RECORDED: 17 Jan 1957 [1]


Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Light Programme.

SEAGOON: And so say all of us Wal!

GREENSLADE: I say – it's dashed decent of you to concur!

SEAGOON: Ah-ha, isn't it? What's this 1957 'Bill of Fare' mate?

GREENSLADE: It's a Goon Show called 'The Rent Collectors'.

ORCHESTRA: Madrigal for Flute and Harp. Cyril Cringingnut[2] sings over.

GREENSLADE: In a lonely mountain bog in the Pennines, the chill wind blew a tattered fragment of newspaper onto the face of a sleeping gentleman.

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, do you see that fragment of newspaper which has just been blown onto the frontal lobes of that disgusting Lithuanian shepherd ?

MORIARTY: Oww – yes! Hand me my mutton-chop telescope.[3]

GRYTPYPE: There you are.

MORIARTY: Yes, I can read it. Grytpype! Listen to this… Crun and Partners, Commissioners for Oaths, will pay handsomely for men willing to face the hazards of rent collecting in the fiendish district of East Acton.[4]

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty – quick! Let's to it!

GRAMS: Double whoosh.

FX: Quill scratching on parchment.

CRUN: Now, now, now – what’s next? Now, Mister Patrick Murphy of no fixed abodey, sevenpence-halfpenny behind in his rent. Mrs....

BANNISTER: (Distant) Henry!

CRUN: What, what, what…


CRUN: Oh. Drat that modern melody-woman.

BANNISTER: (Singing) Yim-bom-biddle-doh! Etc.

CRUN: What is it Min?

BANNISTER: That cat wants to go out.

CRUN: What makes you think that Min?

BANNISTER: He's just put his hat and coat on.

CRUN: Dear oh dear – why do we have to have a loony moggie[5] that insists on wearing a hat and coat? Why can't he be like other cats and just wear a knitted pullover I tell you! Now where was I?

BANNISTER: (On mic)  Because the dog's wearing the pullover – you know that. It's his turn to have the pullover. You know that.

CRUN: Now, back to my writing...

FX: Quill on parchment.

CRUN: Mrs. Spon, eleven and fourpence.

BANNISTER: (Distant) Henry! Henreeee!

CRUN: What is it now, Minnery?

BANNISTER: Don't you hear Henry, there's no-one knocking at the door!

CRUN: Then I won't answer it Min – you never know who it might not be.

BANNISTER: Ah! But it might not be somebody we know.

CRUN: Oh, then I'd better see who isn't there.

FX: Door opens.

GRYTPYPE: Good evening. My name is Grytpype Thynne.

SECOMBE: (Distant. Cockney accent) ‘Ere – when am I getting a part in this play then?

GRYTPYPE: Later Neddie – later.[6]

SECOMBE: Page three ‘n no posh chat yet!

GRYTPYPE: Yes, you’ll get your posh chat later.

SECOMBE: ‘Ere, look at all your red lines on my script. (Comes on mic) ‘Ere – page three! Well, it’s alright for some. Needle nardle noo! (Going off) Hern hern!

GRYTPYPE: Now get back in the wings will you? [7] Now Moriarty, will you do the talking while I take the part of Mister Crun?

MORIARTY: Alright Grytpype. Now, are you ready?

CRUN: Yes I'm ready. Now – what do you want?

MORIARTY: We want the job as rent-collectors.

CRUN: Yes, well the job is collecting the rent from some tenants of ours. You see they owe us eight thousand pounds eleven and fourpence in arrears, of which a thousand pounds is yours if you can collect it.

MORIARTY: OWWWWWW! A thousand pounds! Owwowwi – we'll do it! What's the address?

CRUN: Death Grange, Slaughter Hill.[8]

MORIARTY: That place!?

CRUN: Yes.

MORIARTY: We'll never do it Grytpype! It's more than our life's worth, to go....

SECOMBE: (Approaching) What about me? What about the acting part there! I can't stand round the back 'ere drinking brandy all night – I been doin' my nut there.

GRYTPYPE: Why not? You always do.

MORIARTY: Wait a minute – come here little Neddie. Put down that goat-skin full of brandy and answer me one question. Have you ever heard of Death Grange, Slaughter Hill?

SEAGOON: No. Is it a holiday camp?

