BROADCAST: 11 Oct 1955 [1]

Script by Spike Milligan


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service. I would just like to say in passing to those of you who can afford the ‘Radio Times’ that this programme bears no relation whatsoever to the bill matter, that is to say “The Sale of Manhattan”.

GRAMS: Wailing.[2]

GREENSLADE: Oh, come, come, come, come dear listeners. You know – it's not that bad.

SECOMBE: Of course not! Come Mister Greenslade – tell them the good news.

GREENSLADE: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have the extraordinary talking-type wireless Goon Show.

GRAMS: Crowd screaming. Boots stampeding into distance.

SECOMBE: Mmm – is the popularity waning? Ahem.

MILLIGAN: Oh ho ho ho! Fear not, Neddie lad! We'll jolly them up with a merry laughing-type joke show. Stand prepared for the story of ‘Napoleon's Piano.’ Ho ho ho ho ho!

ORCHESTRA: Grandiloquent Piano Concerto introduction. [3]

SEAGOON: ‘Napoleon's Piano.’ The story starts in the bad old days, back in April nineteen fifty-five. It was early one morning, and breakfast had just been served at Beaulieu Manor, and I was standing at the window looking in.[4] With the aid of a telescope I was reading the paper on the breakfast table, when suddenly an advertisement caught my eye. It said…

GRYTPYPE: (With echo) ‘Will pay anybody five pounds to remove piano from one room to another. Apply, The Bladders, Harpyapipe, Quants.’ [5]

SEAGOON: In needle nardle noo time I was at the address and with the aid of a piece of iron and a lump of wood, I made this sound…

FX: Five smart knocks with metal doorknocker.

MORIARTY: Sapristi nyuckles! [6] When I heard that sound I ran downstairs and with the aid of a doorknob and two hinges I made this sound…

FX: Door handle turns, door creaks open.

SEAGOON: Ah! Good morning.

MORIARTY: Good morning? Just a moment...

FX: Telephone picked up, dialling.

MORIARTY: (Sings to himself.) Di-di-di… Yuck-a-kakka-koo… (Speaks) Hello? Air Ministry roof?[7] Report. Yes, yes… Thank you.

FX: Telephone hung up

MORIARTY: You're perfectly right – it is a good morning.

SEAGOON: Thank you. My name is Neddie Seagoon.

MORIARTY: What a memory you have!

SEAGOON: Needle nardle noo! I've come to move the piano.

MORIARTY: (Insane laugh – suddenly serious) Come in.

SEAGOON: (Even more insane laugh – suddenly serious) Thanks.

MORIARTY: You must excuse my filthy hands, but I've just been washing my face.[8]

GRYTPYPE: (Approaching) Moriarty – can I borrow your shoe? I want to read the paper.[9] Oh, we appear to have company.

MORIARTY: (Sniggers) Ha ha ha ha ha. This gentleman has come in answer to your advertisement.

GRYTPYPE: Oh, how lovely. Come in. Sit down.

SEAGOON: Thank you.

GRYTPYPE: Have a gorilla.

SEAGOON: No thanks, I'm trying to give them up. [10]

GRYTPYPE: Splendid for you. Now Neddie, here's the money for moving the piano. There you are, five pounds in fivers.

SEAGOON: Five pounds for moving a piano? (Laughs) Ha ha ha! This is money for old rope.

GRYTPYPE: Is it? I'd have thought you'd have bought something more useful.

SEAGOON: No, no – I have simple tastes. Now, where is this piano?

GRYTPYPE: All in good time, laddie. Now first, will you sign this contract in which you guarantee to move the piano from one room to another for five pounds.

SEAGOON: Of course I'll sign. Have you any ink?

GRYTPYPE: Here's a fresh bottle.

SEAGOON: (Drinks) Gad, I was thirsty.

MORIARTY: Sapristi indelible! Do you always drink ink?

SEAGOON: Only in the mating season.

MORIARTY: Shall we dance?

GRAMS: Recording of waltz.

SEAGOON: You dance divinely.

GRYTPYPE: Next dance please. Now Neddie, please just sign the contract.

SEAGOON: Certainly.

FX: Pen on parchment.

SEAGOON: (Writing) Neddie Seagoon. A.G.G.

MORIARTY: What's A.G.G. for?

SEAGOON: For the kiddies to ride on.

MORIARTY: (Blows raspberry) Pppht!

GRYTPYPE: Are you sure you won't have a gorilla?

SEAGOON: No thanks. I've just put one out.


SEAGOON: Now, which room is this piano in?

GRYTPYPE: It's erm... It's in the Louvre.

SEAGOON: Strange taste you have.

GRYTPYPE: We refer to the Louvre Museum.

