BROADCAST: 1 Nov 1955 [1]

Script by Spike Milligan


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service. And candidly, I'm fed up with it. [2]

SECOMBE: Have a care there, Wallace, otherwise I'll be forced to speak to John Snagge.[3]

GREENSLADE: My dear fellow, everybody has to be forced to speak to John Snagge.

SECOMBE: Come – curb those biting cynicisms and permit me to present the highly esteemed Goon Show.

GRAMS: Old fashioned gramophone recording.

MILLIGAN: Stop! Hoo hoo hoo! Stop that sinful American music! Secombe – take off those carbon plus-fours [4] and listen to the story entitled – ‘In Honour Bound'.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic introduction.

SEAGOON: My name is Neddie Seagoon. I was a gas meter inspector. It all began the day of the annual general board meeting of the South Balham Gas Board.[5]

GRAMS: Heavy murmurs.

OMNES: (Various asides and interjections.)[6]

FX: Gavel on bench.

CRUN: Gentlemen – I have here the books for the er, um… financial year just ended, and by the look of them gas is here to stay. I am glad to say that the South Balham Gas Colossus has made a gross profit of no less than three pounds twelve shillings and ninepence. It proves that hard work pays. Now then..

OLD UNCLE OSCAR: Have you seen my teeth?

CRUN: You left them on your saxophone.


OLD CRUN: Now then, I'll read the vital balance sheets.[7] Credits; sales of rare gases, eighteen pounds. Expenses; one bag of coke, eight and eightpence; electric fire for office heating, two pounds, eleven and fourpence; replacing light bulbs in Gas Board's premises, thirteen shillings and tenpence; saxophone lessons for Chairman's wife, three pounds, eight shillings and ninepence...

BANNISTER: (Distant) Do we have to pay for saxophone lessons, buddy?

CRUN: Oh yes, yes, yes. You never know when it might come in useful.

BANNISTER: It’s sinful!

OLD UNCLE OSCAR: What about our lads in Mafeking?[8]

CRUN: Next we have the er… (Fibrillations) Ooh! – aah! – oooh! I've overlooked an entry here – an outstanding debt of four pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence!

GRAMS: Wailing.

CRUN: Don't worry! I shall set this right at once. (Calls) Ned Seagoon?

FX: Door opens.

SEAGOON: Gas meter inspector Seagoon reporting for duty, sir.

CRUN: Seagoon, go to this address and serve them a seven-day final notice.

SEAGOON: Yes sir. What's this? President Fred, Casa Rosa, Avenida Varest?[9] That's South America.

CRUN: Ohhoho – is it? Then you'd better borrow the Gas Board's bicycle.

SEAGOON: But sir, it's overseas.

CRUN: (angrily) What is our bicycle doing overseas?

SEAGOON: No, no. I mean Argentina is overseas. How can I get there on a bicycle?

CRUN: Well, you must have it waterproofed, that’s all.

SEAGOON: Oh, thank you, sir...

CRUN: You can't get the wood you know.

SEAGOON: ...I hadn't thought of that. Well, goodbye sir.

OMNES: (variously) Goodbye! Bye bye Neddie – ta ta.

GREENSLADE: Dear listeners, you doubtless are wondering how it is that the South Balham Gas Board supplies gas to Argentina. It was thanks to the enterprise of a British Major who in nineteen thirty-nine shipped a cylinder of gas there.

SEAGOON: Yes. On arrival in Argentina it was this man I contacted.

ORCHESTRA: Bloodnok Theme. Segue into Spanish flamenco introduction – end with guitar.[10]

BLOODNOK: (singing) Ah! Oooooh! The heat! The heat![11] Gladys?

ELLINGTON: Si, señor?

BLOODNOK: Turn off one of those women and put some more ice on the fire, will you.

FX: Knock on door.

BLOODNOK: (fear) I surrender. (Wearily) Who's there?[12]

SEAGOON: (off) Ned Seagoon, South Balham Gas Board.

BLOODNOK: Quick! Burn the books. Tear up those revolting postcards. Chase those women out of my room. Take all those 'For Sale' signs off the furniture and help me get the floor back under this carpet. (Straining) Arghh![13] Come in!

FX: Door opens.

SEAGOON: Good morning.

BLOODNOK: I'm sorry your journey's all been wasted. I posted the account books back to Balham this morning. Goodbye! Get out of here. Goodbye!

FX: Door slams. Loud knocking.

BLOODNOK: You can't come in. I'm in the bath.

SEAGOON: (off) What are you doing in the bath?

BLOODNOK: I'm – I'm watching television.

SEAGOON: (off) What's showing?

BLOODNOK: My dear fellow – nothing. I've got a towel round me.

FX: Door opens.

SEAGOON: Now, look here, Major – enough of this tomfoolery.

BLOODNOK: Do you play the saxophone?

SEAGOON: Only during the mating season. Now look here – I'm here to deliver a final demand notice to a President Fred. Now, how do I contact him?

BLOODNOK: Come to this window, lad...

FX: Window raised.

GRAMS: Distant rifle fire. Ricocheting bullets. Continue under.

