RECORDED: 9 Dec 1956


Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens.


GREENSLADE: This is the General Overseas Service of the BBC. This program is specially dedicated to Her Majesty's Forces Overseas[1] and to the Trans-Antarctic Expedition, the Falkland Islands Dependency Survey Teams and the Royal Society Expedition at Halley Bay.[2] Greetings from the Goons.
ECCLES: Hello.
ORCHESTRA: Regal fanfare.
PETER: This is a story of a great endeavour. A story of land, sea and air – and in some cases, both. The date: the twenty-third of November 1956.[3] Christmas was coming, the geese were getting fat. But one problem lay heavily on Parliament's conscience.
GRAMS: (fade in) Crowd murmuring.
MP BANNISTER: What's happened to the colonies?
MINISTER CRUN: What are colonies?
MP BANNISTER: Erm… I don’t know. 
MP SEAGOON: (Think of something.)
MP BANNISTER: A bit of land, surrounded by dollars.[4]
MINISTER CRUN: As Minister of Military-type foods, I must state that the picture regarding Christmas puddings for the forces overseas, looks pretty black. 
MP: Then why don't we send them black puddings?
ORCHESTRA: Corny chord.
MINISTER CRUN: Thank you, Sir Hartley Shawcross KC.[5] And now, a few statistics from our resident statisticker.
ORCHESTRA: Lively introductory-type music.
SPRIGGS: I say, I say, I say, I say! I say gentlemen, owing to the shortage of civilian contractors, they cannot supply sufficient Xmas-type duff for our forces overseas.
OMNES: (variously) Oo – calamity! A terrible calamity.
SCOTTISH MP: What about the Naafi?
MINISTER CRUN: Naafi – what is Naafye?
SCOTTISH MP: An organisation, working for the downfall of the British Army.[6]
MINISTER CRUN: Have they succeeded? 
SCOTTISH MP: Several times. 
SPRIGGS: Gentlemen, gentlemen – I have a solution. I just took it off a bicycle tyre. Now, listen to me, please. Why don't the services all combine in the building of a giant Christmas pudding?
GRAMS: Crowd – applause, cheers, fade in singing of "Land of Hope and Glory", gradually speeded up.
PETER: The motion was adopted and passed. But meanwhile, at the Admiralty...
GRAMS: Massed typewriters in background.
FX: Door opens. Bosun's whistle.
SPARKS: Ah, pardon me, sir RN.
SEAGOON: What is it, Sparks?
SPARKS: I'm sorry to interrupt you at squash, sir.
SEAGOON: It's all right, I'll drink it later.
SPARKS: This morse signal just arrived from Magga Dan Trans-Antarctic E-e-e-e-expedition, sir.[7]
SEAGOON: Really! What's it say?
SPARKS: I don't know, it's all little dots and dashes. I…
SEAGOON: I see. Play it on the gramophone.
SPARKS: Right.
GRAMS: Morse code. Very rapid.
SEAGOON: What a lovely tune. What's it called?
SPARKS: It  says,  “We-Want-a-Christmas-Pudding-for-Christmas-by-the-boys-of-the-Trans-Antarctic-Ex-a-a-a-a-apedition, with Taffy-Williams-at-the-Mighty-Morse-Keys.”
SEAGOON: Three words a minute, that's his lot. Gad! You mean those lads out there in all that sand and snow are to be denied a Christmas pudding?
SPARKS: I fear so, sir.
SEAGOON: It's not British, I tell you, it's not British.
SPARKS: Very few Christmas puddings are these days, sir. They're made in Japan.
SEAGOON: Wait, wait! I have it, Robin.
SPARKS: Have you, sir?
SEAGOON: I have indeed, Robin. We will have to ask the service chefs to increase the size of the giant Service Christmas pudding to allow for an extra slice for the Antarctic base.
SPARKS: Magnificent, sir. D’you know, they're mixing it at Chatham at this very moment, sir. I'll drive you there. Giddup, sir, giddup!
SEAGOON: (Neighing.)
GRAMS: Two pair of boots running away.
GRAMS: "Claire de lune". End with corny cymbal snap.
GREENSLADE: We included that brief excerpt from "Clair de Lune" for people who speak French. And now, over to Richard Dimbleby.
GRAMS: Machinery – very complicated mix of spurts, plops etc.
DIMBLEBY:[8] The sound you are now hearing is the great combined Services Christmas pudding in the making. I'm standing by the great dry dock at Chatham in which the Christmas pudding is being mixed. Standing next to me is Admiral Seagoon, RN.
