BROADCAST: 4 Oct 1956 [1]

by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service

GRAMS: Enormous raspberry

MILLIGAN: Excuse me, what is the price of sliced ham per portion?

GREENSLADE: (serious) I really couldn't say.

MILLIGAN: Blast! [2]

GREENSLADE: Yes. Well now, this is the BBC Home Service. Had you been alive at 3am on the 3rd of Autumn 1956, and switched on your wireless, you would have heard this... (silence) It wasn't much of a program, was it? If you had tuned in at nine o'clock, you would have heard...

GRAMS: Time signal at regular speed. Repeat faster. End with duck quack.

SELLERS: (Serious announcer) Good morning. Here is the news. We regret to announce that the Burami Oasis situation has deteriorated. The British garrison is under constant attack from Sheik Rattle and Roll. [3] Sheik Rattle and Roll you will recall was sent down from Magdalen College, Oxford for attacking the British garrison there. [4] Service Chief's have called up the following classes - upper, middle and lower. They will report to their nearest, at their earliest.

SEAGOON: Yes, dear listeners; that same morning...

GRAMS: "It's a long way to Tipperary." Gradually speed up.[5]

SEAGOON: I received my papers. I read the sports page and reported for duty. Hup!

GRAMS: Bugle call. Vary the speed slightly.

FX: Door rapidly opening.

SEAGOON: Neddie Seagoon reporting for duty, sir!

GRYTPYPE: We'll never win. A-hem. Erm, name?

SEAGOON: Seagoon.


SEAGOON: Yes please.

GRYTPYPE: With or without?


GRYTPYPE: I see. Now then Seagoon, what made you join the army?

SEAGOON: An armed escort and two military policemen.

FX: Scribbling noises under.

GRYTPYPE: ‘Patriotic volunteer’. Now what were you in civilian life?

SEAGOON: I was an admiral in the Royal Navy.

GRYTPYPE: I say – you've left a well paid job.

SEAGOON: Yes! That's why I'm here! There must be some mistake!

GRYTPYPE: Ha ha ha! There must be. You an Admiral? (Laughing) By Jove, yes...

SEAGOON: What what what what what what what what what what what what what what what what what what? How dare you insult a man wearing the Queen's open neck shirt, flannelled trousers, flat cap, and boots?

GRYTPYPE: I'm so sorry. I beg your pardon.

SEAGOON: You don't seem to realise, I've served on the H.M.S. Thespis [6] since my father died. You see the H.M.S. Thespis is a family business. Father put it in his wife's name.

GRYTPYPE: What was her name?

SEAGOON: H.M.S. Thespis

GRYTPYPE: What was her maiden name?

SEAGOON: The Yarmouth Belle.[7]

GRYTPYPE: How she must have suffered.

SEAGOON: What what what what what what what what? (Continues clucking under.)

GRYTPYPE: Relax Admiral Seagoon. We know you're a Naval man, that's why we sent for you – you see the Army is desperately short of sailors.

SEAGOON: I'm sorry to hear that. We had a terrible shortage of soldiers in the Navy.

GRYTPYPE: Snap! Now Admiral…  you don't mind my calling you by your first name?

SEAGOON: Touché. Fred Touché.

GRYTPYPE: Well Admiral Fred, the garrison at Burami Oasis is under constant siege. Now there's only one way to deal with these turbaned devils of brown…. we're going to – wait a minute, wait for it…  WE’RE GOING TO SEND A GUNBOAT![8]

GRAMS: Tumultuous cheers. Fade in "Land of Hope and Glory" with brass band and  massed choir.

SEAGOON: Yes it was action at last, That night I called the Chiefs of Army, Navy, and NAAFI, to hear my plan of attack.[9]

CAST: Muttering and occasional  rhubarb etc

SEAGOON: Gentlemen! I have here a statue of the situation at the Burami Oasis.

SPRIGGS: (From the back benches.) Thank you.

SEAGOON: The Arabs, as you can see, are attacking our garrison at night only,

SPRIGGS: Ohrrrou. Does this mean that our troops are fighting in their pyjamas?

SEAGOON: I fear so.

