RECORDED: 20 Dec 1956 [1]


by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Light Programme. Ladies and gentlemen – The Goon Show.

GRAMS: Peter plays piano introduction. (Extended) [2]

SEAGOON: Gad! Didn't that music do something to you Wallace?

GREENSLADE: No, but I'd like to do something to that music.

SEAGOON: What? You realise of course you're talking of Peter Sellers the world's greatest outdoor pianist? Did you hear that build up I gave you Mr Sellers? I say…

SELLERS: Motor-car impression.

SEAGOON: Don't tell me you're down to that in motorcars?[3]

SELLERS: No. I've just ordered a new super-strong, reversal, senna-pod [4], twelve horse power convertible. I was only making that noise until it arrived – then it can do it for me. (Further car noises.)

SEAGOON: How jolly for you Fred Sellers. Now if you'll kindly stop sticking pins in that clay model of Lew Grade [5], we'll presood [6] with the hern hern and the hern. This week the play is entitled...

ORCHESTRA: Tremendously grandiloquent, epic orchestral introduction.

SEAGOON: I've forgotten what it was now.

GREENSLADE: Allow me! Allow me you silly little nit. We present – “The Flea”. (Sings in Handelian style) Oh oh oh “The Flea”. Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh, “The Flea”.[7]

ORCHESTRA: Four bars of raunchy play-out.

GREENSLADE: The year – sixteen sixty-five. Sixteen sixty-five? Good heavens – I must hurry! I'll miss my bus.

FX: Quill on parchment.

SEAGOON: (Writing diary) Third of December sixteen sixty-five.[8] Did rise betide. Finding much snow without did put on my belly binder and warm knees. Sported thereafter with Mrs Fitzsimmonds and did hie [9] me later to Ward's coffee house to break my fast.

ORCHESTRA: Tatty fanfare and cymbal snap.

GRAMS: Background chatter as in coffee house.

FLOWERDEW: Oh, good morrow Master Pepys. Cappuccino?

SEAGOON: No – just coffee Daisy.

FLOWERDEW: Black or white?

SEAGOON: White – with a dahsh of milk.

FLOWERDEW: (A real screamer) Oh ho ho! You tease!

SEAGOON: Now, with whom can I make gossip this chilly morn? I see nobody though, and nobody sees me. What a coincidence! Egad. Ye spon, to be sure. Hern hern. Hi diddle dee. Needle nardle noo. Splin splan splon. Ying tong iddle-i-po! And remember – you've got to go OWWW![10]

GRYTPYPE: How very interesting that was.

SEAGOON: I'm sorry – I didn't see you standing in that coffee pot!

GRYTPYPE: I know. We had the lid down.

SEAGOON: We? Where's your friend?

GRYTPYPE: He's up the spout.

MORIARTY: OWW. You got to go OWW!

SEAGOON: Ye cod![11] He's just been OWW’d.

GRYTPYPE: Yes, it's all the rage! Now – er, have these two seats been taken?

SEAGOON: No, there still here! Hahahaha! (Laughs long and loudly) Ha hum.

GRYTPYPE: A charlie.

SEAGOON: What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? Bwark! Bwark! Bwark! (Clucks)

GRYTPYPE: I was only nearly saying that the other day. This is my friend Count Jim 'Thighs' Moriarty.


SEAGOON: A German diplomat is always welcome in England.

MORIARTY: What? Sapristi gnuckles! Hairy insult. You insult me – a Frenchman! We must fight a duel.

GRAMS: Two pistol shots.

MORIARTY: Honour is satisfied!

SEAGOON: And so am I!

ORCHESTRA: Tatty chord in C – cymbal snap.


GRYTPYPE: Sir, you will excuse this steaming Gaul. He is given to short temper as he has no lodgings for the night.

SEAGOON: Oh! I can't see a French Count sleeping in the street.

MORIARTY: Of course not – I've got up now! OWWW! OWWW! OWW!

GRYTPYPE: He's just been OWWW again!

SEAGOON: I should like to accommodate you for the night but...

MORIARTY: We accept!

GRYTPYPE: I second that! Moriarty – go and pack the jam tins.

FX: Quill on parchment.

