SIX CHARLIES IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR

 

GOON SHOW: TLO 19238

7TH SERIES: No 13

BROADCAST: 26 Dec 1956 [1]

 

Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens.

 

GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Home Service.

SECOMBE: Wal – Walter Greenslade! Where do you get your advance information from?

GREENSLADE: I sit in the stranger’s gallery at Rowton House.[2]

SECOMBE: You’re no stranger to Rowton House. I see you there every night.

GREENSLADE: So! You’ve seen through my Sir William Rootes tramp disguise. [3]

SECOMBE: Yes, and the penalty is announcing the Goon Show.

GREENSLADE: Right. (Offhandedly) The Goon Show.

SECOMBE: Hmm. It's hardly worth your while comin' here, is it Wal?

GREENSLADE: Ah, my dear Secombe – there's much more you know.

CAST: (Variously) Well done! What? Eh?

GREENSLADE: Yes, because you see this week it's Jim Sprigg’s immortal book…

CAST: Yes? Yes?

GREENSLADE: … “Six Charlies in Search of an Author”.

GRAMS: Recording of Sir William Walton’s Coronation Fanfare – “Orb and Sceptre”. Vary the speed.[4]

FX: Typing under.

SPRIGGS: Thank you. (Typing) Chapter One – Neddie meets Grytpype-Thynne.

SEAGOON: Good heavens! I'm supposed to meet Grytpype-Thynne in chapter

one. I'd better hurry!

FX: Hurried knocking. Door opens.

GRYTPYPE: Oh, you must be the charlie I'm supposed to meet in chapter one.

SEAGOON: Correct.

GRYTPYPE: What a thrilling start.

SEAGOON: My name is Neddie Seagoon.

GRYTPYPE: There's one in every family.

SEAGOON: What what what what what what what what what what bwark bwark bwark bwark… (Does chicken impression.)

GRYTPYPE: Do you mind facing west when you do that – it gets all over me. Now, to whom do I owe the pleasure of this nauseating visit?

SEAGOON: The author.

GRYTPYPE: Of course, of course! You must excuse me – I'm only new in this book.

SEAGOON: I see. What part do you play?

GRYTPYPE: I'm a bone specialist.

SEAGOON: What do you want?

GRYTPYPE: Bones.

SEAGOON: (Gulps) I haven't got any bones.

GRYTPYPE: Nonsense - nonsense! You'd fall down without them. You'd fall DOWN without them.

SEAGOON: You'd fall down without THEM.

GRYTPYPE: YOU'D fall down without them.[5]I know for a fact that you have a large number of them tucked away somewhere.

SEAGOON: Have you been prying into my family album of X-rays?

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, tell him what you found.

MORIARTY: Ah – sapristi spon, I will! Mister Seagoon,[6] we have a very compromising X-ray photograph of two sets of bones, yours – and a lady's!

SEAGOON: It's a lie! We're just good friends! Ahem - how much do you want for that X-ray?

GRYTPYPE: Ten pounds Neddie, to be paid in money before chapter ten!

MORIARTY: Yes! And don't try and slip past us Neddie, because we’ve got an armed man in the index!

SEAGOON: Curses! – so they're going to catch me by the index. Oh dear readers, here am I, due to marry the beautiful millionairess Gladys Minkwater in chapter eight. Before then I must get that compromising X-ray photograph back. Ten pounds they want eh? (Laughs to himself) Ha ha ha Taxi!

GRAMS: Car pulls up.

SEAGOON: The nearest pawn shop. Put your foot down and keep the flag up.

WILLIUM: Right, mate.

GRAMS: Car drives off at high speed. Explosion. Rubble falling – masonry, glass.

WILLIUM: I got it mate. That's three bob on the clock.

SEAGOON: Right. Here's a pound for your trouble.

WILLIUM: I ain't got no trouble mate.

SEAGOON: You have now mate That pound's a forgery!

WILLIUM: (Going off) Owwww mate! Oww!

FX: Door opens. Shop bell.

CRUN: Good morning sir. Welcome to chapter two.

SEAGOON: Thank you. Now, I should like to pawn myself.

CRUN: I'm sorry. We don't take antiques here sir.[7]

SEAGOON: Have a care, old prune-faced fossil. I'm not an antique. Look – here's the date of my birth stamped on the bottom!

