WILLIUM: (On phone) Battersea Dogs Home, mate.[13]

SEAGOON: Curse! Wrong number. I shall hurry thither to the Fear of Wages part...

GREENSLADE: Do you mind![14] I'll make this announcement. "The Fear of Wages", part two. The same day, four hours later.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic Link.

FX: Coins falling one by one into a pile of silver.

MORIARTY: Brown power! Ooo-oo! Money! Money-money-money! Little money, money, money, money! Ohieohieohieoooh! Lovely money! (It's all the rage.)

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, shhh... Pull that transparent blind down, you fool. Now, have you sewn that ten thousand pounds into the lining of your socks?


GRYTPYPE: Then help me get this hundred pounds in fivers under my wig.

MORIARTY: Right! (Effort.) Down with your right hand... Back a bit... Ah... Right... ah… There.

GRYTPYPE: Good man. Any more left?

MORIARTY: Only this fifty-thousand pounds in loose silver.

GRYTPYPE: Oh. Now where can I hide that? Er… I've got it! Moriarty, say "Ah."


FX: Piles of coins being shovelling into pile.

MORIARTY: (Gulping noises.)

GRYTPYPE: Now Moriarty, keep your mouth shut. I don't want...

FX: Phone rings. Receiver picked up.

GRYTPYPE: Army Pay Corp here, Chief Cashier speaking. Yes? What!

FX: Receiver down.

GRYTPYPE: (Panic) Moriarty!

MORIARTY: (Vomits.) Purghhhah…

FX: Pile of coins onto hard surface.

MORIARTY: I – I'm sorry. I’m… (Spits) Purgh…

FX: Single coin.

MORIARTY: I'm sorry…

GRYTPYPE: Yes, never mind about that. Moriarty, we're in the grip-cart now. [15] Remember the 3rd Armoured Thunderboxes who vanished in Burma ten years ago?

MORIARTY: Yes, yes, yes, yes?

GRYTPYPE: Well, they're still alive.[16]


GRYTPYPE: That was their commander, Seagoon.

MORIARTY: Ooooooooo! type oh! But we’ve spent all their back pay!


MORIARTY: Forty-thousand pounds! Sapristi! Court martialled, cashiered, shot at dawn. Take aim, fire, bang…(Imitates bugle playing The Last Post. Ends with imitation rifle shots.)

GRYTPYPE: Now, don't panic! Don't panic, my malodorous Gallic Charlie. We'll have to think of something else. Meanwhile, Max Geldray and his chromatic plinge...[17]

MORIARTY: (Self fade) Oh, the horrors of brown power…


MAX GELDRAY – “Side by Side” [18]


ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link

GRAMS: Distant jungle sounds.

GREENSLADE: Night in the jungle encampment of the 4th Armoured Thunderboxes.[19]

BLOODNOK: (writing) Dear Sirs: I am a keen art student over the age of twenty-one. Please forward me your selection of continental art studies in the plain wrapper. Care of C.M, Stokes...

SEAGOON: (distant) Major Bloodnok!

BLOODNOK: What? Oh, don't come in for a minute, don't come in. Abdul, quick! Put screens round my bed. (Malingering) Ohhh. Come in, Seagoon.

SEAGOON: Thank you. Major, I was just walking backwards for Christmas and I thought… (Embarrassed) Oh. Erm… (Nervously) Ha-ha, I beg your pardon, madam. I...

BLOODNOK: Get behind that screen, Gladys! Judy, Judy, Judy! Tamila babe. My wife, you know. Yes…[20]


BLOODNOK: It's all lies, we're good friends, of course. Oohh.


BLOODNOK: What, what?

SEAGOON: Grave-type news. I've spoken to Whitehall and the Pay Corps deny that we're alive.

BLOODNOK: What! I've never had a day's death in my life. And what about our ten-years back pay? Did you tell them we've been fighting all this time?

SEAGOON: I did. But they said these Japs we are fighting must be forgeries!

BLOODNOK: You mean – they're worthless?

SEAGOON: They said no bank would cash them.

BLOODNOK: Well, there's only one way to get our back pay: we must return to England with the entire Japanese army in that tree there.

SEAGOON: Gad, yes. (Calls out) Sergeant Goldberg?

GOLDBURG: (Irish) Yes, sir. What is it, sir?

