BROADCAST: 21 Mar 1957 [1]


Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens



GREENSLADE: This is the BBC. We interrupt the Goon Show for the following announcement.

SELLERS: (funereal) Ladies and Gentlementhe Goon Show.

GREENSLADE: Thank you. And now, the Goon Show. During this programme it is advisable to have within easy reach an inner tube, a picture of a liquorish factory and a spare pair of trousers.[2] (Laughs) Ah ha ha ha ha! Better safe than sorry, eh?

SEAGOON: Ah ha ha ha! Ha ha ha! Very funny Mister Greensleeves. Just hold this missing boa constrictor while I announce the Goon Show.

ORCHESTRA: Thin chord on trumpet and snare drum. Cymbal snap at cutoff.

SEAGOON: What what what what what what what what what!? What’s happened to the band – where’s old Wally Stott’s lot then?

GREENSLADE: That’s our new economy cut orchestra; fourteen men playing one instrument.[3]

SEAGOON: Please Mister Greenslade, I get the laughs in this show – I wear the funny body. Now, just make the old posh announcement there…

CAST: Various encouraging cries “Good luck there Wal!” etc

GREENSLADE: Do you mind! Quiet please, thank you. Right now then, just hold this boa constrictor…

BLOODNOK: (off) Ohohohhhhh!

GREENSLADE: Now – ladies and gentlemen, the Goon Show part one.

ORCHESTRA:  Grandiloquent introduction. End on unsettling chord.

GRAMS: Distant crowd noises.

OMNES: Shouts of ‘hooray’ over. Continue under.

SELLERS: (BBC announcer ‘on location.’) And here, on this glorious eighth of march, I can see the minister of transport mounting the dais wearing his chain of tether as he prepares to inaugurate Birmingham’s new inner ring road scheme by blowing up a brick wall which was specially built for the occasion.

SEAGOON: Hello folks! Hello folks! I was there that day trying to raffle a boa constrictor. (Goes off shouting) Tickets! Tickets! Tickets for a boa constrictor!

CYRIL:[4] Do you mind getting that large worm out the way? I’m trying to hear the minister talking.

GRAMS: Recording. (Use too much reverb. Make it sound like its coming from a public address system.) MILLIGAN: My Lords, ladies and gentlemen.

                                        SELLERS: ‘Ere ‘ere!

MILLIGAN: I have… (Thank you.) I have great pleasure in this magnificent year…


MILLIGAN: All of England…&c

GRAMS: Desultory applause.

SELLERS: (BBC ‘on location’ voice.) And with the crowd lashed into a frenzy by the power of his speech[5], the Minister presses the plunger.

GRAMS: Enormous explosion. Bits and pieces falling. Distant fire bells.

SEAGOON: As the wall disintegrated, two men in pyjamas appeared from the debris.

MORIARTY: Ayoh… eih… ayoh. What... what… what… what happened? Owww! Hyyadah! He-do-hohdah! Hyiamma! La… Hyihedimukka… Ow-ow-owww. &c

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, don’t you dare do that again!

MORIARTY: I didn’t do anything! Look…

GRYTPYPE: You went owwwww!

MORIARTY: I did, I know – but look... listen to me you fool!


MORIARTY: We’re ruined.

GRYTPYPE: Yes I know. We’re homeless, destitute and penniless.

MORIARTY: Not a penny!

SEAGOON:  Good morning gentlemen.

MORIARTY: What’s he mean ‘gentlemen’? [6]

SEAGOON: Care to buy a raffle ticket for a boa constrictor?

GRYTPYPE: I’m sorry. Our boa constrictor has already got one.

MORIARTY: In any case little gentleman, we haven’t any money. We’ve been rendered homeless, homeless – by an explosion called bang.

SEAGOON: What, what, what, what, what, what, what, what, what, what, what! What! Home? That was a wall.

GRYTPYPE: I know. We always live in walls – it’s cheaper.

SEAGOON: I’m sorry gentlemen, but you realise that that wall was the last obstacle in the way of our new road through Birmingham for which I have the contract.

GRYTPYPE: I hate to frighten you, but I happen to know there is another obstacle right in the path of your new road.

SEAGOON: Ah ha ha hehouha what? Name it!

