BROADCAST: 22 Nov 1956[1]


Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC.  We present…

SEADOG:[2] The Personal Narrative of Captain Neddie Seagoon RN,  a jolly jack tar in the employ of His Majesties’ Navy.

FX: Ocean swell. Creaking timbers. Slap of sails. Wind in rigging.

SEADOG: (Shouting aloft) Moby Dick on the Bernard Miles![3] Arrrrggg!

ORCHESTRA: Nautical theme.

GRAMS: Ocean swell, creaking timbers and wind.

SEAGOON: Log of HMS Resistance,[4] eighteenth of May 1662. Squalled all day - child must be teething.  Position nor-nor east of Dover. Heard a knock at the door…

FX: Three short sharp knocks.

SEAGOON: …said ‘come in’.

WILLIUM: Oh captain mate RN. I've just spotted someone in the crows nest.

SEAGOON:  Really?

WILLIUM: Yeah, and he’s spotted something on the horizon.

SEAGOON: Describe it.

WILLIUM: Well, it was a big long thing made of wood - sharp at one end, blunt at the other, with sailors on it.


WILLIUM: I thought it were, but only I – well, I didn't like talking out of turn.

SEAGOON: Whose turn was it?

WILLIUM: Your'n. That's why I let you say it mate RN.

SEAGOON: Thank you mate RN. You say they're made of wood eh? Hand me my telescope.


SEAGOON: Mmmn, mnnm. Yes, that's wood alright.

WILLIUM: You're looking at the inside of our cabin mate.

SEAGOON: So I am. What a silly RN. Open the porthole Willium from the inside.


SEAGOON: I just like to make these points clear, you understand.

GRAMS: Spring.

SEAGOON: Thank you. Gad - you're right Willium. It is a ship. It's Dutch!

WILLIUM: You sure?

SEAGOON: Certainly, it's wearing clogs. Captain Lawnmower?

CAPTAIN: Aye aye sir?

SEAGOON: Yes, you sir. These Dutch ships - find out where they come from.

CAPTAIN: I'll just look it up sir.

FX: Leafing through book.

CAPTAIN: Ah… um…  'D'… ah - Dutch come from Holland sir.

SEAGOON: Foreigners! Gentlemen, keep my dinner warm - I'm going to inform the Admirality. Goodbye!

GRAMS: Brisk footsteps. Sudden splash.

MORIARTY: Pssssst - Grytpype.


MORIARTY: How long must we hide in this reeking powder barrel?

GRYTPYPE: Not long now Moriarty. Seagoon's heading for London - we've got to stop him.

MORIARTY: Perquoise?

GRYTPYPE: Perquoise!? This Dutch spy Max von Geldray crouching behind you, says that the Hollanders will pay ten thousand guilders if we can sabotage the British fleet.  That's what you said isn't it?

GELDRAY: (At speed) Ik loop terug voor kerstmis over de Ierse Zee, hey![5]

MORIARTY: What did he say?

GRYTPYPE: I don't know, but there you are.  He's offering five thousand guilders if we can stop Seagoon.

MORIARTY & GRYTPYPE: (Variously) Let's go! Ohh!  Money!

GRAMS: Two sets of footsteps running away. Two sets of splashes.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic nautical link.

GRAMS: Noise of crickets. Fade under.

GRYTPYPE: My moon dial says it's nearly midnight. Any sign of him yet?

MORIARTY: No, but he has got to go past here.  This is the only road that runs direct between his ship and London.

GRYTPYPE: Is he coming by road?

MORIARTY: No - by horse. I tell you he's got to pass this point - I've spent all day sharpening it.

GRYTPYPE: Never mind the needle nardle noo. Have you prepared Captain Seagoon RN’s fatal accident?

MORIARTY: (Overexcited) Awwraorighaw! Yes I have. I've stretched fourteen trip wires across the road…

GRYTPYPE: Supposing the horse jumps them?

MORIARTY: Then the riders head will come in contact with a hundred ton iron girder suspended from a twig.

GRYTPYPE: I see… I see. But what if he misses both?

MORIARTY: Awwwrr - then there's a hundred and fifty foot deep pit full of deep water.

GRYTPYPE: Trip wires, iron girder, deep pit with deep water - it's fool proof Moriarty!