CRUN: Oh! This is a Welsh birthmark. Go up to the fourth floor, room three.

SEAGOON: Right!

FX: Feet running up flights of stairs. Extended.

SEAGOON: (Puffing and groaning.) Ohh! Ahh! Fourth floor.

FX: Knocks on door. Door opens.

CRUN: What is it sir?

SEAGOON: I'd like to pawn myself.

CRUN: Who sent you up here?

SEAGOON: You did.

CRUN: Then you've come to the right man. Get into this lift.

GRAMS: Old fashioned lift doors shutting. Lift descending.

BANNISTER: (Over grams) Going down. Page eighteen… seventeen… page sixteen… (Sings) Yim bum biddle doh! …fifteen… Chapter one – Crun's pawnshop. Seagoon enters and pawns himself. (Goes off muttering) Oh, it's a very small part for me this week.

CRUN: Be satisfied Min you naughty thing.

SEAGOON: We're back where we started. What'd you send me up to the fourth floor for?

CRUN: To get me.

SEAGOON: To get you! Wait a minute – how did you get up there before me?

CRUN: (Laughing) He he he! I skipped a couple of pages! (Laughs. Asthma attack.)

SEAGOON: I've got a good mind to tell the author.

CRUN: No, no! Don't do that – he might have me killed off in a later chapter.

SEAGOON: Now look Mister Crun, how much money will you give me on me?

CRUN: Well, first I must scrutinize you with an intense scrute. Just take your clothes off....[8]

SEAGOON: (Struggling) Hoh! He! Hoh! Hoo! There!

CRUN: Now lie under this magnifying glass.

SEAGOON: Ooh! It's cold isn't it? Oo, there. How do I look?

CRUN: Oo. Even bigger! Just stand on these scales please.

GRAMS: Massive springs compressing. Stressed steal groaning.

CRUN: Eighteen stone.

SEAGOON: Shall I put the other leg on now?

CRUN: As dead weight alone I'll offer you ten pounds. You'll come in useful for filling in holes.

SEAGOON: Done!

CRUN: You certainly have been! (Laughs uproariously) Ha ha ha ha! Did you hear that joke, did you?

SEAGOON: Ten years ago. Now where's the money?

CRUN: There. Ten pounds in crisp green farthings.

SEAGOON: Ta. Goodbye!

CRUN: No, wait, wait! You can't go 'til someone comes to redeem you.

SEAGOON: (Gulps) What?

CRUN: Kindly step into this safe and Geldray – play me the key. Hehe!

GELDRAY: Ploogee!

 

MAX GELDRAY “When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob-bob-bobbing Along” [9]

FX: Typing under.

SPRIGGS: (Typing) “Six Charlies in Search of an Author” folks. Chapter three – in which I see fit to have the character Neddie Seagoon still inside Crun's fiendish pawnshop safe.

SEAGOON: (With echo) Yes dear readers. Inside the safe all was dark. I took out a book of matches and began to read it. Page one: “To ignite match, detach one and strike it against bottom.”

FX: Cloth ripping.

SEAGOON: WHOOOP! By the light of my burning trousers I could see that…

ECCLES: Put that light out! Put that light out my good man! Put that… Ooh! Who put that light out? Who put that light out? Shut up Eccles! (Extended)[10]

SEAGOON: The idiot stranger was a complete idiot-stranger to me. He was tall and clad in a cement sack with an outlet at the base. His legs were neat and carefully pressed, and on his head he wore a rubber dinghy with a hand-made cardboard peak.

ECCLES: Hallo Neddie. Have you pawned yourself?

SEAGOON: Yes. I'm pledge number thirty-two. Have you got a pledge number?

ECCLES: No, no. I only pawned my socks.

SEAGOON: Oh. Then why don't you go home?

ECCLES: I can't get my boots off.

FX: Typing under.

SPRIGGS: (Typing) Chapter four, in which Seagoon has a brilliant idea.

FX: Frantic banging on door.

SEAGOON: Mister Crun, let me out! I have a brilliant idea.

CRUN: What is it?

SEAGOON: I want to redeem myself.

CRUN: Certainly.

FX: Door opens.

CRUN: Ten pounds please.

FX: Till. Money in drawer.