GRYTPYPE: It’s already got a name, Neddie. It’s called – (hello folks) – and I quote from this careful plan of a robbery, the Birmingham Town Hall.[7]

SEAGOON: What! (Hello folks!) Very well, we’ll have to explode that too.

GRYTPYPE: No, no, no, Neddie! No!

MORIARTY: No, Neddie. No, no!

GRYTPYPE: Don’t do such a thing – you’re making the dear Count steam. Only one part of the Town Hall lies in the path of your road; the city treasure’s safe.

SEAGOON: But he’d never agree to me blowing his safe up!

GRYTPYPE: But he already has Neddie my dear lady, and as long as you do it secretly at dead of night without his knowledge, he is perfectly agreeable.

SEAGOON: Splendid. (Laughs) Ha ha! Just hold this boa constrictor and I’ll meet you there at midnight on the stroke of two.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

GREENSLADE: At midnight, Seagoon had rendezvous with an explosion expert.

SEAGOON: Psst! Pssst!

ECCLES: Mr Seagoon! I didn’t recognize you.

SEAGOON: I didn’t recognize you either. Come to think of it, we’ve never met before.[8]

ECCLES: Oh! Well that explains it I suppose.

SEAGOON: Now then, have you got the dynamite?

ECCLES: Yes, I got the….

GRAMS: Loud explosion

ECCLES: Oh well, I’ll go and get some more.

SEAGOON: You shattered fool! Don’t worry – I’ve got some. Now, I’ll go inside and you wait out here.

ECCLES: Ok then. Off you go then. (Calling off) Mind the big door! Oh...and there’s a step down near the wash-room. Be careful of that. (Louder) Oh-a, and mind the hat stand in the middle of the last chamber. (Very loudly) Don’t you worry, I’ll keep my eyes open for you. (Loudest of all.) Dooon’t woooorry!

SEAGOON: (Close to mic) Yes. Well I’ll go in now.

ECCLES: What! Oh, I didn’t see you standing there. How can you see in the dark Mister Seagoon?

SEAGOON: I can see in the dark very well, my dear fellow. In the RAF they used to call me “Cat’s eyes” Seagoon.[9] You know why?

ECCLES: No. Why?

SEAGOON: Because I was the same size as a cat. (Laughs hysterically.) A-ha ha ha ha ha! “Cat-sized Seagoon!” Aha ha ha ha ha! Ahem.

GRAMS: Fanfare on awful music hall piano.

FX: Tin can falls onto hard surface.

SEAGOON: Eccles – put that piano down! We want no killing on this job. And don’t forget – (hello folks) – I’m going in there, and you sing to cover the noise of the explosion.

ECCLES: OK…     (Sings.) Aye dum dai-ai.

                                        Ah dum dai dai…

                                        Ah-ow-ow-mai ladaiow!

                                        Ye de-dai…

          Ah-I got my legs to keep me warm.[10]

WILLIUM: ‘Ello, ‘ello!  What’s-a going on ‘ere? I er, appremend you for singeing in a doorway without a licence.

ECCLES: Just a minute my good constabule. I got a licence.

WILLIUM: You got a licence, have you?


WILLIUM: Here, wait a minute. Let me see… (extended) Wait, I’ll get my glasses. Here my good man – this is a doge licence!

ECCLES: I know. It’s cheaper than a music licence.

WILLIUM: Well you can’t sing with this licence mate. You only allowed to bark or ‘owl.

ECCLES: Okay then constabule. I won’t break the law. I’ll imitate a dog then. (Barks – extended.)

GRAMS: Truck approaching at speed. Pulls up with squeal of brakes. Running boots. ECCLES abruptly stops.

FX: Car door closes.

GRAMS: Truck driving away at speed.

FX: Phone rings.

FX: Phone picks up.


OFFICIAL:[11] (On phone) Hello. Mister Seagoon?


OFFICIAL: Battersea dog’s home here[12]. There’s a man here claims he’s your dog.


FX: phone down

SEAGOON: Curse! I’ve lit the fuse. What to do?

GRYTPYPE: Neddie. You claim your friend and we shall wait for the explosion and remove that naughty-type safe.

SEAGOON: Splendid!

GRYTPYPE: But first, here’s your missing boa-constrictor – (hello folks!) – which is about to do an impression of Max Geldray.


MAX GELDRAY – “Boo-Dah” [13]


GREENSLADE: The Goon Show, part two.