MORIARTY: Of course it is!  Of course it is! Shhh! Shhh! Oh Hark! Huck! Hee! Ssss! Here he comes now.

GRAMS: Horse galloping fast. Swell and fade.

(Short silence.)

GRYTPYPE: It didn't work.

MORIARTY: Of course not. That wasn't Captain Seagoon RN.

GRYTPYPE: Then where the devil is he?

SEAGOON: (Distant.) I'm in London!

GRYTPYPE: Quick - after him!

GRAMS: Galloping hooves. Spring. Metal girder hit with hammer. Huge splash. Swimmer treading water.

MORIARTY: Sapristi! What fool put trip wires, and iron girder and deep water in our way?

GRYTPYPE: Help me dismount Moriarty.


GRYTPYPE: My horse can only swim on his back!

GRAMS: Splashing fades.

GREENSLADE: In London, mean time an important meeting at the Admiralty is in session.

CAST: (Murmurs.) Naval rhubarb, naval rhubarb, naval rhubarb etc.

ADMIRAL SPRIGGS: My Lords RN. This courier brings a message from Sir Richard Grenville RN,[6] who needs help desssssperately!

ADMIRAL BLOODNOK: Oh - and what is the message, my man?

ECCLES: I have run fifty miles - (Thank you, thank you! Thank you members of the Admiralty.) Now then, I said I have run fifty miles till I'm out of breath,

I have run all the way in the face of death,       

I have run through the rain and snow and hail,

to deliver this message without fail.

I have run since early December ...

ADMIRAL BLOODNOK: But what's the message?

ECCLES: … I can't remember.

ADMIRAL BLOODNOK: Look here. Do an impression of a hole and we'll fill you in later. Next please.

SEAGOON: Sir RN, a Dutch ship under Van Thromp[7] and Van Driver is in the Channel.

OLD ADMIRAL:[8] Then England is in danger!

ADMIRAL SPRIGGS: What! This is serious my Lords RN. We'll have to build a battleship RN.

ADMIRAL FLOWERDEW: My lords RN, as First Sea Lord RN, it's nothing to do with me but I know we've already got a battleship somewhere. But I can't think… Erm… I…I… know - I have a picture of it in my bedroom.

ADMIRAL SPRIGGS: Splendid! But where is it?

ADMIRAL FLOWERDEW: Hanging over the wash stand.

SEAGOON: Gentlemen RN, my Lord RN is right. We have got a battleship! I know - I drive it.

ADMIRAL SPRIGGS: Then have you got a license sir?

SEAGOON: Only a provisional one. So we must attack the Dutch before it expires.

ADMIRAL SPRIGGS: Very well. The signal for you to open fire will be a bonfire lit on Nag’s Head. Now report back to your ship and water. Meantime Max Geldray.


MAX GELDRAY:  “This Can’t Be Love”[9]


ORCHESTRA: Naval Theme

CAST: Seamen’s calls.

GRAMS: Naval cannon in action. Whistle of shell. Explosion.

FX: Typewriter under.

SEAGOON: Nineteenth of May, sixteen fifty-two. Under fire from Dutch ship. Am waiting for beacon on mainland to signal for me to retaliate.

FX: Door opens.

BLOODNOK: Captain Seagoon, I've just spliced the mainbrace. Fortunately I didn't tell the crew.

SEAGOON: Splendid news! I've got bad news.


SEAGOON: The Dutch have been joined by another ship.

BLOODNOK: Two? We're surrounded! What flag are they flying?

SEAGOON: A white one with an onion on it.

BLOODNOK: Spaniards![10] Let them all come and then we'll all go.

SEAGOON: Go? Retreat? Admiral Bloodnok you're a miserable coward!

BLOODNOK: Nonsense! I'm a perfectly happy one do you hear.

GRAMS: Cannon ball hits.


SEAGOON: Blast! Why don't they light that beacon? If these Dutch close with us we'll be caught with our pants down!

BLOODNOK: I know. What's holding ‘em up?

SEAGOON: My braces. What's holding yours up?


ORCHESTRA: Corny chord and cymbal snap.

SEAGOON: Thank you! And now for further news of the beacon lighting, over to the mainland.

FX: Rapid knocks on door. Door knob turning, door creaks open.

CRUN: Yes? Yes sir… yes.

