1ST BROADCAST: 11 Oct 1956 [1]

Script by Spike Milligan


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Light Programme.

SECOMBE: (Raspberry)

GREENSLADE: There will now be thirty minutes of, including several and also one or two. And now the voice of –

SECOMBE: (Sings top C) Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

GREENSLADE: That was the world’s highest paid idiot – Mister Seagoon. One of the World’s leading, also one of the World’s biggest.

SECOMBE: Mister Greenslade, deflate that pneumatic statue of Marilyn Monroe, and read the inscription on the head of this pin.[2]

GREENSLADE: Erm, “The... Goon... Sh – show”.

SECOMBE: Well said! Well said Wal! Hooray for the Goon Show. Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

GREENSLADE: Oh, stop that noise you little greasy Welsh bubble.

SECOMBE: What what what what what what what what!? Just for that, read this piece of paper.

GREENSLADE: (Reading) You are... (Horrified) FIRED?

SECOMBE: Yes, fired! And here’s a week…

GRAMS: Cash register opening.

SECOMBE: …in lieu of.

GREENSLADE: Preposterous! Absolutely preposterous. You know very well my weekly in-lieu-of is always…

GRAMS: Cash register opening, a duck call, a cork popping and a bed spring. (Play in quick succession.)                            

SECOMBE: Agreed, but first kindly diagnose this week’s portion of Spike Milligan’s head.[3]

GREENSLADE: Right... forceps.

SECOMBE: Five-ceps, big nut.

GREENSLADE: Ahem – just as I thought. Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting “Drums Along the Mersey”.

GRAMS: Tribal drumming. Fade under.

SEAGOON: My name is the Honourable Nedward Seagoon, undefended world champion nineteen-oh-six,[4] and scion of the noble house of Rowton.[5] Any questions? No? Right – “Drums Along the Mersey” part two.

GRAMS: Lengthy, massed snoring.

SEAGOON: As I lay on the floor of the bridal suite, I was aroused from my slumbers by a loud gesture.

GRAMS: Enormous raspberry.[6]

SEAGOON: Major Bloodnok, the windows are closed.

BLOODNOK: I know – it’s hell in here lad. I can’t sleep… just reading my bedding. Look at this in the personal column.

SEAGOON: Let me see…

FX:  Newspaper rustling

SEAGOON: (Reading) ‘If Nedward Seagoon, last heard of in a drunken stupor off the coast of Ireland, will contact Messrs McHairy McLegs, Scotland, he will inherit a million pounds’. A million pounds! I’m off.

GRAMS: Boots running off into the distance.

BLOODNOK: No! No! No! Wait, Seagoon. A million pounds? Ohh. Ohhhhh!

GRAMS: Another set of boots running off into the distance.

GRAMS: Snoring.

GRYTPYPE: Did you hear all that, Moriarty?

MORIARTY: Owww... Ow, the power of money. Owww – the money! Owww – a million pounds. Owwwhh... o wwwhh!

GRYTPYPE: One of our inmates is heir to a million pounds.

MORIARTY: Owwwh! A million pounds. Oww, oww! Money, money! Owwowowow! Ooooh!

GRYTPYPE: Right. Now get up you steaming international opportunist [7]– oil yourself, and pack the jam tins.[8] We’re leaving at once for the Scotlands! [9]

GRAMS: Scottish marching band. Gradually speed up and fade out.

GREENSLADE: Well, I’m very happy to see you in Scotland.

BLOODNOK: Yes, yes.

GREENSLADE: Ah yes. So you are Neddie Seagoon.

BLOODNOK: Ah, yes I am. Yes. Now what about that million pounds? I er... I don’t want it all at once. Twelve shilling will see me alright for the week. I’m used to money you know.

GREENSLADE: Well, you’ll have to wait till we read the will.

BLOODNOK: Yes, the will. Well read it – read it. You don’t doubt that I’m Neddie Seagoon do you? I don’t care what the milkman says. I tell you I AM Neddie Seagoon!

FX: Door opens

McSPRIGGS:[10] Sir, there’s a Mister Seagoon outside for ye.

BLOODNOK: Ooohhhhh

FX: Body thuds to floor.    

GREENSLADE: He’s fainted downwards. Send in the gentleman.

FX: Door opens.

GRYTPYPE: Ah, good morning.