BLOODNOK: That white house in the square is President Fred's headquarters.

SEAGOON: But how can I get through that hail of bullets?

BLOODNOK: Well, er – look, be outside the back door at midnight. I shall send a man to guide you.

SEAGOON: Very well. But remember – if I'm not back within seven days, don't hesitate to cut off their gas supply. Farewell!

FX: Door slams.

FX: Phone dialling.

BLOODNOK: (sings over) "The Man From Laramie..."[14] Hello, Moriarty?

MORIARTY: (on phone) Yes. Do you play the saxophone?

BLOODNOK: Only in the mating season. Listen, there's a Charlie from Balham coming over to collect a gas bill from President Fred. It's only three pounds, twelve shillings and ninepence.

MORIARTY: (on phone) Bloodnok, that money was paid to you last month.

BLOODNOK: Yes I know, I know, I know. But look, be a good fellow and settle it up.

MORIARTY: (on phone) Sapristi yakkabakakas! How can we pay him? President Fred has vanished with all the money. I think you'd better come over here right at once.

BLOODNOK: Very well I will, pausing only for Max Geldray.


MAX GELDRAY - "Have You Ever Been Lonely" [15]


GRAMS: Rifle fire and ricocheting bullets.

SEAGOON: That night at midnight I waited in a specially darkened doorway for the coming of the stranger who was to guide me on my perilous mission. I was so heavily disguised that not even my own mother would have recognised me.

THROAT: ‘Evening Neddie.

SEAGOON: Good evening, mother. But wait – who is this approaching, wearing an anthracite tie, lead waistcoat, with an electric guitar plugged into the train line?

ECCLES: Ahem. Are you Neddie Seagoon?


ECCLES: Oh good. You been waiting long?


ECCLES: Who for?

SEAGOON: You, you idiot. Now, how do I get through the firing line to President Fred's headquarters?

ECCLES: How do you get there? – you go straight up that road there.

SEAGOON: But they're shooting down it.

ECCLES: Oooh. Don't go that way. You take this road here. They're not shooting up that one.

SEAGOON: That road doesn't lead to it.

ECCLES: Oh, don't take that one.

                    (sings) "I talk to the trees,

that’s why they…"[16]

SEAGOON: Any other ideas?

ECCLES: Yeah. D’you play the saxophone?


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

(sings) "I talk..."

SEAGOON: Don't go! Look, I've got an idea. The sewers – that's how we'll get there. Quick! Down this manhole.

GRAMS: Heavy metal plate falls onto hard surface. Two splashes. Wading sounds.

SEAGOON: (Heavy echo) Now, I'm going to roll up my trousers.


SEAGOON: (Proudly) I've got nice legs.

ECCLES: You naughty, naughty man.

SEAGOON: (The man from Llanelli!)[17] Wait – what's that ahead?

ECCLES: It's a head.

SEAGOON: Yes, but whose it is?

BLUEBOTTLE: It is mine, my Captain. (Thank you for the sausages.)

SEAGOON: Who are you, little cardboard-clad frogman?

BLUEBOTTLE: I will give you a musical clue. Close your eyes first. Have you got them closed? Right. Moves left, picks up flannel zither.

(Sings – to tune of the theme from Harry Lime)

Plingta-plungta pling de-pling…

Plingtee-plungtee plung de-plung…

Knickey knackey noo,

Knickey knackey noo,

Pling-tong pling tittie plung…

Pling de-pling de-dittie-plung

de ying-tong idle-eye-poh. DOH!

Knickey-noo de-yekkey plung, DUNG!

Pling de-knickey mucka mung tum pling!

ECCLES: I know! The Man from Laramie.

BLUEBOTTLE: You rotten swine, you.[18] I'm not the Laramie-type man – I'm the Hairy Lion-type man.[19] Goes into second chorus.

(Sings – as before) Littet buttle…

SEAGOON: Save that lovely voice. Tonight is not the Harry Lime game – tonight is the South American President Fred game.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ooh! Do not go den. Wait for me! Wait! Quickly throws away silly old zither, makes brown paper lariat, reverses Mum's old drawers to make cowboy trousers and picks up hair and fibre banjo. 'OLE! 'OLE! No, wait a minute, I've not said that right – it’s OLÉ! That’s it. It's spelt 'ole. I’m ready for the new game. Ride, Vaquero! Ride! [20]

SEAGOON: Well done, little thrice-adolescent hybrid.[21] Lead me to President Fred's headquarters and this quarter of liquorice all-sorts is yours.

BLUEBOTTLE: Oooh liquorish! Oo I like this, it's good. Thinks – I must be careful how many of those I eat. Right Capitain – quick, jump onto this cardboard boot-box. Hurriedly wraps up Capitain in brown paper parcel labelled ‘Explosives’ and stuffs it into headquarters letter box. Jumps onto passing dustcart and exits left to buy bowler before the price goes up. Thinks – there was not a very big part for Bluebottle this week, was there?

GREENSLADE: By the magic of liquorish, the scene now changes to the Suspicious Parcels Testing Chamber in President Fred's headquarters.

MORIARTY: (Approaching) Grytpype, this mysterious parcel has just arrived by mysterious parcel post – mysteriously.