SEAGOON: What what what what what what what what what what? You mean the piano's in Paris?


SEAGOON: (Shocked) Ahhh! I've been tricked! Aargghhagghh!

FX: Thud of unconscious body hitting ground.

MORIARTY: For the benefit of people without television – he's fainted.

GRYTPYPE: Don't waste time. Open his jacket and take the weight of his wallet off his chest.


GRYTPYPE: Found anything?

MORIARTY: Yes. A signed photograph of Neddie Seagoon; a press cutting from the Theatre Bolton; a gramophone record of Gigli mowing the lawn; and a photograph of Gigli singing. [11]

GRYTPYPE: He's still out cold. See if this brings him round.

FX: Coin dropped on concrete floor.

SEAGOON: Thank you lady.

(Sings) Comrades, comrades,

ever since we were boys,

sharing each other’s... [12]

(Dazed) Ah oh ooh oh ooh! Where am I?

GRYTPYPE: England.

SEAGOON: What number?

GRYTPYPE: 7A. Have a gorilla.

SEAGOON: No, they hurt my throat.

GRYTPYPE: Oh, naughty gorillas.

SEAGOON: Wait! Now I remember. You've trapped me into bringing back a piano from France for only five pounds.

GRYTPYPE: You signed the contract, Neddie. Now get that piano… (suddenly Jewish) or we sue you for breach of contract.

SEAGOON: (Leaving) Ahhhhh!

FX: Door slams.

GRYTPYPE: Gad, Moriarty! If he brings that piano back we shall be well in the money. That piano must be worth at least ten thousand pounds.

MORIARTY: How do you know?

GRYTPYPE: I've seen its bank book. That is the very piano Napoleon played at Waterloo.[13]

MORIARTY: No wonder we lost.

GRYTPYPE: Yes. With all that moolah we can have a wonderful slap-up holiday.

BOTH: (Going off singing) April in Paris,

we've found a Charlie... [14]

GREENSLADE: I say, poor Neddie must have been at his wit's end! Faced with the dilemma of having to bring Napoleon's piano back from Paris, he went to the Foreign Office for advice on passports and visas.

FX: Knocking on door. [15]

BANNISTER: Mm-oohh! That must be the Prime Minister at the door.

CRUN: Yes, that must be the Prime Minister.

BANNISTER: (Calling out) Coming, Anthony – coming.[16]

CRUN: Tell him we're very sorry.

BANNISTER: Sorry for what, Henry?

CRUN: Well, er… well, make something up. Anything will do.

FX: Door opens.

BANNISTER: We're very sorry Anthony… Oh ohh-oh! You're not the Prime Minister.

FX: Door closes.

SEAGOON: Not yet, but it's just a matter of time. My name is Neddie Seagoon.

CRUN: Do you want to buy a white paper?

SEAGOON: No thanks, I'm trying to give them up.

CRUN: Oh. So are we.

SEAGOON: I want a few particulars. You see, I want to leave the country…

CRUN: He's going to Russia! [17]

BANNISTER: Stop him!

CRUN: Stop him!

CAST: (Shouts and cries – continue over)

GRAMS: Punching sounds, slaps; bring in heavy artillery, cavalry charge, distant bugle call, massed rifle fire. Crescendo to end.

SEAGOON: Are you threatening me?

CRUN: Now get out!

SEAGOON: I will, but not before I hear musical saboteur Max Geldray.


MAX GELDRAY - "Ain't Misbehaving" [18]


GREENSLADE: Seagoon was confused – (he's not the only one.) It seems that with no more than a fiver the cheapest way to Paris was to stowaway on board a channel steamer.

GRAMS: Distant waves; ship's telegraph bell; seagull cries.

SEAGOON: Down in the dark hold I lay – alone... So I thought.

ECCLES: (sings) I talk to the trees,

that's why they put me away… (Continues under) [19]

SEAGOON: The singer was a tall ragged idiot. He carried a plasticine gramophone and wore a metal trilby.

ECCLES: (stops singing) He-ello shipmate of mine. Where are you a-goin o’er?

SEAGOON: Nowhere. I think it's safer to stay on the ship until we reach Calais.

ECCLES: Yeah. Hey, you going to Calliss?


ECCLES: What a coincidence – that's where the ship's going. Ain't you lucky?! Everything's going to be fine, fine… fine...

SEAGOON: Here – have a gorilla.

ECCLES: Ooh! Thanks.

GRAMS: Two enraged gorillas fighting. Stops abruptly.

ECCLES: Oww! Oww! Ooh! Oww! Hey, these gorillas are strong. Here, have one of my monkeys – they're milder.