DRAGOON:[11] Could you tell us where the beacon lighter lives please?

CRUN: Number eighteen A, Gallows Lane.

DRAGOON: Is that on this side of the street?

CRUN: Yes it is.

DRAGOON: Thank you. Giddup there. Giddup!

FX: Horse galloping away. (Speed up and fade)  

(Short pause.)

FX: Fade in horse galloping back again – pulls up.

DRAGOON: Whoooaa!

FX: Urgent door knocks. Door opens.

CRUN: Yes?

DRAGOON: Is this eighteen A, Gallows Lane?

CRUN: Yes! I told you it was on this side of the street.

DRAGOON: I'd like to have words with the official beacon lighter - very urgent.

CRUN: Urgent, yes. Just a minute… (Calls) Minnie?

BANNISTER: Just a minute I've got to get my teeth in. (Sucking noises) What is it Crun?

CRUN: Call the beacon lighter Min.

BANNISTER: Oh dear… (Calls) Sebastiannnnn?

SEBASTIAN:[12] Yeah!

BANNISTER: Call the beacon lighter Sebastian.

SEBASTIAN: (Calls) Gladys!

GLADYS:[13] Yes darling?

SEBASTIAN: Call the beacon lighter.

GLADYS: Beacon lighter, there's someone at the door for you.

CRUN: I know - I opened for him. Now sir, do you wish the beacon litten?

DRAGOON: Aye, and hurry!

CRUN: Right. I'll prepare the vital ignitions. (Calls) Minnie?

BANNISTER: What . . . what . . . what is it? (Gummy) I've put my teeth in the water again.

CRUN: Put them back in, I can't hear...

BANNISTER: (Sucking noises.) What do you want now?

CRUN: Where are the matches Min?

BANNISTER: Albert's got them.

CRUN: Albert?


CRUN: (calls off) Albert!

BANNISTER: (calls off) Alberrrrrrrrrrt.

CAST: (One by one they join in the call. Extended.)[14]

 (Short pause)

DRAGOON: Why doesn't he answer?

CRUN: He's in Africa.

DRAGOON: Has nobody got a match then?

MORIARTY: (Enthusiastic) Ghuwghuwghuwghuw. Gentlemen - I happened to overhear your conversation as I was passing in that tree. Allow me Count Jim ‘Thighs’ Moriarty[15] to loan you this genuine box of wooden matches, fifty in number, packed in a little box with a merry joke on the back. Huh – ho!

FX: Scrape of matchbox.

CRUN: Thank you. I'll get ready then.

MORIARTY: (whispers) Got him.

BANNISTER: You mustn't go out without a cooked meal Henry.

CRUN: Why not Min?

BANNISTER: You must have a lining to your stomach.

BANNISTER & CRUN: (Continue to argue under.)

DRAGOON: There's no time for linings - I clean my teeth twice a day! Come on, get on the horse. I've got room on the crossbar for both of you. (Self fade) Giddup there!

GRAMS: Horse’s hooves galloping away. Speed up and fade.

GRYTPYPE: Moriarty?


GRYTPYPE: Did you dampen those matches?

MORIARTY: Of course. I put them in my pocket and stood in a lake all night. I'm no fool you know.

GRYTPYPE: But there was no need to go that far. Right, lets collect the fifteen thousand guilders.

ORCHESTRA: Nautical link.

CAST: (Shouts from seamen aloft)

GRAMS: Naval cannon in action. Whistle of shell. Explosion.

BLOODNOK: AAHHHHHHHhoooooho! Scuttle me galley clocks - half me rigging’s shot away! And me britches at half mast…

SEAGOON: You can't walk the decks in that exposed condition. Get in this barrel!

BLOODNOK: It's your turn in the barrel![16]

BOSUN O’SHEA:[17] Pardon me sir! There's a fire in number three hold.

BLOODNOK: I'll come right away - it's freezing up here!

SEAGOON: Right! Everything under control. (Self fade) I've put two special lookouts in the crows nest to watch out for the beacon.

GRAMS: Howl of wind, slap of sails, creaking of rigging, clank of chains. Ocean sounds. Continue under the whole scene.

BLUEBOTTLE: Can you see anything Eccles?

ECCLES: Yeah! I can see anything.

BLUEBOTTLE: Oh?  What can you see now den?

