BROADCAST: 8 Nov 1955 [1]

Script by: Spike Milligan



GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service, brought to you by the British Broadcasting Corporation – makers of faux pas.

SECOMBE: Yes indeedy, the makers of faux pas! [2] And here is their greatest to date, entitled…

SELLERS: [3] The extraordinary talking type wireless Goon Show.

MILLIGAN: (Singing) Improvisation in E*

                    (Con vibrato) Oooooooooooooooo!

OMNES: (Singing) Antiphony in E*.

                    (Con vibrato) Oooooooooooooooo!

MILLIGAN: Further improvisation in E*.

                    Oooooooo Oooooooo!

OMNES: Further antiphony in E*

                    Oooooooo Oooooooo!

MILLIGAN: Complicated improvisation in E*

Ooo Ooo Ooo-Ooo Ooo!

OMNES: Complicated antiphony in E*

Ooo Ooo Ooo-Ooo Ooo!

MILLIGAN: Altissimo in E* to A*

                    Oooooooo Oooooooo!

OMNES: Altissimo in E* to A*.

                    (Straining) Oooooooo Oooooooo! [4]

ECCLES: Well that’s the end of that lot! Ha ha ha!

SECOMBE: Well done Milligoon! Well done! Well done! Well done! WEEELL DONE!

SELLERS: [5] Yes, well done! Oooo. It leaves only me to announce the story of ‘Lost Horizon’. Ohhhhhh!

ORCHESTRA: Magical scene setting music. Harp glissando, bi-tonal woodwind chords, majestic brass theme. [6] End with ethereal vibraphone and harp trill. (Hold under.)

SELLERS: (With echo.) The story of Shangri-La is adopted from Fred Hilton’s book ‘Lost Horizontally’, based on the legend of Shangra-Loo, from the play ‘Across Ava Gardner with Stethoscope, Geiger-Counter’ – Shangri-la! [7]

ORCHESTRA: Further magical scene setting. Ethereal trill continues under.

SEAGOON: (Slightly echoey.) Shangri-la – I still hear the call of it. I, dear listener, was the only man in the world to see it and return… alive.[8] Let me read the story from my diary. “December the twenty-fourth, nineteen thirty-three. Have had news that the Japanese invasion of Manchuria is imminent.” [9]
ORCHESTRA: Harp glissandi. (Fade out vibraphone under Grams.)

GRAMS: Distant rifle fire. (Continue under)

FX: Telephone rings.

SEAGOON: Hello. Seagoon, British Embassy Peking here.

ATTACHÉ: (At end of line.) Hello sir. Information here. Japanese are closing in on Peking.

SEAGOON: Then you must take every precaution.

ATTACHÉ: (At end of line.) I have sir – twenty armed men on the roof of the building; we’ve sand-bagged the entrance; three battalions of guards in the slit trenches and I’ve mined the whole area around me.

SEAGOON: Good man. Where are you speaking from?

ATTACHÉ: (At end of line.) A phone box in East Acton.

SEAGOON: Splendid fellow! I’ll see you get Needle-Nardle-Noo and Bar for this.

ATTACHÉ: (At end of line.) Thank you sir. I must go now. My wife’s boiling over.

FX: Handset down.

SEAGOON: I wonder who he was?
FX: Phone rings. Handset lifts.

ATTACHÉ: (At end of line.) Jim Pills.

SEAGOON: Thank you.

FX: Handset down.

SEAGOON: Hmm. Things look pretty grim. The situation calls for immediate action. First I must evacuate the British residents.

FX: Door opens.

GRYTPYPE: (Approaching) Oh Neddie. I want to see you.

SEAGOON: This was Lord Grytpype-Thynne, British Consul General. How cool he looked in his porcelain vest [10] and automatic self-igniting boots.

GRYTPYPE: Neddie, Major Bloodnok has been detailed to order a plane to fly the British residents to safety. Would you be at Peking airport between midday and noon?

SEAGOON: I’ll get ready. (Calls) Wong!

WONG: [11] Ah, yes sir?

SEAGOON: Wong, I’m leaving for England. Pack my sleeping-bag and send the other one home.

WONG: Please sir – cannot my brother, Jim Wong and I come with you?

SEAGOON: Sorry Wong. Only English people are allowed on the plane.

WONG: But sir, we can pretend we are English.

SEAGOON: (Laughs) Nonsense. You know very well two Wongs don’t make a white.

WONG: (They are wishing to know that.)

GRYTPYPE: Well said, Neddie. Who is it says that you haven’t got a sense of humour?