GRYTPYE: Right, Moriarty. Steam the stamp off and cash it.

MORIARTY: Right. Sapristi yuck-a-kukka-kukka-kukka-a-koo! I don't like the expression on this parcel's label! I wonder what's in it.

FX: Phone rings. Receiver up.

GRYTPYE: (Just a moment). Hello?

SEAGOON: (on phone) I'll tell you what's in the parcel. It is I – gas meter inspector Neddie Seagoon, South Balham Gas Board. You have seven days to pay a gas bill of three pounds, twelve and nine.

GRYTPYE: Oh! Do you play the saxophone?

SEAGOON: Only occasionally. Now remember, you have seven days to pay. You can post your cheque to me, care of this parcel.

FX: Phone down.

GRYTPYE: Moriarty?


GRYTPYE: Open this parcel.

FX: Large parcel-unwrapping noises.

BOTH: (Struggling sounds. Extended improv.)[22]

SEAGOON: Ah! Thank heavens you arrived – the string was getting rather tight.

FX: Receiver down.

GRYTPYPE: Yes. Moriarty, make a hole in the parcel. Insert the nozzle of this hose and turn it on, so –

GRAMS: Running water.

FX: Phone rings. Receiver up.


SEAGOON: (Underwater) Bobbleobbleobbleobble – plumber!

FX: Phone down.

GRYTPYPE: That’ll do Moriarty. I think he’s had enough. Open it.

FX: Unwrapping sounds.

SEAGOON: … the roof was leaking. Now then, what about this gas bill? President Fred owes the South Balham Gas Board three pounds, twelve shillings and ninepence.

GRYTPYE: Look, I’ll tell you what. Go down to the basement, read the meter and just make sure.

SEAGOON: Right. Come, Eccles.

FX: Door opens and shuts.

GRYTPYE: Good. That will give us breathing space Moriarty.

MORIARTY: Good, good, good!

GRYTPYE: I say, how empty the room is without him.

GRAMS: Rifle fire – ricocheting bullets. Crescendo gradually under.

MORIARTY: Sapristi! The counter-revolutionaries with tanks are attacking.

GRYTPYE: We've got to evacuate.


GRYTPYE: The rent's much too high here. (Going) Pack the floor – we're leaving.

MORIARTY: I'll bring the ceiling.[23]

FX: Door slams shut.

GRAMS: Swell sounds of battle.

FX: Door being smashed down.

GRAMS: Add running boots approaching.

OMNES: (Various shouts – “Arriva!” “Arriva!” &c)

GEN. ASTON VILLA: AH-HA! So – the cowardly swines have run away. They’re frightened of il General Aston Villa.[24] Run up my personal flag!

FX: Door opens.

SEAGOON: Right, gentlemen, I've checked the meter and the bill is exactly four pounds.

GEN. ASTON VILLA: What are you talking about, you miserable English creep?

SEAGOON: Come, come, Mr. Grytpype! You can't fool the South Balham Gas Board with those childish disguises and silly changes of voice. Hahaha! (Suddenly serious) Four pounds, please.

GEN. ASTON VILLA: There is – I think, some mistake, señor. We have just taken possession here this very minute. We only just lit the gas.

SEAGOON: Good heavens! Ooo – I'm dreadfully sorry. In that case you couldn't have used more than a therm or two could you? (Uncomfortable laughter.) Hahahaha…ahem. I'll go down and read the meter again. Excuse me.

FX: Door closes.

GEN. ASTON VILLA: When he comes up, pay the bill, and then keel ‘im.

GRAMS: Heavy burst of rifle fire.

OBREGÓN:[25] Queeck! The President Fredists are attacking!

GEN. ASTON VILLA: (Going) Everybody retreat!

OMNES: (General panic.)

GRAMS: General stampede – boots running into distance, cries and screams.

FX: Door slams shut.

FX: Door opens.

GRYTPYE: Well done, Moriarty – well done! What a beautiful counter-attack. We couldn't have continued to hold their headquarters anyway. Three pounds, ten shillings a week – it's quite impossible!

FX: Door opens.

SEAGOON: Well, gentlemen, I've read the meter and you were quite right. You've only put on one more therm – so that’s one and six please.

GRYTPYE: Right. Here's a photograph of two shillings.

SEAGOON: Thank you. And here's a photograph of sixpence change.

GRYTPYE: Thank you.

SEAGOON: Wait! Wait! It's you back again! You've cheated me. You're the people who owe the three pounds, twelve shillings and ninepence.

GRYTPYE: Oh no, that's President Fred's responsibility. Go and see him – room five-oh-nine.

SEAGOON: I will. I will. I will. I will… But wait! Who is this approaching, riding a kilted monkey and carrying a mackintosh saxophone? Why – it's Ray Ellington!


RAY ELLINGTON QUARTET - "Birth Of The Blues"[26]


GREENSLADE: Here for idiots is a résumé. The revolution so far.

GRAMS: Heavy rifle fire with ricochet of bullets.

GREENSLADE: Thank you. Chapter Two.

FX: Knocking on the door.