SEAGOON: (Writing) Did return home with the two gentlemen. Did not sport with Mrs Fitzsimmonds owing to the cold weather and the presence French Count and his manager who occupied my second best bed.

GRYTPYPE: You heard that nice gentleman Moriarty. Put on your second best pyjamas.


GRYTPYPE: There he goes again – he never thinks of anything else these days. By the way Moriarty, did you notice the brass name plate on our host's door?

MORIARTY: Yes! I've got it here.

GRYTPYPE: You clever little vandal you! You see what it says – “Samuel Pepys, Secretary to the Navy”. We couldn't have picked a better Charlie for our plan.

MORIARTY: Hoiooioioioo! Owwwowoww! Sapristi knuckles! If it works we'll get rich beyond the Dreams of Olwyn![12] Oweeoww! The money! The moolah! The grisby! (Fiscally epileptic) Owwweee oww oww oww… Oww…[13]

GRYTPYPE: He's going to have one of his turns again.



SEAGOON: I better go then.

FX: Door closes briskly.

MORIARTY: He's gone!

GRYTPYPE: Yes! Now – where's Françoise the flea?

MORIARTY: Françoise the flea is inside my sock. He likes to travel on foot. Hoihoio hohoho! Hoi!

GRYTPYPE: Now Moriarty, are you sure this flea is reliable?

MORIARTY: Reliable? Mon repos![14] This flea has bitten all the crowned heads of Europe, and sometimes lower than that.

GRYTPYPE: You mean that this flea has royal blood?

MORIARTY: Oui, oui.

GRYTPYPE: In that case he might be fussy. We shall have to blindfold him – he must never know who he's biting. Let's have a look at him...

MORIARTY: I'll just unchain him. Voila!

GRYTPYPE: Mm! Let's see him jump.

MORIARTY: Françoise, hup!

FX: Pogo spring effect.

MORIARTY: (Over) Steady, steady. Save your energy boy. Save it! Steady, steady. Woooaa.

GRYTPYPE: I see he favours the western roll.[15] Now action Moriarty! Chain him to your nightshirt.


FX: Chains.

GRYTPYPE: Now during the night on a given signal, Françoise will bite you...

MORIARTY: OWW – I'm too young!

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, the reward will be great. You'll be able to retire Françoise to stud on a dog of his own. He'll be able to go…


GRYTPYPE: Thank you. Now off you go to ninny byes while I strum Max Geldray.


MAX GELDRAY“Oh Lady Be Good” [16]


MORIARTY: Thank you. And now... (Agony) Ooooiohohooo! My pectorals!

FX: Door opening.

SEAGOON: What ails my merry screaming guests?

GRYTPYPE: Mr Pepys – the Count Jim 'Thighs' Moriarty has been bitten by one of your English fleas.

MORIARTY: Yes. This means war!

SEAGOON: A physick on you! There are no fleas in my house.

GRYTPYPE: No? Moriarty bend down and show the gentleman the bites.

SEAGOON: Nonsense! This bedding is flea free – it's burnt twice a day.

GRYTPYPE: Oh! Then what's this on the sheets?

SEAGOON: Let me see... (Reads) Siberian Railways.

MORIARTY: Proof positive! No wonder there's fleas.

GRYTPYPE: Master Pepys I must warn you. Anything you take down will be up-rooted, replanted in Trafalgar Square, and used in evidence against you.

ORCHESTRA: Tatty chord – cymbal snap.

FX: Quill on parchment.

SEAGOON: (Writing) Fifth of December. Did sport with Mrs Fitzsimmonds and then – to the law courts.

ORCHESTRA: Tuning on A.

FX: Gavel on bench.

ELLINGTON: Silence! Silence in court! The court will now rise for the Lord Chief Justice, Jim Spriggs.

OMNES: (Murmurs)  Rhubarb! Rhubarb! Rhubarb!

SPRIGGS: Please! Be seated please. The case is Count Jim 'Thighs' Moriarty, Minister without Underpants, versus the British Crown with underpants. Will the plaintiff open the case?

GREENSLADE: (French)  My lord, we claim damages of forty thousand golden crowns for a savage attack by an English flea residing under the roof of Monsieur Samuel Pepys, Secretary to the Navy.

