BROADCAST: 15 Nov 1956


Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Light Programme.

FX: Gunshot.

GREENSLADE: Ooooooh yaroooool! Who shot me?

SECOMBE: Me Wal. Just seeing if you were alert.

GREENSLADE: My senses are very alert.

SECOMBE: Never mind little steaming nut announcer. Agglaaglauorahum. Open up that parcel of mangos and read the contents. [1]

GREENSLADE: Right. The title of the mango I’m holding is ‘The Great Bank Robbery’.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic timpani roll. Tatty chord in C.

GREENSLADE: Next dance please! ‘The Great Bank Robbery’ part one - an idiot in an attic.

ORCHESTRA: Bass drum playing marching rhythm.

SEAGOON: Ho hup two three! Ho hup two three! Ho hup…

FX: Rapid knocks on door.

SEAGOON: Curse! How dare someone get me out of bed at this time of night!

FX: Door opens.


GRYTPYPE: May we get out of our beds and come in?

SEAGOON: Who are you?

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty - show him the photograph of who I am.

MORIARTY: Certainement. Voila!

SEAGOON: Gad it’s you! Entres!

GRYTPYPE: Thank you. Have a bugle.

ORCHESTRA: Bugle plays Bb.

SEAGOON: Lovely - so fragrant!

GRYTPYPE: Yes, and only 10 and 6 a packet!

SEAGOON: Now, who’s your friend?

GRYTPYPE: This is, and I quote from this plasticine model of Gilbert Harding,[2] this is Count Jim ‘Thighs’ Moriarty, international chauffeur extraordinaire and general handyman.

SEAGOON: What can I do for you?

MORIARTY: We heard you playing melody…



SEAGOON: Oh that melody. You like it, eh? Well I’m practising to enter the world’s long distance bass drum race from John O'Groats to Land’s End.

GRYTPYPE: And just the right weather for it too, bai jove!

SEAGOON: Alas, unfortunately I have not the wherewithal to buy a really fast racing drum.

GRYTPYPE: Oh. Neddy, have a trombone!

ORCHESTRA: Trombone plays low D

SEAGOON: My - they’re lower than bugles.

GRYTPYPE: And they suit you! Tell me Neddie, how much wherewithal do you need for this racing drum?

SEAGOON: Eight pounds ten wherewithal.

GRYTPYPE: Mmn. Neddie, with your help I think we can raise the necessary wherewithals.

SEAGOON: Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat? (Ends on extreme high note.)

GRYTPYPE: Look - please don’t do that full face, do you mind? Now Neddie, we’re going to play a little naughty game. Now this is what we do; first we sew you into this mattress like so…

MORIARTY & GRYTPYPE: (Straining noises.)

GREENSLADE: According to the markings on this Albino turnip and the seating arrangements on this banana, Neddie was about to become an innocent participant in a fiendish-type robbery.

SEAGOON: I’m innocent I tell you - innocent! [3]

GREENSLADE: Now if you’ll just…

SEAGOON: I wasn’t there, I was with Jim. You know Jim? Big Jim…

GREENSLADE: Now if you’ll…

SEAGOON: Big Jim, Little Jim - Big Jim’s brother.

GREENSLADE: Now if you’ll just listen by this…

SEAGOON: Little Jim.

GREENSLADE: Oh will you shut up?!

SEAGOON: Innocent!

GREENSLADE: N…. Now if you’ll just…

SEAGOON: Innocent!

GREENSLADE: Will you shut up?!

ECCLES: He’s innocent, he said

GREENSLADE: Now if you’ll just listen by this…

SEAGOON: Innocent, ha ha ha!

GREENSLADE: I’ll get it in if it kills me. Now if you just listen by this window, you will hear part two

OMNES: Murmurs.

FX: Gavel on bench.

OMNES: Murmurs continue.

CRUN: Quiet, quiet, quiet, please!

FX: Gavel on bench more urgently.

CRUN: Gentlemen, quiet! Gentlemen - as I was saying, I decided to start this bank. So I got a financier to put up the money and a builder to put up the building.

BANNISTER: Aaahhyoorr… What did you put up buddy?