BLOODNOK: Cor blimey-o! El knock-o on the door-o. Come in-o.

FX: Door opens.

SEAGOON: Good morning, President Fred. I've come to collect... Wait a minute – you don't look like President Fred. You're Major Bloodnok.

BLOODNOK: Nonsense.

BLOODNOK: And you can soon find out. Phone him on the telefonico at this number-o: three-o nine-o.

SEAGOON: By gad, I will...

FX: Receiver up. Dialling.

SEAGOON: (over) I'll soon call this cunning bluff.

FX: Phone rings.

BLOODNOK: Excuse me a moment.

FX: Phone up.

BLOODNOK: Hello. Three-o nine-o here.

SEAGOON: Who's that speaking?

BLOODNOK: Major Denis Bloodnok.

SEAGOON: Oh! I'm sorry. There's a man here whom I've accused of being you.


SEAGOON: He's your living image. He even sounds like you.

BLOODNOK: Nonsense – goodbye!

FX: Phone down.

BLOODNOK: (to Seagoon) Well, you doubter – you see?

SEAGOON: But if you're President Fred, there's a gas bill here which now stands at four pounds.

BLOODNOK: Oh! Right, well I'll pay you. Here's a photograph of a four pound note.

SEAGOON: Thank you very much. Now I can report back to Major Bloodnok, 'Mission completed, GAS BILL PAID IN FULL’.

FX: Door slams.

BLOODNOK: Good, he's gone.

(Slight pause)

FX: Door opens.

MORIARTY: Ahhie-hoo! Bloodnok – you got rid of him, then? Splendid. We for our part – we got rid of President Fred.

BLOODNOK: You mean to say...?

MORIARTY: Yes, yes, yes. He gave us all his moolah to smuggle him out of the country.

BLOODNOK: Well done – well done lad. Now to divide his fifty million.

MORIARTY: Sapristi nyuckles, yes. I have it here in this red sack.

BLOODNOK: Good. We'll split evenly. I'll take the money and you take the sack.

MORIARTY: No. Why should I get the lion's share? You have the sack and I'll take the money.

BLOODNOK: Listen, Moriarty. Let us settle this thing amicably.

FX: Pistol shot.

MORIARTY: Oh!! Sapristi yong-tong! Dead!

FX: Thud of body to floor.

BLOODNOK: Good heavens – that pistol was loaded! Poor, poor Moriarty. I wonder if he played the saxophone. (Calls) Taxi!

GRAMS: Taxi driving off at speed.

(Slight pause)

FX: Door opens.

GRYTPYE: (Entering) Has he gone, Moriarty?

MORIARTY: Ha ha! Yes. He swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker. I gave him a pistol with a blank cartridge and he took the red sack full of the forged bank-notes.

GRYTPYE: Splendid. Splendid. I've got the genuine money here in this blue sack. Now, you go to the airport, Moriarty, and arrange to buy two air tickets.

MORIARTY: At once.

GRAMS: Single whoosh.

FX: Door shuts.

GRYTPYE: Fifty million, eh?

(Sings to himself – to the tune of ‘April in Paris’.) [27]

‘Christmas in Capri,

millions of moolah…’

FX: Door opens.

ECCLES: (singing) ‘I talk to the trees,

But they all put me...’

Hallo! Ooo! I see you got that old red sack full of them forged notes ready to fool old Bloodnok, then, eh? (Laughs) Ha ha hum! Hey, that was a good idea of yours having me pack the two sacks, eh?. That was fine, fine. Here, where's the blue sack with the real stuff?

GRYTPYE: This is the blue one.

ECCLES: Ooo! That fella was right then.

GRYTPYE: What fellow?

ECCLES: That oculist fellow who said I was colour-blind.

GRYTPYE: You mean Bloodnok's got the real money?


GRAMS: Single whoosh.

ECCLES: (Singing to himself)

‘I talk to the trees,  

that's why they put me away...’ [28]

FX: Door opens.

ECCLES: (Continuing to sing) ‘I got that melody divine…’[29]

BLUEBOTTLE: Has Mister Grytpype gone, Eccles?

ECCLES: Yeah. Yeah.

BLUEBOTTLE: He, he! And left us the blue sack with all the real money?


BLUEBOTTLE: ECCLES: (Improv. childish laughing and ‘tee-hee’s’.)

BLUEBOTTLE: I like this game, don't you Eccles?

ECCLES: The money game...

BLUEBOTTLE & ECCLES: … the big money game!

   (Singing together) Christmas in Capri,

plenty of moolah...’

GRAMS: Orchestral excerpt of flamenco.

FX: Door opens.

BLOODNOK: (breathlessly) Juan! Pack everything. I've millions of moolah. I must leave before Neddie gets back.

JUAN-INGTON: You'd better take that President Fred makeup off.

BLOODNOK: What? Oh yes – there!

FX: Door bursts open.

SEAGOON: Major Bloodnok – my mission's completed. Here's a photo of a four pound note.

BLOODNOK: What!? Wait! Wait! Wait! This note in the photograph... it's a forgery!

SEAGOON: Oh no. Gad, I've been tricked! (Leaving) Bloodnok, I'll go right back.

