RECORDED: 28 Mar 1957 [1]

Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Light Program. History for schools. Question one; How do you spell C-A-T?


GREENSLADE: Question two; Name two English queens called Elizabeth.


GREENSLADE: Question three: What is the Goon Show's first name and give an example of?

SECOMBE: That's a trick question Wallace, and so here is a trick answer entitled “The Histories of Pliny the Elder.”

ORCHESTRA: Imperial Roman theme.

GRAMS: Fade in seashore sounds. Waves and gulls.

GREENSLADE: And so in the year ex-el-one-one-one B.C, Julius Caesar set foot on the British shore, and was greeted by the natives.[2]

ECCLES: Hello!

CAESAR: Vini, vidi, vici.


CAESAR: I came, I saw, I conquered.

ECCLES: Oooh! Fine, fine. Well, I'm just going in for a dip – give the old kippers a steam. Ha ha!

CAESAR: Brutus Moriartus, seize that Briton and prepare him for a life of slavery.

MORIARTUS: Ave, sexun tu Caesar. Cavè! [3] Here comes another Charlie Britannicus!

SEAGOON: (Approaching, singing)

When you're tramp, tramp, tramping along the high road,

with your tressed hair all tied down…

Hello, folks. Who cares!

CAESAR: Gad, he's up early.

MORIARTUS: He must be one of the early Britons.

CAESAR: Quiet, you fumon[4] centurion! Tell the men to pull the galley ashore, quickly.

MORIARTUS: Ave. Straight away!

CAESAR: (Calls out) Ah, good morning!

SEAGOON: How-do. I see your boat's all loaded up. Going round the light house?

MORIARTUS: You savage English fool – this is the imperial Julius Caesar! We are Romans. Prepare yourself for combatus.

SEAGOON: Righto. Righto Jack, righto. I'll go and get the lads together, only being Sunday they'll be in the pubs you know.

ORCHESTRA: Bloodnok theme.

BLOODNOK: Ohhh! Ohhhhh! So the Romans want to take the field against us, do they?

SEAGOON: That's right, Britannicus. They're very keen to have a do with us you know. And you never know – (laughs), we might win.

BLOODNOK: Win? No, we mustn't. We don't want to spoil our record.

SEAGOON: Oh... Well, ah – what'll I tell them then?

BLOODNOK: Well, tell them to put their goal on the edge of the cliffs. That will give their goalie a bit of a rough time, won't it?

SEAGOON: (Laughter) You don't care, do you. Right-oh, kick off two-thirty then.

BLOODNOK: Splendid. Splendid.

ORCHESTRA: Epic Roman link.

GREENSLADE: And so the Britons in their blue woad,[5] took the field before the might of the Roman Army.

GRAMS: Football crowd singing. Cheering.

CAESAR: Brutus Moriaritus! Here, what kind of army is this that takes the field in blue jerseys with a ball at their feet?

MORIARTUS: Must be some kind of trickus. Look! They're forming up.

FX: Referees whistle.

CAESAR: That must be their signal to attack.

MORIARTUS: Forward men. Advantus!

GRAMS: Battle sounds. Shouts, sword fighting, distant 5th Cavalry bugle call.

BLOODNOK: Ahh! I say, they're a rough lot these Romans you know.

FX: Referees whistle.


MORIARTUS: What! What's this? Why have you stopped for?

SEAGOON: Rough play, that's what we've stopped for, I'll tell 'ee. Every time I come up the wing, your outside right swipes at me with a dirty big sword!

CAESAR: (Approaching) I say, what is all this hold up about?

SEAGOON: Why, rough play. That's what this is.

ECCLES: Yer, yer.

SEAGOON: Well, I mean – and then, and then Jack, we don't hold with all this javelin practice when the ball's in play. And another thing; you're only allowed eleven men on the field. I've counted 693 of yours so far.

CAESAR: All right. I'll send one off.


GRAMS: Battle sounds resume. Fade under.

GREENSLADE: The result – Romans: 900, England: 3. War stopped play.

GRAMS: Troops marching. Regiment whistling “Lily Marlene”[6] over. Hold under.

CAST: Shout idiot commands behind. ( “E-yes RIGHT!” & “Put out that cigarette there!”)