SEAGOON: Now, to buy back that compromising X-ray photograph. Where did I put that…? Ten pounds… That ten pounds… It's gone… I've been robbed! What happens now Mister Greenslade? I must know.

GREENSLADE: Well you see, I hate peeking at the end of the book, but in chapter seven, Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty ship the compromising X-ray photograph in the plain wrapper to an art connoisseur in Paris.

ORCHESTRA: Bloodnok theme. Slow the last phrase down to half speed.

BLOODNOK: Thank you boys. That just gave me time to smuggle her out of the room.

FX: Door opening.

SEAGOON: Major Bloodnok!

BLOODNOK: (Fear) It's a lie! Oohh! Naughty postcards? I've never heard of them I tell you! How dare you come in here and offer me money for these postcards over there which are not here![11]

SEAGOON: Major enough of this needle nardle noo!

BLOODNOK: Ooohhh!

SEAGOON: Major, please! For the compromising X-ray photo of myself and a lady – how much do you want?

BLOODNOK: Ten thousand francs.

SEAGOON: (Swallows hard – then faints.) AhhooooooOOOOooo!

BLOODNOK: He's fainted in the direction of ‘down’! Doris darling…

THROAT:[12] Yes darling?

BLOODNOK: Help me lift him in the direction of ‘up’.

SEAGOON: Ooohup! I - I haven't got ten thousand francs.

BLOODNOK: WHAT? Throw him in the direction of ‘out’.

SEAGOON: Wait! I have got ten pounds…

BLOODNOK: Put him in the direction of ‘down’ again. Wait – don't turn the page over yet. I recognize that wallet. It's young Private Needle Seagoon, retired; my ex-batman and spon runner. Ohh!

GREENSLADE: Dear listeners, for the benefit of those of you who do not know what a 'spon runner' is – neither do I. I just want you to know that you are not alone – Wallace is one of you. And now chapter seven, page seventy-two. Seagoon does not recognize Major Bloodnok.

SEAGOON: Major Bloodnok! I didn't recognize you in that false room.

BLOODNOK: Well I was only wearing it to keep the rain off. I wouldn't wear it out of doors of course.

SEAGOON: Let me help you off with it.[13]

FX: Door opens and closes.

BLOODNOK: Thank you. Good heavens, we're outside and it's raining in the direction of ‘down’.

SEAGOON: You'd better put your room on in the direction of ‘on’.

FX: Door opens and closes.

BLOODNOK: Oh, that's better. It's much warmer with this direction on. Now Neddie pull up a chair and sit down.

SEAGOON: I'd rather stand if you don't mind.

BLOODNOK: Oh well, pull up a floor then.

SEAGOON: Major please don't joke![14] I must have that compromising X-ray photo.

BLOODNOK: Kuchni doing Edward – kuchni.[15] I can’t help you I'm afraid. It's in that safe and Grytpype has the key and there's nothing on this page we can open it with.

SEAGOON: Well, I'll write something in. Let's see…

FX: Typing under.

SEAGOON: (typing) “Looking around the room that Bloodnok was wearing, Neddie's eye lit upon the following: one eighteen-foot crowbar and one sledgehammer.”

BLOODNOK: What a splendid piece of descriptive writing! Now, who's going to do all the work?

FX: Typing under.

SEAGOON: (typing) “Without hesitation brave Bloodnok picked up the crowbar and began to force open the safe.”

FX: Hammer on chisel.

BLOODNOK: (Exerting himself) Oh you cad Edward! Making me do all that… Give me

that typewriter would you.

FX: Typing under.

BLOODNOK: (typing) “Neddie, horrified at the sight of a retired Indian Army major labouring, snatched the crowbar and set to work himself.”

FX: Hammer on chisel.

SEAGOON: (Exerting himself) It's starting to give!

SPRIGGS: (Slightly off.) Oww! You two characters – stop! Stop I say!

BLOODNOK: It's a copper.

SPRIGGS: I'm not a policeman!

BLOODNOK: I beg your pardon madam.

SPRIGGS: I'm not a policewoman either!

BLOODNOK: I say – you're cutting it rather fine aren't you?

SEAGOON: The newcomer was a small pair of pince-nez[16] spectacles, clad in a writing desk with the drawers open.

SPRIGGS: Put a curb on your tongue fellow![17] I am Jim Spriggs, author of this book. I put you in it.