FX: Door slams.

BLOODNOK: (hums) ‘Christmas in Capri,

let me count the moolah’.

FX: Door opens.

MORIARTY: Aeeioughoo! Hands up!

BLOODNOK: What! Put down that double-action hydraulic-recoil eighteen-inch Howitzer.[30]

MORIARTY: No! It belonged to my mother.

BLOODNOK: What do you want?

MORIARTY: Give me the sack of money.

BLOODNOK: Come, come, Moriarty. Old friends mustn't fall out.

MORIARTY: Very well – we'll settle this amicably.


MORIARTY: Like this.

FX: Shot.

BLOODNOK: Argh! Shot through me gaiters!

MORIARTY: Sapristi, ying-ting-iddle-I poh. Got him!

FX: Door opens.

GRYTPYE: Is he dead?


FX: Shot.

MORIARTY: Ooooh! I'm shot in the kringe!

FX: Thud.

GRYTPYE: Got him.

FX: Door opens.

SEAGOON: Grytpype!

GRYTPYE: Hello, Neddie.

SEAGOON: What are these men lying on the floor for?

GRYTPYE: We haven't got any carpets.

SEAGOON: Oh! Look – Eccles told me that Bloodnok ran off with a red sack full of bank-notes, believing them to be real.

GRYTPYE: And weren't they?

SEAGOON: No. The real ones are with Eccles.


GRAMS: Single whoosh.

FX: Door shuts.

(Short pause.)

FX: Door opens.

ECCLES: (Singing.) ‘I talk…’

Ooo! Hullo. Has he gone?


ECCLES: Fine, fine, fine. Fine, fine, fine. You know, I'm not really colour-blind at all. (Giggles) I only said that to fool Bluebottle. That blue sack you're holding is full of the real stuff.

SEAGOON: Blue? This is a red sack.

ECCLES: Ooooh. Then you got the wrong stuff! Bluebottle's got the real stuff.

SEAGOON: Then I must find him and collect the Gas Board's four pounds from President Fred's treasure. Farewell!!

FX: Door shuts.

ECCLES: Fine. (Sings) ‘I'm only a strolling vagabond,

so goodnight ...’[31]

(Slight pause)

FX: Door opens.

BLUEBOTTLE: Has he gone, Eccles?

ECCLES: Yup, yup.

BLUEBOTTLE: And now we have both sacks – the red one and the blue one. We have both sacks. This is a good game you know, that what is. This is what is I’m liking this game. Eccles, which sack has the real money?

ECCLES: The blue one.

BLUEBOTTLE: Then we’ll split it fifty-fifty. You take that nice red one and I'll have this rotten, stinking, old blue one.

ECCLES: Fine, fine.

BLUEBOTTLE: And you're quite sure that you're not colour-blind, Enccules?

ECCLES: Oo no, I'm not colour blind.

BLUEBOTTLE: Oh! Well, goodbye Enccles..

FX: Door shuts.

ECCLES: Goodbye, Red-bottle.[32]

GREENSLADE: Three weeks later, at the head office of the South Balham Gas Board.

FX: Knock on door.

MANAGER:[33] Come in.

FX: Door opens.

ORCHESTRA: Violin solo - 'Hearts and Flowers'.

MANAGER: Secombe, put that blasted violin down and get up off your knees. Here, I'll hold that celluloid baby.[34]

ORCHESTRA: Violin Out.

SEAGOON: Please sir, I know I failed to collect that bill, but – couldn't I have my old job back?

MANAGER: I'm sorry, it's gone. Allow me to introduce our new gas meter inspector, Balham area – President Fred.

BLOODNOK: I’m pleased to meet you.



ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

GREENSLADE: Meantime, on the Isle of Capri.

ORCHESTRA: Guitar music accompaniment.

ECCLES: (Singing) “Oh sole mio…”[35] (Calls) Hey, manager! My bill.

GRYTPYPE: Yes sir. Let me see now sir. Eggs on toast and a small pot of tea – that makes just fifty million pesos.

ECCLES: Oh, that’s okay. I’ve got it all here in this blue sack.

GRYTPYPE: But that’s a red sack.


ORCHESTRA: End theme starts.

GREENSLADE: Stop! Stop, please.

ORCHESTRA: Music out.

GREENSLADE: If the cast will just gather round, the BBC cashier will pay them for the last overseas repeat in pesos from this blue sack.[36]

SECOMBE: But that’s a red sack.


MILLIGAN: It’s green…

ORCHESTRA: End theme.

GREENSLADE: That was The Goon Show - a BBC recorded programme featuring Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan with the Ray Ellington Quartet and Max Geldray. The orchestra was conducted by Wally Stott. Script by Spike Milligan. Announcer Wallace Greenslade. The programme was produced by Peter Eton.

ORCHESTRA: 'Crazy Rhythm' Playout.[37]



[1] In an effort to vary the location in which he set the Goon Shows, Spike occasionally sent his cast to South America. The main examples are ‘The Affair of the Lone Banana’ (5/5th), ‘Foiled by President Fred’ (7/6th), ‘Drums Along the Mersey’ (2/7th), ‘The Sleeping Prince’ (6/7th) and ‘The White Neddie Trade’ (19/8th).