GRAMS: Explosion.

GRYTPYPE: There she goes Moriarty – the Birmingham treasurer’s safe.

MORIARTY: Good, good. Now folks, let’s count Birmingham’s massive wealth.

FX: Two coins dropped onto hard surface.

MORIARTY: Four-pence. Half each!

GRYTPYPE: Oh, at last we’re in the money, Moriarty!

MORIARTY: I never knew Birmingham was so rich![14]

GRYTPYPE: Hello folks!

SEAGOON: Hello folks! Gentlemen, I’m sorry I missed the explosion.

GRYTPYPE: Neddie – (hello folks) we have a confession to make to you. That bang-type explosion was in the nature of a safe-cracking.

SEAGOON: You mean… I’ve committed a criminal-type robbery?

GRYTPYPE: Yea type – (hello folks) yes Neddie.

MORIARTY: Oui-type yes. Ja!

SEAGOON: (Weeping) This means the end of an extinguished career. All my life, (hello folks) – all my life I’ve worked and slaved to build the ring road in Birmingham. This was to make my fortune.

MORIARTY: Ohh, little steaming welsh ball, you HAVE made your fortune. (Where’s that prop?) Ha ha ha ha! Little hairy Neddie! Listen Neddie, see this gramophone record?


MORIARTY: This gramophone record is a rara avis[15] in the world of gramophones. It’s worth a fortune. (Laughs hysterically) Ha ha ha ha ha ha – a fortune! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha – a fortune!

GRYTPYPE: It’s a rare recording d’you hear of Greig’s A minor piano concerto played by Chopin.[16]

SEAGOON: What makes it so valuable?

GRYTPYPE: LEGS Chopin! Don’t you realise Neddie – it’s played on a legs piano!

MORIARTY: Yes, and Neddie for this record you can name your own price! Neddie, ha ha haw haw oh oh auch…(becomes incoherent.)

GRYTPYPE: (Whispers) Don’t steam so much Moriarty. (Aloud) But for the time being you must lay low.

SEAGOON: Right. I’ll get my head down.

GRYTPYPE: Not here you fool! In the corner of some foreign field…

MORIARTY: …that is forever Acton.[17]

SEAGOON: Right. Eccles!


SEAGOON: Saddle that boa-constrictor. Giddup there!

GRAMS: Horses hooves galloping into distance with chicken clucking over. All speeded up.

GREENSLADE: Listeners may doubt the authenticity of this sound – a boa-constrictor galloping. If the truth be known, a horse covered with a snake skin was used to simulate the sound. As for the chicken noise, we can only apologise.[18] And now we join Seagoon in his country hide-out.

GRAMS: Distant bird noises behind. (Recording: Flute and Harp version of “Greensleeves”.    SPRIGGS:    …my lo-ove

                                                  I cry for thee

                                                  For tonight I go

                                                  upon dear old Greenslade. (Continue under.)

SEAGOON: Thank you Mister Beverley.[19] Yes, it was a lovely old sixteenth century Tudor ditch. It had been modernized and had running water laid on.

GRAMS: Body falls into water.

BLOODNOK: Ooooohhhh! Owwwowwww! Owwwwarggghhhh! Ohhhhh![20]

SEAGOON: Major Bloodnok! How dare you drop on me from a great height.

BLOODNOK: Neddie – we must be neighbours. You know, I live across the road. You see that pig-sty?


BLOODNOK: Well you see the big Manor house behind it?


BLOODNOK: Well I live in the pig-sty.

SEAGOON: I haven’t seen you around since the case of the missing compost heap.

BLOODNOK: Yes, well – you see I’m just hiding here ‘till it all blows over, you know.

SEAGOON: It blows over me every night.

BLOODNOK: (Good luck!) I know, I know. You’d think they’d nail it down.

SEAGOON: Well, make yourself at home Major. Here – lie down in this chair.

BLOODNOK: No thank you. I’m quite comfortable kneeling on this wash-stand, thank you.

SEAGOON: Bloodnok, I am going to let you into a secret. Just listen to this record. It’s the only recording of a record in the world of Chopin in person on a record recording in the world of Chopin …

GRAMS: Echoey recording of tatty piano playing dance hall number.

BLOODNOK: You fool! – you military fool! That’s not Chopin playing.