SEAGOON: Everybody.

GRYTPYPE: Yes. Well, I’ll see you at the airport in scrimpson skanson hours.

SEAGOON: Sorry sir, I can’t be there until half-past skansons.

GRYTPYPE: Very well then, half-past skansons, but don’t be more than a skanson late, will you?

SEAGOON: I’ll be there dead on skansons.

GRYTPYPE: Needle nardle skinson.

FX: Door closes.

SEAGOON: In half an hour I was ready to leave. I burnt the official documents, set the goat free and swallowed the union jack. I was just about to dismantle the official embassy saxophone when…

FX: Door opens.

GRAMS: High speed recording of Milligan gibberish.

FX: Door slams.

SEAGOON: I never saw him again.

BLOODNOK: (Approaching) Oooh! Oh Seagoon, Seagoon…

SEAGOON: It was Major Bloodnok of the third Disgusting Fusiliers. [12]

BLOODNOK: Rouse me splonger and blun! Ooh I’ve been through hell to get here.

SEAGOON: There must be a cooler route?

BLOODNOK: Yes, I was surrounded by a Jap patrol but I… I soon had them crawling for me on their hands and knees.

SEAGOON: How’s that?
BLOODNOK: I hid in a drain-pipe. Shhh! There’s someone outside the window. Look-out!

GRAMS: Pane of glass smashing.

SEAGOON: What is it?

BLOODNOK: It’s a gramophone record.

SEAGOON: Quick, put it on.


GRAMS: Recording (Slightly faster)

                              Pane of glass smashing.

                              SEAGOON: What is it?

                              BLOODNOK: It’s a gramophone record.

                              SEAGOON: Quick, put it on.

                              BLOODNOK: Right!

          Recording within recording (Even faster.)

                              Pane of glass smashing.

                              SEAGOON: What is it?

                              BLOODNOK: It’s a gramophone record.

                              SEAGOON: Quick, put it on.

                              BLOODNOK: Right!

          Recording within recording (Even faster again.)

                              Pane of glass smashing.

                              SEAGOON: What is it?

                              BLOODNOK: It’s a gramophone record.

                              SEAGOON: Quick, put it on.

                              BLOODNOK: Right!

          Recording within recording (Top speed.)

                              Pane of glass smashing.

                              SEAGOON: What is it?

                              BLOODNOK: It’s a gramophone record.

                              SEAGOON: Quick, put it on.

                              BLOODNOK: Right!

BLOODNOK: Stretch me skallibonkers and flatten me Doreen Lundies! [13] – it’s a Japanese mirror trick.[14] We shall have to get out of here.

SEAGOON: Yes! Yes! Yes! Now, what about the plane?

BLOODNOK: The plane…the plane. Ooo! Ooo heavens!

SEAGOON: What’s up?

BLOODNOK: Look – if I tell, promise you won’t blow up?

SEAGOON: I promise.

BLOODNOK: I forgot to order it.

GRAMS: Explosion.

BLOODNOK: You promised.

SEAGOON: Bloodnok – I don’t like the way you’re acting.

BLOODNOK: Then get Laurence Olivier.[15]

SEAGOON: Shut up! (Calls) Gladys?

ELLINGTON: Yes darling?
SEAGOON: Is the transport ready to take us to the aerodrome?

ELLINGTON: Yes darling.

SEAGOON: (Close) Thank you darling. Here’s an airing cupboard – go and have some fun. Ahem. Now, Bloodnok! Where’s your wife?

BLOODNOK: My wife? Erm, my wife won’t be coming with us old lad. You see, I… well, she can’t leave her bed.

SEAGOON: Why not?
BLOODNOK: I’ve sewn her in the mattress.

SEAGOON: You skindrell of scoundrels, that’s matricide!


GRAMS: Rifle fire.

SEAGOON: They’re getting closer. (Calls) Eccles!

GRAMS: Coconut shells approaching at the gallop.

ECCLES: Heeeeello!

SEAGOON: Carry these. Oh, and check my automatic to see if it’s loaded.

ECCLES: OK. Let me see now. Ooh! Ah, they got three bullets in the magazine. (What’s it got?)…Oh yeah, one in the barrel and er…

FX: Pistol shot.

ECCLES: … one in my head.

SEAGOON: Good man Eccles. Keep up the good work. Now gentlemen, we’re about to journey through war-torn countryside. There’ll be fighting all along the way. We’ve got to travel through it – twenty-five miles in an open car. Therefore we must take precautions. Here. Here’s two aspirins each. England forever! – followed closely by Max Geldray.