OFFICER:[10] Gad! It must be hell out there.

SEAGOON: Any questions?

OFFICER: Yes. Can't we arrange for the Arabs to attack in the daytime?

SEAGOON: No – they charge twice as much to attack in the day. After sundown it's only two and six a battle.

GREENSLADE: Sir, would it not be worth the extra costs, so that our men could be spared the indignity of fighting in their night attire?

SEAGOON: Gentleman. I have overcome that difficulty with a cunning move. (Laughs) Heh heh heh heh. Our troops now wear battle dress at night and pyjamas in the daytime.

CAST: Bravo &c.

SEAGOON: Any more questions?

MILLIGAN: Yes, could you tell me the price of sliced ham per portion?



SEAGOON: So then gentlemen, intelligence tells us the reasons for these attacks are the Burami garrison is to play football next month.

CAST: What a devilish plan! (Extended)

SEAGOON: There's more to come Jim! The idea of the attack is to tire our men so as to guarantee an Arab football victory.[11]

CAST: (Variously) Shame! Devilish! Absolute shame! Devilish plan!

SEAGOON: Tonight the Navy is on the march! Quickly MARCH!

GRAMS: Battalion marching. Start slowly and gradually wind up the speed.

SEAGOON: (Over. Gradually getting quicker and higher.) Left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right left right…

GRAMS: Suddenly stop.

SEAGOON: (Suddenly normal voice) …left.

SELLERS: Yes, that night the H.M.S. Thespis – forty two thousand tons, was broken up into four inch squares and packed into crates cunningly marked “Date Fertilizer – this way up”.

MORIARTY: Sapristi reeking Rapallo holiday.[12] Did you hear that Grytpype? They're sending a battleship to the Burami Oasis. Ooooooooo, power, power!  Pooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwaawwwwwwwaawwwwwwwaaaaaoooow!

GRYTPYPE: Stop sweating Moriarty - you steaming French nit! The Oasis is only ten feet long. They'll never get a battleship in it!

MORIARTY: They could stand it up on one end...

GRYTPYPE: The British don't operate that way.

MORIARTY: Nonsense! I've seen them walking to work like that. You’ve heard of the Bakerloo line?

GRYTPYPE: Of course - have you really? Well then I shall have to speak to our agent in Burami Oasis immediately. (shouting) Hello, Burami Oasis?

ELLINGTON: (Off mic) Helloooooo mate!

GRYTPYPE: Shhush! Don't raise your voice, you might be overlooked! Where are you standing?

ELLINGTON: (Still off mic) On my feet!

GRYTPYPE: Are they disguised?


GRYTPYPE: Splendid! Now on no account let them use a telephone.

ELLINGTON: Yah toola hoola dingle.

GRYTPYPE: Because you fool, another foot is tapping it! Now listen carefully, do you know what the British are up to?

ELLINGTON: Yeah, they're up to the end of 1956.

GRYTPYPE: Blast! That mean's they've caught us up. Quick Moriarty, put up a calendar for 1958. That'll give us a two year lead![13]

ELLINGTON: Oooh, me warn you! If Arab football team no beat British garrison team, you get no more money. Goodbye.

GRYTPYPE: I didn't like the sound of it Moriarty. We must get to Burami Oasis at once. Now hand me that boat, and unwrap Max Geldray.

GELDRAY: Oh, hello boys...[14]



ORCHESTRA: Oriental fanfare

GRAMS: Fade in native tribal singing under.

GREENSLADE: The increasingly sordid affair at Burami Oasis, part-human. For dancing enthusiasts the rest of the show will be played in slow foxtrot time.[16] Over now to the beleaguered garrison at Burami.

GRAMS: Battle noises. Native shouting, trumpeting elephants, distant drums. SINGHEZ-THINGZ: (Approaching) Major… Major Bloodnok! The Arabs are attacking for the first time in this series! (Arsenal three, Tottenham one. Hooray!)

BLOODNOK: What? Arrrrrioioooaaoeeoeewwwee. Ooooiiiiaaaaooooww. Ow! Oooh!