SEAGOON: Are you sure?

BLOODNOK: Of course I’m sure. Chopin’s dead – it can’t be him.

SEAGOON: Just to make sure I’ll put the record on and ask him.

GRAMS: Start dance hall recording again. Crank it up slightly at the beginning.


GRAMS: Music stops abruptly.

SEAGOON: I’m sorry to interrupt but, er – I’ve been told you’re not Chopin.

GRAMS: Recording – SPRIGGS: “What? I tell you I am, Sir! I aaaaaaam. I am Chopin.”

SEAGOON: Have you any proof?

GRAMS: Recording – SPRIGGS: “Yes, my birth certificate, certificaaaaaaaate, is on the other side.”

BLOODNOK: Right! Well then put it on.

GRAMS: Recording – SPRIGGS: “I name this child Fred Chopin.” Big splash.

LITTLE JIM: He’s fallen in the water.[21]

SEAGOON: Thank you little Jim!

BLOODNOK: I tell you Neddie, this record is a fake.

SEAGOON: But the hole in the middle looks genuine.

BLOODNOK: Look, any hatter knows that all you have to do is to take it to ye house of wax records for authentication.[22]

SEAGOON: Right! Hold this brown boa-constrictor.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

GREENSLADE: Neddie proceeded to London hot-foot, a common complaint in the Seagoon family. He was bound for a certain little music shop.

FX: Door opening.

CRUN: Ah. Good um…good morning, um...

SEAGOON: Neddie Seagoon, hello-folks!

CRUN: Good morning Neddie Seagoon-Hello-Folks!

SEAGOON: I believe you are a dealer in instruments and records.

CRUN: Yes. What about an all rubber euphonium with fitted carpets?

SEAGOON: An all rubber euphonium with fitted carpets!!

CRUN: I’m sorry sir – they’re out of stock. You can’t get the wood you know. Now here is something it suit everybody’s pocket.

SEAGOON: What is it?

CRUN: A lining! (Ancient cackling) Oh ho ho ho ho! (Further ancient cackling)

FX: Body falls to the floor.

BANNISTER: Oh dear! He’s fainted.

SEAGOON: Yes, and at the exact moment in which you hit him with that hammer. Lift him in the direction of up while I bring him in the direction of round.

BANNISTER: Right. Ohhh Henry… Henry. Speak to me Henry… Speak to me about your will.

SEAGOON: Steady. Hold this bottle of Ray Ellington under his nose.

BANNISTER: Ohohhhhhhhiiiieeeee...


RAY ELLINGTON – The Water Melon Song” [23]


GREENSLADE: The Goon Show, part three. Seagoon goes to Scotland Yard.

INSPECTOR: (GRAMS: bagpipes under.)[24] You say you are partly responsible for the Birmingham safe robbery?

SEAGOON: Yes, but it was all a trap.

INSPECTOR: (GRAMS: bagpipes under.) Oh dear. Dear, dear, oh dear!

SEAGOON: Yes – I’ve been a fool. (With feeling) Yes – I’ve been a fool. (Dramatic pause.) I’ve been a fool. (Milking it.) A real… fool.

INSPECTOR: (GRAMS: bagpipes under.) If you think I’m going to contradict you, you’re wrong.

SEAGOON: I tell you Inspector Bernstein, if we can find these two men I’ll prove my innocence.

INSPECTOR: (GRAMS: bagpipes under.) Now then, would these two men recognize you if they saw you again?

INSPECTOR: (GRAMS: bagpipes under.) Well, I think the….

INSPECTOR: Put them pipes doon!

FX: Telephone rings. Receiver immediately picked up.

SEAGOON: Hello! What? Yes! Good! Right!

FX: Phone down

SEAGOON: A bit of luck. They’ve found the safe!

INSPECTOR: Harrrrghned nack the noorrrgh!

SEAGOON: Harrrgh too!

INSPECTOR: After it on this boa constrictor.

GRAMS: Train whistle; engine speeding off - all at terrific speed. Recording: (Milligan:) Cockerel crowing. Gunshot. Giant splash. Metal spring. Fred the oyster. Pane of glass breaking. Old gramophone recording of ‘The Shanghai Fox Trot’. Mix in corny military fanfare. Champagne cork popping. Duck quack.