MAX GELDRAY “Pete Kelly’s Blues” [16]


ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link

GREENSLADE: ‘Lost Horizon’ part two – ‘Escape’.

GRAMS: Thunderstorm. Rain continues under.

SEAGOON: In a tropical storm we arrived at the ruined Peking airport.

GRYTPYPE: I thought you’d never get here Neddie. Let me take your wet saxophone.

SEAGOON: Thank you. Any luck with the plane?

GRYTPYPE: Well, we’ve had the offer of a private one from Count Fred Moriarty here. Count, this is Mister N. Seagoon, Minister without portfolios.

MORIARTY: I wondered why he wasn’t wearing any.

SEAGOON: Who’s going to pilot this machine?
MORIARTY: I am – for ten thousand pounds.

SEAGOON: That’s a lot of money.

MORIARTY: Yukkakakoo, I know – that’s why I’m asking for it.[17] You have the embassy funds?

SEAGOON: Yes, but…

GRYTPYPE: Yes, yes – hand them over Neddie, there’s a good boy. It’s our only chance.

GRYTPYPE & MORIARTY: (Murmur into the distance.)

SEAGOON: (Narration) I did as I was instructed. But I was suspicious – who was this Fred Moriarty? I became more suspicious as I watched him and Lord Grytpype rolling on the floor pouring the embassy funds over their heads. (Laughs) Ha ha ha! Still, you’re only young once.

MORIARTY: Or as in your case – twice.[18] Now then gentlemen we’re ready to take off in the flying type aeroplane.

SEAGOON: Right. Ladies and gentlemen, there is room for thirteen on the plane. Unfortunately, there are fourteen of us. One of us has got to stop behind.

OMNES: Mumbling.

ECCLES: I got bad legs.

SEAGOON: Don’t rhubarb me. Any volunteers? Bloodnok!
BLOODNOK: What? Oh, well look here, I mean I’d… I’d… I’d love to stay but I made a vow that before I die I’d like to see the old country again.

SEAGOON: What old country?
BLOODNOK: ANY old country.

SEAGOON: Major Bloodnok, you and Lieutenant Greenslade are the only two single men. It’s between you two.

BLOODNOK: Greenslade?

GREENSLADE: (One pace forward. Smartly.) Yes sir?

BLOODNOK: Marry me darling. Marry me!

SEAGOON: Stop this Noel Coward dialogue.[19]

BLOODNOK: I beg your pardon.

SEAGOON: Now, you and Greenslade go behind that hut and decide who is to stay.

BLOODNOK: Certainly. Come Greenslade dear lad.

GRAMS: Two pairs of boots walking away.

BLOODNOK: (Self fade) I’ve always admired you from afar… (&c)

GRAMS: Footsteps continue then stop.

(Short pause)

FX: Pistol shot.

GREENSLADE: (Distant) Arrrgghhhhhhh!

GRAMS: Single pair of footsteps returning.

BLOODNOK: The gallant Greenslade has volunteered to stay.

SEAGOON: Major Bloodnok, you’re holding a pistol in your hand and it’s smoking!

BLOODNOK: Yes, it steadies its nerves you know. It’s very jumpy with the old trigger you know…

SEAGOON: Bloodnok, you’ve done a murder. When you get back to England you’ll pay for that.

BLOODNOK: How much?

SEAGOON: A pound down and three and nine a week.

BLOODNOK: They’re costing more these days!

SEAGOON: It’s the luxury tax you know.

BLOODNOK: Of course, of course! [20]

SEAGOON: Needle nardle noo! SILENCE! Everyone on board the flying aeroplane; fasten your safety belts. (Shouts out.) Contact!

GRAMS: Aeroplane engine starts.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic aeronautical link.

GRAMS: Further aeroplane sounds. Continue under.

SEAGOON: Dawn, December the twenty-fifth. Have been airborne eight hours; altitude twenty thousand feet; magnificent day; plane running very smoothly; engines in perfect condition; no wind; ideal weather for flying… Crashed.

MORIARTY: Seagoon! Nobody’s hurt but the plane is a wreck.

SEAGOON: That’s why it crashed. I wonder where we are?
ECCLES: Well I say we’re miles from civilization.

SEAGOON: How do you know?

ECCLES: Everything’s so peaceful.

SEAGOON: Well said. (Growing hysterical) Well done! Well done! Well done! WELL DONE! (Calming down) Ahem, now…

ECCLES: (In agony) Oh, oh…

SEAGOON: What have you done?

ECCLES: I’ve…I’ve broken my leg.

SEAGOON: How did you do that?