SPRIGGS: Oh. (Well acted!) Now then – what is a Navy?

SEAGOON: A Navy my Lord, is an army entirely surrounded by water.

SPRIGGS: Silence! Silence please or I'll have the court cleared.

SECOMBE: (Raspberry)

SPRIGGS: Thank you very much. Now then, what makes you think the British Crown should pay for this flea bite?

GRYTPYPE: It was a British flea my Lord.

SEAGOON: My Lord! I object. I move that the flea's nationality be proven before this case proceeds.

SPRIGGS: Agreed. Call the flea!

ELLINGTON: The flea!

USHER 1:[17] (Off) The flea!

USHER 2:[18] (Off) The flea!

GRAMS: Coconut shells approaching rapidly.

WILLIUM: (Over above)  Wooooa! Wooa mate. Woooa-ooh-oh!

SPRIGGS: Great Jupiter – mate. Is that thing a flea?

WILLIUM: No. It's an 'orse mate.

SPRIGGS: A horse?


SPRIGGS: Take his hat off. You're right – it is a horse. Where’s the flea?

WILLIUM: He's on the 'orse, mate. I thought he'd get ‘ere quicker that way you see.

SPRIGGS: I see. Now then as he's not riding side saddle I presume he's a male flea?


SPRIGGS: Will the flea raise his right leg and swear to tell the truth?

FX: Spring effect.

SPRIGGS: Thank you. Now Mr Pepys, will you please take the flea in the palm of your right hand and see if you can identify him?

SEAGOON: My lord! I can honestly say I have never seen this flea before in my life. I claim that he is a foreigner!

OMNES: (Excited murmurs) Rhubarb, rhubarb! Rhubarb, rhubarb! Rhubarb, rhubarb!

MORIARTY: (Aside) Grytpype, suppose they discover Françoise is French?

GRYTPYPE: Impossible! I destroyed his passport I tell you.

SPRIGGS: Silence! It is the opinion of this court that the flea will remain in custody while a description of him is circulated to Interpol.

GREENSLADE: Dear listeners, I spring forward at this moment to mention to those of you who have not been in jug on the continent, that Interpol is an international organisation of policemen. I do hope you find these little snippets of information helpful. If they are then my job has been well worthwhile.

ORCHESTRA: Tatty chord with cymbal snap.

GREENSLADE: And now – “The Flea” part two in which Moriarty and Grytpype hie them to a flea circus with a plan.

GRAMS: Carousel organ. Hucksters. Crowd noises. Continue under.

BANNISTER: Roll up! Roll up!

CRUN: See the greatest Flea Circus on earth!

BANNISTER: Every one hand picked buddy.

CRUN: Come and see War and Peace done by a cast of fleas! Flea dialogue with human subtitles

BANNISTER: Roll up. Roll up you people.....

GRYTPYPE: (Low) Did you hear that Moriarty? A Flea Circus.

MORIARTY: Yes. Let's go and buy one quickly.

GRYTPYPE: Buy one? What do you think I've brought this dog along for?

MORIARTY: Explain to me – and the listeners.

GRYTPYPE: We're going to look for a British flea with exactly the same markings as Françoise…

MORIARTY: … and then we change them over!

GRYTPYPE: There goes the plot listeners. Come, let's go and reccè.

ORCHESTRA: Snare drum roll. Cymbal snap.

CRUN: (Ring master) Ladies and gentlemen, the hero of tonight's performance of War and Peace is the wonder flea  – star of knee, thigh, and chest, who has just returned from a highly successful tour of Mrs Fitzsimmonds. Here he is – “Little Jim!”

GRAMS: Dogs barking.

FX: Spring effect. Continue.

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, hand me those lorgnettes. What luck! Little Jim is the living image of Françoise – even to the scar on his chin.

MORIARTY: What now?

GRYTPYPE: After the performance, we take this shaggy dog backstage. No flea could resist a ride on a dog like this.