CRUN: I put up a sign saying ‘Henry Crun - Banker’…


CRUN: Licensed to sell the moneys…

OLD INVESTOR: (Daft) No offence meant, mark you Mr Crun - but look here, why did you call it ‘Crun’s Bank’?

CRUN: After my dear daddy, Lance Corporal Hoggins.

OLD INVESTOR: But you haven’t called the bank that!

CRUN: Of course I haven’t. You can’t call a bank ‘Lance Corporal Hoggins’ you know. This is not a military bank, you know.  

SPRIGGS: Aaah! Just a minute, Jiiim.

CRUN: What?

SPRIGGS: If we put our wherewithal - (the money) in the bank, how will we know it will be safe Jim? [4]

OLD INVESTOR: That’s right! Fair do’s.

SPRIGGS: Right. (That man can’t even afford teeth, let alone money.) As I was saying – if I put this money in the bank, how do I know it’ll be safe? I’ve always kept my money in a mattress!

OLD INVESTOR: And I’ve always been satisfied with my wherewithal - (the money) in my mattress.

CRUN: (Cackling) Oh dear, dear, dear! Gentlemen! Gentlemen! This ancient method of keeping monies in mattresses is stupid. In my bank, the monies are placed in a tea caddy and then they’re put in a mattress. Double strength security!

OLD INVESTOR: Wait a minute Mr Crun. Is this here mattress burglar-proof?

CRUN: Sir - it is hand-sewn by a locksmith.

BANNISTER: What type of locksmith?

CRUN: A Latvian locksmith and only one other person knows the combination.

SPRIGGS: Who’s that?

CRUN: The swine who stole all the money last night!

GRAMS: Rattling coins, multiple cash registers opening and closing.

OMNES: Mutters of financial panic.

CRUN: Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Stop these naughty withdrawals. There’s no need to worry! It was only a fake test robbery done by the insurance agent to test out security guards.

SPRIGGS: And was he satisfied?

CRUN: I don’t know. The guard shot him.

OMNES: Scattered applause. Cries of “Hooray!” etc.

CRUN: Thank you! Thank you for your support. I shall always wear it. And now gentlemen I declare the bank OPEN!


FX: Door opens. Shop bell rings.

GRYTPYPE: Good morning cashier. We would like to open an account and pay in… (Strains) … this mattress.

GREENSLADE: Certainly sir. I’ll just count it.

FX: Bedspring.

GREENSLADE: One. Yes, it’s all here sir.

SEAGOON: (Muffled)  Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

GREENSLADE: I say sir! There’s a man in there!

GRYTPYPE: Erm – yes! Yes, he’s a friend of ours. We’re putting him up for the night, aren't we?

MORIARTY: He’s a very light sleeper.

GREENSLADE: Oh, yes - I see. In that case I’ll have it put into your own vault and if anything happens, it’s your own vault. (Laughs) Ha ha ha!

ORCHESTRA: Thin chord. Cymbal snap at end.

GRYTPYPE: Thank you. And now to the next customer in the red - Max Geldray.

MORIARTY: The new sound. Aaaaw!




GREENSLADE: Now, according to this parcel of fruit from Australia marked ‘Fragile,’ and the damaged contents there-in, we present ‘The Great Bank Robbery’ part three.

GRYTPYPE: Yes, yes. I’ll take over from here Wallace.

GRAMS: Big Ben chiming at wildly varying speeds.

GRYTPYPE: With midnight chiming in all directions and Neddie safe inside Crun’s bullion vaults[6], the plan for the daring bank robbery was put into operation. So over now to a secret blacked out airship-drome at Potter’s Bar.

GRAMS: Airship propellers.

FRED NURK: Righto lads. Settle down Eidelberger - settle down!

EIDELBERGER: Settle down he says! Me who’s been married ten times - and all on the National Health!

FRED NURK: Quiet mein Herr! Now where’s that Japanese pilot, Yakamoto?