ECCLES: I just got a hammer and went WHACK! [21]

SEAGOON: Splendid man Eccles. Keep up the good work. Here’s a razorblade – have fun.

BLOODNOK: Neddie! Neddie! We must repair the plane’s talking radio. It’s our only chance of contact with the outside world.

SEAGOON: Don’t worry. I’ve got a man working on it now. We’ll just have to sit and wait. And so dear listener we sat and waited. Sometimes we stood and waited, which is like sitting down only higher. Ahem. Three weeks went by and then…

ECCLES: (Approaching excitedly) Seagoon! The radio set…the radio set…

SEAGOON: Yes, yes, yes?!

ECCLES: It still ain’t working.

SEAGOON: Curse. That does it. We’ve had it chaps.

BLUEBOTTLE: No, you’ve not hadded it. I have come to save you little Welsh ball.

SEAGOON: I turned to meet the maker of this melodious voice. It was a short thin shivering youth, heavily wrapped up in rice paper and dental floss.

BLUEBOTTLE: I’ve been sented to save you from the dreaded starvation. Here – have a wine gum.

SEAGOON: Little badly constructed wreck, who are you?

BLUEBOTTLE: I am the mysterious stranger of the snows. I am known as ‘He who walks bare-footed through the frosty mountains.’


BLUEBOTTLE: My boots is at the menders. He he he! He he he! Always a joke from little merry Bluenbottle.

SEAGOON: Intellectual giant where do you hail from?

BLUEBOTTLE: Where do I hail from he says! It is a place that lives in the memory forever. I got it writted down on a fire-cracker somewhere. Oh yes, it is Shangra Lurn – land of eternal youth, land of purity; no drink, no sex, no sin… And I’m fed up with it I am. (Thank you fellow sinners.)

SEAGOON: Hurricanes of bunions! This place Shangri-La, it sounds like utopia.

BLUEBOTTLE: Well it’s spelt differently, I know that.

SEAGOON: Don’t tarry. Lead us to Shangri-La.

BLUEBOTTLE: Follow me!

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic Mountain Scaling link.

GRAMS: Blizzard winds.

CAST: (Exhausted panting.)

SEAGOON: On we plunged through raging snow storms. Three weeks we battled on, griped with starvation.[22]

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes. Many’s the day we had to exist on a handful of caviar and champagne.

SEAGOON: Yes. The weight of our baggage became too much. In a moment of desperation we ditched the following vital equipment; eighteen hundred weight of rusty iron piping with fittings…

MILLIGAN: Twenty four lead budgerigar perches.

BLOODNOK: One long thin object with no fixed abode.

SEAGOON: One bronze bicycle with cement parachute ejector seat.

MILLIGAN: One …(Improvises in Eb) Oooooo oooooo ooooooo!

BLOODNOK: One bus.

LALKAKA:[23] Thirty six cardboard replicas of Nelson’s Column from the inside.

BLOODNOK: One rubber Mosque with detachable beard.

SEAGOON: That’s enough men. We daren’t risk leaving any more behind. Now, get those pianos on your backs and away we go!

BLUEBOTTLE: No. Stop, stop I say! You must not go yet. You must hear the mysterious temple music of Lama Ray Ellington and his gulf stream and unshaven bongos.


RAY ELLINGTON – ‘Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams’ [24]


SEAGOON: Then on the second of January – a miracle!

ORCHESTRA: Sharp chord, woodwind trills (hold under).

SEAGOON: In a natural rocky gorge we reached a tunnel in the sheer cliff face. In darkness we stumbled along its interior. Then a shaft of light gleamed at the far end. We reached it exhausted – and lo! There before us lay Shangri-La.

ORCHESTRA: Monumental mountain fanfare. Distant temple bell. Solemn Chinese theme. (Continue under).

SEAGOON: Dear listener, I looked out upon a pastel scene that I’d only dreamed existed. It almost defied description. In warm sunshine, a valley that sang with colour – hillocks topped with banyan trees, and from their secret willow doves sprang, their wings bent skywards.

GRAMS: Fade in excerpt from The Planets Suite.[25] Hold under.

SEAGOON: Streams chuckled and vanished in early mists. Surmounting all lay a monastery, clean and white in the sun, against which coloured prayer flags fluttered like spilled paint. This then was Shangri-La – my paradise, my predestined resting place. (Shouting.) Moore!? What about the old radio awards for that bit there?

GRYTPYPE: You silly twisted boy.

SEAGOON: I’d forgotten all about that.