NARRATOR: Like a mighty octopus, the legions of Rome spread across England. For ten years Caesar ruled with an iron hand, then with a wooden foot, and finally with a piece of string. How much of this could Britain take?

ORCHESTRA: Harp introduction.

SPRIGGS: Oh Caesar – I come to sing melodies divine to you.

CAESAR: Sing on, proud minstrel.

SPRIGGS: Thank you. (sings) Oh Caesar is a noble man,

a being of great land high.

A gentlemen every inch of him,

from his feet to his hat of the height.

Hee gnyi gnyi gnyi...gnyi gnyi gnyi…eee

CAESAR: Moriartus, this man is a bit of a crawler. Why does he follow such a profession, Moriartus?

MORIARTUS: For money, Caesar. He tells me he wants to die rich.

CAESAR: And so he shall. Give him this sack of gold and then strangle him.

MORIARTUS: Yes, Caesar.

SPRIGGS: Distant death scene.

MORIARTUS: I see that ten years in Britain have not changed your imperial Roman outlook, Caesar.

CAESAR: True, Moriaritus. Always a Roman I.

MORIARTUS: Will you take wine?

CAESAR: No, thanks. I think I'll have a half of mild and a packet of crisps.

GRAMS: Distant crowd sounds.

GREENSLADE: Caesar, Caesar.

CAESAR: Oh, it's Stomachus Grossus!

GREENSLADE: Caesar, there is an angry rabble outside. We have their leader captive.

CAESAR: Is he bound?

GREENSLADE: Of his health I know naught, sir.

CAESAR: Bring him hither, sir...

GRAMS: Chains rattling.

BLOODNOK: Ohh! Take your hands off me! You want to catch something? Ahh, so you're Julius Caesar eh?

MORIARTUS: Caesar is all things to all men.[7]

BLOODNOK: Oh, it must be hell in there! Senatus, Senatus! Look here Mister Caesar, we've just discovered why you're been here ten years. You've conquered us!


BLOODNOK: Well, get out! I mean, get out – or we shall ban midweek matches and midweek cigarettes as well.

GREENSLADE: Beware, Britannicus Bloodnokus. The gods are angry!

BLOODNOK: I know. I've just been hit by a rotten tomato. Oh, the birds, the birds...[8]

MORIARTUS: Why don't you stop him, Julius Caesar?

BLOODNOK: How can I when I'm playing the part of Bloodnok?

MORIARTUS: Now listenus. For this rebellion Bloodnokus, you will be thrown to the wolves.

BLOODNOK: Not that team, no. I'm a London man. Please...[9]

GREENSLADE: Good, Brittanicus. You have one alternative.


GREENSLADE: You'll be freed, providing you give us four good men for the Coliseum games in Rome.

BLOODNOK: Yes! I've got some likely English charlies who would suit you perfectly. They were very successful at the Scottish games.

MORIARTUS: Did they do well?

BLOODNOK: Very well. They managed to get away with their lives, you know…

MORIARTUS: Very well. Deliver those men to Caesar's royal barge at ex-ex-aye, ex-ex-aye and a half hours tomorrow.

BLOODNOK: I'll do that. And here is the first one, Maxelsus Geldrayus.


MAX GELDRAY - 'Come On Get Happy' [10]


ORCHESTRA: Seafaring link.

GRAMS: Ocean waves. Oars in rowlocks. Creakings of timber vessel.

GREENSLADE: And so, some months later, a Roman slave galley drew nigh to Ostia.[11]

SLAVE DRIVER: In – out... In – out...[12]

BLUEBOTTLE: Have you ever rowed a gallery before, Eccelus?

ECCLES: Is that what we're doing?


ECCLES: No, I've never done this before.

SLAVE DRIVER: Faster, you dogs!

BLUEBOTTLE: He wants our dogs to go faster.

SLAVE DRIVER: Silence, you scum!

ECCLES: He wants our scum to go silent.

SLAVE DRIVER: Or do you want a taste of the lash?

BLUEBOTTLE: No, thanks. I just had some cocoa.

ECCLES: Oh, look! They're bringing a new slave from the reserve.


FX: Shaking of chains.