GREENSLADE: I’m afraid you’ll have to work that one out for yourselves.[25] Meanwhile in a field in Kent, a boy scout stands guard over the safe.

BLUEBOTTLE: Halt! Who goes there?

GREENSLADE: Silly boy, silly boy! I’m only the announcer.

BLUEBOTTLE: Then what are you doing in a field in Kent?

GREENSLADE: I’m not really in a field in Kent

GREENSLADE: (Shadowed by Bluebottle) just so happens that I was merely announcing in the… Shut up!


GREENSLADE: (Shadowed by Bluebottle) …announcing in the studio the next… Will you shut up!

BLUEBOTTLE: Will you shut up, will you…

GREENSLADE: (shadowed by Bluebottle) … which happens to be a field... Will you… Oh, I’m fed up with this wiry idiot.

BLUEBOTTLE: Oh, do not be angry at ‘bonttle. I was only doing my best-type acting ‘cause Gladys Bowels is listening tonight.

GREENSLADE: May I ask who is Gladys Bowls? [26]

BLUEBOTTLE: She’s my Mistress at school. (Very close to mic.) Hello Miss Bowels. This is me talking on the electric wireless.  Ehhheehehehehehe!

SEAGOON: Shut up.


SEAGOON: Shut up. Here, tie a knot in this string and swallow it. Gentlemen of the police - this is the safe. How do you suggest we open it?

INSPECTOR: Arrgh. Harrrun.

JAMPTON: (Rubbish. Extended.)[27]

SEAGOON: We tried that but it failed.

JAMPTON: (Further rubbish.)

SEAGOON: I’ve got it! I’ve got it!! Eccles. Place this gelignite under the lock…


GRAMS: Burning fuse. Continue under.

SEAGOON: Right! All run for it!

GRAMS: Boots running into distance. Fade in sound of stiff breeze. Lock being shaken. Squeaky door opening.

MORIARTY: Oh, ho ho ho!

GRYTPYPE: Close that safe door Moriarty. It’s draughty.

MORIARTY: Wait a minute Grytpype! I thought I smelt something exploding.

GRYTPYPE: Smelt something exploding?


GRYTPYPE: Nonsense. It’s too near the end of the show for an explo…

GRAMS: Massive explosion.

SEAGOON: Curse! The explosion has blown the door off the safe.

MORIARTY: It’s also blown the safe off the door. Awwwww….

SEAGOON: Look! Those were the two men.

GRYTPYPE: Quick Moriarty, bury that fourpence.

SEAGOON: Eccles, cover them with this missing boa constrictor.

ECCLES: Ok you naughty men, hands up – this boa constrictor is loaded. Hand back Birmingham’s fourpence.

GRYTPYPE: Very well, I give in. Your boa constrictor’s much bigger than mine.

ECCLES: Ooooohhh!

GRYTPYPE: Still, here is your fourpence back.

GRAMS: Large splash

SEAGOON: You… you threw it in the water!

GRYTPYPE: Yes. We’ve gone into voluntary liquidation.

SEAGOON: Don’t worry, any bank will cash that water – especially the river bank. And with the money… (Get your hats and coats on lads, here it comes. We’re getting near it now.) …and with the money, Birmingham’s ring road GOES THROUGH.

ORCHESTRA: Tatty chord in C

GREENSLADE: Ladies and gentlemen, if you weren’t satisfied with that ending you’ll be glad to know that neither were we.

ORCHESTRA: End 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] On the same day this show was first broadcast, Prime Minister MacMillan, the Foreign Minister Selwyn Lloyd and the US President Eisenhower met for talks on rapprochement in Bermuda. Their intention was to repair the damage that Britain's desperate armed adventure in Egypt had done to the traditional U.S.-British alliance. With the term ‘spilled milk’ agreed to beforehand by both parties, the international press was dallianced with stories of white jacket parties in MacMillan’s suite aboard the missile cruiser Canberra, whilst the ‘brushing away’ of ‘misunderstandings and the bolstering of mutual confidence more vital to an international alliance than agreement or disagreement on particular issues’ was firmly preached to a self satisfied media corps assembled for politics and pool parties. The big two alliance was back in business.