MORIARTY: Ah, good morning. Och aye mon!

GRYTPYPE: We are Neddie Seagoon.

GREENSLADE: Both of you?

GRYTPYPE: Yes, both of us. You see, Neddie Seagoon was twins.

GREENSLADE: He’s bigger than I thought.

FX: Door opens.

McSPRIGGS: Pardon, there’s a Mister Seagoon outside for you.

GRYTPYPE: (Panicking) Run for it Moriarty!

GRAMS: Two sets of boots running away at speed.

FX: Pane of glass smashing.

GREENSLADE: Next please

SEAGOON: (Out of breath.) Ah, thanks. I am Neddie Seagoon.

GREENSLADE: Yes, but the gentleman feigning a swoon on the floor said he was Neddie Seagoon.

BLOODNOK: It’s a lie Neddie! It’s a lie! I was only saying I was Neddie Seagoon till you got here… (You don’t want your shoes cleaned do you?) … then I was going to let YOU say it.

GREENSLADE: Well now, this new gentleman fits the horrifying description given in these documents.

SEAGOON: Eh? What! What! What! What! What! What! What! (Chicken noises.)

GREENSLADE: All right, so now if you’ll put on these baggy bladder kilts, my partner – Mister McRed Hairy McLegs here will read Baron Seagoon’s will.

GRAMS: Recording of bagpipes and drums. Fade and hold under.     

McLEGS:[11] McHearnick huernen nichter hourn neem hornen nearer hor. Horrrrn nicky nacky, horrrn toulayum &c  

SEAGOON: The will! The will!

McLEGS: Aye! Aye! “I Baron Seagoon, being of partially sound mind, leave Neddie Seagoon one million poounds...”

SEAGOON: I’m rich – I can buy a wig!

McLEGS: Aye. But you’re no allowed to spend the million till your hundr’dth birthday.

SEAGOON: (In shock) Arrggh! I can’t spend it till I’m a hundred?

BLOODNOK: Take it lad. We’ll sell it.

SEAGOON: Yes yes! I’ll sell it. Part Three, an auction sale.

OMNES: (Murmurings)

FX: Gavel on bench.

SEAGOON: Gentlemen, the last item in our auction today is the valuable, attractive million pounds. What am I bid for one million pounds?

FX: Silence.

SEAGOON: What? What? What? What? What? It’s worth twice that – it’s not enough! Wait a minute, we’ll auction Max Geldray.


MAX GELDRAY: “Mountain Greenery” [12]

GRAMS: Distant native drums.

GREENSLADE: “Drums Along the Mersey”, part three the third. (Dramatically overacting.) Poor Neddie Seagoon! With a million pounds which he couldn’t auction, and couldn’t spend till his hundredth birthday.

SEAGOON: Well done Wal!

CAST: Scattered applause and cries of ‘Bravo!’

SEAGOON: Then a stroke of luck. I was called to the British Museum.

BANNISTER: Oh, we sent for you Mr. Seagoon. Ohh dear, dear! Ohh dear, dear! We’ve got a proposition to put to you buddy. (Sings) Yim bum biddildy doh! Yim bum biddle doh! Oh, I love that rocking roll buddy. Ah yes, I remember now… We’d like to hire your million pounds for our display of unique exhibits.[13]

SEAGOON: Well I um…

BANNISTER: It would be placed in a position of honour buddy, next to this ancient Peruvian calendar stone.

SEAGOON: Calendar?[14]

BANNISTER: You’ve heard of them of course. They’re different from ours. For instance Jim – where were you born?

SEAGOON: Nineteen twenty one.

BANNISTER: That’s a nice place to be born. Now if you were a Peruvian, you’d be er… you’d be a hundred years old now.

SEAGOON: A hundred years old? Did you hear that Bloodnok? The million is mine if I become a Peruvian!

BLOODNOK: Quick! To Peruvia!

GRAMS: Car driving off at speed. Short silence. Heavy splash.

SEAGOON: From there on we took a boat. Then – disaster!

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic chord.

GRAMS: Fade in sound of waves.

BLOODNOK: (Exhausted) In, out… Out, in… Ohh, ohh!

Cast adrift in a open boat,

with only the sea to keep us afloat.

SEAGOON: You’re the cause of all the strife,

getting caught with the captain’s wife!