SEAGOON: Uproot that tree and replant it in the back of the lorry, and try not to shake any Japs down.

GOLDBURG: Will yous be taking all that Japanese liquor and wine with yous?

BLOODNOK: The saké, oh, yes, of course, yes. And don't forget those screens around my bed. It's all the rage, you know. (Raves)

SEAGOON: You know Bloodnok, I think we'd better leave all that nitro-glycerine behind.

FX: Phone rings. Receiver up.


GRYTPYPE: (On phone) You can't leave all that nitro-glycerine behind Seagoon.

SEAGOON: I wasn't going to. I was going to leave it behind Bloodnok. (Hysterical laughter. Sudden sanity.) Ahem.

GRYTPYPE: (On phone) Naughty Neddie. No ad libbing now. Now listen Nerk, (aside) – and this, dear listeners is where we sew the seeds of Neddie’s demise. (Clears throat. Aloud.) Neddie, stand at... ease!

GRAMS: Regiment on parade ground.

GRYTPYPE: (On phone) Now Neddie, there's no question of you leaving that naughty unexploded nitro-glycerine behind. If you want your back pay, all Japanese stores must be surrendered to the War Office.

SEAGOON: But... it's so dangerous. Nitro-glycerine… a lorry?

GRYTPYPE: (On phone) Yes! (Gloating laughter.) Ha ha ha ha ha…

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

GRAMS: Distance heavy transports warming engines.

GREENSLADE: Dawn, and the 4th Armoured Thunderboxes prepare for the long journey home. Before departure, the surrender document is signed.

ORCHESTRA: Distant military drum beating the retreat.

BLOODNOK: Ah, General Yakamoto will sign here... (Suddenly very close) We'll er, fill in the amount later.

FX: Pen on paper. Continues under.

SEAGOON: (Narrating) I watched enthralled as slowly we hauled down the Imperial Japanese credit note and ran up the victorious bouncing British cheque.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: Ah! Honourable signature on surrender document.

SEAGOON: Signed with a cross, eh? Ha! You illiterate swine, you. Pass me the ink pad. (Effort) Huh! There. There's my thumbprint. Now we've both signed, mate. Now, get back in your tree.

BLOODNOK: Hurry up, Seagoon, we're ready to leave.

SEAGOON: Are the lorries warmed up?

BLOODNOK: Yes, we've had 'em in the oven all night. How do you like yours?

SEAGOON: Medium rare.

BLOODNOK: Splendid! Splendid! Then you better drive the medium rare lorry carrying the nitro.

SEAGOON: (Gulp of fear.) I, er… I'd rather drive the lorry with the saké.

BLOODNOK: No, but you're a tea-totaller. No, I insist on driving with the saké. SEAGOON: Why?

BLOODNOK: Well it's a long, long story, you know... I mean I... Well er…

There's a little yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu...[21]

SEAGOON: Yes, yes, I know.


SEAGOON: But I refuse to drive the nitro lorry

BLOODNOK: Why not?

SEAGOON: Well, it's a long story. You see...

There's a little yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu...

BLOODNOK: Shut up Seagoon. And here's a record of me saying it.

GRAMS: Scratchy record behind.

BLOODNOK: (Pre-recorded) Shut up Seagoon!

ECCLES: Shut up Seagoon!

BLOODNOK: Shut up the famous Eccles!

ECCLES: Shut up the famous Eccles!

BLOODNOK: Shut up!

ECCLES: Shut up!

BLOODNOK: Get off this record at once!


GRAMS: Running footsteps.

FX: Person jumping down onto bare floorboards.

ECCLES: (Close) Hallo!

SEAGOON: Private Eccles. Just the man! You see the lorry that everybody's keeping clear of?

ECCLES: Yeah, yah-yah-yah-yah.

SEAGOON: Good good good good good good good good good good! Well, drive it back to London... (meaningfully) gently.

ECCLES: Okay! Okay! Good-bye.

GRAMS: Lorry drives off at speed. Sudden series of explosions in distance.

ECCLES: (Close) A good job I wasn't on it.

SEAGOON: What! Then who was driving it?

BLUEBOTTLE: (Distant) You rotten swine, you! (Approaching) Hehehehehe! I was kipping in the back of that lorry, like a happy boy traveller, when – PLUNGEE! I was blown backwards out of my boots.