YAKAMOTO: (Japanese improv.) I am here Mr Blass. I was just combing my teeth, I could not find a brush

FRED NURK: Righto lads, belt up now. This is Grytpype’s plan eh. At three seconds to one - or thereabouts, we take off in Count Eidelberger’s zeppelin[7] in the direction of up. At half past, we hover over Crun’s Bank and lower four sky-hooks. A gentleman already secreted i… I say, can we have a bit of music? This part’s a bit boring.

YAKAMOTO: I play saxophone!

ORCHESTRA: Lively sax melody. Fade and hold under.

FRED NURK: Thank you. Right, as I was saying: a gentleman already secreted in a mattress will affix the hooks to the sides of the bank and we winch the whole lot up. Now pay off the flute player and off we go.

FX: Cash register.

FRED NURK: Is that clear to you?


FRED NURK: Why not?

EIDELBERGER: There’s a heavy mist.

FRED NURK: Let me look. (Strains.) Four pounds ten ounces. By the centre it’s heavy.

EIDELBERGER: Not only by the centre, but at both ends too! Now get in this zeppelin mit ausgeblungen volkischer vier vacht kreuzkrrrgggg… (Gargles phelgm.)

FRED NURK: Are you are German Eildelberger?

EIDELBERGER: Nein. No self-respecting German would have a phoney accent like zis!

YAKAMOTO: Ah please. Second phoney accent would like to speak. Ah fiendish, black, hand-painted zeppelin stuffed with horse hair, ah ready for takeoff in general direction of up!

FRED NURK: Wait a moment! It looks like a seven-twenty train to Bradford, does that.

EIDELBERGER: Exactly. That - my friend, is a zeppelin in disguise.

FRED NURK: Ooh. Well right-o! In you get. Contact! Cast-off! Put the dinner on!

GRAMS: Train whistle. Steam engine leaving station – gradually speed it up.

GREENSLADE: Listeners with keen ears and socks to match will recognise that even the sound of the zeppelin has been disguised as a seven-twenty train to Bradford. Quelle merveilleuse ingéniosité![8]

SEAGOON: I’m innocent, absolutely innocent. I was with filthy Fred.

GREENSLADE: Meanwhile…

SEAGOON: You know filthy Fred?

GREENSLADE: Will you shut up?! Meanwhile…

SEAGOON: I’m innocent!

GREENSLADE: Meanwhile…

SEAGOON: I wasn’t there, ha ha!

GREENSLADE: According to this…

SEAGOON: Meanwhile!

GREENSLADE: Meanwhile, according to this fine head of cabbage, now under

treatment at an LCC [9]

MINNIE: Excuse me, message for you. The young man over there said that he’s innocent, thank you.

SEAGOON: Champions of liberty!

GREENSLADE: I’ve never heard of Millicent. Anyhow, we find that back at the bank the vaults are being patrolled by a stalwart security guard with a loaded bullet.

FX: Pair of boots marching smartly across floor. Bedspring. Squeaky floorboard.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ooh! What was that? I heard a sound plunge. Plinge, platz, plodgee!

SEAGOON: (Muffled strains.)

BLUEBOTTLE: Oooooooh! Mummy! There’s somebody straining in a dark corner over there! Switches on torch - switch! (as done by switch.) Beam of light falls on eerie scene. Ooooooh! There’s someone struggling in a mattress. I will make a simple test and find out what is in it.

FX: Gunshot.

SEAGOON: Aeough!

BLUEBOTTLE: I have shot him in his mattress!

SEAGOON: You fool! I’m only playing a game. Now take this knife and cut me out.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ok then. Rip, riip!

SEAGOON: Whoop! Thank you.

BLUEBOTTLE: What was you doing inside the mattress captain?

SEAGOON: It was short of stuffing.

BLUEBOTTLE: Aaehh. You’re well stuffed aren’t you captain!

SEAGOON: Yes. It was a Christmas present from my auntie.

BLUEBOTTLE: What are you stuffed with then?

SEAGOON: With horse hair.

BLUEBOTTLE: Undo that then.


BLUEBOTTLE: Captain, do horses wear widges on their ears?

SEAGOON: Widges? There’s no such thing!

BLUEBOTTLE: Then what is an earwidge, captain?

SEAGOON: Well he’s a captain of earwidges!

ORCHESTRA: Thin chord – cymbal snap.