SEAGOON: (Approaching.) Let me go, you devils! How dare you. Take your hands off me! Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. How dare you chain me to this oar. I shall write to the Times about this. In print!

FLOWERDEW: Shut up, you! It was perfectly quiet until you came along. You're not the only man chained to the oars, you know.

SEAGOON: (Shouts) NOW – listen to me, all of you!

FLOWERDEW: All of me is listening to you.

SEAGOON: I am the Welsh Chieftain, Caracticus Seagoon! I for one will never surrender to the might of Rome. I'll fight them up hill and down and Mrs Dale.[13]

ECCLES: Wait a minute – how did they take you prisoner then?

SEAGOON: I was in the bath. The one day a year they could catch me with my socks off.

ECCLES: Must have been hell in there...

BLUEBOTTLE: What are you going to do then, Caracticus? How can we file through these chains?



SEAGOON: This evening I received a cake from a friend, and guess what's inside?...

BLUEBOTTLE: You mean there's...

SEAGOON: Yes – raisins!

SLAVE DRIVER: Stop that talking in the back there!

BLUEBOTTLE: It wasn't me, sir. It was Harold Prock!

FX: Whip crack.

BLUEBOTTLE: Aahey! You flicked my knee!

ORCHESTRA: Further nautical link.

CAST: Top-man cries. (“Murch knurl on the knippert knurl!” & “Get those bums from the BBC out of here!”)

GREENSLADE: That night, the galley docked at Ostia and the slaves were put up for auction.

AUCTIONEER:[14] All right, now then, come on now. What am I bid for these three British-type slaves? Eccelus; a lovely piece of property, claimed to be descended from his father. No bids? Come on, anybody now.

SEAGOON: Three dinar!

AUCTIONEER: You fool! You're up for sale as well.


AUCTIONEER: There you are – a chap with initiative. All right then, what about this last one? A pair of genuine English knees with a hat attached called Bluebottelus. Can tie knots, rub two sticks together, and kill his grandmother.[15]

CYRIL: I'll bid ten-thousand dinar the three.


CYRIL: This way lads! (I've seen 'im! I've seen 'im!)

SEAGOON: I say, this is dashed decent of you to buy us. Who are you?

CYRIL: Me? I do all the bookings for the Coliseum. (I've seen 'em! I've seen 'em! I've seen 'em!)[16]

SEAGOON: So you've seen them, eh? The Coliseum… Could you give us a couple of tickets?

CRYIL: You won't need any.

SEAGOON: Oh. What's on?

CRYIL: You are.


CRYIL: Yeah. Tonight, tonight.

SEAGOON: Better get the old hobson's choice going then, hadn't I?[17]

(Sings)  We'll keep a welcome in...

(I've done the Palladium, you know…)

CRYIL: You've got a lovely voice for...

SEAGOON: (continues singing) the hillsides.

 Mee mee mee,

oowa oowa oowaoooh!

CRYIL: Lovely, lovely!... Lovely!... Now try shouting 'help'.


CRYIL: Marvellous! That'll come in very useful.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

CYRIL: Right now, you wait in here, boys. I'll tell you when it's your turn to go on. It'll be all right...

GRAMS: Cell door closes.

SEAGOON: I say. What a wonderful agent that fellow is. My first night in Rome and I've got a booking already! (Laughs.) Well now, let's have a look at the program.

ECCLES: Oh! It's a good prog’am.

BLUEBOTTLE: What is the top of the bill?

SEAGOON: Oh, it's got a lovely opening act. Ah, let me see now; “Captive East Finchley Boy Scout will fight Four Starving Lions.”

BLUEBOTTLE: (Sickening) Oh... I do not like this lion game. Let me out of here...

FX: Rattles door.

SEAGOON: You coward, Bluebottle. Face it like a man!

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes – well look at the encore there: “Caracticus Seagoon will be Strangled by a Gorilla.”


FX: Furious rattling of cell door.

SEAGOON: (Panicking) Let me out! You can't do this to me! I'm a British subject! I shall write to the Times about this! Help! Let me out! HEEeeeeeEELLLPPP!

FLOWERDEW: Oh shut up! It was perfectly quiet ‘til you came along.