MORIARTY: Oww! (Aside) This is just the Charlie.

GRYTPYPE: Yes. I'll do the talking Moriarty.

MORIARTY: (Aside) Right, and I'll put in the punctuation.

GRYTPYPE: (Aloud) Neddie...!


GRYTPYPE: How would you like to earn five pounds…

MORIARTY: Question mark.

GRYTPYPE: All you have to do is to go and collect the rent from Death Grange…

MORIARTY: Full stop.

SEAGOON: Certainly. How do I....

MORIARTY: Just get on this bus.

SEAGOON: Does it go past the house?

MORIARTY: Yes, but you can jump off.

SEAGOON: Right. Goodbye.

FX: Bus gong.

GRAMS: Bus drives off.

FLOWERDEW: Fares please! All fares please!

SEAGOON: Slaughter Hill please.

FLOWERDEW: Slaughter Hill? Ooh, you're asking for trouble you are.

SEAGOON: No, I'm asking for a ticket. (Laughs) Ha-ha-ha. You're too tall for me. Ha-ha-ha. Ahem. Fourpenny one please.

FLOWERDEW: Fourpence? It's sixpence to Slaughter Hill.

SEAGOON: Oh, right-o! (Aside) Little does she know that it's actually ninepence.

FLOWERDEW: (Aside) Little does he know that I'm not even the conductress on this bus.

ORCHESTRA: Busy city traffic link.

GRAMS: Traffic noise.

FLOWERDEW: (Calling) Slaughter 'ill!

SEAGOON: Well, stop the bus then.

FLOWERDEW: Not likely! You won't catch us stoppin' 'ere. You'll have to jump for it.

SEAGOON: Right! Hup!...

GRAMS: Splash of body hitting water.

SELLERS: (As Uncle Mac.)[9] Oh dear – children, look what has happened to poor Uncle Harry.

MILLIGAN: (As very dim child) He's fallen in the water.[10]

GREENSLADE: On arrival in the canal, Seagoon immediately inflated his Mae West,[11] blew up his rubber dinghy, put on his water wings and sank like a stone. Which of course brings us to Max Geldray.


MAX GELDRAY “Lulu’s Back In Town.” [12]


GRAMS: Water splashing. Continue under.

SEAGOON: HELP! HOLP! HEELP – or if you're French, AU SECOURS!

GRAMS: Motor-boat approaching.

SEAGOON: What's that? It's a nautical gramophone playing a recording of a motor-boat.

GRYTPYPE: Yes Neddie. We heard your cries of help, holp, hilp and hoolp.

SEAGOON: Which one are you answering?


SEAGOON: Gad – you're cutting it fine.

MORIARTY: Now Neddie – what's all the noise about?

SEAGOON: I have it on good authority that I'm drowning.

GRYTPYPE: For a fee of one-and-six we can salvage you.


FX: Penny in till.

GRYTPYPE: Thank you, and here is a waterproof receipt.

SEAGOON: Just the thing for my submerged accountant.[13] And now – HELP! I'm going down for the third time!

MORIARTY: The second time. That'll be another seven-pence.

SEAGOON: What for?

MORIARTY: For keeping count of the number of times you go down.

FX: Penny in till.

MORIARTY: Thank you.

SEAGOON: Now please help me out – I've paid you two shillings already.

GRYTPYPE: Two and a penny Neddie! And that'll be another half-crown for keeping your account.

FX: Penny in till.

GRYTPYPE: Now let us help you into the boat.

SEAGOON: (Straining) HUP!

GRAMS: Heavy splashing.

MORIARTY: Now Neddie – do you want to be taken ashore?

SEAGOON: Of course.

MORIARTY: One shilling please.

SEAGOON: I – er, I haven't any more money.

MORIARTY: No more money? Hard luck!


GRAMS: Splash of body into water. Motorboat, speeding up and away.

SEAGOON: HEEELP![14] Dear listeners, left alone in the canal with no hope of rescue, I was forced to swim to the bank and climb out.

GRAMS: Person splashing in water.

SEAGOON: Huh! Gasp! Gasp!

CONSTABLE:[15] (Approaching) Hello, hello, hello! What's this 'ere mate?

SEAGOON: Constabule!

CONSTABLE: Caught you in the act didn't I my dear? Swimmin' in the canal, thereby crontravenin' bye-law thirtny-seven.