BLOODNOK: That's better. Oh, oohooh. Excuse me Bombay babie my dear. I can't understand Arabs attacking in the daytime – they'll never learn the tango this way. Oh dear. I…

TROOPER:[17] Sir, sir, there's an Arab riding down on us on a flaming stallion!

BLOODNOK: Watch your language!

TROOPER: English sir – what's yours?

BLOODNOK: The same! Interpreter, you can go home.

THROAT: Right mate!

TROOPER: There's the flaming Arab.

BLOODNOK: Mind your language! There may be sensitive Scots Guardsmen present.

FLOWERDEW: It’s all right. I don't mind really. Honestly, it's quite all right.

BLOODNOK: Sellers! How dare you change your voice from mine into his for one joke only! Now I shall show these turbaned wogs of brown who's master of this oasis. (Shouts) Abdul hand me my...

FX: Heavy knocking.

BLOODNOK: It's a lie. It's a lie! We're just good friends I tell you! (Get out the back way dear!) Oohhh! (Mind the thunderbox will you?) Oohhh!

FX: More heavy knocking.

ELLINGTON: Open up, cor blimey, or I smash my fist down!

BLOODNOK: Oooohhh! It's Sheik Rattle and Roll! Oh Abdul, hand me my blacking up cowards disguise kit will you?

FX: Knocking again.

BLOODNOK: Ooohh! Just a moment Mr. Roll, er – my wife isn't dressed yet.

ELLINGTON: (Off mic.) How long she going to be, mate?

BLOODNOK: I'll write to her in London and find out. Where's my pen?

FX: Typewriter under.

BLOODNOK: Dear Volumnia, I am writing to find out how long you will take before...

FX: Door being broken down

ELLINGTON: Yim bom boola, mate!

BLOODNOK: How dare you yim bom boola in my tent. Wait a moment! Nadger me standing load! You're not Sheik Rattle and Roll – you look like Ray Ellington!

ELLINGTON: I am! Me forced to take extra parts. Need money. Married recently.[18]

BLOODNOK: I understand! I understand - oohh ho ho hoho, ohho hoho! Me married myself! Ohh hohoho!

ELLINGTON: Me done better! Me married my girl – more fun!

BLOODNOK: Ooohhhh hohohoho! You naughty imbalatoola you! Ooooohhaahoho!

FX: Telephone rings.

BLOODNOK: Oohhh! What what what!?

FX: Receiver picked up.


GREENSLADE: (On phone.) The nasty affair at the Burami Oasis, part four.

BLOODNOK: Right, reverse the charge please. Now Sheik, state your business.

ELLINGTON: You four week behind with rent.

BLOODNOK: What!? Nonsense! Get out of my tent or I'll call the manager.

ELLINGTON: You no bluff me! Look, your rent book – three pound ten owing.

BLOODNOK: What? I can get an oasis down the road for half that. Look here in the evening wog mail. Look!


FX: Newspaper rustling.

BLOODNOK: (Reading) ‘To let; self contained oasis, third floor, share harem. Twelve and six. Suit cowardly British garrison’. There you are.

ELLINGTON: Me don't wish to know that. Me want my back rent. Me behind in instalments on sun lamp.

BLOODNOK: What? You steaming son of the sands. I know! Abdul – hand me my British military-type saxophone. Now…

ORCHESTRA: Dodgy saxophone version of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ with ‘nanny-goat’ vibrato.

ELLINGTON: Stop Bloodnok! Stop! You win. You got bigger bore saxophone than me, and dumdum music. But I reek revenge soon. Giddup!

FX: Chicken clucking. Horses hooves under. Fade chicken and hooves together.

BLOODNOK: He's not so well off riding his dinner. [19]

ORCHESTRA: Safari style link.

SEAGOON: Yes, immediately on arrival at the oasis we began to open the crates, having first disguised ourselves as chickens.

GRAMS: Wooden slats being prised apart. Fade in sounds of broody chickens.

SEAGOON: (You can't be too careful.) Pardon me. (Chicken sounds) Bwark bwark bwark bwaaaaaark!…

FLOWERDEW: Pardon me sir, I think somebody's overacting.


FLOWERDEW: We've just found an egg.