SEAGOON: It's all right for you – you're a sailor and sailors don't care.[18]

FLOWERDEW: (Whoops dear) Ooooooooooh!

SEAGOON: Now, don't panic everybody! I've got a plan. We'll overpower the guards.


ECCLES: Right – I'll take my boots off.

SEAGOON: Good. Now, we'll get the keys and make our way down to the Tiber.

ECCLES: What's the Tiber?

SEAGOON: Half past dyder. [19]

BLOODNOK: That's what they want!

SEAGOON: I don't wish to know this! [20] Shhh! Here comes the guard now.

GRAMS: Huge bolts being drawn back. Chains. Heavy door opening.

ECCLES: Take that!

FX: Blackjack on punching bag.



GRAMS: Couple of pairs of boots running off into distance.

GREENSLADE: Dear listeners, I thought you might like to know that the groan of pain you heard just now was not done by a Roman soldier, but – er, by me. And I thought I did it jolly well. I'm sure you all feel the better for knowing that. Thank you. And now – Ray Ellingbaum.


RAY ELLINGTON QUARTET“You made me love you” [21] & “This can't be love”.[22]


ORCHESTRA: Imperial Fanfare.

GREENSLADE: Through the catacombs, our heroes managed to reach the great water pipe that runs under the Via Appia – known of course in the Army as the famous ‘Ap-ya pipe’.

SEAGOON: All right, lads. I think we are safe now.

ECCLES: Oh, wait a minute. Look, there's a manhole cover right above us.

SEAGOON: Shine the beam of this candle on it.

ECCLES: Right.

SEAGOON: I'll push it off. Eccles? Stand on my shoulders and pull me up.

ECCLES: Okay (Straining.) I'd like to see 'em do this on television.

CAST: (Strains supreme.)

BLUEBOTTLE: Shall I put the mangehole cover back on now? Otherwise, if it rains, the hole will get wet.

SEAGOON: No, leave it open. We don't want to lose the place… Shhh! Behind those bushes – someone's coming. Quick!

GRAMS: Single pair of boots running. Sudden stop. Splash.

LITTLE JIM: He's fallen in the water.[23]

SEAGOON: Little Jim! Little Jim! Little Jim! Thank you again!


WILLIUM: (Distant) Oh, oh! Help me. Oh!

SEAGOON: Grab my hand, foot, ear, nose and teeth. Hup!

WILLIUM: Oh! I didn't see that hole, you know. You don't see 'em on the corners, you know…

SEAGOON: Are you a Roman?

WILLIUM: No, mate. In the gloaming, I am. My name's Hannibal.[24] You see any elephants running down the road?

SEAGOON: Elephants? You must be General Hannibal of Carthage!

WILLIUM: No mate, I'm William Hannibal. I looks after the elephants at the Coliseum dere. I'm a Battersea slave mate, there.

SEAGOON: How did you get captured?

WILLIUM: (Oh, here’s a lovely little boy.)

LITTLE JIM: (Get away, naughty man.)

WILLIUM: Well, it were my Saturday off you see, and I was taking the dog for a ball, and this Roman fellow come up and said “Take you 'at off!” – see, like that. And I does, and he says, “That's a nasty lump on your bonce,” and I said, “Where?” and he said, “There!” and pointed it out with a dirty great club. Ooooohh, mate, oh! When I come to, I feel me nut and he was right – there was a dirty big lump on it. But it was too late by then. You see I was carrying buckets for the elephants at the Coliseum.

SEAGOON: But we are English-type slaves too. Would you care to join us?

WILLIUM: (Labourious) Why? Are you coming apart?

SEAGOON: What's the year?

WILLIUM: Forty-nine BC.

SEAGOON: That proves how old that gag is! That proves how old that gag is. That proves how old that gag is.[25]

ECCLES:  That proves how old you are, too. Ha-ha-ha.

GRAMS: Splash

LITTLE JIM: He's fallen in the water again.

SEAGOON: Now you can put the lid on.

WILLIUM: I tell you what, mate – a lot of our lads joined an escaped gladiola called Sprarticus from Prortigal. He comes only from Prortigal, Sparticus. You know?[26]

SEAGOON: Where is he?