ECCLES: I'll just get my telescope now. Ah - I can see you.

BLUEBOTTLE: Oohh RN - I can't.

ECCLES: Oh well, you stand over here and look through this telescope and you'll see.

FX: Footsteps.

ECCLES: There.[18]

BLUEBOTTLE: Oh. I still can't see ‘im.

ECCLES: What? Give me that telescope.


ECCLES: Ohhh.  He's gone! He's gone you know - he's gone.


ECCLES & BLUEBOTTLE: (Together) He's gone!

ECCLES: (sings)… A life on the ocean waves.

A life on the ocean waves.

Aye diddle aye dum diddle d’aye.

I got my legs to keep me warm…[19]

BLUEBOTTLE: Eccles RN, do you like being up here in the crows nest?

ECCLES: Yeh! It's high!

BLUEBOTTLE: Yes. Being in the crows nest ...




BLUEBOTTLE: Why did you join the Navy?

ECCLES: I needed the money.


ECCLES: To buy myself out. I've been forty two years in the Navy now and I've been saving all the time.

BLUEBOTTLE: Cor - you must have travelled.

ECCLES: I've travelled!

BLUEBOTTLE: You're a man of the world.

ECCLES: I've had visions! [20]

BLUEBOTTLE: Here, Eccles?


BLUEBOTTLE: Have you ever been out with women in grass skirts?

ECCLES: No. I'm not allowed to wear 'em.

ELLINGTON: Hey! Ok fellas, seven bells. And it's my turn in the crows nest. (Calls) Kipper on the cardboard cow cor blimey…

BLUEBOTTLE: Why - it's Ray Ellington RN! Give us a nautical songe Mister sailor type man!


RAY ELLINGTON:  "That's Right"[21]


GRAMS: Howling winds under.


FX: Matchbox opening. Matches striking. Continue under, very close.

CRUN: Dear, dear!

BANNISTER: Oh dear. I don't know where the draft’s coming from, but I know where it's going to. We'll never get this beacon lit Henry.

CRUN: No. We never come out without a cooked meal you know.

BANNISTER: You should have a lining to your stomach!

CRUN: Yes - and these matches won't light…

BANNISTER: What! Oh, they appear to be damp.

DRAGOON: Hurry up! The dawn’s coming up like thunder, like a  tharenwch [22] out of the bay-there-you-can't-do-this-to-me, look here! And when it does them Dutch will open fire on Captain Seagoon. They can't miss him at that range.

CRUN: Nobody could miss him at any range.

FX: More matches being struck.

CRUN: Ohhh. Oh dear what's the matter ...

BANNISTER: Use the power of your arms in striking.

DRAGOON: Are you striking them right?

CRUN: What! I studied match striking under mister Guy Fawkes.

DRAGOON: Are there any instructions on the box?

CRUN: Yes, it's on the back here. "Conundrum – Q; How do you make a Maltese Cross? A; Stick a lighted match in his ear."

BANNISTER: Look, look Henry! The beacon's taken fire.

CRUN: (Vintage excitement) Ohhwwwaahwwwwwaw.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

GRAMS: Sounds aboard ship. (Waves, wind, timbers, rigging, chains.)

BLUEBOTTLE: Captain! Captain! They've litted the beacon on Nag’s Head.

SEAGOON: Poor animal! Right Bluebottle, fire the gun.

BLUEBOTTLE: Bang! boom! blam! blun!

SEAGOON: Stringy North Finchley Lad, why don't you fire the cannons?

BLUEBOTTLE: The matches is damp.

SEAGOON: Damp! Where did you get 'em from?

BLUEBOTTLE: That nice gentleman standing in the lake.

SEAGOON: What! (calls) You there! Come out from behind that water.

MORIARTY: Don't shoot! I'm not well.

SEAGOON: You don't deserve to be. You're not Well - then who are you?

MORIARTY: Interpreter - tell him who I am in interpret.

GELDRAY: (Speedily) Hij is de bekende man van de Nederlandse radio omroep, Hilversum een! Hoi! [23]

SEAGOON: A Dutchman. A Dutchman! Drop that tulip!

GRYTPYPE: He'll do no such thing Neddie. You've got two minutes to abandon ship.

SEAGOON: You mean... you’ve lit the powder trail in the hold?

GRYTPYPE: So you've read the book as well!