SEAGOON: Well, we've had a good day today. Number three flotilla of mortar torpedo boats have been going backwards and forwards churning up the mixture. The cruiser Ajax has been following in their wake, dropping depth charges to bring the raisins to the surface.
DIMBLEBY: How perfectly splendid, to see the finest traditions of the silent service being maintained.[9]
SEAGOON: Yes, yes, we try to keep the men happy when they're off duty by giving them little tasks like this.
DIMBLEBY: We could do with more of that spirit, sir.
SEAMAN:[10] (Uncouth) You could do with a big clout up the back of your big fat steaming nut, there.
SEAGOON: Put that admiral under arrest.
SEAMAN: I'll write my MP.
DIMBLEBY: How do you test the density of this great patriotic pudding mixture?
SEAGOON: We've sent a diver down. He went down half an hour ago. We're
getting rather worried.
SEAGOON: He hasn't got a diving suit on.
DIMBLEBY: Ha, ha! What a splendid joke that was to play on him.
GRAMS: Dive bombers attacking.
DIMBLEBY: And now the great dockyard is being cleared, as the Fairey Gannets of 824 Squadron swoop low over the pudding.[11] Their bomb bays are open, and yes, down comes the candied peel, stone ginger and sultanas.
GRAMS: Bombs falling, and crash. (Repeat three times.)
DIMBLEBY: A direct hit on the great Christmas pudding mixture. This is indeed a grand day for the Empire.
SEAMAN:[12] Er, pardon me, sir, er – oil tankers standing by for to take on the pudding, sir.
SEAMAN: Right-o.
SEAGOON: Tell them to drop the suction pumps into the mixture and suck it!
SEAMAN: Right-o, sir.
GRAMS: Suction pump sounds.
DIMBLEBY: And so the great pudding mixture is siphoned out of the dry dock and into the great all-British oil tanker, Aristotle Onassis.
SEAGOON: Yes, she'll transport it to an empty gasometer near Salisbury Plain. From then on the pudding is under Army command. Unfortunately.
DIMBLEBY: Thank you, Admiral Seagoon. And before we go, what is the great record of your choice?
SEAGOON: I should say, er – Max Geldray.
SEAMAN: I’m orf then.
MAX GELDRAY – “Sweet Lorraine[13]
GREENSLADE: Operation Christmas Duff, part two.
GRAMS: Bugle call, vary the speed wildly.
BLOODNOK: Ohoh! Ooh, ooweeoweeowee… (Morning breath.) Reveille! And first thing in the morning too. Oh, what a shock. (Calls) Quick, get me some brandy.
CAPTAIN THING: Have you got a weak heart sir?
BLOODNOK: No, a weak will. Now, Captain Thing, what's the latest sit. ref.?
CAPTAIN THING: Oh-six-hundred hours, sir, tank transporter arrived with converted gasometer containing six hundred tons of Christmas pudding ready for cooking.
BLOODNOK: What's its map reference?
BLOODNOK: Salisbury Plain?
BLOODNOK:  Where's that?
CAPTAIN THING: You're standing on it, sir.
BLOODNOK: Why, I'm dreadfully sorry. I hope I haven't dirtied it.
CAPTAIN THING: It's all right, sir. We have it blanco’d every other day.
FX: Knocking on door.
BLOODNOK: Come in! – Two! –Three!
FX: Door opens. Bosun's whistle.
BLOODNOK: Oh, it's a naval snotty, RN.[14] What are you doing so far inland?
SEAGOON: I ran aground, sir. I was sent alongside to report on the cooking.
BLOODNOK: Well, you'd – you’d – you’d better follow me.
GRAMS: Two pairs of footsteps.
BLOODNOK: The Derbyshire Yeomanry have laid on fourteen flame-throwing tanks.
ORCHESTRA: Bugle plays "Come to the cookhouse door". 
GRAMS: Resume footsteps.
SEAGOON: I say, what call is that?
BLOODNOK: The cookhouse. Number one on our hit parade, you know. Has been
for three hundred years now.
SEAGOON: Yes, yes.
BLOODNOK: Now here we are. Now ah, if you'll just come into this observation
post you'll be able to watch to whole of the Christmas pudding being cooked.
Now, let's go over to this qwiln.[15]
GRAMS: Flame-throwers.
GREENSLADE: Hello, listeners. The sound you're hearing are the tanks which are bringing their flame-throwers to bear, as they cook the giant Christmas pudding in its gasometer. And now a word from our military observer.
CAPTAIN BERK: Well, at dawn this morning, number forty-five commando went in
under cover of daylight, and brought back samples for testing by the Army Catering Corps.
GREENSLADE: What was it like?
CAPTAIN BERK: Pretty good.
BLOODNOK: I say, Captain Berk.
CAPTAIN BERK: Sir! – Two – Three – Four.
BLOODNOK: Eh, field intelligence reports that the pudding is done.