BLOODNOK: It’s a lie Mr Fry, we were just good friends!

SEAGOON: Good friends? It’s a wonder both of you didn’t catch your death of cold.

BLOODNOK: I know – I know! I behaved like an absolute bounder and a cad. It’s the only way you can enjoy yourself these days.

MORIARTY: (Distant) Awwww yaahee awww! Ahoyeee!

SEAGOON: Bloodnok, look! We’re saved. Saved! Look what’s bearing down on us.

BLOODNOK: Yes – two men in lifebelts!

MORIARTY: Ahhoyeee!

GRYTPYPE: (Approaching) Hello-o Neddie.

SEAGOON: I seem to recognize that tone of face.

GRYTPYPE: Neddie, we bring good tidings. May we come in?

SEAGOON: Of course, but wipe your feet – I’ve just done the step.

GRYTPYPE: Neddie, we have just discovered (through the courtesy of Mr. Bentine,)[15] that you are a Peruvian.

SEAGOON: What? (Sudden thick Welsh accent.) But mother said I was born in South Wales.

GRYTPYPE: Of course, didn’t you know that Cardiff originally came from Peru on a raft?

SEAGOON: (Suburban Cardiff.) This is wonderful man. But how can I prove that all Welsh people come from Peru?

GRYTPYPE: Really, it’s quite simple. You sail from South America to Cardiff on this cardboard raft…


GRYTPYPE: …and the million pounds is yours to spend right away. Moriarty!

MORIARTY: Ohh yes! Yes indeed little Welsh blubber! You try this ‘Kon Tiki’ [16] type craft at once.

GRAMS: Heavy object falling into water.

MORIARTY: Huh! There!

SEAGOON: Gad! It fits the ocean perfectly.

MORIARTY: I know! It was specially tailored for the Atlantic.[17] Look at all these holes we’ve made, you can’t get them like that these days.

GRYTPYPE: And all we’re asking is three and six.

SEAGOON: It’s a deal! No – no, wait! Urm… I haven’t got any money.

MORIARTY: Owwwww! What about the million pounds?

SEAGOON: Well, I can’t spend it.

GRYTPYPE: You can pawn it!


GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, inflate the rubber pawn shop.

GRAMS: Bicycle pump. Speed it up.

MORIARTY: Hup, voila! Step inside little Neddie.

FX: Door opens. Shop bell rings.

CRUN: Good morning sir. Nice day for a pawn.

SEAGOON: This million pounds - how much will you allow me on it?

CRUN: English money eh? Ah, we don’t usually lend money on antiques.

SEAGOON: Antiques? These pounds are right up to date! Why, only the other day an American offered me a shilling for one of them.

CRUN: Ohh! That’s different if the Herns like them.[18] I can let you have, er… seven shillings.

SEAGOON: Here Moriarty, seven shillings. The raft is mine. Cast off!

GRAMS: Waves, oars in oarlocks. Continue under.

[RECORDING – slightly speeded up. SEAGOON: (Singing)

Maybe it’s because I’m Peruvian,

that I love Inca so.

Maybe it’s because I’m Peruvian

that I love Bentine and all…

Ying tong idle i po!] [19]

GRYTPYPE: There he goes with his specially tempered map and compass. Bon voyage little Welshman – goodbye!

ORCHESTRA: Nautical link.

GRAMS: Seagulls, waves. Fade under.

GREENSLADE: On February, Seagoon’s attempt to prove the Peruvians were Welsh began.

BLOODNOK: Yes, we left the coast of Peru, and using Moriarty’s special map and tempered compass carried the raft inland.

GRAMS: Jungle insects. Distant native drums.

SEAGOON: (Gasping)Huh. Huh. Huh! Pant! Huh…

BLOODNOK: Look here Seagoon, you can carry it awhile. I think I’ll get up in the crows nest.

SEAGOON: I can’t understand it - a hundred miles inland and no sign of Wales!

BLOODNOK: Don’t worry. I’ve got my big naval harpoon ready.

SEAGOON: Major Bloodnok! I’m not looking for whales the fish – I’m looking for Wales the land. Wait a minute! This compass... What’s the time by your watch?

BLOODNOK: Erm... East nor-nor east.

SEAGOON: Just as I thought – this compass is slow. It says twenty past two!