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes, I had too. Stop all this! You’re spoiling the game (what is I like). This is the bit where I take you to see the great big Head Lama and his great big head.

ORCHESTRA: Distant gong.

BLUEBOTTLE: Thank you, J. Arthur Rank.[26] Now take off your shoes and face the great cardboard cut-out kaboda for the Dalai Lama.

ORCHESTRA: Closer gong.

SEAGOON: Approaching me were two bags of dust on legs.

BANNISTER: (Distant) I saw it at the window and I said…

FX: Teaspoon drops.

BANNISTER: Ohhh! What’s happening?

CRUN: You can’t get the yetis you know.

BANNISTER: I said we’d all be murdered in our monasteries and you didn’t come.

CRUN: Grinn, khnit, plung! Seacroon, welcome to Shangri-La!  All mod. cons. Light removals with horse and van.

BANNISTER: Listen… mnk, mnk – buddy. We’ve brought you here to take Henry Crun’s place when he retires.

SEAGOON: You – you mean you want me to stay here until I die?

CRUN: You can stop longer if you wish. You see I must retire – I’m seven hundred and nine years old.

SEAGOON: Seven hundred and nine year… I don’t believe it! You look older.

BANNISTER: Mnk mnk… It’s true.

SEAGOON: You still alive?
BANNISTER: The air in this valley keeps one young. Bluebottle here is only three hundred and ten.


BANNISTER: Change those shorts.

SEAGOON: Very well, I accept the post as Dalai Lama.

GREENSLADE: ‘Lost Horizonedly’ – part three, four, five, six – etcetera. Ying tong idle I poo; (sighs) needle nardle noo; alls well that ends well; and this is Wallace Greenslade, lover of good English, wishing he were dead.

FX: Pistol shot.


SPIKE: Wish granted.

SEAGOON: Bloodnok, you must stop killing Greenslade – he’s not well.

BLOODNOK: I’m sorry but my nerves are in rags you know. I can’t stand Shangri-La.  We’ve been here nine months and… Well, look here old man. I mean…I want to go back to Peking. My wife might be carrying on with someone.

SEAGOON: How could she? She was sewn in a mattress.

BLOODNOK: She might have met a man sewn in another mattress. After all, they’ve got to have something in common haven’t they?

SEAGOON: Ah Bloodnok, I can see there are no flies on you.

BLOODNOK: I know. Shut that door!

MORIARTY: Ying tong idle I poh! Seacroon, I’m going to leave this place and what’s more…ooh ooh ooh!...I’m taking this Shangri-oo-la-la girl with me here.

BANGKOK FLOWERDEW: No. I go with Dennis Bloodnok. He says he live in beautiful cottage in Switzerland and we are to be married in a beautiful white chapel.

MORIARTY: That’s right. Married in Whitechapel. Live in Swiss Cottage.[27]

SEAGOON: (I don’t wish to know that!)  Fools! The moment you take that girl into the outside air she’ll crumble into her real age.

MORIARTY: Sapristi cringe! Nyukkakukkakoo! Never mind. I tell you I’m taking her and we’re going!

SEAGOON: Go then my friends – all of you, but tempt me not. This valley is the paradise on earth for which I have searched all my life, and now at last would you rob me of the peace and happiness which is my due – yea, the due of all mortals? Go I say! Leave me alone, for nothing – I repeat nothing will ever make me leave. I’m staying.

ECCLES: I’m staying with you.

SEAGOON: (Desperate) No! No! (Going off) Moriarty wait, I’m coming!

ORCHESTRA: End theme.

GREENSLADE: (Over) 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.




[1] Milligan never entirely lost the influence of a childhood spent in India. He never forgot (he said) the sights and sounds of life in the cantonments, with the Sepoy regiments marching by and the native dogs slinking off into the shade. While the Hindi-English cultural synthesis was a stimulating experience for Spike, the negative effect of cultural dislocation was something he rarely admitted to. He never forgot living in a culture but not being part of it, and then again – after his family’s demob, returning to live in his own culture and again still not feeling a part of it.

Leo, his father, regularly travelled north along the Grand Trunk Road on army business, and it is from here originate the names which infused Milligan’s childhood – Delhi, Ludhiana, Ambala (heard in the Goon Shows as ‘Umbala’), Amritsar, and Lahore; and lying beyond the plains of the Punjab the distant peaks of the Himalayas – that white picket-fence against the northern horizon that was the edge of the British Empire, and the mountains in which this episode is set.