CAPTAIN BERK: Splendid, sir, absolutely, first class. Yes, I should wait till things have cooled down a bit, then send in the sappers who blast open the gasometer with Bangalore torpedo's, leaving the pudding completely at our mercy.
BLOODNOK: Splendid. Over roger and out.
CAPTAIN BERK: Thank you.
GREENSLADE: Excuse me Major, I'm from the BBC.
BLOODNOK: I'm sorry, I don't have any money on me. I, er… Ask John Snagge – he's got a fortune in his mattress, you know.[16]
GRAMS: Explosions.
BLOODNOK: Ooohh! There she goes, there she goes. You see that? Split the
gasometer completely in two. Well done, sappers!
GREENSLADE: Indeed yes, listeners. Right in two, revealing a great big steaming Christmas pudding.
GRAMS: Gunfire.
GREENSLADE: And there you hear the 74th Medium Regiment RA firing over
open sights smack into the pudding itself. Tell me Major, what are they firing?
BLOODNOK: Three-penny bits.
CAPTAIN BERK: Excuse me sir, the infantry have gone in. Their CO is on the 
BLOODNOK: Oh, hello, Sunray here.
MASTERS: Masters speaking.
BLOODNOK: Yes.                                                              
MASTERS: Here's a sit. rep., sir. B Company, second Force Hamps. have reached the summit of the Christmas pudding.
BLOODNOK: All right. Consolidate. Roger and out. Gentlemen, the Army's task in this matter is completed. It is now under RAF command. Unfortunately.
ORCHESTRA: "Land of Hope and Glory" – last eight bars.
SEAGOON: That night, an excited House was given the news.
GRAMS: Crowd noises - heavy mutterings.
CHURCHILL:[17] Honourable members. I have this moment received good news. At
seventeen hundred hours British troops have gained the summit of the combined Services Christmas pudding and there planted the British holly.
GRAMS & OMNES: Applause and cheers.
CHURCHILL: One hour later, the Sopwith Camels of Bomber Command, dropped
delayed brandy bombs, then to set the pudding on fire. The magnificent Christmas duff is now ready for transporting.
GRAMS & OMNES: Cheering. Massive crowd singing "Land of Hope and Glory".
GREENSLADE: Late that night, service chiefs were given their instructions at the War Office.
GRAMS: Bar room noises – honky tonk piano. Clank of glasses and bottles.
SEAGOON: Gentlemen, please, please. If the Chief of the Imperial General
Staff will lay off the Joanna – thank you.[18]
THROAT: Cor blimey. I've always played it before.
SEAGOON: I have here sealed orders containing four tickets for the Windmill,[19]
and this message... 
SQUADDIE 1: Alright!
SQUADDIE 2: Good luck there. 
SEAGOON: "The pudding will be... “
SQUADDIE 2: What about the old General Staff, there?
SEAGOON: I don't wish to know that.
SQUADDIE 2: What about the old fashioned ______ there?
SEAGOON: I say look here…
SQUADDIE 1: What about the old flying duck there?
SEAGOON: (What about it?… What about the turkey in the shop?)[20] And now then, the pudding will be divided as follows. One slice to be cut and filled with anti-freeze for immediate transport to the Trans-Antarctic expedition. The remainder of the giant Christmas pudding will be fitted with wheels, a diesel engine, and driven to the Middle East depots for distribution. Signed, Field Marshall Montgoonery.
CAST: Excited regimental chattering.
ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.
GRAMS: Vehicle labouring uphill in wrong gear. Distant howling wind.
BLUEBOTTLE: Have you ever driven a Christmas pudding before, Eccles?
ECCLES: No, I've never driven anything before.
BLUEBOTTLE: Then how did you get the job?
ECCLES: Well, the sergeant said, “One pace forward my good man, anyone who
can play the piano.”
BLUEBOTTLE: Oh. Can you play the piano then?
BLUEBOTTLE: Then why are you driving a Christmas pudding?
ECCLES: I want to learn to play the piano.
BLUEBOTTLE: Then it's true what the recruiting posters say.
ECCLES: What do the recruiting posters say?
BLUEBOTTLE: They say: “You're somebody in the modern army of today.”
ECCLES: Oohh. And what are you?
BLUEBOTTLE: I'm somebody in the modern army of today.
ECCLES: Oh, I wondered who you were.
BLUEBOTTLE: Hello Kitty, hello Kate. 
LITTLE JIM: Hello Jim.
ECCLES: Um, how did you… how did you join?