BLOODNOK: Great brown nutted nurglars! Those villains – they’ve switched the compass for a wristwatch.

SEAGOON: Gad! And not being men of the sea, we don’t know which is which.

BLOODNOK: Well, now here’s a pretty kettle of fish!

SEAGOON: So it is! A damn silly place to leave it.

BLOODNOK: Yes. Well we can’t stand here all day making these wonderful jokes.

SEAGOON: You’re right. FORWARD!

GRAMS: Two heavy splashes.

SEAGOON: Stop! Stop!


SEAGOON: I think we’re near a river.

BLOODNOK: Nonsense. No river could survive with me in it. I’ve been banned by the LCC public baths anti-pollution committee.[20]

SEAGOON: I know. Let’s get out of the water and see if our drawers cellular are wet.[21]


GRAMS: Emerging splashes.

SEAGOON: They are wet! So it is a river.

BLOODNOK: What! Then I’ll soon tell you it’s name. Give me that mug.

GRAMS: Metallic rattling  – splashes – more metallic rattles.

BLOODNOK: (Drinking – swallowing.) It’s the Amazon.

SEAGOON: How do you know?

BLOODNOK: It says so on the map here.

SEAGOON: A river on a map? We can’t leave it there. Help me get it back into the water. One, two, hup!

GRAMS: Giant splash.

BLOODNOK: Good shot sir, right between the banks.

SEAGOON: How painful. Wait! What fools we are.


SEAGOON: How are we going to get the raft across? The river’s full of water!

BLOODNOK: Well it’s quite simple - build a bridge and carry it across. How else?

CHIEF ELLINGA: Yim bum bulla boo! Liberace too!

BLOODNOK: I don’t know who he is, but he’s got the right idea.

SEAGOON: It’s a native drummer and his quartet, about to play their latest recording. Hup!


RAY ELLINGTON: “Giddy up. Giddy up a ding dong.”[22]


SEAGOON: Stop that anti Seagoon applause! And you sir – how dare you sing in the middle of the steaming jungle without dressing for steaming dinner!

CHIEF ELLINGA: Me toolah yukkaboola!

BLOODNOK: Not in these trousers you won’t.

CHIEF ELLINGA: Come white man, you follow me. Me keep missionary burning in the window for you.

ORCHESTRA: Jungle safari link.

GRAMS: Distant native drumming.

SEAGOON: (Heat exhaustion.) With the aid of a rough jungle bier, I was carried inland.

BLOODNOK: I had a rough jungle brandy and followed much later.

GRAMS: Jungle noises. Fade under.

SEAGOON: How much further chief?

CHIEF ELLINGA: Only two miles – or with your legs, twenty.

SEAGOON: Ducks disease – the curse of the Seagoons![23]

BLOODNOK: Never mind lad, you’re still clearing the ground behind. I say though, it’s a good job you haven’t got the curse if the Bloodnoks.

SEAGOON: Tell me Dennis – what is the curse of the Bloodnoks?

BLOODNOK: Me! You see I’m the black sheep of the family.

CHIEF ELLINGA: Don’t worry. Me also black sheep of the family.

BLOODNOK: Yes, I sup... (Takes a second look) Oh yes! [24]

SEAGOON: Stop! Look!


SEAGOON: A native village! Then this must be “Drums Along the Mersey” part three.

GRAMS: Tribal drumming up close. Fade and hold under.

SEAGOON: We were led to a rude wooden hut…

BLOODNOK: Inside was a rude wooden bed…

SEAGOON: On it lay a rude wooden man…

BARON SEAGOON:[25] (Approaching) And a rude wooden welcome to Peru, Neddie.

SEAGOON: Good heavens! Its rude wooden Baron Seagoon – the man who left me a million pounds in his rude will.

BLOODNOK: Then it is true, he’s rudely dead.

BARON SEAGOON: That was mere rude idle gossip. I just overslept one morning. Now Neddie, hand over the million pounds – it’s not yours till I die.

SEAGOON: I, er... I haven’t got it.

BARON SEAGOON: Quit stalling! I planned this plan to get my million pounds out of England.

SEAGOON: So this is all a trick! Well it’s misfired. I was forced to pawn the money with Grytpype-Thynne.

BARON SEAGOON: Him?! But this was his idea. The double crosser. Where is he?

SEAGOON: In a pawn shop in the Atlantic.