South America was a political powder keg in the 50’s. The oppressive regimes that characterised the politics of Latin America at this time were either socialist experiments, personality cults, or reactionary juntas aligned to the US. Reports of revolutions and disturbances in South America regularly made headlines in the world’s media, reports generally considered incomprehensible by the British public, who were used to their own colonies being loyal, obsequious and productive.

Whereas ‘The Affair of the Lone Banana’ was influenced directly by the invasion of Guatemala in the summer of 1954, ‘Foiled By President Fred’ was influenced directly by the disastrous and violent end to the presidency of Juan Perón in Argentina on September 16th 1955, less than two months before this show was aired. The ‘Revolución Liberadora’ of 1955 ended President Perón’s second presidential term – a reign which had experienced a 70% devaluation of the peso, a 50% inflation rate and atrocious unemployment, harassment and intimidation of opponents and the gradual collapse of the country into chaos – but not before Perón had unleashed waves of terror against his critics.

The armed forces, split in their allegiance to the state or to Perón, blockaded the Río de la Plata, strafed garrisons, and fought running battles with each other across a number of provinces. Perón himself, realising the country was fast descending into civil war, eventually resigned and sought asylum in Paraguay. The junta which replaced Perón made it illegal to mention his or his wife’s name, and publicly exhibited the spoils of what it said was their scandalously sumptuous lifestyle. Antiques, jewellery, motor vehicles, yachts, furnishings and clothes were paraded publicly so as to encourage the people to turn against a regime which – at its outset, had been considered a remarkable government.


[2] Unwittingly – and with amazing prescience, Milligan forecasts one of the great events of the 20th century with this comment. One month to the day after Greenslade complained of being ‘fed up’, a 42 year old black American woman took a seat in the whites only section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. When ordered to move she refused. Arrested and charged, her actions set in motion the greatest civil rights movement in American history. When asked why she refused to give up her seat she said:

"I was fed up. It was not that I was just fed up in December 1955, I'd been fed up my whole life as far back as I can remember with being treated as less than a free person."  


[3] John Derrick Mordaunt Snagge OBE (1904-1996). A long time BBC newsreader and commentator. He was one of Milligan’s biggest supporters within the corporation, placing his career on the line on behalf of Milligan on numerous occasions.


[4] The published script – (P.S.), has ‘sinful music’ and ‘carbon-paper plus-fours…’ The addition of the word American here, clarifies the direction of the script, reminding us that many people in this era thought the US was responsible for fermenting international political unrest, as well as encouraging the dramatic shift in culture and morals that was sweeping the world. Polls taken at the beginning of the fifties in the UK, showed that the US was vastly less popular than the Soviet Union.

Plus fours were longer than the traditional knickerbockers, reaching four inches below the knee.


[5] Balham, in the south of London, has long been the butt of jokes. Like ‘Neasdon’ (a location much mentioned by Peter Cook), it’s name is redolent of all that is idiosyncratic about English society and community. The young Peter Sellers performed a famous sketch about it in 1948 called ‘Balham; Gateway To the South’. In it he narrated the pleasures and attractions of southern London in a phoney American accent, with a script written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden.


[6] Amongst the asides one can hear an Old Uncle Oscar ask, “What about our lads at Ladysmith?” Ladysmith is a town in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. In 1899, during the second Boer War, the British garrison there was besieged by the Boer army for 118 days.


[7] A distant interjection; “Hear! Hear!” It sounds like Sellers (which is impossible) but is most likely Spike.

[8] Again this was a reference from the second Boer War. The city of Mafeking is on the South African Border with Botswana. In 1899 the small British garrison – including a regiment of 800 teenage boys, held out for 217 days against a force of 8000 Boers. The siege captured the imagination of the British public, and on hearing of the relief of the garrison, bonfires and extravagant celebrations erupted across Great Britain. A poem concerning the siege was penned by William Topaz McGonagall.


[9] The P.S. contains the full address – “President Fred, Casa Rosa, Avenida Varest, Buenos Aires, Argentina.” The Presidential Palace, actually known as ‘La Casa Rosada’ (the Pink House), is the official seat of the executive branch of the Argentine Government. Progressively built, rebuilt and remodelled from the early 1840’s until its completion in 1898, the building stands at the end of the Plazo de Mayo in Buenos Aires. From its grandiose front balcony, Eva Peron rallied the Descamisados in their support of her husband, President Juan Peron. This line, which leaves no doubt as to what Milligan was satirizing, seems to have been deliberately edited before broadcast, undoubtedly so as to avoid offence.


[10] I am reasonably certain that the orchestra plays this – however the printed script says that this Flamenco introduction is a ‘grams’ recording.


[11] The heat! The heat!’ was a catchphrase Milligan had tried out earlier in ‘The Booted Gorilla’ (10/5th), in 1954.


[12] Milligan had been trying to paint Bloodnok more and more as the archetypical military coward lately. This was the third time in the series so far that Bloodnok had been cowed into surrender by a simple knock on the door. The other occasions are in ‘The Man Who Won the War’ (1/6th) and ‘Rommel’s Treasure’ (6/6th).