While the 1933 novel by James Hilton, ‘Lost Horizon’ is the ancestor of this story, its direct inspiration is the 1937 film directed by Frank Capra. In an uncanny way the film subtly parallels Milligan’s own dislocated life. For instance, the military occupation which strands the narrator in the Hindu Kush; the slightly ‘colonial’ air of Shangri-La – (a land of pagodas and Lamas with the workers toiling in the gardens below); the innocent fool who is seduced by its charm and its childlike inhabitants but who is forced to leave; and finally the loss of youth and innocence when the magical airs of the valley cease to affect them  – all these threads are remarkably similar to Milligan’s own psychological journey as a youngster. Spike himself was the white sahib stranded in the Hindu Kush, eventually forced to leave his oriental fairyland; (a land of tigers, Maharajas, and ceremonial elephants on the parade grounds, with the punkha wallahs, dohbi wallahs and aaya’s attending to his every demand), returning home to the land of his origin, where reality and the rotten soot laden air of inner city London consumed his childhood innocence like age consumes youth.

His writing in this episode is highly dramatic, thoroughly convincing and at times breathtakingly descriptive. On one page of the script he even mockingly puts his hand up for a Radio Award. It is clearly apparent that he identified strongly with the story, but he gives himself (in the guise of the child Eccles) a peculiar role in the drama. He harms himself on nearly every page – he checks Seagoon’s pistol by shooting himself, he breaks his leg with a hammer, he is given razor blades as playthings and finally the cast attempt to abandon him. At the end we are left with a slightly disturbing picture of Eccles, lost in the mountains of the Hindu Kush  never growing up, forever immortal, forever injured, irresponsible and transcendent, the boy who could never get the fantastical airs of Shangri-la out of his lungs. 

It is one of the strangest but one of the most revealing pictures of Milligan’s inner psychological processes that he ever penned.


[2] This reference was extremely close to the bone. It seems Milligan was referring to the BBC’s recent efforts to ‘push the limits’ in its news reporting.  Constrained by the ‘14-day rule’ where Parliamentary debates were not reported until after a two week ‘cooling off’ period, the BBC was being made to look foolish by the print media and the newly established Independent Television organisation who were not constrained by the law in this regards. Attempting to force the Government into action on the issue, the BBC started making a series of alleged ‘faux pas’ to prove how absurd the current state of affairs had become.


[3] In a strange little tweedy voice.


[4] Milligan’s malingering teenage suspicion was that hernia would overtake him whilst playing that final big trumpet note that would convince the girls in his neighbourhood to fall at his feet in admiration. Once, during his time in the Central Pool of Artists, a Doctor ordered him to stop playing the instrument or else he would hurt himself. It lasted, he said, for three weeks. These tales of ‘hernia-phobia’ were often transferred to the mouth of Bluebottle – “Picks up bugle, puts to mouth,  does big blow. (Blows) Ohheohhiew! I’ve hurt myself! ” (‘What’s My Line’ 10/7th ) but in some cases like this, one can hear Spike practising his laparoscopical tendencies on the members of the orchestra.


[5] In the same voice as previously.


[6] During this section of the introduction, we can hear Eccles saying “Fine, fine, fine.” in the distance.


[7] Sellers uses an effete, educated voice. Ava Gardner is a recurring American reference in Spike’s writing. The reason was entirely gratuitous – her looks, body and thoroughly sexual demeanour made her the pin-up girl of the 50’s, though her talent as an actress should not be forgotten. At this point in her life she was married to Frank Sinatra, against the wishes of the Catholic Church, the gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons and Sinatra’s ex-wife Nancy. Spike’s reference to a Geiger counter was probably aimed at the assessment of her smouldering sexuality.


[8] In an associated reference; the Shangri-La of Hilton’s book is very reminiscent of the town of Brigadoon, the mystical, imaginary highland village of the 1947 Lerner and Lowe musical of the same name. The vastly successful MGM film version had been released in 1954, and was part of the ‘escapist’ mysticism of the fifties that saw the growth of science fiction and a resurgence of interest in mystical, otherworldly localities, where humanity was free from modernity in all its forms, especially the global political standoff which was the cold war.


[9] Both Capra and Milligan, fudge the facts here. Capra and his writers based the first scene on the evacuation of a small group of westerners from a fictitious Chinese town; Milligan knew his history a little better and set the scene during the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, yet at the same time imagines that the Japanese were also attacking Peking – historically two different events, years apart. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria (the Chinese provinces north of the Korean peninsular), occurred in 1931. It sparked off a continuous chain of ‘incidents’ between Japan and China which resulted in the second Sino-Japanese War of 1937, when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded China as the first step of the policy entitled the Hakko Ichiu – ‘all the world under one roof’.