SEAGOON: But I had to swim oh toothless one, otherwise – otherwise I'd have drowned.

CONSTABLE: Aren't no law in this village against drownin' – only swimmin'. Swimmin's is a crinimals offence.

SEAGOON: But Constabule…

CONSTABLE: You'll 'ave to appear before the Magistrate my dear. Ain't nobody swam’d in the canal since old Jim Prong fell in dead drunk in his long underwear.

SEAGOON: And did he have to go in front of the Magistrate?

CONSTABLE: He was the Magistrate.

LITTLE JIM: He fell in the water.

CONSTABLE: Ah! Say it again my little darlin'.

LITTLE JIM: ‘Dat man fell in the water.

CONSTABLE: You 'eard what 'e said. Come on, you're orft to the Leet Court[16] of Little Filthmuck – but don't worry my dear, I'll stand by you.


CONSTABLE: It'll make me look taller. Hahar!

SEAGOON: Duck's disease! The curse of the Seagoons!

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic chords.

GRAMS: Farmyard noises, cows, pigs, chickens.

OMNES: Mumblings and rhubarbs.

FX: Gavel banging.

CONSTABLE: Silence! Silence in cow-shed. The Court will stand for his worship the Lord Chief Magistrate of Little Filthmuck.

MAGISTRATE:[17] Hello me old dears. Now then, is everybody nice and comfortable?

OMNES: Aaargh! (etc)

SEAGOON: (Distant) I'm not!

MAGISTRATE: Nobody's worried about you. 'Ere, and keep away from them pigs. We don't want them to catch anything before the cattle show. Right, now I declare that I will try the prisoner fairly and that I am entirely unbiased one way or the other. Right?


MAGISTRATE: Good! (Aside) Now – Tom, just run across the road and get some good strong rope. (Aloud) Now then – Mister Spriggs, did the jury swear the hoath?



MAGISTRATE: Did the prisoner swear?

CONSTABLE: I never 'eard such language Sir.

MAGISTRATE: Right then. Proceed with the hevidence.

CONSTABLE: Right Sir. Ahem.(Reading)  The prisoner was apprehended while swimmin' in the canal. When brought before me he was soaking wet and drippin' without due care and attention. I asked him his name and he said it was 'R. Tishoo'

MAGISTRATE: Ah. Chinese prisoner eh?

SEAGOON: What nonsense. My name is.. . ah, ah, ah – (sneezes)

CONSTABLE: You see? He admits it sir.

MAGISTRATE: Ah well, you've heard all the hevidence. Now what shall we do to the prisoner?

YOKEL:[18] Hang 'im. Little Bootle had two hangings this year. We only had one.

MAGISTRATE: Arrr, it'd be a chance on catching up with 'em wouldn't it?

YOKEL: Ah – let's 'ang 'im now.

MAGISTRATE: Oh no. Come, come, come!

YOKEL: Come on, ‘ang 'im now!

CAST: Argument with Magistrate.

MAGISTRATE: No, no, no! You can't 'ang 'im now – got to get the tickets printed and send the invitations out.

SPRIGGS: Yes, and then there's the village band. They'll have to get some practice in.

MAGISTRATE: Argh – they were shockin' last time. It wasn't fair to the prisoner. I mean you could see he was upset. Well this time we must pick a nice tune – something like, well…

MAGISTRATE & CAST: (Sings)         Where be that there blackbird to?

I know where he be,

He knows I

An’ I knows he,

He knows I be after he,

Where be that blackbird to?

Up that wurzel tree.


OMNES: Applause, shouts of 'more!' etc.

MAGISTRATE: Thank you very much – very kind of you, but save it for the 'anging if you don't mind.

SEAGOON: This is ridiculous. You can't hang me!

MAGISTRATE: 'E's right you know – he hasn't got a neck. Alright then, alright me dear, one hundred years 'ard labour.

SEAGOON: A hundred years – I'll never do it!

MAGISTRATE: Well do as much as you can.

SEAGOON: I insist on appealing.

MAGISTRATE: Oh! Well you'll 'ave to see the Squire about that. You'll find him at Death Grange.

SEAGOON: Death Grange?

MAGISTRATE: Death Grange.