SEAGOON: What what what what what what what what what what bwark bwark bwark bwark bwark-bwark? (clucks) Then there's an impostor amongst us! I'll find him. Men – assume your own voices and from the left, NUMBER!

SOLDIER 1:[20] One!


SOLDIER 2: Three!


SOLDIER 3: Five!


SEAGOON: That's him! March that chicken away.

MILLIGAN: Bwark, bwark bwark bwark bwark!

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

GREENSLADE: That night, by the light of the Araby-type moon,[21] they began to assemble the giant battleship prior to launching it in the oasis. A master technician was in charge.

FX: Hammer on iron piping.

ECCLES: (Sings)    ‘Oh, foot and mouth with me’...

‘By the dustbins of Rome’... [22]

It's ok folks – I ain't the master technician. Hahahaha!

BLUEBOTTLE: No. I am the master technician![23]

ECCLES: Wait a minute Bottle. How long have you been a master tung-tunk-a-nition?

BLUEBOTTLE: I'm not going to tell you Eccles.

ECCLES: Ok, Bot-tle. Ok, don't tell me. (Goes off singing.)

‘By the dustbins of Rome’...

‘I found that melody divine’…

BLUEBOTTLE: No, wait a minute! Don't leave me here in the dark! I’ll tell you…

ECCLES: (Off) I don't want to know!

BLUEBOTTLE: (Off) Come back. Eccles! Eccles! Come back Eccles. Where are you?

ECCLES: (Suddenly on mic) I'm here.

BLUEBOTTLE: (Approaching.) Oohh! Eccles I'm so glad you're here…


ECCLES: Ohhh, you got more applause than me...

SEAGOON: What! What! What! What! What! What! What! What!

ECCLES: I don't like it - he got more clapping than me.

SEAGOON: I don't wish to know that Eccles. Now then men...

ECCLES: He’s got more tickets in… What?!

SEAGOON: (Blows raspberry) MEN! We've got half an hour till dawn.

BLUEBOTTLE: Thank you Captain.

 SEAGOON: Shut up Bluebottle!

ECCLES: Shut up Bluebottle!

BLUEBOTTLE: Shut up Eccles!

ECCLES: Shut up Eccles!

CAST: (Shut ups – extended)[24]

SEAGOON: We've got till dawn to assemble the battleship and launch it in the oasis. Ready? GO!

GRAMS: Shipbuilding noises at speed. Stops abruptly.

SEAGOON: Right. Flowerdew?


SEAGOON: Run up a flag.

FLOWERDEW: I'll get the sewing machine sir.

SEAGOON: Yes dear listeners, there she is. Now to get her into the water. Eccles?

ECCLES: SHUT UP! Oh… yeah?

SEAGOON: You lift the sharp end, you take the blunt end. I'll be on the bridge. Somebody's got to steer. Ahem. Now together – LIFT!

ECCLES & BLUEBOTTLE: (Straining) Oooooohh, eeeee.

ECCLES: (Distant) Hey Bottle. You lifting your end?

BLUEBOTTLE: 'Course I'm lifting.

ECCLES: (Distant) Ohh. I'd better lift my end then.

BLUEBOTTLE: You ain't half a rotten swine you are. (Strains) Unghh.

ECCLES: You got more clapping than me.

BLUEBOTTLE: Eeeeehhh. Ooohhh. Eeeeaaaooo. Ooooo. All this strain-inge can harm a lad you know? Eeeee.

FX: Iron bar falls onto concrete.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ooohh! My knees have fallen off![25]

SEAGOON: Never mind, lad. Here - have a fresh pair. I always carry them since that dreadful affair at the Mister Fresh contest 1956. Now come on, lift!

CAST: (Straining) Eeeeeoooooh!

GREENSLADE: Ladies and gentlemen, with only two men to carry the battleship, an unexpected time lapse has occurred. To fill it, Ray Ellington will spon.


RAY ELLINGTON: - ‘Baby, Baby, that Man Ain’t No Good.’ [26]


ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

GRAMS: Seagulls and waves.

GREENSLADE: Once afloat in the oasis the battleship dropped anchor. All sailors on board were cunningly disguised as Arabs.