SEAGOON: Little blackened, hairless, singed goon –


SEAGOON: … what were you doing in that lorry?

BLUEBOTTLE: Well, it's a long story Captain. You see,

There's a little cardboard idol sitting North of East Finchley

and the smoke went...

SEAGOON: Shh! Here's Ray Ellington.

BLUEBOTTLE: Oh,…………….[22]


RAY ELLINGTON QUARTET - "Pink Champagne" [23]


GREENSLADE: That was Ray Ellington, the demon plasterer – but then you'll have guessed. And now, "The Fear of Wages" part the scran. Five weeks of travel saw the lorries well on their way.

GRAMS: Fade in distant lorry engines.

BLOODNOK: (Drinking)

SEAGOON: Bloodnok! Bloodnok, you must stop drinking that saké. Without it – no back pay.

BLOODNOK: Oh, come on! Just this one. It's thirsty work this drinking, you know.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: (aside) Little do English fool know that it are not saké he are drinking but nitro-glycerine that I substitute. (Laughing) Hai-he-hoi-he-ha-hai in Japanese.

BLOODNOK: (Distant) Keep quiet up that tree there!

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: (Calls out) Sorry, was just giving listeners story of plot.

GRAMS: Swell sound of lorry engines and fade.

GREENSLADE: Meanwhile, in England at number ten Frith Street.

OMNES: (Randomly) Rhubarb! Rhubarb! Rhubarb! Custard! Rhubarb!

MORIARTY: (Close) Grytpype, you say the nitro exploded when they were in the lorry?

GRYTPYPE: (Close) Yes, friend. Our little plan went for a burton.[24] That's why I've arranged this meeting.

SPRIGGS: I say, are you positive that this missing regiment has reappeared and is even now on it's way back to England?

GRYTPYPE: Yes, Mister Chancellor of the Exchequer.[25] And according to our records, their combined back pay and accrued interest amounts to thirty-three million pounds.

SPRIGGS: Oh dear, dear, dear, dear! This will ruin my budget.  

CHURCHILL:[26] You've already ruined it yourself.

SPRIGGS: Stop it you simple people. That regiment must be stopped before it reaches England.

GRYTPYPE: Yes, we'll declare war on them.

SPRIGGS: What! England can't declare war on English troops.

GRYTPYPE: Why not? Everyone else does.

SPRIGGS: No, no, no, no! We must get a foreign power to do it.

GRYTPYPE: Well, chose one.

SPRIGGS: Well, Japan isn't doing anything at the moment.

GRYTPYPE: I'll inform Tokyo at once.


GRYTPYPE: (Shouts into the distance.) Hello, Tokyo!

VOICE OF TOKYO:[27] (Cod Japanese) Yakkabakkaka. Ying-tong iddle-eye-po! Needle-nardle-noo!

GRYTPYPE: Declare war on the 4th Armoured Thunderboxes, now in Burma.

VOICE OF TOKYO: I do at once. Hello, Commander of Imperial Japanese forces in that tree on back of lorry in Burma.


VOICE OF TOKYO: Declare war on 4th Armoured Thunderboxes.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: I do. Velly good. Fire!

GRAMS: Machinegun fire. Fade behind.

SEAGOON: Bloodnok, stop the lorry! Those Japs are firing at us.

BLOODNOK: The treacherous devils! Help me off with my jodhpurs.

SEAGOON: No, Major, please! Not Leo the lion. Please – not that again! They know that tattooed leg trick now.[28]

GRAMS: Machinegun fire suddenly stops.

BLOODNOK: Well, there you are! It's done the trick. They've stopped firing.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: (Distant) Yes, I've run out of ammunition.

BLOODNOK: What! Well, there's no dice here. You've had enough on tic from us already.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: Wait a minute. Please tell me how much we owe.

BLOODNOK: Seagoon, play him back his account.

SEAGOON: Right sir.

GRAMS:  Short recording of Japanese tune on koto.

SEAGOON: and sixpence halfpenny.

GENERAL YAKAMOTO: Please, velly please, I promise I pay you back at rate of –  GRAMS:  Another short tune on koto.


BLOODNOK: Seagoon, how much is –

GRAMS:  Same short tune on koto.

BLOODNOK: … in English money?

SEAGOON: It's about…

GRAMS:  “Over the Waves” on decrepit old barrel-organ.