[13] Another instance of Milligan’s ‘transference of function’. A central tenet in his concept of existence was that all things lived-in were interchangeable due to their identical functions.  Spike considered that clothes, rooms and buildings were similarly entities – they are ‘lived-in’, that is to say they cover, shelter and dress a human, therefore in his world of things-out-of-order with each other, these particular images were perfectly able to be re-ordered or exchanged. Rooms could therefore flee to Paris so that the man inside could escape questioning, (‘The Case of the Vanishing Room’ 6/Vin) or be folded up and stored away to avoid the occupant being identified, (‘The Treasure in the Lake 24/6th) or even used to question a character’s existence - (the final cellar scene in ‘The String Robberies.’ 16/8th)  In this instance, Bloodnok’s ‘unbuttoned’ lifestyle is demonstrated by his not even bothering to pull up his floorboards.

[14] The Man From Laramie (1955) was a hugely popular western film starring James Stewart. The song from the film was written by Lee & Washington and was a current hit on the UK charts for Jimmy Young. Bloodnok had sung his own version of it two episodes earlier in ‘The Case of the Missing CD Plates’ (5/6th) – naked, whilst washing in Trafalgar Square fountain.


[15] A popular standard published in 1932, and written by De Rose and Brown.


[16] The song Eccles is singing is, ‘I Talk to the Trees’ from “Paint Your Wagon’ by Lerner & Loewe.

[17] A town in Carmarthenshire,south Wales. The welsh pronunciation of its name is extremely difficult for English speakers to replicate, but is in itself a brilliant and funny approximation of the word Laramie.


[18] Eccles’ aside: “Take your hands off me.”


[19] An important reference. He means ‘Harry Lime’, the central character of the multi-award winning film ‘The Third Man’, the theme music of which was written by Anton Karas, a Viennese zither player.  Released in 1949, the script was written by Graham Greene, directed by Carol Reed and starred Orson Welles (as Harry Lime), Joseph Cotton and Trevor Howard. It is still considered one of the top ten mystery films of all time, and a true representative of the new, gritty, cynical age of film-making later known as Film Noir.

A radio drama series based on the adventures of the Orson Welles character Harry Lime was broadcast on the BBC from 1951 – 52, with several of the episodes penned by Welles himself (including an episode entitled ‘Ticket to Tangiers’ which Moriarty refers to in ‘The Moon Show’ (18/7th) early in 1957). Most episodes would begin with “The Third Man Theme” being played, abruptly cut off by an echoing gunshot. Then Welles would announce: “That was the shot that killed Harry Lime.” The BBC went on to produce another series of “Harry Lime” from 1959 to 1965. Made for television, and syndicated in the US, it starred Michael Rennie and ran for 77 episodes.


[20] This is a spoof on a 1953 western film from MGM entitled “Ride Vaquero!”, starring Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Howard Keel and Anthony Quinn. Nowadays it is considered a pretentious, rhetorical horse-opera. The Spanish word Vaquero means ‘cowboy’ and is supposedly the source of the western term ‘buckaroo’.


[21] Another Shakespearean mannerism. Milligan suddenly started imitating the bard’s Elizabethan turns of phrase in episode five, ‘The Case of the Missing CD Plates’ and continued it in the following show ‘Rommel’s Treasure’. ‘Thrice-adolescent’ is akin to such expressions as: “thrice-noble…” (King Richard II: III, iii), “Love’s thrice repoured nectar.” (Troilus and Cressida: III, ii), “my thrice-puissant liege…” (King Henry V: I, ii) and, “what a thrice-double ass…” (The Tempest: V, i). It is likely that Spike had recently seen the film ‘Richard III’, a major hit at that time for Laurence Olivier.


[22] Milligan improvises, struggling with the parcel.

MORIARTY: Right. Together. (Straining) You’re the strongest – you take the brown paper. I’ll take the string.

[23] See also reference #7.


[24] Sellers pronounces this correctly in Spanish. H before i or e sounds like ‘ch’ in ‘loch’. The P.S. writes it as ‘Heneral’. Aston Villa is a football club based in Birmingham, formed in 1874 by members of a Wesleyan Chapel. Now a premier football club, at that time it was struggling to achieve a major win.

[25] Milligan. In a single revealing reference, Spike shows that he was aware of some of the figures in Southern American history. Álvaro Obregón (1880-1928) was President of Mexico from 1920 until 1924, and was assassinated three years later, just after winning the 1928 presidential election. I assume Spike plucked this Latin-American political name out of his mental box of facts, as Obregón had nothing to do with the Argentinean conflict.


[26] One of the defining compositions of the blues era, ‘The Birth of the Blues’ was published in 1926, with lyrics by DeSylva and Brown, set to music by Ray Henderson. It is now acknowledged that the ‘blues’ was the secular equivalent of gospel music, and – just as gospel music was the only way for slaves to express their lives in song, so the blues was the only way for the newly emancipated black workers and share-croppers in the South to do the same. As one commentator later said: “The blues did not come from books. Suffering and hard luck were the midwives that birthed these songs. The blues were conceived in aching hearts.”