SEAGOON: That didn’t get much of a laugh, did it? They’ll be better second house. Now – “The Great Bank Robbery” part four!

GRAMS: Zeppelin engines, propellers.

SEAGOON: Listen, gerblunden. They’re playing the record of a horse hair-stuffed zeppelin right above us! This is the game Grytpype told me about. Little lad - see what’s up there?

BLUEBOTTLE: Ooh, a zellephin, captain!

SEAGOON: A good try lad. Wait, who’s this being lowered from the zellephin by his feet?

ECCLES: Ooohoho! Hallo fellers! Hey, what are you doing upside down?

SEAGOON: The newcomer was a blackened wreck bearing signs of a recent devastating explosion.

ECCLES: Yeah. Some naughty man gave me a cigar stuffed with horse hair.

SEAGOON: How did that explode?

ECCLES: I put it out in a barrel of gun powder.

SEAGOON: What were you doing in a barrel of gun powder?

ECCLES: I was practicing exploding myself for Guy Fawkes Night.

SEAGOON: What a beautiful melody. How does it go again?

GRAMS: Violent explosion. (Keep it short)

SEAGOON: Ah, they don’t write tunes like that these days. Now, if you’ll just help me stick these hooks in the four corners of the bank, then we can all go home!

GRAMS: Metal pegs being hammered home. Ropes uncoiling.

CAST: (Murmurs over)

SEAGOON: Right! Now I’m off to get the money from Grytpype.

EIDELBERGER: (Distant) Eccles! Are you all zet down zhere?

ECCLES: Yeah! Haul away up there!

GRAMS: Straining floorboards, hawsers winding, chains and ropes straining.

GRYTPYPE: Dear listeners, from the Drunkards Lounge of the Temperance Hotel opposite, I watched Crun’s Bank hoisted into the belly of the zellephin, the noise of the operation being covered by a recording of a piece of cardboard, highly amplified by Ray Ellington.

MORIARTY: The new cardboard sound, folks!


RAY ELLINGTON QUARTET: “Razzle Dazzle”[10]


GREENSLADE: That was Ray Ellington. I say he’s done well for himself! Now according to this tray of ready stoned walnuts, the news of the zeppelin bank robbery flashed ‘round the world and finally came to the notice of - of all people, the British police!

FX: Phone rings, handset lifts up.

BLOODNOK: What? Yes!

FX: Handset down.

BLOODNOK: Ooohoho! Gentlemen - a mystery has been committed. Prepare the police airship for immediate pursuit.

OFFICER:[11] Right sir.

BLOODNOK: Issue the following description…

OFFICER: Right sir.

GRAMS: Typewriter under.

BLOODNOK: Wanted: one large horse hair poultice stuffed zeppelin disguised as a seven-twenty train to Bradford with Crun’s Bank attached, last seen going in the direction of up near Blackpool.

OFFICER: Right sir. (With painful stutter) Ah … ah … pardon me, sir…

BLOODNOK: What what what what what?

OFFICER: The ah … the police airship has been…

BLOODNOK: What what? Mm?

OFFICER: Just a minute sir. The police airship has been … stuffed with … fresh horse hair … and is … waiting … directly … over … head.

BLOODNOK: Yes. Here – have a Benzedrine. [12]

OFFICER: Thank you sir. (Swallows) I say how long do they…(Rapid gabble.)[13]

BLOODNOK: Right. Lower skyhooks and haul up the police station.

GRAMS: Hawsers turning, chains winding, signal bells, Zeppelin engines and propellers.   

MORIARTY: Oooh! Great steaming hollers Grytpype! Look through this mutton-chop whisker telescope. [14]

GRYTPYPE: Gad! It’s a police airship going in the direction of up near Blackpool.

MORIARTY: Quick, I’ll get von Eidelberger on the Morse code. I’ll just strap myself in. [15]

GRAMS: Morse code receiver. Continue under.

EIDELBERGER: (In Morse) Ya ya ya ya. Ya ya ya ya. Ya ya ya!

MORIARTY: (In Morse) Pa da pa pa. Pa da pi pa poo! Eidelberger, what course are you on?