SEAGOON: Right in it!

SPRIGGS: Silence!

BLOODNOK: Look here – if you're the author, couldn't you have made me a little younger?

SPRIGGS: What?

BLOODNOK: I mean, in Chapter Three I met a delightful young lady, but alas – me fires had gone out.

SPRIGGS: Do not worry. I've made sure you don't get any older. On the next page you're run over by a steamroller lad!

SEAGOON: Mister author, I implore you! I've got to get the safe open.

SPRIGGS: Fear not little Jim! Fear not little Jimmmmm! I’ll write in a new character who will assist you.

FX: Typing under.

SPRIGGS: (typing) “The door opened and a virile figure leapt into the centre of the room.”

BLUEBOTTLE: Hello Captain! Springes into centre of room. SPRINGE!

SPRIGGS: Stay a moment, steaming lad. Did I write you in?

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes!

SPRIGGS: It's no good. I shall have to go to the country for a long rest.

FX: Door closes.

SEAGOON: Then who are you, little blotchy lad?

BLUEBOTTLE: I will show you. (Moves right keeping hole in seat of trousers away from vulgar gaze of audience.) Now then – whip! whip! whip! Takes off false boots revealing… false feet! [18]

ORCHESTRA: Thin chord. Cymbal snap.

SEAGOON: So that's who you are. Footo! [19]

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes! [20] Secret agent Bluebottle – the mastermind behind the second Finchley wolf cubs!

SEAGOON: Yes – but can you blow open the safe?

BLUEBOTTLE: Just you watch me. (Puffs) No, I cannot blow it open. Wait a moment! I know what I shall do. I shall insert my liquorice in the keyhole.

SEAGOON: But we need an explosive.

BLUEBOTTLE: Liquorice IS an explosive.[21]

SEAGOON: No! We daren't risk any loud explosions – the author might hear us.

BLUEBOTTLE: I have got an idea. (Electric light bulb lights up above head. Flash! Flash! Flash it goes.) I have got a packet of silent TNT which I readed about in ‘Black Claw, Emperor of the Universe’, in the boy's mag-costs-tuppence-with-free-elastic-and- cardboard-jet-fighter.

SEAGOON: Silent TNT! Quick – light it little pimply lad, and put it under the safe.

ELLINGTON: No! No! No! Wait. First let me sing my bit then I can clear off mate.

 

RAY ELLINGTON QUARTET: ‘From the Bottom of my Heart’ [22]

 

SEAGOON: Right! Now light the fuse on the silent TNT!

GRAMS: Match being struck; hissing of fuse.

SEAGOON: Quick! Everyone out!

GRAMS: Massed boots running away.

SEAGOON: (Out of breath) Wait!

ECCLES: What?

SEAGOON: We're still in the room!

BLOODNOK: Of course we are. I'm still wearing it.

SEAGOON: Quick! Get this room off… (Struggling sounds)[23]

FX: Door opening then closing.

SEAGOON: That’s got it off. Now, come on chaps…

CAST: (Mumble, mumble. Rhubarb, rhubarb. &c Fade)

GREENSLADE: Dear listeners, I don't know about you but I find this all rather far-fetched, and as soon as it's all over I'm going to tell John Snagge.

FLOWERDEW: (Scandalised) Oh, you BBC devil you!

SEAGOON: Bluebottle - how do I know when the silent TNT has exploded?

BLUEBOTTLE: Eh? I never thought of that. I suppose that when you hear nothing – that's it.

SEAGOON: Can't anybody hear it explode?

BLUEBOTTLE: Only idiots.

GRAMS: Huge explosion. Aftershocks, falling debris.

BLUEBOTTLE: Did you hear anything Captain?

SEAGOON: No.

BLUEBOTTLE: Good, 'cause only idiots can hear explosions like that.

FX: Running boots.

ECCLES: Here – what was that big explosion? It blew me backwards out of my underpants! I'm back to front now – (for Christmas of course.)[24]

SEAGOON: So you heard it too?

ECCLES: Yer.

BLOODNOK: No comment. Help me on with this room and we'll see if the safe's blown open.

FX: Door opens.

MORIARTY: Hands up you steaming fools!

GRYTPYPE: Yes Neddie, that was only a recording of a silent explosion, specially written in without the author's knowledge.