SEAGOON: … sir.

BLOODNOK: It's not enough, d’you hear! Here, hold me trousers. I'll get them out of that tree with a wrist watch! [29]

GRAMS: Sawing of timber. Sudden burst of rifle fire over.

BLOODNOK: The treacherous devils! They've found more ammunition. They must have had a Red Cross parcel from home. [30]

SEAGOON: Quick, into the driving cab, it's bullet proof.

FX: Cabin door slams.

BLOODNOK: Splendid! We can drive on and continue engaging the enemy in that tree in the back of the lorry all at the save time.

SEAGOON: A magnificent exposition of the plot, Bloodnok!

BLOODNOK: Thank you!

SEAGOON: And under enemy fire, too.

BLOODNOK: Of course!

SEAGOON: Have a knighthood. [31]

BLOODNOK: Oh, ta mate.

SEAGOON: Right, then. Drive on, Sir Dennis.

BLOODNOK: Beep-a-beep! Ooh!

GRAMS: (Pre-recorded) Terrific burst of gunfire. Mix in sports car, more rifle fire, chickens clucking, more gunfire.

                    SEAGOON: You swine!

                    BLOODNOK: Careful! Don’t antagonise them Seagoon.

                    SEAGOON: Take your hands down, Bloodnok!

                    BLOODNOK: What! What! Ohhh!

                    SEAGOON: Watch out! You’ll get the blame.

BLOODNOK: I’ll have you yet, you Chinese, fiendish, Japanese devils, you!

SEAGOON: Please!!

BLOODNOK: What? Seilung! Volkeschier gebachter.

SEAGOON: Take that!

BLOODNOK: Ahhh! [32]

Mix the dialogue in with the grams, and then speed the whole thing up.

ORCHESTRA: “Land of Hope and Glory” played at double tempo.

OMNES: (Variously) Rhubarb! Rhubarb! Rhubarb! Rhubarb! Rhubarb! Cabinet meeting rhubarb! Rhubarb! Custard! Rhubarb!

GRYTPYPE: Well, thank you for your cabinet meeting rhubarbs. Now, gentlemen, our plan to stop the 4th Armoured Thunderboxes has failed.

SECOMBE: Ohohoh!

GRYTPYPE: We shall probably have to give them all their back pay.







SPRIGGS: I said it first.

SECOMBE: Custard.

SPRIGGS: What? Didn’t the Japanese declare World War III on them?

GRYTPYPE: Yes, but Seagoon has managed to get the war onto the back of a lorry and is driving it here.

SPRIGGS: Horrors!

OMNES: (Pandemonium.)

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, Moriarty!


GRYTPYPE: I must get in touch with them. What is the number of that lorry?

MORIARTY: Ah, G-X-K, six-three-nine.

FX: Old fashioned telephone dialing.

GRYTPYPE: (Self-fade; dialing.) G.. X.. K.. six… three… nine.[33]

GRAMS: Lorry engines. Distant gunfire. Hold under.

FX: Telephone rings.

SEAGOON: Take the wheel Bloodnok.

FX: Hand piece lifted.

SEAGOON: Hello, World War III speaking.

GRYTPYPE: (On phone) Where are you speaking from?

SEAGOON: We're just drawing up outside number ten Thriff Street.

FX: Knocking on door.

SEAGOON: That's us at the door now.

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, answer it.

FX: Door opens

MORIARTY: (Panic) Sapristi measurements! It’s Sabrina.

SEAGOON: Wrong! It’s me with my arms folded. Seagoon's the name.

MORIARTY: Seagoon! Oieoieoieoieoie – it can't be! You're a lying charlatan.

SEAGOON: Rubbish, I'm a truthful charlatan. Now, where's our back pay?

MORIARTY: Back pay? (Desolation) Ohieohieohieohie! Sapristi Edison glasshouse! Ohieohie… (Extended)

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, stop shaving your head. Welcome, Colonel Seagoon, welcome. Now, before you get your back pay, there is a little matter of handing over the enemy stores.

SEAGOON: Of course! There's the lorry, the captured Japanese forces up that tree, but the nitro-glycerine exploded.

GRYTPYPE: And the thousand cans of saké?

SEAGOON: (Gulps) Ah, I'm afraid Bloodnok drank it.