EIDELBERGER: Prunes and custard.  

MORIARTY: You fool! Listen, you must throw yourself overboard at once. A police airship is chasing you and they’ve already reached a speed of hot pie and peas!

EIDELBERGER: (Enraged) Gefalshitz schnorkel rortsich rrrrrrrrorten uber schiltern und die standing room in the Edgeware Road. Yakamoto! Serve cheese and biscuits and full speed ahead!

MORIARTY: Right. Make for John O'Groats. He’s a friend of mine.

FX: Phone handset put down.

GRYTPYPE: Well done Moriarty.

FX: Door opens. Distant bass drum playing marching rhythm.  

MORIARTY: A Charlie.

GRYTPYPE: Ah, Neddie! Have a piano.

ORCHESTRA: Piano plays brisk C major tremolo.

SEAGOON: Ta. Well, I’ve finished the game at the bank. Now where’s the eight pound, ten?

GRYTPYPE: Surprise, Neddie - surprise. We’ve spent the money on a new racing drum!

MORIARTY: (Overexcited) Yes! It will be waiting for you at the starting line of the drum race at John O'Groats.

SEAGOON: Splendid! Ha! Ha! Ha! Gad, with this drum I’ll be the first past the post at Land’s End. Goodbye!


FX: Door closes.

MORIARTY: … Charlie!

GRYTPYPE: Naughty little Charlie! And Moriarty, guess what Neddie will be carrying inside his new racing drum?

MORIARTY: Aaaaaaaaw! - fifty thousand pounds from Crun’s Bank in crisp notes! (Hysterically overexcited.)

GRYTPYPE: Money to burn! Go and get the sardine tins and oil yourself Moriarty. And while Bloodnok’s police zeppelin is heading north to find it, the money will be coming safely south inside an innocent looking racing bass drum. And with that boring exposé of the plot, over to the BBC.

ORCHESTRA: Thin chord – cymbal snap.

GREENSLADE: Thank you. Part five - The last day of the Tour de Britain Bass Drum Race. Hup!

GRAMS: Running feet. Bass drum behind playing marching rhythm.

ANNOUNCER: [16] (Over) Well, hello folks. Here we are at Cobb’s Corner, a bare half mile from the finishing post of the Tour de Britain five day bass drum race. And here, comes Stirling Moss beating a 1926 all wood British racing drum [17], followed closely by Sheila van Damm beating her highly tuned father. [18] And…

GRAMS: Feet speeding up. Frenzied bass drum.

ANNOUNCER: What’s this now? Yes! Yes! My goodness, they’re really coming along here! It’s a wonderful day! You can see them all beating their drums as they come!

GRAMS: Frenzied bass drums, different pitches. Swell and fade behind.

ANNOUNCER: Yes, that was the Italian ace – Giuseppe Fred Sappone, thundering into the straits at the sticks of a very fast sports drum. So over now to the finishing line!

GRAMS: Frenzied bass drums, different pitches. Gradually increase volume.

CAST: (Cornish yokels) Oorooy! Oorrooy! Oorrooy!



BLUEBOTTLE: I wonder where Neddie is.

ECCLES: I wonder where Neddie is Bluebottle.

BLUEBOTTLE: All the other runners have finished.

ECCLES: Oooooooh! Then he stands a good chance of coming in last!

ECCLES & BLUEBOTTLE: (Thick as two bricks) He stands a good chance of coming in last!

GRAMS: Frenzied bass drum, with running feet behind.

ECCLES & BLUEBOTTLE: (Variously.) Oooh! Here he comes! Hairy comes!

SEAGOON: Ah! At last - Land’s End! To go further would be Scilly! I made it! Scilly, get it? Scilly Isles! Ha ha ha! Scilly Isles… I’m guilty.

CORNISHMAN: [19] Captain Seagoon, welcome to Land’s End my dear. Now the traditional privilege of the last man in. We give you this cheque for eight pound ten and then we burn your old drum on the bonfire. Ar har har har!

GRAMS: Roaring flames. Crackling. Fade and hold under.

SEAGOON: Will this be a happy ending?

FX: Running footsteps.