BLUEBOTTLE: Well, I was in the street writing somethink on the wall.
ECCLES: Ooohh!
BLUEBOTTLE: Quiet! I was only writing my name.
ECCLES: Oooh! Wouldn't they know who did it then?
BLUEBOTTLE: No, I didn't sign it.
ECCLES: Ah, you got brain Bottle. Go on then.
BLUEBOTTLE: Then up comes a naughty hairy man wearing a soldier's set and
he said, "Little Finchley lad, you don't want to write your name in silly chalk! You want to write your name in ink." And then I said, "Where?" And he said, "On this nice military dotted line.” So I signed it. And then they said "Can you play the piano?" And I said "Yes.” And here I am.
ECCLES: Give us a tune.
BLUEBOTTLE: What would you like?
ECCLES: My ticket.
BLUEBOTTLE: How does it go?
ECCLES: It goes – (sings) Doctor, 
                                      my dear military doctor, 
                                      you gotta believe me, 
                                      I got a bad back in the front. 
                                      I'm not fit for active service.
                                      I gotta bone in my leg. 
                                      And when I close my eyes 
                                      I can't see. 
                                      When I lie down 
                                      it hurts me to run sideways,[21] 
                                      and, ohh – it’s time for Ray Ellington.
BLUEBOTTLE: Go man, go!
GRAMS: Wind blowing under.
GRYTPYPE: Moriarty?
MORIARTY: Grytpype?
GRYTPYPE: Tell them who we are.
MORIARTY: Moriarty and Grytpype. It got a laugh – it passed the time. Continue!
GRYTPYPE: Hello Ted.
MORIARTY: Hello Jim.[23]
GRYTPYPE: What's that coming round the mountain pass in Cyrenaica?
MORIARTY: I'll soon tell. Hand me my wig. I'll just trim the fringe.[24]
FX: Scissors.[25]
MORIARTY: Ah, yes. Sapristi pompet! It's a giant Christmas pudding with a sign on top that says ‘Low bridge’.
GRYTPYPE: Anything else?
MORIARTY: Yes – a low bridge. This is our big chance!
GRYTPYPE: Big chance – to what?
MORIARTY: To eat! FOOD – (smacks lips)… FOOD! I've got to have food! Oohhh. Give me my teeth back. Give me my teeth back!
GRYTPYPE: Shan't have them, Moriarty – they're mine. They're mine forever.
MORIARTY: Oh ya noo-aah. Be kind to a little steaming recorder.
GRYTPYPE: You should never have left France.
MORIARTY: (Chomping toothlessly) I never lefted it. It left me.
GRYTPYPE: You – you knifting Norman, you. First we must stop them, Moriarty. Now, you lay across the road and show the top of your boot.
GRYTPYPE: Not too much though! It may be a lady driver.
GRAMS: Screeching tyres.
GRYTPYPE: There, Moriarty – she pulled up!
MORIARTY: But then ran over me first!
GRYTPYPE: And I ruined the gag.
MORIARTY: And I continued as if nothing had happened.
GRYTPYPE: I shall follow suit.
BLUEBOTTLE: Oh, poor little thin man. Did we hurted you?
MORIARTY: Yes, little cardboard string lad. Only one thing can save poor old Moriarty's life.
GRYTPYPE: Yes, he must have a diet of military Christmas pudding, which he must eat on the move.
ECCLES: That's a bit of luck! Christmas pudding will keep you on the move all right, chum. And we're driving one on the move as well.
GRYTPYPE: Quick! Help me get him inside then.
ECCLES: OK, I'll take his legs, you take his arm, and I'll take – oh, there’s nothing left is there? [26]
GREENSLADE: Meanwhile, the portion of the pudding destined for the Antarctic base was on board the Theron, going full steam ahead over the ice floes.[27]
GRAMS: Wind and sea. Breaking of ice.
BLOODNOK: Oh, gad, what a night. Nothing but sleep. I tell you it's hell out there.
SEAGOON: Actually it's a little bit colder.
SEAGOON: Keep your chin up, Major.
SEAGOON: It's in the soup.
BLOODNOK: I'm sorry, I thought my beard was on fire.
SEAMAN:[28] (Distant) Land ahead!
SEAGOON: Hear that? They've sighted the Thurston ice-shelf. Gad, in a few days we'll be at the base with the pudding. What a thrill it will be. I can see Dr Fuchs' face now.[29]
BLOODNOK: You've got damned good eyesight, that's all I can tell.
SEAGOON: Prepare to unload pudding, dogs and sleds. 
FX: (Distant barking) Ooowowohhww!
ORCHESTRA: Dramatic chords.