GRYTPYPE: Well, I'm sorry, Seagoon. No saké, no back pay.

SEAGOON: What! Eccles, get an empty bucket, quick! Now, grab Bloodnok's ankles.


BLOODNOK: What's going on here?

SEAGOON: Hold his head over the bucket. Now, shake him! Come on.


BLOODNOK: (Retching.) Ahurgh…

GREENSLADE: Listeners will recall that Bloodnok has not been drinking saké but nitro-glycerine, therefore…

GRAMS: Terrific explosion. Rubble falling.

GREENSLADE: And so ended World War III. Book now for World War IV.

BLUEBOTTLE: Mr. Greenslinge, would you mind telling the nice peoples that I have not been deaded this week? [34]

GREENSLADE: Certainly.

GREENSLADE: (Bluebottle shadows lines.) Ladies and Gentlemen it is both a privilege and a pleasure to announce that…

GREENSLADE: Shut up, Bluebottle!

BLUEBOTTLE: Shut up, Bluebottle!



GREENSLADE: (Bluebottle shadows lines.) …a privilege and a pleasure to announce that the lad, Bluebottle, was not deaded this week.

BLUEBOTTLE: Here, that was a good game that was, wasn't it? I like that game! Hee-hee-hee!

ORCHESTRA: End theme.

GREENSLADE: That was the Goon Show, a BBC recorded program 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 and Larry Stephens,[35] announcer Wallace Greenslade, the program produced by Pat Dixon.





[1] The existential thriller La Salaire de la Peur” (1953) was a critically hailed French film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. It concerns four European men, down on their luck and stranded in a remote Mexican town, who agree to drive two trucks, loaded with nitro-glycerine over mountain  roads,  to extinguish the flames of an oil well fire. Spike probably saw it sometime during 1955 and filed the idea away for future use. As was his habit, he dovetailed  two ideas together – the plot about gingerly transporting nitro-glycerine over dangerous terrain, with a report in Time Magazine from  November 1955, which told the story of;

“the capture of  Seaman Noboru Kinoshita who had escaped from a sinking troopship off the Philippines in 1944. For eleven years, Seaman Kinoshita lived … in the jungles of Luzon awaiting the day when a victorious Japanese navy would come to rescue him. That day never dawned, but last fortnight, Kinoshita was picked up by Philippine police.”

The tale of a lone soldier still fighting the war, contrasting with the drama of handling explosive material, in many ways closely resembled Spike’s own psychological experience since the war. His precipitous mental state, his experiences on the battlefield, and the ‘pay-off’ he received from the British establishment, who he believed, defrauded him of his dues, seems to have eaten away at him on and off over the decade and resulted in a sense of indignant  rage and the conviction that he was undervalued. This depressive belief sometimes gave him the morbid air of a martyr, making him increasingly hard to get along with, and it also gave him a lifelong distain for the BBC (to him the ‘establishment’) and for other self-righteous organisations who thought of themselves as the guardians of the public purse and the public good. A decade later, this anti-establishmentarianism was to make Spike an attractive figure during the ‘turn-off, drop out’ era of social disobedience. He stood against the bomb, the force feeding of geese, meat eating and the mistreatment of animals, while encouraging respect for the environment, mental illness and antiques. As the years went by, his public persona tended more and more towards the social drop-out, mixed with odd bursts of reactionary conservatism. ‘The Fear of Wages’ to him, meant the fear of dealing with the post-war world, a world that had been earned by the blood of his regiment, but whose payoff was being pilfered by the devious, uncaring establishment. And nowhere in this future were the parallels with his own condition more stark  than in the dangerous goods that he had brought back from the battlefield with him, mental instability.

Seaman Kinoshita, captured from the Luzon jungles the previous December never saw his grieving family again. He hanged himself rather than return to Japan  in defeat.


[2] There is a short, nonsense lead-in from Secombe and Milligan:

MILLIGAN: (Off) Brooown power!

SECOMBE: Aye! Oui! The brown power!… Stop! (Raspberry) The spoot-wing…”

[3]I’m Walking Backwards For Christmas” (Milligan 1955) had made its first complete appearance on the Goon Show in ‘The Great Tuscan Salami Scandal” (23/6th), two shows earlier. Spike seems to have been encouraged by its reception, eventually recording the number for Decca (DECCA F. 10756 – along with ‘The Bluebottle Blues’) in May. The disc was released commercially in August.