SEAGOON: And so for the rest of the voyage we sat quietly smoking our monkeys. At Calais I left the idiot singer. By sliding down the ship's rope in French, I avoided detection and made for the Louvre. Late that night I checked into a French hotel. Next morning I sat in my room eating my breakfast, when suddenly through the window a fork on the end of a long pole appeared. It tried to spear my kipper.

BLOODNOK: (Distant) Arrgh!

SEAGOON: Who the blazes are you sir?

BLOODNOK: Aeioughhh, I'm sorry. I was.... urm.... fishing.

SEAGOON: Fishing!? This is the thirty fourth floor.

BLOODNOK: Oh. The er… river must have dropped.

SEAGOON: Who are you, sir?

BLOODNOK: I've got it on a bit of paper here. Let's have a look.... oh yes… Major Dennis Bloodnok, late of the third Disgusting Fusiliers. O.B.E., M.T., M.T. and M.T.

SEAGOON: What are all those M.T.s for?

BLOODNOK: I get tuppence on each of them. Ohh! I'm in condition tonight. Ohhh!

SEAGOON: You're acting suspiciously suspicious. I've a good mind to call the manager.

BLOODNOK: Call him. I am unafraid.

SEAGOON: No. Why should I call him?

BLOODNOK: Then I will. Manager?

FX: Door opens

MANAGER:[20] Oui, monsieur?

BLOODNOK: Throw this man out!

SEAGOON: (Exiting) Ahhh!

FX: Door slams

BLOODNOK: Now for breakfast. Kippers… toast… Oh yes. Wait – what's this coming through the window? Flatten me krurker and nosh me schlappers! It's a fork on a pole, and it's trying to take my kipper off my plate. Ohhhhhh! I say, who is that?

SEAGOON: (Distant) I'm sorry – I was just fishing.

BLOODNOK: What?! I've a good mind to call the manager.

SEAGOON: Go on then, call him.

BLOODNOK: No. No – why should I?

SEAGOON: Then I'll call him. (aside) Watch me turn the tables, listeners. Ha ha ha! (calls) Manager?

FX: Door opens.

MANAGER: Oui, monsieur?

BLOODNOK: Throw this man out of my room!

SEAGOON: (Exiting) Ahhhhh!

FX: Door slams.

SEAGOON: Alone in Paree – I went down to the notorious Café Tom, proprietor Maurice Ponk.[21]

GRAMS: Distant sax and piano combo playing “Sous les toits de Paris.”[22]

SEAGOON: Inside the air was filled with gorilla smoke. I was looking for a man who might specialise in piano robberies from the Louvre.

GRAMS: Whoosh!

EIDELBURGER:[23] Good evening. You are looking for a man who might specialise in piano robberies from ze Louvre?

SEAGOON: How do you know?

EIDELBURGER: I was listening on the radio and I heard you say it.

SEAGOON: Good. Sit down.

EIDELBURGER: No thank you. I am naked.[24]

SEAGOON: Garkon?


SEAGOON: Two glasses of English port-type cooking sherry.


SEAGOON: Now – have a gorilla.

EIDELBURGER: No zanks – I only smoke baboons.

SEAGOON: Good show!

EIDELBURGER: Yes. Baboon show!

GRAMS: Riotous cheering.

EIDELBURGER: Thank you. Thank you, and now back to the plot.

SEAGOON: Yes! This piano we must steal – it's the one Napoleon played at Waterloo.

EIDELBURGER: Steal? That will be a very sticky job.


EIDELBURGER: It's just been varnished. Ho ho ho! The German joke, ja?

SEAGOON: Ha ha ha. The English silence.

EIDELBURGER: Now, Mr Sneeze-groin, meet me outside the Louvre at midnight on the stroke of two.

SEAGOON: What time?

EIDELBURGER: When the clock strikes twenty past twelve. Bob and Alf Veederzoin.

SEAGOON: Veederline! True to my word I was there dead on three.

EIDELBURGER: You’re late.

SEAGOON: I'm sorry. My legs were slow.

EIDELBURGER: You will have to buy another pair. Zis here is my oriental assistant Yakamoto.

YAKAMOTO:[25] Ah! I am very honoured to meet you. Why, I don't know. Oh, boy!

SEAGOON: What does this oriental creep know about piano thieving?

EIDELBURGER: Nothing. He is just here to lend colour to the scene. Now Neddie, this is the map plan of the Louvre and the surrounding streets.

FX: Large ordnance map unfolding. Continue under dialogue.

SEAGOON: Now, you take one end of this map... That's right, unfold it.... That's the way.... (Extended improv.) It's big, isn't it?