BARON SEAGOON: Then we’ve got him cornered! Show me the way and I’ll give you half the million.

BLOODNOK: Which half?

BARON SEAGOON: The other half.

BLOODNOK: Which half are you having?

BARON SEAGOON: The other OTHER half.

BLOODNOK: I say, you’re cutting it fine aren’t you?

SEAGOON: Shut up!

BLOODNOK: Shut up! (Extended)[26]

SEAGOON: We accept! But we warn you Baron – if you try anything funny, you won’t get a laugh from us.

BARON SEAGOON: Right! Give me the pawn ticket. Follow me!

GRAMS: Heavy splash.

SEAGOON: Into the Atlantic we plunged. I swam strongly – my duck’s disease was now being a boon.

BLOODNOK: We swam steadily for a week, then another week – in that order.

GRAMS: Sounds of paddling.

SEAGOON: I think… This is the spot

BARON SEAGOON: Are you sure?

SEAGOON: Positive, I recognize the ocean

BARON SEAGOON: Well, the pawn shop’s not here.

SEAGOON: Perhaps it moved.

BARON SEAGOON: Moved… What a cunning method of concealment. AFTER THEM!

GRAMS: Horses hooves galloping away.

GREENSLADE: Weary of swimming, our heroes re-mounted, and headed for the Savoy Hotel, Frith Street. [27]

FX: Scrabbling for coins.

MORIARTY: Oh, lovely moolah! Oh the power of money. Let’s count it again, buddy. A million pounds and all in money. Ohh, buddy. Ohhh!

GRYTPYPE: Oh what luxury Moriarty. Let’s face it - we’ve never had it so good. Moriarty, say something for me.

MORIARTY: Diana Dors![28]

GRYTPYPE & MORIARTY: (Moaning) Arrgghhhh

MORIARTY: With hinges…

GRYTPYPE & MORIARTY: Ohhh... ohhh! [29]

FX: Snappy knock on door.

GRYTPYPE: Say come in for me Moriarty.

MORIARTY: Come in for me Moriarty.

FX: Door opens.

GREENSLADE: (French) Gentlemen, I am ze manager. Is everything to your liking?

GRYTPYPE: Everything except your impression of a Frenchman.

GREENSLADE: Murki mon armee. Was your breakfast satisfactory this evening?

GRYTPYPE: The fish had a bone in it.

GREENSLADE: I’ll have it dismissed at once. Poisson - you are fired!

FISH:[30] Ooh!

GRAMS: Splash.

GREENSLADE: Er…by the way sir, there are three gentlemen on horseback swimming up the stairs to see you.

GRYTPYPE: Oh. Well, lay out my horsehair bathing costume and rubber toga, and ask them to come in would you?

FX: Door opens.

BARON SEAGOON: Hands up – all of you!

SEAGOON: Wait a minute[31] – we’re on your side!

BARON SEAGOON: Not any more Neddie! I want my million pounds.

GRYTPYPE: It’s the Baron! what are you doing out of the jungle? You’ll catch your death of cold.

BARON SEAGOON: I want that million pounds and I want it fast. I’m going to sing the whole of act three from Tosca, and if you haven’t handed it over by then – I shall sing act four!!!

GRYTPYPE: You vocal devil incarnate!

SEAGOON: But there isn’t any act four in Tosca.

BARON SEAGOON: Then you’ve less time than you think!

(Sings)        Ying tong iddle I po oohhhh,

la de daa, la da da deeeee (Screams) [32]

GREENSLADE: (Over singing) Gentlemen please! Oh please, gentlemen!


La dee dee dahy

Ying tong iddle I po...

brown power! (Extended)

GREENSLADE: Gentlemen please! There is a charge of six pounds for singing and fighting in the Royal suite.[33]

BARON SEAGOON: That’s what I’m afraid of. It’s a pleasure. Here!

FX: Money in till.

GREENSLADE: Ta. WAIT – this money is a forgery!

GRYTPYPE: What? Moriarty, that six pounds came from the million! That means the whole lot is a forgery!

MORIARTY: Owwww. Awwhhhh!

BARON SEAGOON: Come on – hand it over, but keep both hands raised in the air. Now, anybody got a ladder? No? Well…

GREENSLADE: I’m going to call the police. (Shouts) POLICE!!