SEAGOON: Oh? Well, two can play at that game!

MORIARTY: What do you mean?

FX: Rapid typing under.

SEAGOON: (typing) “Moriarty’s finger squeezed the trigger, but there was only a hollow… “

FX: Metallic thud.

MORIARTY: Sapristi! He's written in an empty gun for me!

GRYTPYPE: Never mind…

FX: Typing under.

GRYTPYPE: (typing) “Before Seagoon could alter the next line, Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty were already on the motorboat…

GRAMS: Fade in sound of motorboat engines.

GRYTPYPE: … speeding up the Amazon River with the compromising X-ray photo safely in the hold.”

SPRIGGS: What's going on here, Jim? (Sings) What’s going on heeeere? What are those men doing sailing up the Amazon river in my book? (Sings) Don't you dare change another woooord.

BLOODNOK: Hands up Mister author!

SPRIGGS: What? Oh you great big leaping crab you – don't be a fool! Drop that typewriter.

FX: Typing under.

BLOODNOK: (Typing) “The author turned and left the room.”

FX: Door slams.

BLOODNOK: There! That's got rid of him.

SEAGOON: Now what?

BLUEBOTTLE: Can I have a go at that typewriter, Captain?

FX: Slow typing under.

BLUEBOTTLE: (Types very slowly) “In a matter of seckatons, Blunebottons was at the helm of a powerful elastic-driven speedboat, chasing the naughty Grytpype Thynnes up the Amadon. But suddenly they was attacked by Black Claw and his Chinese pirates from the boy’s mag!”[25]

GRAMS: Battle noises. Distant bugles. Gunshots.

SEAGOON: You blithering idiot! Look what you've written us into. Quick, swim for the bank!

BLOODNOK: Not there – I'm overdrawn.

GRAMS: Splashes.

ECCLES: ‘Ere! Let me help you out.

SEAGOON: Eccles! How did you get ashore?

ECCLES: I walked across on that log.

SEAGOON: That's not a log – that's a crocodile!

ECCLES: Ooooo. I wondered why my legs kept getting’ shorter.

GREENSLADE: Listeners will note that that was a repeat of the joke first heard in the Goon Show, second series, nineteen-fifty-two, repeated by special request of the authors. I should like to remind listeners that there are now only three-hundred and sixty-four shopping days to Christmas.

SEAGOON: Good heavens! We must hurry!

CRUN: Water! Water!

SEAGOON: Mister Crun! How did you get out here?

CRUN: Somebody gave Min a typewriter and here I am!

SEAGOON: Well – we're completely lost.

BLOODNOK: I suspect the listeners are too.

SEAGOON: We must find our way to chapter ten. That's where Grytpype's heading for. Come on, and keep your eyes open for a two eleven-A bus.

ECCLES: What for?

SEAGOON: It goes right past Brixton gaol.[26]

CRUN: Why do you want to go right past there?

SEAGOON: Well, I don't want to go IN.

SPRIGGS: (Approaching) Seagoon! Oh Seagoon!

SEAGOON: It's the author!

BLOODNOK: Thank heavens. I say look here, could you write us in a good dinner – we're starving you know.

SPRIGGS: Don't worry steaming lads. I've written a happy ending for you all on the next page. So go on – (sings) turn it oveeerrrr.

FX: Page turning.

GRAMS: Westminster bells. Pipe organ playing wedding march.

ARCHBISHOP CYRIL: I now pronounce you Neddie Seagoon and you Gladys Minkwater man and wife, and leave you to discover which is which.

SEAGOON: Oh, and we live happily ever after!

FX: Slow typing under.

BLUEBOTTLE: (Typing) “But even as Seagoon and his mullionairess bride stepped outside she noticed in the crowd a certain handsome virile youth – wolf cub Bluebottle. So she ran over to his car and... “

GRAMS: Car speeding up and driving away.

SEAGOON: Who gave him that typewriter? (Shouts out) Come back! You're too young for that sort of thing!

BLUEBOTTLE: (off) That's what you think! Yeeheehee!

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.

ORCHESTRA: Playout.