[4] East Lynne” by Ellen Wood first appeared in serial form in The New Monthly Magazine in 1860. Instantly popular, it was adapted for the stage many times. However its implausible plot, emotional dialogue and soporific morality became a bye-word for everything that was unbearably twee about Edwardian theatre. The quote itself didn’t appear  in the novel, but in one of the many adaptations.


[5] (Sic.) Milligan has mistaken the title. On the original movie poster the preposition ‘de’ is in very small letters. A cursory glance at the poster could have caused him to misread the French.  


[6] The Japanese invaded Burma in mid-January 1942 crossing at Victoria Point, the southernmost point of Burma. Burma was poorly defended, abjectly equipped and undermanned. The British were forced to retreat, a retreat which became one of the greatest disasters of the Pacific war.


[7] The actual date of the announcement was August 15, nine days after the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-1979) was Supreme Allied Commander of the Southeast Asia Theatre of war – (this line was cut from the overseas broadcasts). His command oversaw the recapture of Burma from the Japanese. Raconteur,  romantic and minor royal, he once penned a letter to a newspaper after breaking his ankle tobogganing, which said;  “A young naval officer, injured and in hospital, desires correspondence.” He received a deluge of sympathetic replies, many from  affected young ladies proposing marriage.


[8] Milligan is being needlessly specific, but this is to be expected from someone who had spent the war in a heavy artillery regiment. Spike is referring to the Bofor QF 40mm Mark III which was the British Army’s standard light AA weapon, and had been deployed in the North African conflict for ground shoots as well as AA duties.


[9] Sellers becomes unclear for a moment, but seems to say “Plunger!” slightly off-mic. Plunger was WWII slang for a large penis. Milligan is in fact referring to an event which occurred during his WWII training when Gunner ‘Plunger’ Bailey performed a twenty minute act with his genitals. Removing his trousers, and using a torch as a spot light, he created theatrical magic with tableaux such as, ‘The Last Turkey in the Shop’, ‘Groucho Marx’, ‘The Roaring of the Lions’ and ‘The white eared elephant’. Finally for the National Anthem, he made the member stand.  This bawdy event is the background to Bloodnok’s unusual behaviour, explaining both his nudity here and the later reference to Leo the lion. See “Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall” (Michael Joseph, 1971, p70-71.)

[10] Milligan.


[11] Milligan was using the time honoured Chinese music-hall tradition of turning all ‘r’s into double’l’s.


[12] Die Alten Kameraden März,” (“The Old Comrades March”) was written around 1889 by the German military composer Carl Teike (1864-1922.)  It was used as the play-out for the Goon Show in the 8th,  9th and 10th series, and during the Vintage Goons. Like “The Liberty Bell March” – the theme of the later Monty Python TV series, the “Old Comrades” march became inextricably connected with the Goon Show. It’s impossible to be completely certain, but it seems this is the first time the piece was played in the Goon Show. It become the signature play-out theme during the 8th series.


[13] The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is the oldest animal welfare organisation in Britain concerned with the care of abandoned animals. Battersea is one of a number of London suburbs that Spike liked to refer to. It is mentioned first in “The Greenslade Story” (14/6th) when he announces that Ray Ellington is appearing at the dogs home there; a government minister decries the “pong at Battersea” in “The Treasure in the Tower” (5/8th); while Bloodnok recovers in the measles ward of the Battersea dogs hospital in “The Great Statue Debate” (26/8th); and lastly “…a man and woman from the Ministry of Certain Things were flown in from Battersea by road…” in “The Scarlet Capsule” (14/9th).


[14] Secombe blows a raspberry in Greenslade’s direction. This seems to set off a chain reaction that nearly causes Wallace to corpse in his announcement, something he rarely did.

[15] What he means is not at all clear. A ‘grip-cart’ is a trolley still used in the movie industry, but the term was used for various pieces of stage equipment both in the world of the circus and in vaudeville. Spike’s grandfather had obtained part time work as a stage-hand at the Queen’s Music Hall in Poplar, East London, enabling him to put his son Leo (Spike’s father) on stage at the tender age of two. The use of a grip-cart would have been part and parcel of his job and Spike would most likely have heard his father mention them. The purpose of a ‘grip’ is to keep things steady, so it stands to reason that Grytpype is encouraging Moriarty to stand firm.