GREENSLADE: Seven months later...
GRAMS: Howling wind.
BLOODNOK: Ah... oh Seagoon, what's the time?
SEAGOON: I can't tell you until it gets dark.
BLOODNOK: Why not?
SEAGOON: My watch has got a luminous dial.
BLOODNOK: Curse, we shall have to wait till nightfall before we know it's late.
SEAGOON: Who cares about things like that? When we’ve run out of food.
BLOODNOK: We've still got the Christmas pudding. Let us eat that.
SEAGOON: What? You touch that, Bloodnok, and I'll… I'll drop you in your tracks.
SEAGOON: Ahh, that's for the boys at the Antarctic base.
BLOODNOK: But if we don't eat it, we won't have the strength to pull it.[30]
SEAGOON: At the back of my legs I knew he was right. All right, Bloodnok, but we'll, we'll just have a thin quarter ounce slice of pudding each.
BLOODNOK: Can't I have a thick quarter ounce slice?
SEAGOON: No, but… I'll meet you halfway.
BLOODNOK: All right, I'll see you there then. Forward!
GRAMS: Excerpt from ‘Sinfonia Antarctica[31]
GRAMS: Icy wind.
SEAGOON: December fifty-second. Took off record of effects. For three nights now gallant Bloodnok has volunteered to stay awake and guard the pudding.
BLOODNOK: December first – pudding getting smaller.
SEAGOON: Bloodnok getting bigger.
BLOODNOK: Seagoon getting suspicious.
SEAGOON: December nineteenth – 
BLOODNOK: Oohoah-ohhhh!
SEAGOON: … caught Bloodnok brown-handed digging into the pudding!
BLOODNOK: It's a lie. We're just good friends, I tell you. Officer, arrest that pudding for molesting me out of season, d’you hear!
SEAGOON: Bloodnok, you devil of the snows!
SEAGOON: Open your hand.
FX: Coins falling into pudding basin.
SEAGOON: Aaahhhh! So that's what you're after – the three penny bits!
BLOODNOK: Yes, I wanted to make a brown phone call!
SEAGOON: Phones… here? (Laughs) Ha, ha, ha, ha.
FX: Phone ringing.
SEAGOON: Don't answer it, it's a mirage.
BLOODNOK: Nonsense, it's a phone. 
FX: Handset picked up.
SPRIGGS’ VOICE: (On phone) Hello, this is a mirage speaking.
FX: Phone thrown down.
BLOODNOK: Ooohh. You were right, Seagoon. Oh, unless we reach the base soon
my mind will give out.
SEAGOON: Well, try to use it as little as possible.
BLOODNOK: I always do.
GRAMS: Screeching of tyres.
ECCLES: Heeelloolloo! Hellooo fellers. We've brought you your Christmas pudding.
SEAGOON: Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat… What?
ECCLES: No thanks, I'm trying to give them up. Here, I bet this is the first time you've had snow in Libya.
BLOODNOK: What! We're in Libya?
SEAGOON: Nonsense. According to my calculootions and our position on the map, we are twenty miles south of here.
BLOODNOK: Well, we shall soon settle this. Let's ask somebody. Excuse me sir, where's our position?
GREENSLADE: Cher monsieur, soyez le bienvenue à New York.
BLOODNOK: He says, "Welcome to New York".
ECCLES: What's New York doing in Libya?
SEAGOON: Nonsense. Nonsense, Eccles. You mean what's New York doing in the
BLOODNOK: Perhaps it's on holiday.
ECCLES: It's picked a bad time of the year.
SEAGOON: Will you stop talking rubbish!
ECCLES: I make my living doing that.
BLOODNOK: Sing Frankie![32] Well, we'll soon settle where we are. Stand me on my
head. Right. Now then – I'll just toss this coin, this melody coin.
FX: Coin falling on hard surface.
BLOODNOK: Na! Heads! Yeah. We ARE in Mongolia!
SEAGOON: Ah, but you're using a Mongolian penny.
BLOODNOK: Yes, but only from the inside.
SEAGOON: What does that mean?
BLOODNOK: It means – we are in Mongolia.
ECCLES: I want to learn the piano.
SEAGOON: Liberace studied that lot and look how he's turned out.[33]
ECCLES: Wait a minute…
CAST: (Starts arguing.)
GREENSLADE: (Over.) Here is an urgent communiqué from the War Office. If a sledge drawn by Seagoon RN should arrive at the transit camp in Melbourne, will the commanding officer please redirect him to the Antarctic base.
PETER: Here is a further message. If a hollow Christmas pudding on wheels should report to the British Embassy in Calcutta, (Eccles shadows the script.)…will they please shoot the driver. And er, oh yes – a Merry Christmas to you all. Goodnight!
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.
ORCHESTRA: Play out. [34]