SEAGOON: Death Grange. Deeaath Grange! What a bit of luck dear listeners – that's the place where I have to collect the rents. I can kill two stones with one bird.

ELLINGTON: Alright – I’ll show you the way old man. Just follow me...


RAY ELLINGTON - “Old Mother Hubbard” [19]


ORCHESTRA: Dramatic chords..

GRAMS: Whistling wind. Hold under.

SEAGOON: By nightfall I reached the Grange, a tall gaunt building with a belt at the back. Through a crack in the portcullis I perceived two of the inmates and managed to overhear their conversation.

BLUEBOTTLE: Eeeeeew – strainge! Ohh… Do you like exercise Eccles? Why don't you answer me then?

ECCLES: (Off) He’s not here yet.

BLUEBOTTLE: (I am hearing things.) Say something little friend.

LITTLE JIM: He's fallen in the water.

BLUEBOTTLE: I'm glad I had that company. Strain!

FX: Door opens.

ECCLES: Hello bottle! What are you doing? Ah Bottle, when I was outside I heard you straining inside.

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes – I was straining.

ECCLES: Were you straining from the inside?

BLUEBOTTLE: I was straining from the inside while I was inside – outside.

ECCLES: Yer – fine, fine. I love all that Aldous Huxley stuff.[20] Now then, what were you straining for Bottle?

BLUEBOTTLE: It's my new correspondence course in muscle-type development. Straining the type heaves. Heaving-type strains. Pull – tug – wrench – lift! Wicky – wooky – wooky! Makes funny face, waits for applause – not a sausage. Pull-tug-lift!

FX: Spring.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ooooh! My cardboard wrist-strap has flown off my muscular wrist.

ECCLES: Yer, it's gone all the way down to your ankles without touching your body hasn't it? When did you start this muscle-type course?

BLUEBOTTLE: I'm starting it as soon as I can get this brown-paper parcel open. Cardboard heave!

FX: Cloth ripping.

ECCLES: Oooh! That's my trousers!

BLUEBOTTLE: Oh look, there it is – the Monroe chest-expander! Arthur Miller recommended me to this, you know that?

ECCLES: He must have had the view from the bridge then.[21]

BLUEBOTTLE: It says here, “jaranteed to put two inches on your chest”.

ECCLES: Let me see how big your chest is before you start now. Lift up your arms.

BLUEBOTTLE: (straining noises.) Eeeeeee …

ECCLES: 'Ere – let me help you.


ECCLES & BLUEBOTTLE: (Straining together) Eeeeeeh! Ah!

ECCLES: Let me see now. Eight inches – including shoulders, yeah?

BLUEBOTTLE: Eight inches? Cor, if I'd have known my chest was as big as that I would not have sent for this silly stuff.

ECCLES: Eight inches isn't very big you know, bottle.

BLUEBOTTLE: I know, but I was breathing out. When I breathe in it is different you know – look! (Breaths in.) Ohhh…

ECCLES: Seven and a half.

BLUEBOTTLE: See the difference?


BLUEBOTTLE: Now this chest-expander can put two inches on.[22]


BLUEBOTTLE: Watch this. (Strains) Stretch, e-ee-eoh! Stretch, e-ee-ooh! (Holding his breath.) Come on – measure it quick!

ECCLES: Er … six and three-quarters.

BLUEBOTTLE: I been swindled! Send it back my good man.

ECCLES: Very well Lord Bluebottle. (aside) He's not really a Lord folks, but this is a gentlemen's rest-home and we got to humour 'em here you know.

FX: Door opens.

BLOODNOK: (Approaching) Ah, doctor Eccles.

ECCLES: What is it my good man?

BLOODNOK: (Aside) He's not really a doctor ladies and gentlemen, only this is a gentlemen's rest home and we have to humour them you know.

ABDUL: Major Bloodnok Sir! Enemy are approaching Sir!

BLOODNOK: What! Sound the alarm.

GRAMS: Bugle blowing ‘charge’. Vary the speed wildly.

BLOODNOK: Bluebottle – man the cannon! Eccles?


BLOODNOK: Man Bluebottle! Can you see anything?

ECCLES: Yeah, there's a man down there outside the moat.

SEAGOON: (Distant) I say, are you the Squire?

BLOODNOK: (Aside) Hold your fire lads. (Shouts) What tribe are you?