SEAGOON: Yes. We'll soon get a brave seaman to extinguish it. Bluebottle?

BLUEBOTTLE: I've gone home captain. I'm on passion leave - there was jam for tea.

SEAGOON: That's next week. Here, take this cup of water (self fade) and put the fuse out.

BLUEBOTTLE & ECCLES: (Going off) Grumbles and murmurs.

GREENSLADE: Is Moriarty lying? Has Grytpype really lit a powder trail in the hold?  Will Bluebottle extinguish it in time? Listen again next week when you'll hear ...

GRAMS: Massive explosion inside oil drum. Follow it up with falling bits and pieces at end.

BLUEBOTTLE: (Off mic) Arrrrggghhh oh ho ho! You rotten swine you. Why ‘ave you started that lark again?

SEAGOON: It's only a game lad.

BLUEBOTTLE: I don't like that game.

SEAGOON: You've got your head on back to front.

ORCHESTRA: Playout 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.

ORCHESTRA: Continue Playout.[24]



[1] Milligan wrote two episodes during the 7th series concerning the Restoration, this one and ‘The Flea’ five episodes later. I suggest he had probably been reading the diaries of Samuel Pepys recently.


[2] Sellers.


[3] Bernard Miles (1907 – 1991) used a strong country accent typical of the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire counties. He was most usually associated with the part of Long John Silver, which he played for the British TV version of Treasure Island, and for the annual performance at the Mermaid Theatre.


[4] Very unclear what Secombe says. It has been suggested that the ship was HMS Resolution, but the tape does not bear that out. The word begins as ‘Res’ and ends with ‘ence’ or ‘ance’.

[5] Meaning – ‘I'm walking back for Christmas across the Irish Sea’.


[6] It’s hard to know who Milligan means, as the last Sir Richard Grenville had died in 1658, four years previously. His grandfather, also Sir Richard Grenville, had been an Elizabethan adventurer, privateer and colonist.


[7] He probably means Cornelis Martinus Tromp (1629 – 1691) Lieutenant-Admiral of the Dutch navy.


[8] Sellers.


[9] Rodgers and Hart, from the 1938 musical ‘The Boys From Syracuse’.

[10] Spanish onions - which this refers to, is the London slang for bunions.


[11] Secombe with a thick Welsh accent.

[12] Ellington.


[13] Greenslade, doing his own version of ‘Flowerdew’.

[14] This is a marvellous moment. While Ellington, Sellers and Greenslade continue their calls, Milligan (as Minnie) starts singing ecstatically. 


[15] Moriarty’s middle name was ‘Thighs’ in the previous episode also. Prior to that he was ‘legs’ Moriarty.

[16] The full joke (of which this is the punch line), seems to have been well known to the audience, as it creates a hearty reaction and quite a bit of applause. I think by this series, the audience as well as the members of the cast were fully expecting hidden vulgarity in the shows.


[17] Milligan.


[18] Milligan as Eccles and the FX engineer get the sequence out of order. ‘There!’ actually comes before the sound of Bluebottle walking across the deck to Eccles.

[19] Based on Irving Berlin’s ballade, “I Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.”


[20] I rate this line as one of the most extraordinary lines of the Goon Show. What does he mean? Why does he say it?


[21] Released in 1955 by ‘The Five Keys’.


[22] An excerpt from Kipling’s ‘On the Road to Mandalay’, with the Welsh word for thunder included.


[23] Meaning – ‘He is the well know man from Dutch radio broadcasting, Hilversum 1’.

[24] The problem with taking this episode historically seriously is that most of the checkable facts are incorrect. Sir Richard Grenville (1542 – 1591), the Elizabethan adventurer, pirate and founder of the settlement at Roanoke Island, North Carolina, was dead by this date - 1662, as was his grandson the notorious Civil War figure of the same name, (1600 – 1658). The second Dutch War was the closest in date to the one mentioned by Spike, but that did not officially begin until 1665 and concluded in 1667. The Rear Admiral of the Dutch fleet was named Cornelius Tromp, not Van Thromp as Secombe pronounces it. It is hard to know what Spike based his facts upon, so incidental items like ‘Nag’s Head’ or the name of Grenville’s ship are hard to confirm. All we can conclude is that he didn’t let the facts stand in the way of a good story.