Despite the musical depth of the Southern States black communities, many of the traditional blues numbers were not discovered or notated down until later in the century, while this early number, (a sensational piece in its own right) was actually an imitation, having been written by three white men – a Yank, a Russian émigré and the son of a Portuguese actor.

[27] This tune originated from the 1932 Broadway musical ‘Walk a Little Faster’, written by Duke and Harburg. Grytpype and Moriarty were getting into the habit of singing it in moments of triumph. Milligan had first visited Capri just after the war, in the spring of 1946 . Fondly describing the effect of the visit, he later wrote:

As I write this nearly forty years later, I can still feel the warmth of that spring day; that one day can cast

such a lasting spell speaks either for my appreciation of life, or that ancient Capri was indeed as charged with such beauty that it left itself tattooed on your mind, soul and spirit. I know I was quite a simple soldier, unsophisticated, but as I grew older, my mind took up the slack of that past time and computed it into a finely honed memory, leaving every colour, taste, sound and sight as crisp and as electric as though it happened yesterday; and to me as I write, it did.’ (‘Where Have All the Bullets Gone?Hobbs – 1985)


[28] Milligan had been using this quote from ‘Paint Your Wagon’ ever since the beginning of October, when Eccles first sung it in ‘Napoleon’s Piano’ (4/6th). It was followed by a shorter version in ‘Rommel’s Treasure’ (6/6th). Spike must have tired of the joke, as this episode was to be its final appearance in the Goon Show.


[29] Unknown source.

[30] The 56th Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery – the regiment in which Spike spent his war years, was equipped with BL 7.2 inch howitzers (MK.1). The figures that Bloodnok mentions were part and parcel of the specifications for that cannon, a stop-gap field piece, designed to fill the urgent need for artillery faced by the Allies in early WWII. The recoil mechanism however, was the cause of the first meeting between Spike and Harry Secombe. In North Africa, one of the  regiment’s guns recoiled down a slope nearly running over the tent of a sleeping Welsh gunner below. Spike appeared out of the darkness with a lamp saying – ‘Has anyone seen a gun?


[31] This old chestnut was written by Edward Kunneke (1885-1953) for the 1923 musical ‘The Cousin from Nowhere’. In the following decade, the BBC produced several radio programmes in which they introduced the anonymous ‘Vagabond Lover’ – a singer of romantic songs who used this melody as his signature tune. By keeping the singer's identity a secret, and aided by the press, the programmes were a great success. The singer’s actual name was Cavan O’Connor – an operatic tenor who had turned to popular music, singing under various pseudonyms with Jim Kelleher, Alfredo, Larry Brennan, Jack Hylton, Percival Mackey, Jay Wilbur and others. When the singer's identity was revealed, Cavan O'Connor became one of the highest paid broadcasters in Britain.


[32] This is a crucial moment in the Goon Show. Here for the first time, Eccles comes out on top. Despite his dumbness, his dimwittedness and his addiction to misheard show tunes and jazz melodies, Eccles appears to outwit everybody.

Although Eccles’ victory is not cut and dried, overall it is one of the greatest moments in the show, and one of Eccles’ best lines.


[33] Milligan.


[34] Spike means celluloid dolls. Here Seagoon is replicating the very worst excesses of 19th century melodramas with his ‘homeless mother with baby-at-arms’ act. Milligan loved the atmosphere of the music-hall and Edwardian melodramas, and while the Goon Show has often been likened to the anarchic plots of the Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton, in actual fact the shows of both the Marx Bros. and Milligan were based on the melodramatic theatrical traditions of the 19th century.


[35] A famous Neapolitan song from the 1890s, written by Capuro and di Capua.


[36] The subject matter of ‘monies due’ crops up repeatedly in the 6th series. As the Goon Shows continued to grow in popularity, Milligan developed a phobia about the BBC underpaying him, and delaying payments of monies owed. As usual with Spike’s phobias, it appears in altered guise in the Goon Shows and can be recognized in such 6th series episodes as - “The Sale of Manhattan” (a piece of string, eleven pence in notes, a Mickey mouse watch, the remains of a small boiled chicken…) “The Greenslade Story” (I've been given the authority to offer you £4 a week and you can read the 9 o'clock news at half past if you want to and take your own time about it...) and “The Fear of Wages” (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.) As early as 1953 he was being paid… “bloody marvellous money” to write the show, but the aggravation of knowing that Sellers and Secombe commanded better fees than he, worked its way inexorably under his skin. Not only did he have to pay Stephens and Grafton from his own fee, but he was only earning this BBC salary for six months of a year. His growing family, and continuing depression added levels of complexity and worry to the issue, until it became a fixation with him.


[37] Milligan published four books of Goon Show scripts during his lifetime, and ‘Foiled By President Fred’ appears in the first book, published in 1972. As is the case with the published script of ‘Napoleon’s Piano’ three shows earlier, Milligan seems to have used a clean script, as many of the last minute changes made on the evening of the first performance are absent. It is also possible that Spike interfered with the script a little. Consequently, this transcription of the script is the performed version, and major differences between the two version appear in the reference notes.