SEAGOON: Tribe? I'm Welsh.

BLOODNOK: That does it! FIRE!

GRAMS: Massive rifle volley.

SEAGOON: Don't shoot – I'm Neddie Seagoon! I want to talk to you.

BLOODNOK: He might be a King's messenger – let him in. But make him give the password, which is 'I don't know'.

ECCLES: 'I don't know'. Okay.[23]

FX: Door opens.

ECCLES: Hello my good man. Now then, what's the password?

SEAGOON: I don't know.

ECCLES: Ooh, he got it right first time too.

FX: Door shuts.

LITTLE JIM: He fell in the water that man. He fell in the water…[24]

BLOODNOK: Thank heaven you got through, young ensign. Now, any news of General Gordon?

SEAGOON: General Gordon? He was killed at Khartoum. [25]

BLOODNOK: What - this is terrible! No reinforcements. We shall never hold out against all these savage brown tribesmen.[26] (Crushed) Eccles?

ECCLES: (Softly) Yeah Major?

BLOODNOK: (Frenzied) FIRE!

GRAMS: Massive rifle volley.

BLOODNOK: And Abdul – pour me another brandy will you?

ABDUL: I am sorry Sir. All the European-type brandy has all been drunk Sir.

BLOODNOK: What? Oh buwani[27] – this means a horrible death by thirst!

SEAGOON: But there's tub full of water over there.

BLOODNOK: We can't use that!

SEAGOON: Why not?

BLOODNOK: No soap!

SEAGOON: Ah. How about that well?

BLOODNOK: I think it's dry.

SEAGOON: Well you can soon find out by the echo, listen – (Shouts) Hellooooo!

GRAMS: Recording (lots of echo) – Seagoon: Helloooooo!

SEAGOON: (Shouts) Heeeeeeeeeelp!

GRAMS: Recording (with echo) – Seagoon: Heeeeeeeeeelp!

SEAGOON: Good heavens!


SEAGOON: There's a man down there calling for help!

SEAGOON: (Shouts) Are you all right?

GRAMS: Recording (with echo) – Seagoon: Are you alright?

SEAGOON: (Shouts) Yes, I'm all right!

GRAMS: Recording (with echo) – Seagoon: Yes, I’m alright!

SEAGOON: Ah, no need to bother – he's all right.

ABDUL: Argh – Dardi![28] The North-West frontier tribesmen are attacking again without Jack.


GRAMS: Massive volley of rifle fire.

SEAGOON: Major Bloodnok – please, what's all this about tribesmen attacking, here – in the middle of England?

BLOODNOK: England? You've got a touch of the sun old lad. This is Afsponistan. [29] Abdul, bring me a bottle of my 'Last Stand' home-brewed whisky. I can't bear the sight of those sun-drenched mountains any longer.

SEAGOON: Sun-drenched mountains – where?

BLOODNOK: Outside. I never allow them in the house.

SEAGOON: But this is England I tell you. Out there is a green field with trees and hedges.

BLOODNOK: So you can see them too can you? Abdul, the mirage is stronger than ever today!

Abdul: Major – look! Two thousand tribesmen are attacking.


GRAMS: Massive rifle volley.

SEAGOON: Major, I can't see any tribesmen attacking.

BLOODNOK: That's funny – neither can I. Hand me that bottle of whisky there. (Drinking sounds) Ah, now I can see them!

SEAGOON: Ahem. Major Bloodnok, I've come for your back rent amounting to eight thousand pounds, eleven and fourpence.


SEAGOON: Your back rent – eight thousand pounds, eleven and fourpence.

BLOODNOK: Er, I can't hear you. That blasted brass band's started again.

SEAGOON: Brass band? I can't hear them.

BLOODNOK: Have a drink of this whisky.

SEAGOON: (Drinks)

ORCHESTRA: Brass band playing circus music..


GRAMS: Massive rifle volley.

SEAGOON: That stopped them.

BLOODNOK: The tribesmen have broken for lunch. Abdul – what's the total today?

ABDUL: A hundred and forty-eight bottles of brandy sir. Shall I get some more?

BLOODNOK: Yes, yes, yes – certainly. No! No! No! I mean – certainly not! I don't want it to become a habit.[30] I'll tell me what you can do, though…

ABDUL: What sir?