[1] At the beginning of December 1956, British Forces abroad were stationed in such places as Germany, Malta, Cyprus, the Suez zone, Aden, Radfan (Yemen), Kenya and Malaya. 


[2] The Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition was a Commonwealth sponsored expedition. Led by the British explorer Dr. Vivian Fuchs, its aim was to complete the first overland crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole. After a difficult and dangerous first winter camped at the Shackleton Base, Fuchs – who had returned to London for more supplies, returned in the vessel ‘Magga Dan’ just as this programme went to air. The historic crossing was finally completed in March 1958.

Now named the British Antarctic Survey, the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey was an undertaking by the Admiralty and the Colonial Office to establish permanently occupied bases in the Antarctic. Currently BAS operates five such bases.

The Halley (spelt ‘Halle’ in the 1987 script) Research Station is part of BAS, and is located on the Brunt Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. Established in 1956, its first four bases were buried by snow accumulation and crushed until uninhabitable, whereas bases V and VI have since been built on adjustable steel platforms to raise them above the snow surface. The bay on which the 1956 unit was constructed disappeared in 1977 due to changes in the ice shelf. In 1985, research from this station led to the discovery of the ozone hole.


[3] On this date, Great Britain agreed to withdraw its troops from Egypt.


[4] This was Milligan’s second attempt at this gag in this series. The first one appeared in “Personal Narrative” (8/7th) one month previously. In it, Spike posed the question, “What is a navy?” Answer – “A navy milord, is an army entirely surrounded by water.”