EIDELBURGER: (Distant) Yes, it is. This bit here shows the Rue de la Paix.[26]

SEAGOON: Good heavens, you're miles away! Walk straight up that street, take the second on the left, and I'll be waiting for you.

GRAMS: Car approaching at speed; screech of brakes; skids.

EIDELBURGER: I took a taxi – it was too far. Now we disperse and meet again in the Hall of Mirrors, when the clock strikes twinge. At midnight we strike.

GRAMS: Big Ben striking midnight. Wildly vary the speed.

EIDELBURGER: Shhhhh... Is that you, Seagoon?

SEAGOON: No, it was the clock. Where's Tom Yakamoto?

EIDELBURGER: He's gone to the Clochemerle. [27]

FX: Hand bell ringing

GREENSLADE: (French accent – distant) Everybody out – closing time.

SEAGOON: Quick, hide behind this pane of glass.

EIDELBURGER: But you can see through it.

SEAGOON: Not if you close your eyes!

EIDELBURGER: Gekeine gerblungen, you are right! Are all your family clever?

SEAGOON: Only the crustaceans.

GREENSLADE: Everybody out, and that goes for you idiots with your eyes shut behind the sheet of glass.

SEAGOON: You fool, you can't see us.

GREENSLADE: Yes I can. Get out or I call the police.

EIDELBURGER: You anti-Bismarck swine! I shoot.

SEAGOON: No, no! Not through the glass – you'll break it. First I'll make a hole in it.


FX: Glass breaking.

SEAGOON: There! Now, shoot through that.

FX: Gunshot.

GREENSLADE: (Overacting) Oh – you've killed me! Oh, foutre à la porte.[28] You’ll get me the sack. Oh-oh! Oh, I die. I fall to the ground. Oh-oh, I die-eee.

CAST: (Various raspberries, boos and hisses.)

SEAGOON: Never mind, Walter – swallow this tin of Life-O, guaranteed to turn you to life – recommended by all corpses and Wilfred Pickles.[29] Forward Ray Ellington!


RAY ELLINGTON QUARTET - "Don't Roll Those Bloodshot Eyes At Me" [30]


ORCHESTRA: French scene-setting music.

GREENSLADE: Part Two, in which our heroes, their purpose almost accomplished, are discovered creeping up to the piano.

EIDELBURGER: Shhh, Neddie – there is someone under Napoleon's piano trying to lift it by himself.

SEAGOON: He must be mad.

ECCLES: (singing) Aye dye dum bye-dee… &c

SEAGOON: I was right. Eccles, what are you doing out after feeding time?

ECCLES: I signed a contract that fooled me – (fooled me mark you,) into taking this piano back to England.

SEAGOON: What? You must be an idiot to sign a contract like that. Ha ha. Now help me get this piano back to England. Together, lift!

FX: Various clumps of notes all over the piano keyboard.

SEAGOON & ECCLES: (Straining sounds.)

SEAGOON: No, no. It's too heavy – put it down.

FX: Heavy thud. Add random clump of piano keys.

ECCLES: Here – it's lighter when you let go, isn't it?

SEAGOON: I have an idea – we'll saw the legs off. Eccles, give me that special piano leg saw that you just happen to be carrying. (Sniggers) Ha ha ha. Thank you. Now…

ECCLES: (Singing behind)

FX: Sawing of timber. Piece of wood falls to floor.

FX: Sawing of timber. Second piece of wood falls to floor.

FX: Sawing of timber. Third piece of wood falls to floor.

FX: Sawing of timber. Fourth piece of wood falls to floor.

SEAGOON: There! I've sawn off all four legs.

EIDELBURGER: Strange – the first time I've known of a piano with four legs.

ECCLES: (Puzzled) Hey, I keep fallin' down.

SEAGOON: I'm terribly sorry Eccles. Eccles, here – swallow this tin of Leg-O, the wonder leg grower, recommended by all good centipedes.

GREENSLADE: They managed by sweating and struggling, to get Napoleon's piano into the cobbled court.

SEAGOON: (Which is more than Napoleon ever did.)

BLOODNOK: Halt! Hand over le piano in the name of France!

SEAGOON: Bloodnok take off that kilt! We know you're not French.

BLOODNOK: One step nearer and I'll strike with this fork on the end of a pole.

SEAGOON: You do and I'll attack with this kipper!

BLOODNOK: I've a good mind to call the manager.

SEAGOON: Call the manager!

BLOODNOK: No. Why should I? I… I...

SEAGOON: Very well, I'll call him. (Aside) I'll get him this time. (Shouts off) Manager?

FX: Door opens.

MANAGER: Oui monsieur?

SEAGOON: Throw this man out.

MANAGER: (Blows raspberry.)

FX: Door slams.