GRAMS: Massive volley of rifle fire.

SEAGOON: Major please – I must speak to you. The people in the village are going to hang me!

BLOODNOK: I know – I've been asked to do the catering.

SEAGOON: But they're going to hang me for nothing.

BLOODNOK: That's damned charitable of them! They usually charge all kinds of things you know.

SEAGOON: (Desperate)[31] Please – can't you sign a reprieve for me?

BLOODNOK: I suppose I could, for a consideration.

SEAGOON: All right. How much?

BLOODNOK: Well, let me see – shall we say, um… eight thousand pounds, eleven and fourpence?

SEAGOON: Aaaooaaah. (Continue)

ORCHESTRA: Closing theme.

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





[1] Rents, renting and rental collection was a huge current affairs event when this script was written. Serious problems existed in the supply of housing and rental accommodation throughout Great Britain, made worse by unscrupulous landlords like Peter Rachman, (1919-1962) one of London’s sleaziest figures.

Short and fat, with grotesquely tiny hands and feet, with no neck, a bald head like a soccer ball, he wore elevator shoes of crocodile leather, amused himself watching naked lady wrestlers and had a bizarre fetish for hygiene. He arrived penniless from Poland in 1940 possessing a stateless person’s passport, and made his fortune during the 50’s buying lodging houses, stuffing one room with immigrants, encouraging them to hold wild parties, and so consequently drive out the remaining tenants. He would then rent the vacant rooms out at exorbitant prices to other desperate immigrants. He hired men to urinate in the hallways, smash furniture, and once in Bayswater removed the roof of a house, abandoning the tenants to the wind and weather until finally they gave in and moved out.

He also showed a talent for ‘bending the basement’ – converting cellar space into dens for prostitutes or poky little nightclubs. The Rent Act of 1957 lifted virtually all controls on the rent market and enabled Rachman to further increase his business, shoehorning tenants into his flats at whatever prices the traffic could bear. He was never once found guilty of an illegal act, and never once paid a penny of personal income act. Investigating police discovered that in a single Rachman house different owners were listed for different floors: one company would have a lease to collect rents, another to make repairs and a third would simply be holding the house ‘in trust’ for one of Rachman’s myriad firms.

He died in 1963 while gambling at a London casino. His personal fortune of a reputed $25 million was never traced.


[2] Milligan.

[3] Transference of Utility, one of Milligan’s comic inventions. He used this telescope gag in “The Great Bank Robbery” (7/7th) using mutton chop whiskers, and in “The Telephone” (11/7th) using two bananas.


[4] Acton was then a municipal borough of Middlesex - now it is part of London. It was at that time a major industrial area and the site of car manufacturers and car component makers.


[5] British slang for a cat. Known to have been a shortened form of ‘Margaret’ in the middle ages, though why it became to be applied to cats is uncertain.

[6] I am reasonably sure the next 4 lines were unscripted.


[7] Secombe says (aside): “Ah! There’ll be no brandy left for you then,” as he goes off and Milligan cracks up.


[8] Probably both fictional, though a location exists near Haslington, Cheshire named ‘Slaughter Hill’. It’s more likely that Milligan wrote it as a synonym for Notting Hill, which was at that time becoming a Caribbean ghetto and a ‘no-go’ area in the opinion of many, mainly due to the machinations of Peter Rachman. (See insert #1)

[9] ‘Uncle Mac’ – a renowned BBC figure from 1954 – 1967, was Derek McCulloch, an old style announcer who presented record requests for children on the Saturday morning’s “Children’s Hour.”


[10] And there we have it folks, the beginning of a legend. I have transcribed it according to how Spike apparently originally wrote it. (Details in Wilmot)


[11] Cockney rhyming slang for ‘life vest’ – though this is a bit of a stretch. It is more likely that the bulbous vest resembled Mae West’s curvaceous figure.


[12] Dubin & Warren; introduced by Dick Powell and the Mills Brothers in the 1935 film ‘Broadway Gondolier.’

[13] Whereupon Milligan off mic says “James Grafton.”

[14] At which the distant Grytpype says “GOODBYE!” while Moriarty shouts out “GOODBYE in French!”


[15] Sellers as a Somerset hayseed. Monty Python satirized them in the skit ‘Idiot University.’