[16] This scene between Grytpype and Moriarty, where Moriarty literally eats the soldier’s salaries, provides an important glimpse into Milligan’s state of mind. It is clear he saw the British establishment – particularly in regards his experience with the BBC, as racketeers who exploited the returned serviceman – in particular himself, the soldier who went off to war and kept fighting even after the war was over, but who returned with a lorry load of  joviality – his comic creativity, and a store of dangerous goods – mental instability. Spike seems to have been aware that his war experiences had honed his comic creativity. He felt things deeper, wrote things funnier and perceived the world in more kaleidoscopic colours than other comics, but the whole edifice of his art depended on him not shaking the lorry too much or the whole thing would explode in a ball of black depression. Both Moriarty and Bloodnok consume their goods – one eats their pay, the other drinks the nitro-glycerine. Moriarty eating Spike’s salary is a picture of the establishment consuming Spike’s worth. Bloodnok drinking the nitro represents Spike’s own confusion between the different sorts of volubility in his life, saké or nitro-glycerine, laughter or tears, humour or psychosis, sanity or insanity. Bloodnok and Moriarty both vomit up the goods they consume – the show actually finishes with the cast physically assaulting Bloodnok in an effort to cause him to throw up. In Spike’s world view, he was the confused carrier of dangerous goods and every day was a toss-up whether he would spew up comedy or tragedy.  


[17] Milligan enjoyed  toying with the word ‘plinge’. It had appeared in “The Choking Horror” (22/6th) as a number, and would appear in “Scradje!” (26/6th) as an cry. Later in the 8th series he used it as a name (Muriel Plinge) and in the 9th series as a past participle; “It’s as I plinned, planned, plooned and plinged!”


[18] Side by Side” an evergreen standard was written in 1927 by Kahn & Woods. Best known recording was released in 1953 by Kay Starr.


[19] Spike is not paying attention. He had originally named them the 3rd Armoured Thunderboxes. A ‘thunderbox’ was Australian slang for an outside toilet.


[20] For many years, Cary Grant was believed to have coined the phrase “Judy! Judy! Judy!” in the 1939 film “Only Angels Have Wings” but this is a myth as the line is heard  nowhere in the movie. However he did say “Susan! Susan! Susan!” in “Bringing Up Baby” a year earlier, and it seems a later comic impersonator started the myth by including the altered line in his act. The Johnny Tillotson song of the same title did not appear until well after the Goon Shows had finished. ‘Tamila babè’ is an unknown reference. It could refer to a Tamil prostitute. People of Indian origin make up about 2% of the Burmese population.

[21] The first line of  J. Milton Haynes’ dramatic monologue “The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God,” written in 1911. It was a staple recitation for music hall artists, and concert party performers.

[22] Unclear word.


[23] By George Forrest and Robert Wright, 1950. Forrest and Wright, writing partners and life partners for over 70 years, were responsible for penning many of the greatest film and stage scores of the 20th century, including ‘Kismet’ and ‘Song of Norway’. This is one of the poorest performances that Ellington ever gave. It is constantly marred by the cast apparently mugging behind the band in an attempt to make him corpse during the song.


[24] To ‘go for a burton’  means to ‘be lost, destroyed or killed’ (Oxford Reference Dictionary.)


[25] I think Spriggs is imitating R.A. Butler whose last budget had ruined his career. Butler had been removed from the Exchequer the previous December after the overheating economy had forced the him to renege on tax cuts promised prior to the 1955 general election. With his budget in tatters, Rab Butler was moved to the post of Lord Privy Seal. He was replaced by Harold McMillan. It is possible that Milligan had therefore began the script before Christmas 1955.


[26] It is a superb piece of imitation by Sellers, even capturing Churchill’s slight vocal impairment. Churchill had suffered a minor stroke at the end of the war and a much more severe stroke while Prime Minister in 1953 – although this was kept from the public at the time. He retired from public office in 1955, handing the reins of government to Anthony Eden. Sellers manages a thoroughly convincing voice, receiving a fine burst of applause from the audience for it.