GREENSLADE: (Breaking in.) Er – excuse me please. Excuse me. Just a moment. Excuse me please. Ladies and gentlemen, at this stage the BBC are concerned about the possibility of this show causing listeners some – um, irritation. I should like to state therefore that there are no real fleas taking part in this programme. The parts of all the fleas are taken by small grasshoppers painted black.

SEAGOON: 'Ave you done?


SEAGOON: Thank you.

FX: Quill on parchment.

SEAGOON: (Writing) December the sixth. Did sport with Mrs Fitzsimmonds and being suspicious of Grytpype Thynne I did place two stalwart guards outside the accused fleas cell in Newgate Prison.

GRAMS: Jangling keys. Slow pacing footsteps.

FX: Spring effect. Continue behind.

BLUEBOTTLE: Have you ever guarded a flea before Eccles?

ECCLES: No – this is the first big job I had. Just a minute... (Slightly off mic.) Hoi!

FX: Loud spring.

ECCLES: That made him jump! Did you hear that? (Raves)

BLUEBOTTLE: You're a naughty cruel thing Eccles! You should not do that – you may have fleas of your own one day.

ECCLES: Oohhh, I'm sorry Bottle.

BLUEBOTTLE: Lance Corporal Bottle to you!

ECCLES: Sorry, Lance-Corporal-Bottle-to-you.

BLUEBOTTLE: I should jolly’d well think so too. Stand to cardboard attention. Chin up! Chest in!

ECCLES: Arrgh! It hurts!

BLUEBOTTLE: (To himself) Thinks – I will teach this naughty man a lesson. (Calls) Eccles?


BLUEBOTTLE: Raise right leg!


BLUEBOTTLE: Now raise left leg!

ECCLES: Right.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ohhhh! How is it that you got three legs Eccles?

ECCLES: 'Cause the fourth one fell off.

BLUEBOTTLE & ECCLES: (Extended laughing)

ECCLES: Wait a minute! What are you laughing at?

BLUEBOTTLE: I don't like to be left behind. Well, we've given them enough Terrance Rattigan type dialogue.[19] It's time to exercise our flea-type prisoner. Private Eccles – open flea pit!

GRAMS: Key jangling in lock. Squeak of rusty hinge.

ECCLES: Here – do you think it's safe to take his leg shackles off?

BLUEBOTTLE: Do not worry Eccles. I will keep him covered with this flea powder.

ECCLES: O.K. Well, I'll run the flea round the yard on his lead.

FX: Spring effect. Vary the intensity.

ECCLES: (Over) Oh! Oh! Steady! Wooah! Wooah! Stop – wooah! Steady now.

BLUEBOTTLE: Eeoeah! Eccles, don't let him come near me. I don't want to be bited. I'm an East Finchley-type boy and there are no fleas in East Finchley. “Flealess Fincherly” they call it. Eeehehe! I don't like this game. I'm all itchy too!

GREENSLADE: Listeners – we should like to reassure you once again that at no stage in this drama do genuine fleas take part. Before commencing it, all actors were searched by John Snagge. To allow you to relax, here is Ray Ellington and his D.D.T. quartet.


RAY ELLINGTON - 'You do something to me' [20]


ORCHESTRA: Short extract of “1812 Overture”. [21]

SEAGOON: Eighteen twelve? And in sixteen sixty five! Hahahaha! So much for humour. Well now…

FX: Quill on parchment.

SEAGOON: (Writing) December the splon. Did sport with Mrs Fitzsimmonds. Suddenly...

FX: Door opens.

BLUEBOTTLE: Captain – Mister Pepys! I… Hello Mrs Fitzsimmonds… Captain, two men crept up on us from behind and overpowered us with a quarter of Pontefract cakes. [22]

SEAGOON: They nearly had you on the run!

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes! Then, thinking that [23] they had made us unconscious with the dreaded Prontelfracts, they switched fleas and made off with our one! Hello Mrs. Fitzsimmonds.

SEAGOON: So! Moriarty's flea was a foreigner. We must stop it leaving the country or the crown will loose the case. To the Military!

BLUEBOTTLE: To the Millintry! Goodbye Mrs Fitzsimmonds.

ORCHESTRA: Bloodnok theme – double quick.

BLOODNOK: Ooooohooohoooo! Ohhohooo! Oooh you caught me out then lads, you did!