WILLIUM: He's hiding in the ‘ole at the top of Vesumruvius.


ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

GRAMS: Footsteps over rocky ground.

SPRIGGUS: Halt! Halt! Who goes there? Who, who goes there?

SEAGOON: (Shouts from distance.) Escaped English slaves!

SPRIGGUS: Advance and be recognized! Recogniiiized!

SEAGOON: I am Caracticus Seagoon. I come from Wales.

SPRIGGUS: I can see you don't come from sardines, Jim. I'll take you to Spartacus the Gladiola. Follow me.

GRAMS: Boots walking on pavement.

FX: Knock on door.

SPRIGGUS: I'll knock.

BLOODNOK: Ohhh! Oh, just a minute, oh! Don't come in, please! I'm just changing my knees. Ooooooohh! Right, right....

FX: Door opens.

BLOODNOK: Now - Ahhohh! OHH! Ohh!

SEAGOON: Britannicus Bloodnokus! How did you get to Italy?

BLOODNOK: Ask the writers. I have no idea.

SPRIGGUS: He has no ideeeah.  


SEAGOON: You are Spartacus?

BLOODNOK: Yesus! I was forced to change me name, you see – I fell out with Caesar.

SEAGOON: You, you… fell out with Caesar?


SEAGOON: How did that happenus?

BLOODNOK: We were in a chariot and we hit a bump in the road. It went... Ohhh!

ECCLES: It was me!

SEAGOON: Come now! I want the trith, and nothing but the troth!

BLOODNOK: Well, the trith is – how can I put it? You know that saying 'Caesar's wife is above suspicion'?


BLOODNOK: Well, I put an end to all that rubbish. Oh! What a little beauty, oh!

SEAGOON: Are we safe here?

BLOODNOK: My dear lad, we are actually inside the crater of an extinct volcano.

SEAGOON: Thank heaven! Safe at last!

GRAMS: Distant rumbling sound.

SEAGOON: I say, chaps… What! I say, look, look, look!

BLOODNOK: Oh, ohhhh!

CAST: Shouts and cries.

GRAMS: Massive explosion.

GREENSLADE: Next week History for Schools tells the story of The Last Days of Pompeii.

SECOMBE: Well – is that the lot for the old series there, Wal?


SECOMBE: Right. Round the back for the old brandy there!

GRAMS: Massed boots running away.

ORCHESTRA: End theme

GREENSLADE: That was the last of the present series of the Goon Show, a BBC recorded program 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 Stevens, announcer Wallace Greenslade. Bobby Jay has been on the mixing panel, and the special effects were supplied by Ian Cook and Ron Belchier. The production was by Pat Dixon.[27]



[1] Milligan was not the only creative genius dipping into the Roman Empire at this time. In Hollywood in the late 1950’s, studio plans were variously advanced to film “Ben Hur” (1959), “Spartacus” (1960) and “Cleopatra” (1963), three of the most enduring films of the post war cinema.

During the war, Spike had taken every opportunity he could to visit the long enduring Roman antiquities of North Africa and Italy, in an effort, he said “to improve my education” – a patchy education, somewhat assuaged by his childhood habit of reading Chambers Encyclopaedia. In this show he weaves three Roman lives together; those of Caracticus (c. CE10 – c. CE50), Spartacus (c. BCE109 – BCE71) and Gaius Plinius Secundus, Pliny the Elder (CE23 – CE79).

Spartacus, a Bulgarian gladiator, escaped from slavery in BCE73 with seventy followers and established a guerrilla camp in the caldera (the then thickly wooded crater) of Vesuvius. Eventually commanding an army of over 100,000, his brilliant use of tactics enabled him to defeat the Roman legions for three years, until finally being overcome in a battle in southern Italy. Pliny the Elder did his military service in Germania before serving as procurator in southern France, then northern Spain until finally taking up office in Italy under Vespasian. A tireless author, he was responsible for writing “The History of the German Wars” (20 volumes – now lost), and “History of His Times” (31 volumes – now lost).