[10] Milligan had a continuous and enjoyable habit of playing with adjectives concerning material properties, particularly those associated with everyday objects. Like his notion of ‘transference of utility’ this becomes ‘transference of substance,’ one of his three comic inventions. Porcelain vests, self-igniting boots, granite banjos, military kippers, semi-circular vice-consuls and international christmas puddings were merely a development in his mind of ‘things out-of-order with each other.’


[11] Milligan.


[12] Milligan grew up surrounded by the sounds, titles and numbers of the British Indian Army regiments. ‘Brownlow’s Punjabi’s’, the ‘7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Ghurkha Rifles’, the ‘Simoor Rifles’, the ‘14th Duke of Connaught’s Lancers’ – all these are examples of the 60 or so regimental names which constituted the British Army’s occupational force.


[13] Doreen Lundy (born 1925) was a well known British vocalist. After the war she was a big name with many of London’s finest show bands, including the ‘Skyrocket’s Dance Orchestra’ under Paul Fenoulhet and with the Geraldo Orchestra. Here, Milligan’s interest in her is entirely based on the rhyming capabilities of her name.


[14] In all likelihood Spike is referring to ‘Makyoh’ (Japanese for ‘Magic Mirror’) – mirrors which are made from copper alloy, with a design cast on the back and with a highly polished, reflective front. When light is shone onto the mirrored surface, a hidden interior design is reflected back. The ‘magic’ of a Makyoh comes from fact that, while the mirror's surface appears smooth, the pattern to be projected is held latent within the metal in differential hardening after annealing, and the surface when polished is differentially abraded. This causes parallel light beams to reflect at slightly different angles and form the desired image.

[15] Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) was at the zenith of his powers at this time, though – unknown to all but a few, at the lowest point of his relationship with his wife Vivian Leigh. After a succession of nervous breakdowns - (David Niven called her “Quite, quite mad,”) Vivian had recovered enough to play a season of Shakespeare at Stratford-on-Avon with Laurence earlier in 1955, to generally favourable reviews, while Laurence in the same year had directed and starred in the film ‘Richard III’ – the final of his highly regarded Shakespearean trilogy. It may be that Spike had seen this film and gone scurrying to his bookshelf to read something of the bard, because his scripts during this period display a slight ‘Shakespearean-isation’ in tone.


[16] One of the most original films to come out of the 1950’s was the jazz-based gangster film of 1955, ‘Pete Kelly’s Blues’ starring Jack Webb, Janet Leigh, Edmond O’Brien, Peggy Lee and Lee Marvin. Webb is the cornet playing leader of the ‘Big Seven’, the house band at a speakeasy in Kansas City during the roaring twenties. The film, with its indulgent look back at jazz’s crucible era, its gangster culture and the gun wars of the late 20’s, was based on an earlier radio format and eventually spawned a further radio series in 1959, setting Jack Webb onto the road to stardom. He later became well known as the highly intelligent star of the NBC detective series ‘Dragnet’, (1951- 2004). This performance of the Pete Kelly theme by Geldray is one of his sharpest – stylish, incisive and masterful.


[17] Secombe embellishes the phrase ‘yukkabukkakoo’ as Milligan continues the line. The phrase which first featured in ‘Lurgi Strikes Britain’ (7/5th) was now just over a year old.

[18] In a major aside Secombe says to Milligan; ‘You just thought of that!’ to which Moriarty answers, ‘Yes I did… (blows raspberry). You just thought of THAT!


[19] Noël Coward – the darling of the British stage during the interwar years, had resurfaced with a new and sparkling remake of his sophisticated West End persona during 1955, in – of all places Las Vegas, Nevada. Paid a fortune by the Desert Inn to perform his war-time cabaret act for gambling patrons, associations of mid-western housewives and floosies from the mafia, he proved a tremendous hit, recording the show live for gramophone and performing on various US television specials – making his name, genteel humour, British vowels and scarcely concealed homosexuality a household word.

All his life Coward refused to discuss his sexual life in public, saying, “There are still a few old ladies in Worthing who don't know."

[20] On the very day this episode was aired, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mr. Henry Brook, speaking in the commons on behalf of the Tory Government’s new Finance Bill, said of the luxury tax;


The Labour Government made teapots exempt, but taxed teapot spouts. They freed the dish with the meat on it, but taxed the cover which is put over the meat in the larder. They freed the lids for preserving jars, but not the sealing clips for holding them down. They freed flower bowls, but taxed flower vases. They freed coal scuttles, but taxed pokers, tongs and shovels…They freed those clockwork time-pingers that cost 16s. or so, but taxed the cheap and simple hour-glass egg-timer.