FX: Quick door knocks.

BLOODNOK: Ooohohhoo! (Aside) Go out the back Mrs Fitzsimmonds dear. (Calls out) Come in!

FX: Door opening.

SEAGOON: Ah, Major Bloodnok. Helllooo Mrs Fitzsimmonds! Any signs of these men with the fugitive flea?

BLOODNOK: No, no, no.

SEAGOON: It's not good enough, Major. Are your men reliable?

BLOODNOK: What! My men reliable? My...? Captain Caruthers – tell him.

CARUTHERS: (Stammering) Ahhh, well er… they are… er, our men sir are…  you see, er… well I… I… I suppose they are… well um… you ahhhhhhhhhahhhhhhhh. [24]

BLOODNOK: Well Seagoon – does that answer your question?

SEAGOON: I can't remember the question was.

CARUTHERS: Neither can I.

SEAGOON: Thank you.

BLOODNOK: Thank you.

SEAGOON: Excuse me a moment Major!


FX: Door opens and closes.

FX: Quill on parchment.

SEAGOON: (Writing) Did retire to adjacent room where did briefly sport with Mrs Fitzsimmonds.

FX: Door opens and closes.

SEAGOON: Well now Major Bloodnok, we suspect that the foreign flea might be an exact replica of the flea I've got in this horse box.

BLOODNOK: Oooh! What cunnnnning!

ELLINGTON: Er, excuse me Major. A company of my highlanders have caught two men trying to slip past on a banana skin.

BLOODNOK: Bring them in McGregor!

SEAGOON: How did he get in a Scottish regiment?

BLOODNOK: He lied about his age.

ELLINGTON: Come on! Come on you two there! Get in here you two scoundrels!

MORIARTY & GRYTPYPE: (Variously) Stop pushing us! OWWW!

MORIARTY: Take your filth hand of my filthy neck.

ELLINGTON: Make one false step and I'll report you to Victor Silvester![25]

SEAGOON: That's him! I recognise him by his...


SEAGOON: Now – where's that French flea?

GRYTPYPE: Outside on a sheepdog.

FX: Door opens.

GRAMS: Massed barking dogs.

SEAGOON: Ah! Forty long-haired sheepdogs! Which one is he on?

BLOODNOK: I'll soon find him in a military way. Dogs – from the right, number!

GRAMS: Six different pitched barks, then a seventh dog who yelps.

BLOODNOK: That's the one! Search him!

FX: Spring effect.

BLOODNOK: Now into the dustbin with him.

FX: Lid on dustbin.

SEAGOON: There! Got him! Well Grytpype – hahahaha, this is the end of your nefarious career!

GRYTPYPE: Yes, and yours!

SEAGOON: (Gradually getting higher and higher) What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What? What… (Normal voice)  What do you mean?

GRYTPYPE: Mr Pepys, we've found a diary. Let me read you a sample extract. (Reads) “December the third. Whilst the King was away, did sport madly with Nell Gwyn”.[26]

SEAGOON: (Swallows) Oh come chaps – you're joking! Hahaha! Let's forget everything eh? Let’s go OWW together! (Laughs)

MORIARTY: Yes, for one thousand pounds.



ORCHESTRA: Closing theme.

GREENSLADE: That was the Goon Show, a BBC recorded programme, featuring Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, and Spike Milligan. With the Ray Ellington Quartet, Max Geldray, and the orchestra conducted by Wally Stott. Script by Spike Milligan, and Larry Stephens, announcer Wallace Greenslade. The program produced by Pat Dixon.



[1] It is not at all certain what led Spike to this idea. A suggestion is that he got the idea from a Tex Avery cartoon made in 1954 called “The Flea Circus” which featured a French flea circus being attacked by a dog. The hero of the short film was Françoise the flea, the name he uses here.  Avery worked at that time for MGM, and was the developer of Porky Pig, and later created Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny.


[2] According to his biographer Roger Lewis, Peter was an intensely jealous performer, unable to bear anyone stealing the limelight by their ability. As a result, he learnt to fudge plausible achievement. He had the supreme and terrible genius of being able to fake proficiency at anything – timpani, drums, bugle, (see the opening scene of “The Party” – 1968) song and dance, characterization, and the piano.