BLOODNOK: Seagoon, you must let me have that piano. You see I foolishly signed a contract that forces me to...

SEAGOON: Yes, yes… We know. We're all in the same boat. We have no money, so the only way to get the piano back to England is to float it back. All together, into the English Channel... hurl!

CAST: (Concerted heaving.)

GRAMS: Heavy splash.

SEAGOON: All aboard HMS Piano – cast off!

ORCHESTRA: Nautical link.

ECCLES: (Distant singing from crow’s nest.)

GRAMS: Waves, distant seagulls.

SEAGOON: The log of Napoleon's Piano, December the third. Second week in English Channel. Very seasick. No food, no water. Bloodnok down with the lurgi – Eccles up with the lark.

BLOODNOK: (weak) Seagoon, take over the keyboard. I can't steer any more.

SEAGOON: (weak) Eccles, take over the keyboard.

ECCLES: I can't. I haven't brought my music.

SEAGOON: You'll just have to busk for the next three miles.

BLOODNOK: Wait! Great galloping crabs – look in the sky.

GRAMS: Helicopter in distance.

BLOODNOK: It's a recording of a helicopter. Saved!

SEAGOON: By St George, saved! Yes! For those of you who haven't got television – they're lowering a man on a rope.

BLUEBOTTLE: (Approaching) Yes, it is I – Sea Ranger Bluebottle, direct from H.M.S. Boxer. Signals applause...

GRAMS: Wild cheering.

BLUEBOTTLE: Cease! I have drunk my fill of the clapping.

SEAGOON: Little stinking admiral, you have arrived in the nick of time.

BLUEBOTTLE: Silenzio! I must do my duty. (Hurriedly runs up cardboard Union Jack.) I now claim this island for the British Empire and Lord Beaverbrook, the British patriot. (Thinks – “I wonder why he lives in France?”) [31] Three cheers for the Empire. Hip hip… hooray! Hip hip...

SEAGOON: Have you come to save us?

BLUEBOTTLE: ...hooray! Rockall is now British. (Cements in brass plate. Steps back to salute.) [32]

GRAMS: Body falls in water. Splashing continues under.

BLUEBOTTLE: Help! I'm in deep dreaded drowning-type water.

SEAGOON: Here! Grab this fork on the end of a pole.

BLUEBOTTLE: It's got a kipper on!

SEAGOON: Yes. You must keep your strength up.

BLUEBOTTLE: But... but, I'm drowning.

SEAGOON: There's no need to go hungry as well. Take my hand!

BLUEBOTTLE: Why? Are you a stranger in paradise?

SEAGOON: (Straining) Heeuuueeeuuueeeuuup! For those without television, I've pulled him back on the piano.

BLUEBOTTLE: Piano? This is not a piano. This is Rockall.

SEAGOON: This is Napoleon's Piano.

BLUEBOTTLE: No... no it is not.


BLUEBOTTLE: No, it isn't.

SEAGOON: This is Napoleon's Piano.

BLUEBOTTLE: No, this is Rockall. We have tooked it, because it is in the area of the rocket testing range.

SEAGOON: Rocket testing range? I've never heard so much rubbish in all my life…

GRAMS: Incoming missile. Explosion.

GREENSLADE: What do you think, dear listeners – were they standing on Rockall, or was it Napoleon's piano? Send your suggestions to anybody but us. For those who would prefer a happy ending, here it is.

FX: Door opens.

GRAMS: Romantic film music. Fade behind.

SEAGOON: (Breathless) Gwendolyn! Gwendolyn!

GWENDOLYN: John, John darling.

SEAGOON: (Excited) Gwendoline – I've.. I've found work, darling. I've got a job.

GWENDOLYN: Oh John. I'm so glad for you. What is it, darling?

SEAGOON: Darling, all I've got to do is to move a piano from one room to another.... (Insane laughter.) Hoo hoo hoo hoo ha ha ha ha…

ORCHESTRA: Closing 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.



YTI [33]

[1] This episode, one of the most famous of the Goon Shows, seems to have been inspired by a remarkable incident three weeks prior to its broadcast. On the 18th September 1955, three officers from HMS Vidal, accompanied by a civilian naturalist, landed on Rockall in the eastern Atlantic and proclaimed the 70ft high monolith a part of Britain. It was the last territorial acquisition of the British Empire.

Lying 187 miles due west of the St Kilda Isles and 267 miles north east of County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, the sea-girt rock is completely devoid of soil or vegetation, wholly waterless, and is frequently submerged below the tremendous swells of the Atlantic ocean. At the time, Britain was engaged in the testing of its first guided nuclear weapon, (an imported US Corporal missile), which was scheduled for a launch from the isle of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Rockall lay well within its firing range, and Cold War fears that the Soviet Union may establish an observational post on the precipitous rock to monitor the test firing and thus compromise national security caused the Defence Department to order the annexation of the island, despite quite reasonable counter claims by Ireland, Denmark and a certain Mr J. Abrach Mackay who said his ancestor had claimed the rock back in 1846.