ANCIENT SEA DOG:[27] Just before dawn, two thousand Arabs, (cunningly disguised as sailors), crept up to the oasis...

GRAMS: Vessel hitting sandbank.

BLUEBOTTLE: Captain! Captain! Wake up.

SEAGOON: What what what what? (Morning mouth.) How dare you wake me up when I'm on duty?

BLUEBOTTLE: Captain, we have been runn’d aground.

SEAGOON: Nonsense!

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes – it's true! Them naughty Arabs took’d all the oasis water away in wog bottles!

SEAGOON: The Burami Oasis dry? Nonsense! Haha! Eccles?

ECCLES: (Distant) Yep?

SEAGOON: Dive over the side!


FX: Boots running across decking. Short silence – thud of body on ground.

ECCLES: (Distant) Ohh! Come on in. The sand's lovely and warm.

SEAGOON: Needle nardle noo! Isotopes brew! Then it's true – shipwrecked in an oasis. Man the pumps, boots and plimsolls. Lower the lifeboats!

GRAMS: Massed hysteria. Female screaming. Boots running away.

MIDDLE AGED SEADOG:[28] (Distant.) Moby dick on the Bernard Miles!

SEAGOON: Don't panic! I'm the captain of this shipwreck. It there’s any panicking to be done, I'll do it.[29]

MILLIGAN: Pardon me, Captain – pardon me. Can you tell me the price of smoked ham per small portion?

SEAGOON: Twenty seven and six.


FX: Gunshot.


MINNIE: (Approaching) Ohhh min-ma-middle-doh. Maaoohh ohhh oooo ooeeooooo yiddledoh. What time do we get to Margate Pier, young man?[30]

SEAGOON: What! A woman on board a British battleship? I must court-martial myself. Admiral Seagoon? Shun!

GRAMS: Company coming to attention.

SEAGOON: Admiral Seagoon? Yes, sir? You are charged with having a Minnie Bannister on board your ship. Is that true? It's a lie! Case dismissed! THANK YOU! Now we must recover that water from the Arabs to refloat this ship. (Calls) FULL SPEED A-HEAD!

GRAMS: Hawsers. Anchors aweigh. Waves and ships hooter.

GREENSLADE: Cynical listeners may question the possibility of sailing a battleship on sand. Meantime, at the Arab fortress of Rasher el Bacon...[31]

GRAMS: Wog dance music. Fade.

GRYTPYPE: Nice little fort you've got here, Sheik.

ELLINGTON: Yes, just a little thing my wife ran up.

GRYTPYPE: You dance divinely.

MORIARTY: Excuse me Grytpype – there's a battleship outside to see you.

GRYTPYPE: Anyone we know?

MORIARTY: I don't know sir, but he's wearing a turban.

GRYTPYPE: Then it's one of ours. Come in!

FX: Door opens.

CAST: (Straining behind)

SEAGOON: Steady with the bow. Down on your left. The other way round... Get the guns facing ‘em. Right – pull the blanket off. HANDS UP!

GRYTPYPE: Damn! Trapped by a brilliant stratagem, and a common or garden forty-four-thousand ton battleship.

SEAGOON: Right, Colonel Thynne you traitor. Hand over the water of the Burami Oasis.

GRYTPYPE: Seagoon, drop that battleship. One step nearer and my men will drink the Burami Oasis!

SEAGOON: You wouldn't dare!

GRYTPYPE: No? Men! Uncork bottles!

GRAMS: Bottles being uncorked. Various pitches.

GRYTPYPE: There Seagoon! They're ready to drink.

SEAGOON: Stalemate!

MORIARTY: Stale mate? It was fresh this morning mate!


SEAGOON: So we faced each other. The Arabs with the precious bottles oasis water poised at their lips and we covering them with the sixteen inch guns of our battleships. I had to think of something.[32] Diana Dors. No. No. An adjustable spanner. No. A sink pump.[33] No. Diana Dors. No, no!! A telephone – that was it! A telephone.

FX: Telephone rings.[34]


BLOODNOK: (On phone) Bloodnok here.

SEAGOON: Bloodnok!