 

YTI

 

 



[1] ‘Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore’, (1921) – ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author,’ was a play (not a book as Spike says) written by Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) and the origin of this episode. The first performance in Rome (in 1921) was a clamorous failure – the author escaping by a side door to avoid the audience. But a resurgence of interest in the play occurred during the 50’s after Tyrone Guthrie directed a Tony Award winning production of the work in New York. The play deals with questions that dogged Milligan’s comedy writing career – the nature of writing and story telling, the nature of reality and a writer’s creative responsibility to an audience. It highlighted Milligan’s increasing frustration with the show itself. He believed that the characters had taken over the show, forcing him into writing repetitively and formulaically, unable to try new forms of comedy or new and revolutionary ideas (as he was to attempt later in the ‘Q’ Series,) and more perniciously it led him to blame the BBC for exploiting him, and the audience for being thick and far too easily satisfied.  Nonetheless, this amalgamation of Pirandello and the Goons comes off remarkably well – despite Spike (as Spriggs) being bailed up by typewriter.

 

[2] Rowton House, a chain of charitable lodging houses set up by the philanthropist Lord Rowton to provide decent lodgings for working men. Joseph Stalin – at that time named Joseph Djugashvili, stayed in one in East London in 1907 for a fortnight. He was attending an international socialist convention.

 

[3] William Edward Rootes, 1st Baron Rootes, (1894-1964) British Industrialist. Following WWI he and his brother bought up existing car manufacturing firms like Humber, Hillman, Sunbeam and Talbot and established the largest car manufacturing and distribution company in the UK.

 

[4] I believe this is the piece. Sir William Walton (1902-1983) was one of Great Britain’s leading composers. This piece was commissioned for the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. It is astounding that the BBC allowed Spike to use this piece, considering its pedigree.

[5] Sellers makes a comment, seemingly in the voice of Dick Clark, the US television compère of ‘American Bandstand’ – “Take your choice!”

 

[6] In a major aside, Spike says to the audience: “Quiet please! We’re getting nowhere fast tonight, so a merry Christmas to you all!” Then Peter looks out at the audience and comments, “You’re in good spirits, there.” He could be very endearing when it suited him.

[7] Milligan increasingly displayed a nascent interest in antiques during the Goon decade. It led him be to become a avid collector of curios and objet d’arte later in his life, and eventually a major force in the British conservation movement, agitating for the preservation of heritage monuments and buildings, landscapes and even on one occasion, a single large oak tree.

[8] At which point Minnie says: “I’ll leave the room first.”

 

[9] By Harry M. Woods, (1896-1970) a hugely successful American writer of popular songs. Born with no fingers on his left hand, his mother pushed the precocious Woods into taking piano lessons from an early age. In the years between the wars he became one of the most famous of the so called ‘tin-pan alley’ composers, churning out an impressive number of songs, including ‘Try a Little Tenderness’, ‘I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover’, ‘I’ll Never Say Never Again’ and this number. Woods, a notoriously violent drunkard, once bashed a fellow drinker nearly to death on a bar-room floor, using the stump of his left hand as a club. Whilst being arrested and his victim given medical attention, an onlooker asked “Who is that horrible man?” The publican told her – “That is Harry Woods, composer of ‘Try a little tenderness.’” Al Jolson had recorded ‘When the Red, Red Robin’ as far back as 1926.

[10] The laughter here is at best uncomfortable. Londoners were still very conscious of the meaning of these words thirteen years after the war. Even Eccles could not extract a full throated laugh from them.

[11] Evelyn Waugh once reflected, “What is it that makes an Englishman go to Jermyn Street for his shirts, and Paris for his sex?’ Erotic French postcards were an easier and cheaper way for British men of that age to enjoy the fleshly disports of Paris. Following closely on the heels of the invention of the camera obscura, the first daguerreotype of women posing frivolously for male delectation dates from the mid 1850’s.  From the turn of the century, and culminating in a golden age of obscenity during the 20’s, French postcards became one of France’s most renowned, libidinous and visual of exports.

 

[12] Milligan. Miss Throat was one of the most alarming laryngeal vocalizes ever attempted on radio.

[13] Milligan’s concept of ‘rooms’ was exceedingly bizarre. A central tenet in his concept of existence was that all things lived-in were interchangeable, due to their identical functions. Spike considered clothes, rooms, tents and buildings to be ‘lived-in’ entities – 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 (as entities of existence) could 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)  Milligan’s most evolved writing concerning rooms is to be found in the episode ‘Yehti’ (24/5th) where various doors in the cottage on the Yorkshire moor open to reveal lively scenes of potential, impotence, threat, violence and denial.