Meanwhile in Great Britain the real business of politics was underway. Refurbishment and the deteriorating British economy meant that things were steadily worsening for the average family. Every improvement came at a colossal cost. Nonetheless a determined city council in Birmingham decided to carry on with its pre-war industrial make-over and ordered its long planned ‘inner ring road’ scheme to proceed. Designed by Herbert Manzoni, it had required an Act of Parliament to be passed so as to enable the first part of the scheme – Smallbrook Queensway, to be constructed starting in 1957 and opening in 1960. The entire scheme involved the demolition of large tracts of industrial age inner city housing and the construction of new infrastructure, high rises, pedestrian precincts and motorways. It is now named the A4400 and the entire project was finally completed in 1971.


[2] Factories seemed to have appealed to Spike. He found the Heath Robinson concept of levers, cogs, spindles, wheels and pistons, terribly funny. Spike’s doodles, with which he illustrates many of his later books, are of this nature. They perceive the human body, life, the universe and everything as a series of multidimensional factories; strange contraptions driven by elemental physics and held together by chains, pulleys and pieces of string. Two other famous Goon examples are the ‘passing glue factory’ in “The Dreaded Batter-Pudding Hurler” (3/5th) and ‘the Leather Omnibus factory’ in “The Mysterious Punch-up-the-Conker.” (19/7th)


[3] The Times, in an editorial in April said that “Britain’s crucial fight today is the fight for the £.” The crisis was not overstated and everywhere economic cutbacks were taking effect. Ever since the end of the war, Britain had had a continuing balance of payments crisis brought about by the heavy burden of ‘lend lease’ repayments and the annual loss of an estimated £650 million in profits, interest and dividends from her overseas investments, now curtailed by war, debt and the disintegration of the British Empire.

But even as this show was being recorded, the ministers of six nations were meeting in Rome to agree on the establishment of a new economic force in the world – the European Economic Community. The Treaty of Rome (as its concordat was termed) was signed four days later on the 25th March.


[4] Sellers in his classic (and very funny) Golders Green accent.

[5] This line sounds exactly like a parody of the newsreel commentators of the 30’s, who broadcast snippets of Adolf Hitler’s speeches – particularly from the annual Nuremberg Rallys, for the benefit of British and American audiences, providing a running commentary on the events as they unfolded.


[6] Moriarty often says this line. On another occasion Grytpype answers, “It’s just a word, Moriarty.”

[7] The Birmingham Town Hall is one of Great Britain’s finest Grade 1 listed building. It was built between 1832 and 1834, but has since seen many improvements and extensions. Even as late as 2002-2008 it underwent further refurbishment as a concert hall.

[8] The odd thing about this line is that the exact same concept was used by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in one of their most famous dialogues.

                              Cook:     Isn’t it amazing us bumping into each other like this?

                              Moore:   Yes, here of all places.

                              Cook:     Here of all places. I mean, I haven’t seen you since…

                              Moore:   Oh God. Hold on a second.

                              Cook:     When was it?        

                              Moore:   Um… we haven’t seen each other… er… um – we haven’t seen each other – before.

                              Cook:     That’s right. We’ve never ever seen each other before, have we?

                              Moore:   No.

                              Cook:     You’ve never seen me…

                              Moore:   … and I’ve never seen you. What a small world! &c (‘Not Only…But Also’ – 1966)


[9] This was a reference to an actual fighter pilot. Group Captain John “Cat’s Eyes” Cunningham CBE, DSO & Two Bars (1917-2002) was credited with 20 kills while defending Britain during the blitz. Nineteen of these kills were at night, explained away at the time by Air force propaganda as being the result of a diet of carrots. In actual fact the defence force was covering up the use of AI – Airbourne Interception, the early aircraft version of radar.

[10] A parody on Irving Berlin’s famous song “I’ve Got My Love to Keep me Warm.” (1937) Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong released a version of it during 1957.


[11] Sellers.

[12] In the mid 1800’s Mrs Mary Tealby, a penniless divorcee slowly dying of cancer, became concerned by the number of abandoned animals roaming the streets of London. Although considered an ‘immoral’ act at the time, (particularly in view of the appalling conditions in which many Londoners lived) she opened a ‘Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs’ in a stable yard in Holloway in 1860. With the assistance of Charles Dicken who advertised her campaign, she gradually managed to establish public awareness of the real plight of abandoned animals, and after her death in 1864 the home moved to it’s present site in Battersea, took on Royal Patronage, and changed it’s name to The Dog’s Home, Battersea. The institution continues to rescue, reunite and re-home hundreds of stray cats and dogs every year.