BLOODNOK: (On phone) Shoosh! Don't raise your voice, it might be seen. I say, Seagoon... something terrible has happened, I've been robbed of twenty thousand gallons of gin!

SEAGOON: Where was it?

BLOODNOK: (On phone) In the Burami Oasis!


BLOODNOK: (On phone) In the Burami Oasis! Yes! Years ago I drained all the water out and filled it up with gin on account of the shortage, you know.

SEAGOON: Thank you.

FX: Phone into cradle.

SEAGOON: (Laughs) Ha ha ha! Gin? They'll never win the football match now! Colonel Thynne, we're coming to get that water. Drink it if you dare! Men, FORWARD!

GRYTPYPE: All right – DRINK!

GRAMS: Massed gurgling; liquid going down a huge drain. Fade under.

SEAGOON: Yes dear listeners. Without knowing it the fools were drinking twenty thousand gallons of neat gin.

GRAMS: Fade in cheers of football crowd.

SEAGOON: Ha ha ha! Now for the football match.

GRAMS: Swell crowd noise.

SEAGOON: Sure enough that evening the Arab football team staggered onto the field in no condition to play. The result of the match was a forgone conclusion…

GREENSLADE: British garrison, twelve – drunken Arabs, sixty eight. Which just goes to prove that gin is a dashed good drink. Goodnight.

ORCHESTRA: End theme.

GREENSLADE: That was the Goon Show, a BBC recorded program featuring Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe Spike Milligan, with the Ray Ellington Quartet, and Max Geldray. The Orchestra was conducted by Wally Stott, script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stevens, announcer Wallace Greenslade. The program produced by Peter Eton.



[1] Milligan and Stephens began the seventh series writing to Milligan’s strength, ie: his overseas experiences. Spike’s most successful and evocative writing in the Goon shows was those episodes set in India, the Middle East and North Africa, lands he had lived in or visited and could conjure up easily on radio. For at heart I believe Milligan was an impressionistic writer, something which is a key to understanding both his phraseology and the impressive flights of fancy which occur under the cover of ‘humour’ in his shows. His impressionistic writing however was often mingled with sharp turns of observational reality masquerading as comedy. (Eg: Seagoon’s description of the Himalayas in “Shangri-La Again” 8/6th, and Seller’s description of an afternoon in an Indian cantonment in “The Red Fort.” 7/8th) He seemed to need his exotic background and overseas experiences as a base on which the mix his humourous palate of jokes, because at heart Milligan found his humour in ‘dislocation’ – utilitarian dislocation, moral dislocation and existential dislocation, so it can be said that his comedy has its roots in seemingly disparate elements out of order with each other – battleships in oases, French noblemen living in gutters, and Eccles swimming from 1600 to 1957 to bury treasure.

This need for ‘reality’ as a basis for the shows caused Milligan and Stephens to continually mine the news media and films for incidences which fired Milligan’s overstretched imagination. The seventh series was to include shows concerning India, poetry, a banana republic, the invention of the plane, the invention of a script, King Arthur, Robin Hood, Samuel Pepys, Thor Heyerdahl, Pliny the Elder, insurance, the Birmingham ring road, World War II, a ship canal and antiques.

The sheer variety of scripts he wrote – the exhilarating assortment of subject matters he confronted, makes one notice how well he observed current events, current feelings, current shifts in fashion and fancy, and above all how well he judged the public’s taste for nostalgia. He never overloaded the series with too many shows about one certain setting or one particular subject. He balanced everything with a keen eye levelling the past, present and future into a whole.

In this show for example, he latched onto current world events. The Burami oasis situation had captured world headlines from September 1952 and would continue to until 1959. The place is actually called the Buraimi Oasis and lies on the border of the UAE in the north and Oman to the south. Saudi Wahhabis invaded in 1952 and claimed the area for Saudi Arabia. International pressure eventually helped Abu Dhabi and Oman expel the invaders without major incident.


[2] It is tempting to read this Milliganesque non-sequitur as a comment on rationing, but in reality ham had been derationed in the autumn of 1953. Sugar, fats, meat and bacon became freely available in July 1954. But other internal Goon evidence suggests that Milligan was sorely tried by the standard of pork products in the mid fifties. In “The Fireball of Milton Street” (22/5th ) he twice asks the searching question, “Where is the crispy bacon we had before the war?” Apparently the standard of pork products was still unsatisfactory 18 months later.