ECCLES: Hello my good man. What’s going on ‘ere?

GREENSLADE: Are you a policeman?

ECCLES: Yep. Want to know the time?

SEAGOON: Just a minute…

ECCLES: That’s right, it’s just a minute past. That’s right. Well, goodbye. Have a good time. How’s yer old dad? Everything’s fine… (Sings) ‘Aye, my love... ‘ [34]

GRYTPYPE: Just a moment officer, that rhythm Baron is in possession of forged money.

ECCLES: I arrest you in the name of the loo!

BARON SEAGOON: No! no! no! It’s not mine. It belongs to Neddie! I left it him in my will.

SEAGOON: But it’s not mine until you’re dead.

BARON SEAGOON: Well, you’ll soon have it. Goodbye!

FX: Pistol shot. Body falls to floor.

GRYTPYPE: There now – it’s all yours Neddie. Officer, arrest that forger.

SEAGOON: You can’t arrest me! I’m a Peruvian – ha ha ha ha!

ECCLES: A Peruvian forger? You’ll get life for this Neddie.

ORCHESTRA: End theme.

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


GREENSLADE: Here is an announcement for listeners still wondering why this program was called ‘Drums Along the Mersey’. While the program was being broadcast, there were in fact several drums beating along the Mersey. Those with their windows open may have heard them.

BLUEBOTTLE: (Distant) I say – why wasn’t I in this week?



[1] Milligan and Stephens made a habit of weaving their stories from multiple sources. Often they would base their story on a book or a newspaper article and proceed to embroider it with various details from history, literature or from Spikes overseas experiences, and come up with a plot not just disordered, but sometimes downright daft. The Goon Show however, by its very language and modus operandi, made allowance for this sort of disorder. Milligan’s humour was after all, based on things being ‘out of order with each other’ – battleships in oases, French noblemen living in dustbins and Eccles swimming from 1600 to 1957 to bury treasure, so Cardiff arriving from Peru on a raft is only to be expected.

The 1939 film ‘Drums Along the Mohawk’ (starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert) gives the show nothing else but its title, while the Kon Tiki expedition, initiated by Thor Heyerdahl in 1947, gives this show its central storyline. Seeking to prove that racial groups in the south Pacific originated from South America in pre Colombian times, Thor Heyerdahl loaded up a balsa raft with as much bronze-age equipment as he could find – (including a radio, watches, a map and a compass,) and with five companions set sail towards the west in April 1947. Despite successfully making landfall in the Tuamotu group of Islands after a four month trip, the voyage never convinced anthropologists that his theory of racial distribution throughout the Pacific had any validity. By the late 1990’s, genetic testing proved what was suspected all along – that the Polynesians were more similar to Asians than to South Americans.

Mr Heyerdahl published a best selling book about his experiences in 1950.


[2] Norma Jeane Mortenson, (Marilyn Monroe) – 1926-1962, was an American actress, model, singer and sex Goddess. Adored by millions and fantasised about by many, (including the President of the USA), her appearance as Grand Marshall of the “Miss America Parade” of 1952 showed her wearing a dress with a cleavage cut almost to the navel. Photographed for “Playboy” after this event, she allowed the magazine to carry an additional photograph in its interior pages with the dress fully removed.

She was quoted as saying, “I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I’m not the devil.” Milligan’s reference immediately afterwards concerning the pin, is probably slyly inspired by the ancient quandary concerning how many angels can sit on one.

[3] The final word of the line has puzzled me for many years. I hear something like ‘hin’ or ‘hymn’, neither of which make any sense. Other ears hear it as ‘head’ and I have decided to accept this version, particularly in view of the following remark about the forceps. Milligan obviously thought he was going through the pangs of labour with yet another script.


[4] Unclear. It could be ‘nineteen-thirty-six.’


[5] Rowton Houses were a chain of hostels built in London, England by the Victorian philanthropist Lord Rowton (1838-1903) to provide decent accommodation for working men in place of the squalid lodging houses of the time. George Orwell, in “Down & Out In Paris and London” wrote about them:                                                                                            The best are the Rowton Houses, where the charge is a shilling, for which you get a cubicle                                          to yourself, and the use of excellent bathrooms. You can also pay half a crown for a special,                                    which is practically hotel accommodation”.