[27] Secombe. The catch-phrase ‘yakkabakkaka’ or ‘yakkabakka-boo’ or ‘yakkabakka-koo’ or ‘yakkakakka-koo’ or ‘yakkabakakkas’ occurs most often in the 6th series. The word was used highly creatively and never appears in the same form twice. It’s most famous use (and in its shortest form - ‘yakka-boo’) was in “Lurgi Strikes Britain” (7/5th) where it appears as a symptom of the dreaded lurgi. It is hard to pin point its first usage. It had been used three shows earlier in “The Phantom Head Shaver” (4/5th) and could have been used in “The First Albert Memorial to the Moon” (7/4th) if the script of the Vintage Goons version is to be trusted. In that show (14/V) Milligan writes it as:

MILLIGAN: Sixty six nibblets brackets and a punchon-purchase and a gny-y-y-yakkakoo!


[28] See reference no.9.

[29] Bloodnok’s threat involving a wrist-watch has something to do with the original “Plunger” Bailey story in “Hitler; My Part in his Downfall” (see ref. 9) though it is uncertain what part the wristwatch played in the barrack-room demonstration. As was his wont, Milligan’s references were meant to appeal to returned servicemen of the lower ranks who would have known and appreciated the meaning of these references. To all other listeners, these types of lines sounded like nonsense and gave the Goon Shows an unnecessary (and reasonably untruthful) reputation of being absurdism taken to extreme lengths.


[30] This is the second time in the show that Milligan makes a dig at the Red Cross. There were persistent myths during the war about Axis soldiers receiving ammunition concealed in Red Cross parcels, or using fake Red Cross aid stations to conceal battle positions, but very little hard evidence has ever come to light to prove it. The Japanese in particular did all they could to hinder the work of the Red Cross. At the Japanese POW camp of Changi for example, inmates received only a tiny portion of one Red Cross food parcel in the three years the camp was in operation, and just one letter each a year.


[31] The New Year’s Honours list that year had been the cause of a small media controversy. The magazine ‘The People’ had broken the traditional embargo on publication of the list, releasing it well before the rest of the London papers and calling the selection of worthy notables  the dullest list ever got together.” Spike seems to have been irritated by the awards, mentioning them in “The House of Teeth” (20/6th), “Tales of Old Dartmoor” (21/6th) and here.

[32] This pre-recorded sequence is extremely complex. Many of the lines are unclear, particularly Secombe’s replies. However it is worthwhile to note the sudden burst of cod-German from Sellers. He is actually quoting a line from the forthcoming show “The Man Who Never Was”(27/6th.) The original script had first been performed in 1953 (20/3rd), and this out-of-place quote shows that Milligan was reworking the script around this time.

[33] This gag confusing telephone numbers with number plates, naff as it is to modern listeners, was an aspirational joke in 1956. A quarter of British homes were still not connected to electricity – (known popularly as “going on the electricity”) and only 10% of homes owned a phone. But around 24% of households now owned a motor vehicle and it was treated ‘just like the Crown Jewels,’ traditionally taken out for a spin only on a Sunday, washed, polished and put back in the garage for the remainder of the week. To joke about things like this in 1956 was part and parcel of the average British listener coming to terms with the fact that these things were now increasingly within the reach of ordinary people.


[34] Which is not quite true. Bluebottle was blown up a few lines before Ellington’s number ‘Pink Champagne’. It is a measure of the speed of Spike’s writing process that details like this escaped his attention.

[35] This was the first of three scripts Larry Stephens co-wrote with Spike for the 6th series. Stephens, a musician like Spike, diffident but supremely talented, had been writing for Tony Hancock before he was well known, and came to the assistance of Milligan during the writing of the first two series of the Goon Show. The BBC sacked him in 1954 for failing to deliver scripts on time, but Milligan brought him back on board for the end of this series on the understanding that he would be responsible personally for Stephens and pay him out of his own pocket.

“Logical, perceptive and clever, Stephens could capture Milligan's quick little ideas before they shot straight out of sight and then place them into a relatively coherent structure. His own keen visual sense – he would even illustrate his scripts with vivid little drawings of certain goons – helped sharpen some of Milligan's characterisations and stimulated his already rich and lively imagination. Milligan would throw out all kinds of hit-or-miss suggestions; Stephens would retrieve the ones most likely to work. Milligan would sometimes get distracted or paralysed by all of the comic possibilities; Stephens would often find the most effective way to get him back on track and moving forwards.”

(“Spike & Co.” Graham McCann – Hodder and Stoughton 2006, p.151)