[3] The actual leader was Turki bin Abdulla bin Utaishan, who had at his disposal 40 armed Wahhabis. The song quote however reflects the ongoing popularity of Elvis Presley (1935-1977) who had released his own version of the Bill Haley & His Comets’ hit single “Shake Rattle & Roll” in September 1956.


[4] Magdalen College Oxford (pronounced “Maudlin”) is one of the constituent colleges at the University of Oxford, founded by the Bishop of Winchester in 1448. The noted Arabist T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) did postgraduate research at this institution from 1910.


[5] It’s A Long Way to Tipperary” was a music hall number written by Judge & Williams, allegedly for a five shilling bet in 1912. The song was popularised by the Connaught Rangers, who sung it as they marched through Boulogne in August 1914 and witnessed by a correspondent from the Daily Mail.

[6] There has never been a British Naval vessel named Thespis. Thespis, the God of theatre and theatrical performers, is also mythologised as a mischievous spirit, causing things to go wrong during a performance. This, of course, would never do in the Armed Forces.


[7] The “Yarmouth Belle” was (and still remains) a Thames pleasure launch, built in 1892.


[8] This famous phrase was uttered many times in the British Parliament from 1854 until 1904, a period when gunboat diplomacy was commonplace in the execution of British overseas policy. The three interlinking rings of British Imperial power were ‘colonies, commerce and sea power,’ hence the subjugation, exploitation and policing of foreign peoples, the maintenance of re-fuelling stations and trading routes were all dependent upon the Royal Navy’s ability to act speedily and effectively to counter threats. Merely the threat of a British blockade, or Naval action often brought small foreign governments efficiently to their knees.


[9] The NAAFI, one of Milligan’s favourite humourous targets, is an organisation created by the British Government to run recreational facilities for the members of the Armed Services. Nowadays it runs clubs, bars, shops, supermarkets, launderettes, restaurants, cafés and other facilities on most British bases and on board R.N. ships. Milligan hated their food – especially the ‘cold collation.’


[10] Sellers.

[11] This use of football as a plot device is one of two in the Goon literature. The other is in “The Whistling Spy Enigma” (1/5th). The imaginative match between the Arab and English team may well have been inspired by the disastrous game between England by Hungary in 1953 at Wembley, when the ninety year mythical reign by England over the game came to an end at the hands of the now legendary team of ‘Magnificent Magyars,’ six to four.


[12] Rapallo is a coastal town in the province of Genoa, in Liguria, Northern Italy. The only connection that I can find that links Spike with this town is that earlier this same year the famous British writer, characaturist and parodyist Max Beerbohm had died there,


[13] A Milligan comic invention – transposition of time.


[14] This sounds like Bluebottle, but repeated listening suggests that it could in fact be Geldray doing his own Bluebottle impersonation. He was not the only one doing Bluebottle impressions. HRH the Prince of Wales was annoying his brothers and sister at the same time with his own version of the voice, as were a growing band of little schoolboys all over the Commonwealth.


[15] By Shay, Fisher and Goodwin. Louis Armstrong recorded it as far back as 1929. His most recent version had appeared in 1956.


[16] Named after its inventor, the US vaudeville actor Harry Fox. The dance premiered in 1914 and gradually crept into legitimate dance halls and music venues. By the time of “The Desert Song” (Romberg, Hammerstein II & Harbach, 1926) its quickstep and slow versions were appearing in musicals and onstage. By the late 50’s however it had become old fashioned, and was being replaced by the newly emerging ‘rock and roll’.


[17] Secombe with a Welsh accent.

[18] Indeed he had. Ray Ellington married Anita West in 1956, when Ray was 40 and Anita – (an actress) 19 years his junior. They were to have two children; Lance and Nina.

[19] One of Spike’s comic obsessions was with chickens – specifically chickens combined with transportation. In an incident in Algeria during WWII, an enterprising soldier in his battalion bought dozens of eggs from an Arab farmer as they marched through a native village on their way to camp. With no means to carry them, the whole regiment was seconded to clutch one each.