[6] Actually the first few seconds of ‘Fred the Oyster’, a remarkable ‘electronic fart’ engineered by the BBC sound department. It was first used in “The Sinking of Westminster Pier”(21/5th), 1955.


[7] Milligan’s writings often carried much more political content than modern ears recognise. This expression, for example - “international opportunist,” was fiercely debated by the Communist Party during the 20’s, and concerned their perception of political pragmatism as being death to revolutionary party beliefs. Broadly their notion was that

“…the Left Wing, even though at times it goes too far, always remains revolutionary… The opportunist right will grow ever more opportunist, will sink ever further into the morass...”


[8] Grytpype and Moriarty also carried jam tins with them in “The Flea” (12/7th) and sardine tins in “The Great Bank Robbery” (7/7th).


[9] Obtaining an inheritance in Scotland was one of Milligan’s great ‘fall-back’ plots. It occurs in “The Treasure in the Lake” (24/6th) “The Curse of Frankenstein” (18/8th)  and in a secondary form in “The Tay Bridge” (15/9th).


[10] Milligan.

[11] Sellers.


[12] Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart – from the 1925 musical revue ‘The Garrick Gaieties’.

[13] Not only was it unique, it was dangerously close to worthless. In 1940, the British Pound had been pegged to the US Dollar at the rate of £1 = $4.03. Late in 1949, with Britain labouring under the gruelling ‘lend-lease’ repayment scheme, the pound was devalued by a crippling 30% to $2.80. However within a month of this broadcast, things became much worse. As retaliation for Anthony Eden’s decision to invade the Suez canal on the 30th October, President Eisenhower threatened the British Government with total fiscal devastation by selling off the US reserves of sterling, thereby precipitating the collapse of the exchange rate. The British, previously the world’s financially dominant nation, were facing a unique situation – worthless money.


[14] Scientists have only recently unravelled the complexities of the Inca calendar of Peru. However, what Spike seems to have been referring to was the Aztec calendar, another version of the Mesoamerican calendar system and most famously demonstrated by the Aztec sun stone, now kept in the Mexican National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. While it is true the system supports both a 365-day calendar cycle and a 260-day ritual cycle, all Spike’s deductions beyond that point are imaginary.

[15] Michael Bentine (1922 – 1996): original member of the Goon quartet, and of Anglo-Peruvian parentage. Well educated and serving in both the RAF and later in M19 during the war, his ‘artificially manic’ personality and individuality both as a writer and performer, brought him into conflict with both Milligan and Sellers. His ‘mad-professor’ style, although out of place with the other goon characters, was in itself a comic masterpiece, and he often relied on the quasi scientific knowledge he had picked up during his secret service work to embroider his tales with realistic sounding facts. He once demonstrated to Milligan the equation for nuclear energy by writing it in lipstick across a mirror in one of the dressing rooms at the Windmill Theatre.

In the 1960’s he experienced his own South American adventure by taking part in the first hovercraft expedition up the Amazon.

[16] Thor Heyerdahl’s craft, built of nine balsa tree trunks measuring 45ft long and 2ft in diameter, was lashed together with hemp roping and equipped with a 29ft mast. The name ‘Kon Tiki’ was believed to be the ancient version of the name of the sun god, Viracocha.


[17] Sellers tries to interject as Cyril, the London Jewish businessman. The only recognisable words are ‘Yes, yes, yes!’


[18] ‘Herns’ was Milligan’s word for Americans and Americanisms. The word appears in dictionaries of Wild West slang spelt ‘hearns,’ apparently meaning ‘heard’. Its connection to Spike’s conception is hard to fathom.


[19] A take off of the World War II favourite “Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner”, by Hubert Gregg (1914-2004.) Thanks are due to ChrisTP for sorting out some of the lyrics.


[20] Regrettably the facts behind this joke are less than funny. Many poor people in England depended on public baths for their personal cleanliness and laundry. To solve this problem the Victorians built magnificent brick and stone bathing facilities in many cities, signals of the progress of public health in an age that had discovered the solution to cholera and built the first British sewage system. The Woolwich establishment for example, had 63 baths. The Shoreditch facilities had 25 first class baths and 51 second class. But many cities had none – e.g. Dover, Halifax, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Macclesfield, Manchester, Northampton, Rochdale, Sheffield, Swansea, Wigan, York and Dublin. Major Bloodnok was not just a rogue but was often less than hygienic. He lives in a stinking ‘thirty bob-a-week bed-sitter’ in “The Sleeping Prince”: is called a ‘filthy swine’ by his laundryman in “The Man Who Tried to Destroy London’s Monuments”: smells appallingly in “The Spectre of Tintagel”: washes in Trafalgar Square fountain in “The Case of the Missing CD Plates”: and has the premium on his underwear increased by his insurance agents in “I Was Monty’s Treble.”