Sadly, Mrs Mary Tealby faded from history leaving almost no information about herself behind.


[13] A famous Duke Ellington number written by his long time musical associate Billy Strayhorn. (1915-1967) Strayhorn was not just an extraordinary musician, composer and arranger, but black and openly gay. Ellington considered him my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine.”


[14] Moriarty continues slightly off mic saying, “Ooh! What a wonderful life we’ve got ahead of us!”

[15] ‘Rara avis’ means ‘a rarity’ or ‘a person or thing rarely encountered.’ From the latin for ‘rare bird’.


[16] Whilst the Norwegian composer Edvard Greig (1843-1907) and the Polish composer Frederick Chopin (1810-1849) were both responsible for noteworthy piano concertos, the Greig piece was not written until 1868, long after Chopin’s death. Spike was reasonably conversant with classical music and write some very funny paragraphs about Chopin in the War Memoirs; firstly in bk.2 “Rommel? Gunner who?” p. 135 and “Mussolini – His Part in My Downfall” p. 268, both involving the composer’s legs.


[17] A cornerstone of 20th century British poetry were the writings of Rupert Brooke (1887-1915.) His gallant career came to abrupt end aboard a hospital ship off Scyros in the Mediterranean, as the result of septicaemia caused by a mosquito bite. His poem “The Soldier” (1915) contains the immortal lines,

                              “If I should die, think only this of me;

                              That there’s some corner of a foreign field

                              that is forever England.”


[18] This was the second time in this series Spike had tried this chicken gag. The first time was in ‘The Nadger Plague’ (3/7th) when Greenslade explained that he “had included that recording of a cockerel for people who like that sort of thing.” All Spikes jokes about chickens have their origins in an unusual incident he narrates in book two of the War Memoirs – “Rommel? Gunner Who?” p.25, when the whole regiment marched clutching eggs and clucking.


[19] This whole song and the reference to ‘Mister Beverley’ is a sly dig at the BBC itself, who in their wisdom had banned the Beverley Sisters version of “Greensleeves” from its networks upon its release in December 1956. The corporation’s Dance Music Policy Committee, (which at one time included such dance music specialists as Sir Arthur Bliss) took their job very seriously indeed. The controller of sound broadcasting once stated, “No one is more alive than I to the need to buttress the forces of virtue against the unprincipled elements of the jungle.” Notice too that Secombe calls Wallace Greenslade, ‘Greensleeves’ earlier on in the show. (p2)


[20] One of the few times that Bloodnok enters a show without his usual theme music.

[21] This was the eighth outing for this remarkable catch phrase, and the audience greeted it with quite a deal of enthusiasm.


[22] This is an extremely obscene reference. ‘Brown hatting’ was (and still is) the colloquial term for anal intercourse. Milligan transfers the adjective to the next line to avoid the BBC censors, but already Sellers corpses upon reading the word ‘hatters’ so gives the game away. What the meaning of ‘wax records’ is I cannot guess.


[23] There exist many versions of this song. Not all agree on the lyrics. One source says that it was originally discovered in the repertoire of an ex-slave “Uncle Hayes” Chambers, born into a slave family in the late 1880’s in North Carolina. Dying in 1962 he played the tune on his harmonica well into his later life. Some versions of the song are extremely confronting, addressing the problems of racism and KKK killings - the watermelon referred to being a metaphor for lynched negroes, and the vine meaning the nooses with which they were lynched.


[24] Milligan had begun the tradition of using bagpipes under Scottish characters in “The Treasure in the Lake.” (24/6th)

[25] It is noticeable that Milligan’s beleaguered assistants in the GRAMS department were gradually coming up with more and more complex and daring experiments in sound. This ‘gram’ contains twelve separate sound samples, all spliced together with split second timing. More than that, the whole effect is not of randomness but of a coherent whole – something really not very easy to achieve. The BBC Radiophonic workshop was created over a year later in 1958.


[26] Milligan loved mispronunciation jokes. If you listen carefully you can hear him cracking up in the background.


[27] As noted earlier in this series, Milligan was very prone to play higher ranking officers with a slightly breathy, incomprehensible drawl. I am sure he modelled this voice on someone he knew during the war.