[5] Hartley William Shawcross, Baron Shawcross GBE, PC, KC (1902-2003), a British barrister and politician. Lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes tribunal. Having joined Labour at a young age and serving as MP for St Helens from 1945-1958, he gave every sign of defection to the Tories during the later 1950’s and consequently was dubbed “Sir Shortly Floorcross.” In 1957 he became founding chairman of JUSTICE, the international human rights and law reform organisation.


[6] This reference was more pertinent than it first appears. Many regiments had become rebellious during the Suez crisis. In Malta, Grenadier Guards ‘fuelled by NAAFI tea,’ rebelliously marched through the camp demanding improvements to their conditions. Shortly afterwards, the 37th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment were at it again, yelling down their regimental sergeant major. Headlines in the press about army mutinies and protest marches sent shock waves through the whole of the armed forces.


[7] Milligan, in his published version of this script, mistakenly spells the name of the Danish Polar vessel as “Magadan”.


[8] Played by Sellers in imitation of Richard Dimbleby (1913-1965), a much loved and respected BBC journalist and broadcaster. Accompanying the British Expeditionary Force to France in 1940, he also made broadcasts from the battle of El Alamein and from the Normandy beaches during the D-Day landings. Later he broadcast the first live reports from Belsen concentration camp and from the ruined interior of Hitler’s Reich Chancellery at the end of the war. His reverential voice and calm tone was heard on many solemn occasions, but it also lent credence to the famous “Spaghetti Tree” hoax, on April Fool’s day 1957, broadcast as part of the BBC current affairs programme Panorama.


[9] The ‘silent service’ is the collective name given to the submarine division of the Royal Navy. At the time this programme went to air, Britain was in the process of building its first nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought (S101), eventually launched in 1960.


[10] Milligan.


[11] Milligan spells this in 1987 as ‘fairy gannets.’ The 824 Royal Naval Fleet Air Arm squadron was formed in 1933, and disbanded and reformed ten times between 1934 to 1970. It’s chief operational aircraft after the mid 1950’s was the Fairey Gannet.


[12] Milligan.


[13] A jazz standard by Parish & Burwell published in 1928, and recorded by Rudy Vallee (1928), Teddy Wilson (1935), and famously Nat King Cole in 1940.


[14] A “snotty” is Royal Navy slang for a midshipman.


[15] Unclear word.


[16] John Derrick Mordaunt Snagge OBE (1904-1996), a long time BBC newsreader and commentator. He played a major role in persuading the Corporation to take an interest in the Goon Show, and was an ardent – and very necessary supporter of the show behind the scenes during Milligan’s frequent clashes with the Broadcaster. Peter Eton goes as far as saying that Snagge put his career on the line defending Milligan on many occasions. In his old age he actually contributed to a Sex Pistols B-side recording, such was his enjoyment of self parody.

[17] Sellers.


[18] Joanna is rhyming slang for piano.


[19] The Windmill Theatre stood in Great Windmill Street, Westminster, London. Owned by Mrs Henderson and operated by Vivian van Damm, it developed nude revues where young ladies would stand in motionless poses like living statues or tableaux vivants in the style of Paris’ Moulin Rouge. Both Secombe and Sellers got their starts there as entertainers, sandwiched between appearances of the windmill girls.


[20] Milligan is referring to a particular piece of barracks humour performed by Gunner ‘Plunger’ Bailey. For a full and frank description read “Adolf Hitler. My Part in his Downfall” Michael Joseph, London. 1971. p.68.

[21] In both the original transcription of this script and in the 1987 version edited by Spike himself, the line is: “it hurts me to lie sideways.” However, in the recording – despite Eccles’ difficult-to-follow idiot accent, he clearly says “run.” A further observation is the odd similarity between the subject matter of this ditty, (fake illnesses) and Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers’ smash hit single from four years later called “Goodness Gracious Me.” (1960) Peter was not above faking illnesses. His emotional self destructiveness was more surreptitious than Spike’s but far more brutal in its effect on others. (See Roger Lewis’ biography.)