Rockall has a most peculiar shape, and Spike most probably saw photographs of it in the press. The summit of a long extinct volcano, the rock is shaped somewhat like a lower incisor, with steep sides – (almost vertical in some places), a small flat area 3 meters from the summit, and a small protuberance at the top. I suggest that Spike decided it looked like an upended grand piano with a Napoleonic bicorn stuck fast to the top.

The absurdity of the rock, the daft actions of the Defence Department, and the sheer lunacy and expense of landing four men from a helicopter onto this remote pimple in the Atlantic, in order to move Rockall from International waters into British control, (ie: from one ‘room’ to another), seems to have sent Spike scurrying to his typewriter, its topicality displacing the already written and announced  The Sale of Manhattan” to the position of 11th in the series.

This script is one of the few Goon scripts published during Spike’s lifetime. Rather than replicate the script as it appears in ‘The Goon Show Scripts’ (Sphere Books - 1972), this version notates the differences and departures that occurred during the performance. It also endeavours to accurately describe the FX and GRAMS as they were performed that evening, and attempts to regulate the punctuation.


[2] The printed script says ‘Outbreak of people sighing.’ It is clearly wailing.  (See final note p.17)


[3] The war years had produced much bravura writing for the piano – albeit in the form of film themes. Among the most popular of these were; ‘The Warsaw Concerto’ by Richard Addinsell, (from the film ‘Dangerous Moonlight’ - 1941), ‘The Dream of Olwen’ by Charles Williams (from the film ‘While I live’ - 1947), ‘The Legend of the Glass Mountain’ by Nina Rota, (from the film ‘The Glass Mountain’ - 1948), ‘Cornish Rhapsody’ by Hubert Bath, (from the film ‘Love Story’ - 1944), ‘Portrait of Isla’ by Jack Beaver, (from the film ‘The Case of the Frightened Lady’ - 1940), and more controversially ‘Concerto Macabre’ by Bernard Herrmann, (from the film ‘Hangover Square’ - 1945.) Stott’s eloquent piano introduction seems to be modelled on these, but with a certain amount of harmonic eccentricity to fit with the surrounding comic material, played most likely by Dick Katz from the Ray Ellington quartet. The published script describes it as a – ‘Very old record of a piano solo (Marseillaise)’.


[4] Spike probably means Palace House, also called Beaulieu Manor, in Hampshire, the ancestral home of the Montagu family. Beaulieu became famous in 1955 when Lord Montagu began a jazz festival in the village. It was held annually until 1961, when the 3rd Baron curtailed the festival after riots and because of the licentious behaviour of the patrons.


[5] An extremely vulgar reference, saved from the censor’s red pen by its spelling and its remote nature. ‘Harpyapipe’ means ‘up your pipe’, a vulgar but common saying nowadays shortened to ‘up yours’; while a ‘quant’ was a punting pole with a broad flange near the end to prevent it from sinking into the mud. (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1913). The conjunction of the two images is best left to the reader to absorb fully.

[6] P.S (published script) writes ‘Knockoes’. Spike pronounces it as above.


[7] The roof of the Air Ministry was the centre for weather reporting. The buildings it occupied were named Adastral House – a re-paraphrasing of the Air Force motto, ‘Per ardua ad astra’. In 1955 the newly formed Associated Rediffusion Limited acquired the property for its newly formed broadcasting commercial ITA channel. Those who had lived through the blitz in WWII, considered the BBC along with the meteorological report from the Air Ministry roof to be the mainstays of their psychological survival.


[8] The P.S. has it as “You must excuse the mess but we have the socialists in.” It is unlikely this was in the original script.


[9] Moriarty interjects “I’m sorry – it’s on.” before Grytpype cuts him off. The P.S. has it as ‘Mine’s worn out.’

[10] This is the first time Milligan tried this line. He tries it four times in this show, then also in “Rommel’s Treasure” 6/6th  – (“Have a gorilla! No thanks, I’ve just put one out;”) “The Pevensey Bay Disaster” 10/6th  – (“Have a gorilla! No thanks, this street is a non-smoker;”) and “The Hastings Flyer – Robbed!”  15/6th, a repeat of the 10th show.