Mr. Douglas Glover (Ormskirk) “Surely it was sensible to tax egg-timers when the right Hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office, because there were no eggs!”


The luxury tax was inordinately difficult to regulate and the cut-off point between necessity and luxury increasingly difficult to define. According to a survey by the Oxford Institute of Statistics, in 1953 a third of all British working-class households were buying durable goods on hire-purchase, and by 1956 half of all television sets and one-third of all vacuum cleaners sold were being bought the same way. ‘The whole nation,’ said the chairman of Great Universal Corporation ‘has taken to buying everything on the instalment plan’.

[21] In my opinion, this is one of the most disturbing lines in all the Goon Shows. It demonstrates a side of Eccles not generally acknowledged – his self-destructive side. Over all the years, Secombe, Sykes, Sellers and many others vouched for the fact that Eccles was a representation of Spike. His happy, cheerful dumbness and witless humour was part and parcel of the Goon Shows popularity. However the truth was much more complicated than many realised. Spike was nothing like Eccles in real life and could act irrationally, self-destructively and fiercely malevolently. His sense of revenge, hatred and distain was honed sharper than most comics of his generation – it was a side of him that most fans chose to ignore but a side which his friends inevitably fell foul of. Sellers, at one time, was in actual danger of his life.

That Eccles should take a hammer to his leg was no surprise to any who knew Spike well. The fact that Secombe then handed him a razor-blade would have caused shudders to those in his immediate circle of friends. In the depths of depression Spike had often entertained thoughts of suicide, and was to make the first serious attempt on his life in 1959.

[22] Although this makes sense of the sentence, what Secombe actually seems to say is ‘griked to starvation.’


[23] The Hindi word ‘Lalkaka’ was invented by Milligan from the Hindi/Urdu he remembered from his youth. The ‘Lal’ is a real name, however the ‘kaka’ is street language for ‘uncle’, in a faintly pejorative sense. Essentially the man’s name means ‘old uncle Lal’. Street wallahs and rickshaw drivers in India are still sometimes addressed today as ‘kaka’.


[24] A popular standard written in 1931 by Harris Barris with Ted Koehler and Billy Moll, it was originally released by Bing Crosby in a recording with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra. His performance was later made into a short film by Mack Sennett, one of a series of clips he made featuring the fast rising young star. In the film, Crosby is shown sitting on the tail of a chuck wagon crooning the song to a number of local Indians, who – despite the language barrier, cultural differences and the presence of a wind-up phonograph, seem totally at ease and even a little dazzled by his performance. This clip was inserted in the popular 1947 classic ‘The Road to Hollywood which narrated Crosby’s rise to fame.


[25] The section used is the final pages of the score from rehearsal fig. VI, toward the conclusion of the section named ‘Neptune’. The British composer Gustav Holst had premiered this work in 1920. The last pages of Neptune are scored for orchestra and distant women’s voices which gradually fade away to nothingness, signifying the farthest limits of the then known galaxy.  Wally Stott seems to have written the preceding woodwind section so as to dovetail neatly into a recording of the Holst piece.


[26] Joseph Arthur Rank (1888-1972) was the founder of the Rank Group Plc. An ardent industrialist and Methodist, he ventured into the area of cinematic production and distribution in the 1930’s with the substantial capital backing of his family’s milling business, in an endeavour to create “wholesome, family” films, in moral opposition to the perceived immorality of American films. The company flourished after WWII and by the 1950’s was churning out such wholesome output as the “Carry On…” movies and the “Doctor…” series. The shot of a man in a toga striking a large gong opened every film.



[27] This joke – incomprehensible to anyone but a Londoner, makes a play on the name of two inner city suburbs; Whitechapel and Swiss Cottage. Whitechapel, an inner London Borough, had long been considered one of the vilest areas of the East End, synonymous with Jack the Ripper, the Elephant Man, prostitution, drunkenness, homelessness and general destitution. WWII devastated much of the suburb and most of the surrounding industrial areas where residents of Whitechapel found employment. Swiss Cottage was an area around the junction of Finchley Road and Avenue Road Camden, centred on an old tavern built in 1804 named the Swiss Tavern, later renamed the Swiss Cottage.

The whole area was rebuilt following WWII due to extensive war damage and dilapidation through tenementation and neglect, with the London Council encouraging the building of new schools, medical centres, office blocks and flats, particularly for the housing of displaced inner city families, like those from Whitechapel.