The ‘trick answer’ Seagoon refers to is this – Spartacus did live inside the volcano; Pliny’s histories don’t exist; Spartacus did not get killed in the Vesuvius eruption; Pliny the elder did. Pliny had organised a humanitarian rescue effort within hours of the initial explosion so as to evacuate survivors, but was killed by an inhalation of the poisonous, sulphuric gases as he struggled back to the galleys.

[2] Milligan’s use of facts, like his comedy, was fast and loose. Julius Caesar invaded in BCE55 and again in 54. Claudius Caesar authorised an invasion in CE43, the numerical date quoted, commanded by Aulus Platius. This invasion led to the establishing of Roman rule.


[3] The Latin here seems to be of Milligan’s own making. Cavè, however does almost mean ‘look out!’, although the declension is not correct.


[4] Although Sellers was well known for his mispronunciations, I rather suspect this one is deliberate and could have been scripted this way. The word is probably meant to be ‘fuming.’

[5] An example of how historical misreadings create history. Julius Caesar in “de Bello Gallico” mentions that the Britanni marked their bodies with vitrum, assumed forever afterwards to mean ‘woad’. Vitrum does not translate to ‘woad’ and modern day tests show that the tattoos almost certainly would have been made from grass dyes.


[6] “Lili Marleen” was written in the German trenches during WWI by a young Hamburgischer, Hans Leip (1893-1983). The poem was eventually set to music in 1938 by Norbert Schultze. Taken up by various radio stations in the occupied countries of Europe, it was heard by British soldiers in North Africa and quickly became a favourite. The first English recording (with words by Tommie Connor) was probably the one by Anne Shelton.

[7] Here is an example of the ‘third man’ entrance, one of the intricate mechanisms behind the Goon Show writing. Of the eight main characters, six were Sellers/Milligan duos – Grytpype/Moriarty: Henry/Min: Bluebottle/Eccles; with a further two solo characters – Seagoon and Bloodnok. Whenever the duos had a scene, the only voice left to play a third party was Secombe. Milligan, over the years of writing, learnt to make Secombe almost his last choice for a third voice, as it tended to confuse the listeners. Secombe was a ‘one voice’ artist.

What he did next was to sidestep the situation by firstly having an interloper join the duo and take over the conversation, leaving himself or Peter free to break out of the duo and play another character. The interloper (or ‘third man’) in this scene is of course Greenslade. His presence deflects the audiences attention away from the fact that Sellers has had to change from Grytpype/Caesar and begin to play Bloodnok.

This ‘third man’ device had become second nature to Milligan’s writing by the seventh series. So much so, that he even begins to turn the comedy guns on himself a few lines later, and let Moriarty unmask his writing technique.



[8] Getting ‘the bird’ was the theatrical term for being booed offstage by an audience – the first sign of public rejection usually being a couple of well aimed missiles from ‘the gods’ – the highest (and cheapest) seats in any theatre. Secombe was once hounded offstage somewhere in the provinces and sent Milligan a telegram saying – “Wonderful reception. Audience with me all the way. Managed to throw them off at the station.”


[9] The ‘wolves’ referred to are the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club, based in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. During the late 50’s their team was declared “Champions of the World” following comprehensive victories over major European sides. Milligan refers to this team occasionally – eg: “The House of Teeth” (20/6th)


[10] By Arlen and Koehler, written for “The Nine-fifteen Revue” in 1930. Judy Garland sang it in her last great MGM musical “Summer Stock” filmed in 1950, while later in the decade Ella Fitzgerald and Sinatra recorded their own marvellous versions of the song. An instrumental version of the number also served for a time as the theme music for Warner Bros.’ “Merrie Melodies” cartoons.


[11] Ostia was the old seaport for Rome, situated at the mouth of the river Tiber. Nowadays the ruins lie about 3 kms from the sea due to siltage.


[12] Spike almost gets away with an improvised line here. Eccles tries to say (under his breath) “Make up your mind!”


[13]Mrs Dale’s Diary” was one of the most famous radio drama serials ever broadcast by the BBC, running from 1948 until 1969.


[14] Milligan. The voice is almost Adolphus Spriggs’.