GRYTPYPE & MORIARTY: (Puffing and panting.)

MORIARTY: Ask him, ask him!

GRYTPYPE: Hello, Neddie! Hello. So sorry we’re late. Mmmnngnnnn… now where’s the bass drum?

MORIARTY: Yes, where’s the bass drum?

GRYTPYPE: Where is it?

SEAGOON: Well that’s it up there - on top of the fire.

MORIARTY: Ooooowww! The money’s inside!

GRYTPYPE: The fire! Stop the water! Fire! [20]

GRAMS: Swell sounds of bonfire.

FX: Running footsteps.

GRYTPYPE & MORIARTY: (Variously.) Aww! Aww! Oooh! Money! Money!

GREENSLADE: Here is an announcement. “Early this morning two men were admitted to Brook Street Hospital with scorched fingers. A foreign office spokesman said the men were trying to retrieve a bass drum from a bonfire”. Who said the British aren’t musical? Goodnight, Charlies everywhere.

SEAGOON: I’m innocent!

ORCHESTRA: Playout: “Lucky Strike.”

GRYTPYPE & MORIARTY: (Variously.) Aww! Aww! Oooh! (Continue under.)

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 programme produced by Pat Dixon. [21]

ORCHESTRA: Continue playout .



[1] This show is an example of Milligan become ‘item-fixated’. In this case, it is with fruit. Other shows demonstrate his fixation with animals, eg: tigers - (The Regents Park Swim), and petrology, – (The International Christmas Pudding.)

[2] Gilbert Charles Harding, (1907 - 1960) was a British journalist and radio and television personality. He regularly appeared on the TV show ‘What’s My Line’. Later became famous for his bullying style of interviewing and for a while was known as ‘the rudest man in Britain.’

[3] I am reasonably certain that the next 15 lines of this exchange is unscripted. Greenslade was being teased.

[4] I suspect that the much of this exchange is extempore. Spike returns to the script 3 lines later.

[5] By Burton Lane and Ralph Freed. Premiered in the 1941 film ‘Babes On Broadway’ by Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.


[6] Milligan and Secombe interject with cries of ‘Innocent!’ I suspect Spike was trying it out as a new catchphrase.


[7] Milligan had a short lived fascination with Zeppelins. They appear in this show, “Round the World in Eighty Days” (20/7th), and “The Africa Ship Canal” (21/7th). It was also an excuse to introduce Count Eidelberger into the particular episode.

[8] “What marvellous ingenuity,” rather self evidently.

[9] Untranscribable.

[10] By Charles E. Calhoun. Recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets – 1955.


[11] Milligan. He plays both officers with a slightly upper-class voice. Whereas Sellers did most of his extra voices with a slight London twang, Milligan usually resorted to the adenoidal tones of a someone with a public school education, presumably in imitation of the various Commissioned officers he remembered from the war.


[12] Benzedrine was a mild amphetamine, often given to WWII soldiers. It had a euphoric, stimulating effect.


[13] Milligan speaks in an extremely rapid manner. I can’t make up my mind whether this is live or pre-recorded and speeded up.


[14] Transference of Utility, the third of Milligans comic innovations. His thinking went somewhat along these lines; something stuck on your face helps you to see far off – ‘mutton chop whiskers are stuck to your face so that should do’. He tried the same gag in ‘The Rent Collectors’, 10 shows later.


[15] Milligan knew this job well. He had been a signaller in WWII.

[16] Sellers. I wonder if he’s doing an impression of John Snagge calling the annual University Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford?


[17] Sir Stirling Craufurd Moss OBE, (born 1929), raced from 1948 until 1962.


[18] Sheila Van Damm (1922-1987) was the owner of The Windmill Theatre and a remarkable racing car driver, a sport she had taken up after the war. Her father was Vivian Van Damm, the London theatre impresario, who had introduced ‘tableaux vivants’ to the London stage.


[19] Sellers. The same voice he did two weeks previously in ‘The Spectre of Tintagel’.


[20] That is apparently what Sellers says. It seems he misread his lines. It was more likely “Stop the fire! Water!”


[21] The cast sing along to the playout, and the subsequent Geldray number (‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’).