 

[14] Bloodnok does a strangled laugh and says “Sorry. I can’t help it you know.”

 

[15] Kuchni, (Hindi/Urdu). A compression of kuch nahi – meaning ‘not some’, literally ‘nothing’. What Bloodnok actually says is ‘Nothing doing Edward, nothing!’ in a mixture of English and Urdu. Milligan remembered only snatches of Urdu from his childhood, when he was fluent in the language courtesy of his Indian playmates and his indigenous nanny. For the rest of his life Spike’s perception of language was fluid; his conception of words was based not on accuracy of signification but rather on an alliterative muddle of sonorities, without necessarily any concern for context or precision. Indeed, whole comic sentences in the Goon Show are performed by sound alone, with no recognizable words present.

Spike particularly liked to use this device in Parliamentary speeches, local government announcements (‘The Missing Boa Constrictor’ 24/7th) in French (‘Scradje’ 26/6th) and conversations by high ranking military personnel. (‘The Man Who Never Was27/6th)  He was also quite adept at inventing words or phrases, which had no linguistic derivation but derived their meaning entirely through context alone.

Milligan’s word-invention in the Goon Shows singlehandedly contributed the greatest number of nonsense words for the whole of the 20th century to the English lexicon; Needle-nardle-noo, Ying Tong, Ying Tong iddle-i-poh, Yukka-boo, Yukkabakkaka, the lurgi and the nadgers were just some of the words that can be credited to Milligan.

 

[16] A type of spectacles which grip the bridge of the nose for support. From the French ‘pinch nose’.

 

[17] Secombe replies off mic, “Curb! Curb!” It was a habit of the Goons to invent sound effects for unlikely activities. Whenever an action had no convincing sound effect, the cast would often repeat the verb as a way of sending up both the script and the medium of radio.  In the eighth series, Bloodnok shouts out “Paste! Paste!” –lacking the appropriate sound effect for the act of gluing. He then explains the gag to the audience. (‘The Burning Embassy’ 3/8th) Also see Bluebottle’s self-narrated sound effect further on about removing his boots, and slightly later concerning the light bulb above his head.

[18] Bluebottle reveals many disturbing personal secrets throughout the Goon Shows, including carrying his dirty washing with him, (‘The Canal’ 6/5th) and wearing shirts made from his Mum’s old drawers. (‘Robin Hood’ TLO 17360 & )

 

[19] Footo is a traditional Goon word, redolent of 1950’s American ad-speak. It is first mentioned in ‘The Internal Mountain.’ ( 27/4th & 9/Vin) It reappears in the sixth series ‘Scradje!’ (26/6th) where footo is used to defraud the British public, then in ‘The Great Tuscan Salami Scandal’ (23/6th) where it is used as a throat lubricant by the singer Adolphus Spriggs.

 

[20] Sellers jumps in too quick here and Secombe’s final word is covered.

 

[21] Bluebottle’s two great nemeses – dynamite and diarrhea. During the laughter you can hear the cast making farting noises at which point Bloodnok says “OHH!” from a distance.

 

[22] A rhythm and blues number from the pen of Chuck Willis (1928-1958).

[23] Seagoon says; “Gad! You’ve got this door buttoned up tight!” See also footnote #13.

 

[24] I’m Walking Backwards for Christmas” had been recorded by DECCA in early May 1956 and released in June, reaching number 4 on the UK charts. Re-released in 1973.

[25] Atlas Comics published a comic book super-villain named ‘Yellow Claw’ (drawn by Feldstein and Maneely) beginning in October of 1956. The series chronicled the adventures of the Sino-American FBI identity Jimmy Woo, as he battled the yellow peril of communism. He was supposedly a genius in biochemistry, general science, alchemy and the martial arts. Running for only four issues, it ended in April 1957, so was on the newsstands at the same time as this episode was being penned.

 

[26] H.M. Prison Brixton (1920 – present) has housed many of Britain’s finest convicts. Bertrand Russell - (six months in 1918 for libeling an ally), Ford Madox Ford - (eight days in 1910 for refusing to pay support) and Mick Jagger - (three months in 1967 for possessing an illegal substance.)