[11] Beniamino Gigli (1890-1957) was the successor to Enrico Caruso as the predominant operatic tenor of his day. With a fabulous technique, excitable characterisations and emotional performances, he remained the favourite of opera audiences on the continent and in the USA before and after the war. Accused in the US of greed in refusing to take a pay cut after the stock market crash of 1929, he gained the reputation as a skin-flint and later as Mussolini’s pin-up boy. Milligan’s reference here to ‘mowing the lawn’ was probably a dig at Gigli’s recent retirement.


[12] A famous Boer-War ballad, it was written by Felix McGlennon in 1890, and continued to hold a place in popular tradition well into the 1930’s. Spike used the idea of old war veterans begging for their supper on a windswept pavement many times throughout his career. The image appears in ‘The Greenslade Story’ (14/6th) and ‘The Moriarty Murder Mystery’ (17/8th) and additionally in a series of photographs of the cast begging on a London street in support of Harry Secombe’s show ‘Sing A Song of Secombe’ later in the 70’s.

[13] Milligan returned to this idea in “The Battle of Spion Kop” (9/9th). Using the technique ‘transference of utility’ he conflates the skill of leading an army with the skill of leading an orchestra, both times in association with Napoleon Bonaparte.


[14] Lyrics by Harburg, music by Duke, from the 1932 musical ‘Walk a Little Faster’. Count Basie had released his famous recording of it earlier this same year.


[15] Previous transcribers have correctly made the observation that a piece of metal (maybe a spoon) is dropped a couple of times during this scene. In the P.S. there is an FX here; ‘Bits and pieces dropping down.’ This is followed by these eight lines;           

CRUN: Ohh dee dee – dee, X9?

                              MINNIE: (off) X9 answering – who’s that calling , buddy?

CRUN: It’s me – the Foreign Secretary. Do you know where the key to the secret documents safe is?

                              MINNIE: Yes – it’s with the charlady.

                              CRUN: Do you think that’s wise – she has access to all the vital British secret documents.

                              MINNIE: She can’t read them, buddy. She only speaks Russian.

                              CRUN: That’s a bit of luck.

This of course, makes the following scene much clearer. As in ‘The Great Tuscan Salami Scandal’ (23/6th) later in the series, Minnie and Henry seem to be playing members of the Foreign Office, plagued by Prime Ministers, white papers and  Russian spies, mislaying secret documents and bits and pieces of machinery at every point. It is not clear to me whether these eight lines were performed that night then excised from the tape, or whether they were censored prior to Sunday night 9th October.


[16] Anthony Eden had recently become Prime Minister of Great Britain following the resignation of Churchill and a subsequent general election. One of his first policy decisions was to implement a white paper from the Defence Department proposing the introduction of thermo-nuclear armaments in alliance with the USA. This was the reasoning behind the recent nuclear missile tests.


[17] Part of the paranoia concerning the defection of Burgess and Maclean, members of British Intelligence and counter- operatives for the NKVD and the KGB. They had fled to the Soviet Union in mid 1951, leaving behind a largely compromised eastern European spy network and Britain with a ruined reputation in intelligence security. At the same time this programme went to air, the third man in their network, Kim Philby, was undergoing intense questioning by his superiors at MI6. He was not finally unmasked until 1962.


[18] Written in 1929 by Razaf, Brooks, Armstrong, and Fats Waller, it is considered one of the top 50 jazz numbers ever penned. The movie of the same name starring Rory Calhoun and Piper Laurie had been released in July of this year.


[19] Eccles is singing a number from ‘Paint Your Wagon’, the 1951 Broadway musical by Lerner and Loewe. The London production had opened at Her Majesty’s in 1953.


[20] Milligan.

[21] Who had previously appeared as the three-inch man in a matchbox in “The Secret Escritoire” (2/6th) and who would later go on to star in a marvellous vignette in ‘The Case of the Mukkinese Battle Horn’ (Joseph Sterling – 1956) played by Dick Emery.


[22] From the 1930 French-German film of the same name. The film, an international sensation on its release, is a witty exploration of love and human foibles, told primarily through music, and captures the flamboyant atmosphere of Paris with sophisticated visuals and groundbreaking use of the new technology of movie sound. This song was written by René Nazelles and Raoul Moretti.


[23] Sellers.


[24] P.S. had a different version of this gag.

[25] Milligan.


[26] One of the world’s most fashionable shopping streets, the Rue de la Paix was cut through the old medieval heart of Paris by Napoleon in 1806, from the Palace Vendôme to the Opéra Garnier.


[27] This is a very remote reference and, as is apparent from the audience reaction, rather a bewildering one. It is the title of a novel written by the French satirist Gabriel Chevallier in 1934, concerning a French provincial mayor who organises the erection of the new public ‘pissoir’ in the centre of his small village – Clochemerle, as a means of enshrining his civic memory for future generations, in the grand public style of the Romans. His plan proves disastrous as he manages to antagonise both the townsfolk, the Church and the nastiest woman in town with his inconvenient public convenience.