[16] Leet Court was a medieval court dealing with small offenses. Replaced by the Magistrates Court in the 14th C.

[17] Played by Bernard Miles, (Baron Miles; 1907-1991) English character actor, writer and director. His specialty was country accents, particularly those of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. In the previous year he had made two outstanding films; “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and “Moby Dick,” and in 1957 went on to make “The Smallest Show on Earth” with Peter Sellers. According to BBC sources, there was no plan for Bernard Miles to take part in the programme, that evening. It happened on the spur of the moment when he was spotted in the audience. A detailed reading of this scene suggests that the original character was probably intended to be spoken by Sellers.

[18] Milligan.

[19] Credited to Edward Kennedy, Duke Ellington & Chester Wallace. An Ella Fitzgerald standard. The first recording I can find of it was made by Fitzgerald with the Ray Brown Trio on 4th December 1948 at The Royal Roost, New York.

[20] This reference is proof that Spike’s apparent ‘way out’ humour often had a more serious background to it.  Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) had written a ground breaking book ‘The Doors of Perception’ in 1954, detailing his experiences while taking mescaline, an hallucinogenic. In it he says - "The really important facts were that spatial relationships had ceased to matter very much and that my mind was perceiving the world in terms of other than spatial categories. At ordinary times the eye concerns itself with such problems as where? – how far? – how, situated in relation to what? In the mescaline experience, the implied questions to which the eye responds are of another order. Place and distance cease to be of much interest. The mind does its perceiving in terms of intensity of existence, profundity of significance, relationships within a pattern."

It seems Spike had started reading this sort of literature as a way to understand his bi-polarity disorder, then still undiagnosed.


[21] A concerted reference to Marilyn Monroe, (1926-1962, actress) and her husband Arthur Miller (1915-2005, playwright, essayist.) They married in 1956, the partnership lasting five years. Miller had written the one-act verse drama “View From the Bridge” in 1955, but revised it to a two-act prose format for Peter Brook which was produced in London. During 1956, Miller and Monroe visited London where she made “The Prince and the Showgirl” with Laurence Olivier. The press called the pair ‘The Egghead and the Hourglass.’

[22] Sellers misreads this line slightly.

[23] Milligan mutters “This’ll fox him!” as he opens the door.


[24] Probably unscripted.


[25] General Charles Gordon, (1833-1885) known as ‘Chinese Gordon,’ ‘Gordon Pasha,’ and ‘Gordon of Khartoum’. An evangelical Christian and ruthless General, he led British forces in all the regional hotspots of his day, the Crimea, Shanghai, Egypt and the Sudan. One of his biographers said of him: “[He] was a violent manic figure, a homosexual bully, an extreme egotist… a repressed homosexual, disgusted by his own inclination and one who translated his disgust into a violence manic in its manifestation.” Another characterized Gordon as a prig and a sadist: he “personally administered both corporal and capital punishment and kept the heads of executed criminals on his desk”.


[26] An example of transcription service censoring is that the single word ‘brown’ was removed.


[27] Meaning uncertain. It could be a Milligan version of the Swahili word for Sir – ‘Bhwana’. The word was used as far back as 1915 in the book ‘The Son of Tarzan’ by Edgar Rice Burroughs. There it was used in a pejorative sense, along the lines of ‘massa’ or ‘great white hunter’. It is definitely not a hindi/urdu word.


[28] This is a wild guess. Milligan (as Abdul) says a word here, but what it is, is totally unclear. The Dardi – (if that is indeed the word he says) are a Northern Western Frontier tribe in the vicinity of Gilgit. They were first encountered by the East India Company in 1843.


[29] Milligan migrated back to India frequently during the Goon Show, usually on the heels of Major Bloodnok. If a particular episode wasn’t set in the Hindu Kush, then very often the secondary plot was. In the seventh series the scene shifts to the subcontinent in “What’s My Line?”Wings Over Dagenham,”The Rent Collectors,” and finally in “Shifting Sands.” Apart from those instances, Major Bloodnok has with him the regimental plate of the second Poona horse in “The Spectre of Tintagel.” (5/7th)

[30] To which Milligan (as Abdul) says: “It has!”


[31] Secombe says: “I’m desperate here it says,” to which Sellers replies, “No Ted Ray laughing please.”