[21] Loose-legged underwear that came down to mid-thigh, made from a cellular cotton fabric. Standard Forces issue.

[22] By Freddie Bell and Joey Lattanzi. Recorded the following year (1957) by Freddie Bell & The Bellboys.


[23] ‘Duck’s disease’ was slang for a short person – that is to say, someone who needed to waddle so as to keep their arse off the ground.

[24] This line, (and lines like it) were cut from the transcription service version. The recordings of the Goon Show were broadcast in many Commonwealth countries, so understandably the BBC went to great effort to ensure that the shows caused as little offense as possible.


[25] Guest appearance by Valentine Dyall (1908-1985), English character actor. For many years he narrated the BBC radio series “Appointment with Fear” playing a character called ‘The Man in Black’. He continued his career in film and television playing an assortment of evil masterminds and criminals, including “The Haunting” (1963), “Casino Royale” (1967) “The Avengers”,The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (both on TV and LP) and as the “Black Guardian” in many episodes of  Dr Who.”

[26] This slight deviation from the script seems to have been caused by Sellers losing his place. Somebody – possibly Spike, redirects him to his next line and he says audibly “Oh yes.” Secombe tries to get things going again, at which point Sellers says “Shut up Bloodnok!”


[27] Frith Street is in Soho, London, between Soho Square and Shaftesbury Ave. No. 47 was the address of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. The bona fide Savoy Hotel is in the Strand.

[28] Also rating a mention in the previous show, 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.


[29] In the cold light of day, this scene – which amounts to mutual masturbation, must be considered one of the oddest scenes in the entire Goon Show. These five lines were removed from the TS version. However, this perverted drooling has its antecedents in book IV of the War Memoirs – “Mussolini – His Part in My Downfall” p.193, when various gunners in Milligan’s regiment invented a manic craze, partly out of boredom, party from sexual frustration, they called ‘drooling’.


[30] Possibly Sellers. It sounds very similar to high laryngeal vocal pitch of Bluebottle.


[31] Eccles says in the background “It’s him!”


[32] What Dyall is actually singing is a section of the aria “E lucevan le stelle” from Act 3 of Tosca, by Giacomo Puccini. The first phrase is almost recognizable, but thereafter his interpretation wanders. Dyall also inserts a particular catch phrase into his yodelling – the word ‘brown’. Milligan liked the word a lot and it appears occasionally throughout the shows, especially in the later years. The earliest I can pinpoint it is in the sixth series when Valentine Dyall, going off mic before the Geldray number, exclaims, “ Needle nardle noo! More brown power!” in “The House of Teeth” (20/6th) while Britain is threatened by a certain ‘brown terror’ in “Spon” (1/8th). However in the ninth series, Milligan begins to use the word more frequently. Bloodnok calls B major the ‘most powerful brown key of them all’ in “The Battle of Spion Kop” (9/9th): whilst Crun refers to a certain ‘vital brown archaeological site’ and asks Minnie to preserve some specimens in ‘brown fumed spirit’ in “The Scarlet Capsule” (14/9th). In the tenth series there is an appearance of the ‘mysterious Brown all the way from Upper Dicker’ in “Robin’s Post” (4/10th); while the cast celebrate the old days of the BBC when it was ‘brown! brown! brown!’ in “The Silver Dubloons” (5/10th), exclaiming, “Brown is better. It doesn’t show the dirt!”


[33] Dyall almost gets out of hand here. Greenslade makes a number of efforts to interrupt and is reduced to mumbling cod French  “Ah, mais no! Il n’écoute rien…” before somebody – possibly Peter Eton, signals for Dyall to stop, which he does abruptly. Greenslade then makes a rare mistake. He misreads his line as “There is a charge for six pounds for singing and fighting in the royal suite.”


[34] I cannot locate what song this actually is. Donovan recorded one with this same name a decade later.