How Spike came to know this word is unknown, but it is probable that it was suggested to him as a synonym for the word ‘pissoir’ – a word he knew would never get by the BBC censors. He used the word again a second time in ‘The Evils of Bushy Spon’ (25/8th) in exactly the same situation. It is a strange word to use, but fits in well with his habit of using remote words in awkward situations.


[28] Literally ‘to do the door’ – ie: to be sacked.


[29] Wilfred Pickles (1904-78) British actor and radio presenter. A proud Yorkshireman, he pioneered the introduction of regional accents into the BBC, and was especially famous for his long running show ‘Have a Go’. With his friendly, common touch, he took the show to the people, to factories, shipyards or the High Street, where he would persuade normal people from all walks of life to chat about the most intimate details of their lives.


[30] By Hall & Penny, 1950. The most famous early version was recorded the following year by Wynonie Harris, the rhythm and blues singer and forerunner of Elvis Presley.

[31] Despite Bluebottle’s beliefs, Beaverbrook did not live in the South of France. He, along with many members of the British establishment, maintained houses in multiple destinations, but was domiciled in Great Britain. The house in Southern France was at Cape d’Ail. Churchill was holidaying there with his wife and daughter as this programme went to air.


[32] The final territorial expansion of the British Empire occurred almost exactly as Bluebottle says. Two Royal Marines and a civilian naturalist, led by Royal Navy officer Lieutenant Commander Desmond Scott, raised a Union flag on the island and cemented a plaque into the rock. The plague reads;

"By authority of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, and in accordance with Her Majesty's instructions dated the 14th day of September, 1955, a landing was effected this day upon this island of Rockall from HMS Vidal. The Union flag was hoisted and possession of the island was taken in the name of Her Majesty. [Signed] R H Connell, Captain, HMS Vidal, 18 September 1955."

The civilian naturalist, overcome by the emotion of the moment, knelt down and kissed the monolith. Later, so as to affirm Britain’s claim, survival expert Tom McClean lived on the islet from May until July 1985. Mr McClean was the first person (apart from Mr Neddie Seagoon – see ‘The Sale of Manhattan 11/6th), to cross the Atlantic in a rowing boat.



The published script of this episode appears in ‘The Goon Show Scripts’ (Sphere Books – 1972), released around the same time as ‘The Last Goon Show of All’ – (which had occurred in April of that year), no doubt to take advantage of renewed public interest in the show.

A preface from the publishers on the first page says that the ‘scripts are reproduced faithfully’. I think it is doubtful that that is the case. They show every sign of having been tinkered with by someone – probably Milligan, in the manner that became his hallmark. In a latter book of scripts from 1987 for example, whole passages were rewritten, reams of jokes added and 1950’s gags deleted, and it seems likely to me that that was also partly the case with this earlier book of scripts.

The differences between the printed script and the performance are inconsistent. Some involve spelling mistakes, eg:

Printed script:    EIDELBURGER: Now Mr. Snzeegroon…

Broadcast:           EIDELBURGER: Now Mr. Sneezegroin…


Some lines are round the wrong way. Eg:

Printed script:    GREENSLADE: Seagoon was confused – it seems that the cheapest method of getting to Paris was to stowaway to France on board a channel steamer.

Broadcast:           GREENSLADE: Seagoon was confused – (he's not the only one.) It seems that with no more than a fiver the cheapest way to Paris was to stowaway on board a Channel steamer.


Whole jokes are different:

Printed script:    SEAGOON: Good – pull up a chair. Sit down.

                              EIDELBURGER: No thanks – I’d rather stand.

                              SEAGOON: Very well, stand on a chair.

Broadcast:          SEAGOON: Good. Sit down.

                              EIDELBURGER: No thanks – I’m naked.


Some of the FX’s are definitely not what was broadcast. Eg:

Printed script:    GRAMS: Outbreak of people sighing.

Broadcast:           GRAMS: Wailing.


The final – and largest difference, is that there are an additional eight lines to the Crun/Bannister scene which actually flesh out the beginning of the scene more fully, and set the scene more clearly. (See note 12 for the full details).


The only conclusion I can think of is that the script used in the 1972 book was an uncorrected original, which did not contain the various improvements and additions which were included in the October 1955 performance. Further to this, I think it likely that Spike tinkered with the script a little and changed various gags which in 1972 sounded naff on re-reading. I believe also that the additional portion of script in the Crun/Bannister scene was probably original, but most likely excised from the broadcast, or cut on the evening of the performance.