Puzzled wayfarers watched as British soldiers marched by, clutching eggs accompanied by mass clucking.” (“Rommel? Gunner Who?” p – 25)

Spike returned to this idea again and again during his career. For him the event was a practical demonstration of how ‘comic dislocation’ (see Ref. 1) could join two seemingly disparate elements together and come up with dislocated humour. In this series ‘chickens + transport’ appear in “The Nadger Plague” (3/7th) and “The Missing Boa-Constrictor.” (24/7th)

[20] The order of the voices in the next six lines are – Milligan, Greenslade, Sellers, Greenslade, Sellers then Milligan.


[21] The word ‘Araby’ was a colloquial version of ‘Arabic.’ It had been made common parlance by the 1921 tin-pan alley number “The Sheik of Araby.” Rewritten and retitled in 1926 “That Night in Araby,” it was recorded by Fats Waller and later by Fats Domino.


[22] The second line is a spoof on ‘By the Fountains of Rome’ – words by Norman Newell; music by Matyas Seiber. The welsh tenor David Hughes had had a hit in the UK singles chart with this song earlier that same year.


[23] The proof that Bluebottle and Eccles are modelled on Edgington and Milligan is undeniable. Like Spike and Harry they are both technicians, both from inner London, both on the front line and are usually found on some sort of sentry duty. A detailed reading of the War Memoirs supplies more background to their relationship, but also hints at the fact that Spike considered Harry a bit of a clumsy oaf on occasions.


[24] Gradually as the series progresses, Eccles becomes the butt of more direct abuse and becomes less and less compos mentis. The trait of yelling “shut up!” at him dates from this series.


[25] This is another of Milligan’s comic fixations – hernias. The subject appears in book 1 of the War Memoirs and again in book V – on both occasions associated with Spike’s trumpet playing.


[26] The correct title seems to have been “Stranded in the Jungle” and was written by a member of the west coast harmony group ‘Jayhawks’ in 1956. In spite of the recording’s low fidelity and the Jayhawk’s shaky harmony, the song became an instant hit. Modern Records, recognizing the song’s potential, recorded a more polished version with the “Cadets” almost immediately. Their version of this novelty rock number peaked at #15 in the USA, beating the Jayhawk’s version by three places.


[27] Sellers.


[28] Sellers. He is referring to Bernard Miles, (Baron Miles; 1907-1991) English character actor, writer and director. His specialty was country accents, particularly those of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. He was renowned for his performances of Long John Silver in the annual performances of ‘Treasure Island’ at the Mermaid Theatre. Whenever Spike set the Goon Show afloat, the un-seaworthy cast would traditionally call out his name from the mizzen mast, or vomit. (See “Tales of Old Dartmoor” 21/6th).


[29] Secombe misreads the line. He says, “If there’s any Cap… If there’s any panicking to be done - &c”


[30] But alas – Margate Pier (built in 1810 - 1815) is now no more, destroyed in a violent gale in 1978.


[31] Milligan is using the Arabic name ‘Rasheed’ here. It is a common first name in the Islamic world, meaning ‘rightly guided’, which actually supplies the punch line for the ongoing gag about the standard of bacon.

[32] Notice Moriarty’s background noises during Seagoon’s speech. Milligan usually ‘joined in’ whenever he was nervous about the script’s reception.


[33] This is extremely vulgar. Diana Dors (born Diana Mary Fluck in Swindon, 1931) was the classic English blonde bombshell, and film actress. Her sex-themed comedies were extremely popular. Spike’s mention of a sink pump is deliberate in this context. Read his war memoirs the find which soldier in his platoon was equipped with genitals of this size and shape. 


[34] Spike was to develop this idea later in the eighth series. The concept that just by thinking of something, one could make the object appear is explored bit by bit over the next few years. (Eg “The Stolen Postman” 11/8th when the cast have a battle with each other by just “thinking” of a particular weapon.) It also led to the famous Greenslade line spoken at the end of many of the later shows – “It’s all in the MIND you know.”