[3] Sellers (1925-1980) was addicted to automobiles. See “Tiddleywinks.” (24/8th series)


[4] Senna pods – cassia angustifolia, are traditionally used as an anti-inflammatory and laxative.


[5] Lew Grade, (born Lev Winogradsky), Baron Grade (1906-1998) was a major show business impresario and TV executive. Private Eye cast him as ‘Low Greed’.


[6] A Milliganesque word – ‘proceed’ pronounced with reversed vowels. To keep the consonants constant, C has to become S.


[7] I do not know how Milligan described this. It seems to me that Wallace was trying to do his announcement in his best Handelian style, with a vocal line similar to “The Messiah.” Handel arrived in England a few years after Pepys’ death.


[8] Based on the diaries of Samuel Pepys, (1633-1703) English Naval Administrator, Member of Parliament and diarist. His diary, a frank and honest document, reveals much about the Restoration period both politically and socially. This day was actually a Sunday. Milligan had written another episode based on the restoration period, “Personal Narrative.” (8/7th series)


[9] Hie; to go quickly or hasten. Old English.


[10] “You’ve Gotta Go OWW!” was released that month on Parlophone R.4251. Milligan & Sykes.


[11] I am not sure of this. If this is indeed what Spike wrote it is a medieval swearword meaning ‘By God’.


[12] A reference to the theme music of ‘The Dream of Olwyn’ (Charles Williams), written for the 1947 British film “While I Live.” The piece was immensely popular.


[13] Both Moriarty and Milligan became more financially desperate during this decade. Both felt locked into a loveless relationship without a future – one with Grytpype, the other with the BBC.


[14] ‘Mon repos’ – ‘My Rest’, (fr). A common name for seaside holiday bungalows – and some more permanent villas from Corfu to Bexhill.


[15] A high jump technique developed by M. F. Horine in the early part of the 20th century. The inner leg is used for the take-off while the outer leg provides thrust to lead the body sideways over the bar.


[16] By George and Ira Gershwin, from the show “Lady Be Good.” (1924)


[17] Unidentified voice. It sounds like neither Milligan nor Sellers.


[18] Probably Milligan.

[19] The film version of Terrance Rattigan’s play “The Sleeping Prince” was in production at that very moment in London. Titled “The Prince and the Showgirl” it starred Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. Olivier was driven mad by Monroe’s behaviour on the set.


[20] By Cole Porter, from his 1929 musical “Fifty Million Frenchmen.” Famous recordings exist by Mario Lanza and Frank Sinatra.


[21] 1812 Overture (Торжественная увертюра 1812 года) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, written in 1882.


[22] A licorice confectionary made by a company originally sited in the town of Pontefract, Yorkshire. Sometimes called Pomfret or Pomfrey cakes. Two things were the bane of Bluebottle’s existence – dynamite and diarrhea.


[23] Sellers reads the line wrong and retraces his steps by repeating it.


[24] Milligan nearly always performed superior officers with this type of stammer. Occasionally he does lower class Sergeant Majors (“The Space Age” 6/8th), but he preferred lampooning higher ranking officers, and to most of them he gave a serious stammer. It is reasonable to assume he modeled the voice on someone he knew in the war, honing his imitation to entertain his pals. This speech is a gem of vocal characterization – every nuance of his ignorance, cowardice, unwillingness to speak out of turn, embarrassment and lack of imagination, is revealed in a glorious, slobbering mess of idiocy. No wonder he got applause. See also “The Great Bank Robbery” (7/7th) where he gives a similar officer a dose of Benzedrine.

[25] Victor Silvester (1900-1978) – note the correct spelling, was an English dancer, composer and dance band leader. He was a significant figure in the development of ballroom dancing in the 20th century. Silvester opened a chain of dance studios during the 30’s and went on the form his own orchestra which continued playing popular ballroom melodies under his baton until his death.

[26] Nell Gwyn rose from being an orange vendor to becoming the royal mistress, and retired at the age of 19 to pursue a more lucrative career among her erstwhile audience. Charles II said on his deathbed, “Let not poor Nelly starve.”