[15] Milligan’s method for killing a grandmother appears in “The Milligan Book of Records” published by W.H. Allen & Co. London, in 1977. (p.94)


[16] I think it is reasonable to assume that Cyril is doing a send up of Val Parnell, the London impresario, who was the door to success for most British entertainers – if they could get a chance to be seen. He controlled Moss Brother theatre circuit, including the Palladium and as managing director of the newly formed ATV in 1956, for years controlled the variety output of the station, initiating series and specials featuring the top acts of his day, but always bearing his own name in the title.


[17]Hobson’s choice’ – London rhyming slang for ‘voice.’ The original meaning of ‘a Hobson’s choice’ was ‘to be given a false illusion of choice’. It is said to originate from Thomas Hobson (1544–1630), a livery stable owner of Cambridge, England who, in order to rotate the use of his horses, offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall nearest the door or taking none at all.

[18] A split reference to both the 1940 British film “Sailor’s Don’t Care” (starring Michael Wilding), with a bit of a nod towards the famous music hall song “Ship Ahoy,”  in which sailors are portrayed as ‘bright and breezy – free and easy.’ The British music hall sailor was often portrayed as sexually ravenous, and frequently camp.


[19] Unknown meaning.


[20] The cast were generally acting like a sixth form class on the last day before hols. The ad libs are almost too fast to keep track of. “Kindly leave this stage/prison” is a traditional music hall come-back line. “Hello boys and girls” is probably a reference to the kindly voice and mannerisms of ‘Uncle Mac’ – the BBC’s Derek McCulloch.


[21] A hit since it first appeared, this standard was written by Monaco and McCarthy in 1913 and first recorded by Al Jolson. Doris Day had released a new version of it in 1955.


[22] By Rodgers and Hart from ‘The Boys From Syracuse (1938) – the Broadway version of Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors”. Ellington had performed it earlier this series in “Personal Narrative.” (8/7th)

[23] This was the ninth time this catch phrase had been used. It had appeared firstly in “The Rent Collectors”, then “The Moon Show,” “The Mysterious Punch-Up-The-Conker,” “Round the World in Eighty Days,” “Insurance the White Man’s Burden,” “The Trans Africa Aeroplane Canal,” “Ill Met by Goonlight,”The Missing Boa Constrictor” and finally this, the last show of the series. As if to emphasise the point, Milligan uses it twice.


[24] Hannibal (BCE247-183/2) was one of the ancient world’s greatest military tacticians. One of his most famous acts occurred during the 2nd Punic War when he marched his army, including 37 war elephants, across the Pyrenees, up the valley of Drôme, crossing the main range near the Col de Montgenèvre and into Italy where he kept the Romans on the run for a decade, without once losing a battle.

[25] Milligan tries to interrupt at this point, but with the cast and audience falling about laughing it is unclear whether he’s trying to ad-lib or follow the script. Eventually he says “The Government will issue a white paper now.” This probably refers to the British Government White Paper on Defence from 1955 which announced the decision to produce the hydrogen bomb and to commence production of nuclear power. The relevance of this to Secombe’s overwrought comedy performance is probably Spike being ironic.


[26] This odd quote about something ‘only coming from Prortigal” occurs firstly in ‘The Telephone’ (11/7th)

[27] A last word on this show. I have often wondered whether this script had been written as far back as the middle of December 1956, sometime around “The Telephone.” (11/7th) My reasons are primarily that the show has much of the feel of a Christmas Pantomime about it and could have been intended by Milligan for that purpose. (“Robin Hood” – the old 5th series script, was eventually re-used.)

Also a catch phrase which Milligan had tried out then discarded – “comes only from Prortigal,” appears out of nowhere. Its only other appearance is in “The Telephone,” around the same time this script could have been originally scheduled for recording.

The new catch phrase by Little Jim, “He’s fallen in the water” (a January 1957 invention) could easily have been appended to this script. In fact Spike seems to have made an effort to tie Little Jim’s entrance into the plot a little more securely by having Willium stop and pat him on the head - a tiny little corner of the script which I find terribly endearing, but which was cut from all TS versions and from the BBC Record RMC. 4010 which was eventually released in mono form in September 1974. (Despite Wilmut saying that this version was the uncut transmission version, it lacks Flowerdew and the aside from Willium to Little Jim.)

I doubt that we will ever know the facts of the matter.