[22] One of the most famous ballads concerning black slavery, this song was written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II for the Broadway smash hit “Showboat” (1927). The lyrics have caused immense problems ever since, due to the burgeoning black rights struggle that took hold of the conscience of middle America in the 1930’s. References to “niggers”,skeered of dyin’,” and “get a little drunk” in the original text were often omitted – particularly by singers like the Afro-American singer Paul Robeson who considered this his signature tune; while Frank Sinatra left out as many of the offending lines as he could. Ray’s calypso slant on the number was typical of the ‘Caribbeanisation’ of popular music that was occurring at the time.


[23] This is an in-house reference to the BBC programme “Ray’s a Laugh” (1949-1961) starring Ted Ray with Kitty Bluett and Fred Yule. Early on, Sellers – then 23, appeared as Soppy, a small boy known for his catchphrase, “Just like your big red conk!” for which the keepers of national morality roundly criticised him. Later, Ted Ray developed a new show emphasising stand-up comedy called “The Ted Ray Show” (1955-1959) co-starring Kenneth Connor and Diane Hart. The Jim referred to could be Jimmy Edwards who often appeared on these shows.


[24] Another instance of Milligan’s comic invention “transference of utility,” whereby one object can substitute for another, keeping similar operational functions. (Trim the sights on a pair of binoculars, trim a fringe.)


[25] Both the original transcription and Spike’s 1987 version call this noise an FX. Careful listening suggests that Milligan actually makes the noise vocally.


[26] The last six lines of dialogue are notable as it is one of the few times that Bluebottle, Eccles, Grytpype and Moriarty have a chat.

[27] Starting life as a Canadian sealer, the Theron was the ship which transported the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition to its base camp at Shackleton Base. The ship suffered extensive damage after becoming icebound, but was extricated and was guided out of the ice pack with the help of an Auster Antarctic floatplane.


[28] Milligan.


[29] Spelt incorrectly in all editions. (Foulkes in all other versions.) The scientist named was Sir Vivian Ernest Fuchs (1908-1999), leader of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. His expedition to cross the Antarctic plateau was assisted by a New Zealand expedition (working from Scott’s base at McMurdo Sound) led by Sir Edmund Hillary.


[30] There’s more than a passing resemblance here to the final pages of “The Dreaded Batter-Pudding Hurler of Bexhill on Sea.” (3/5th)


[31] “Sinfonia Antarctica” (7th Symphony) was written by the British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, (1872-1958). Premiering in 1953, it was re-written from the soundtrack he wrote for the 1947 film “Scott of the Antarctic.”.


[32] This seems to be a reference to Frankie Laine (1913-2007) the successful US singer and songwriter. Laine’s popularity in the UK far surpassed his fame in the United States. As early as 1953 he had appeared at Val Parnell’s London Palladium in a record breaking engagement, while in 1954 he gave a Royal Command Performance for the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth. He topped the British charts four times, and his recording of “I Believe” stayed in the charts for 18 weeks. I can only surmise that the line is a reflection of the truth of Eccles/Milligan’s previous remark about making a living from speaking rubbish.


[33] He turned out – as ‘Cassandra” (William Connor) in the Daily Mirror observed, a “deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love.” Liberace sued furiously.


[34] A note re this script.


This is the only script from the seventh series that Spike released for publication during his lifetime. It was published in a set of scripts entitled “The Lost Goon Shows”, by Robson Books, London – 1987. Of the six shows included, four were from the fourth series and all were re-performed later in the “Vintage Goon” series, while this show was a S.P, recorded during (but not as part of) the seventh series. It was never broadcast publicly in either Great Britain nor the Commonwealth. The final script, “The Tree Maniac” was apparently an unfinished script. Much about the writing in “The Tree Maniac” suggests that it was written either near the end of the Goon years, or indeed sometime afterwards.

The important thing about this published script however, is Milligan’s re-editing of it – in the style he was using in the late 1980’s. It is revealing listening to the original performance and comparing it with the published script. It is quickly noticeable which of the original lines didn’t strike Spike as comic enough, and one can definitely feel how much freer as a writer he was without the BBC hanging over his shoulder, watching every word he wrote.

But in the original script there is an odd self consciousness about the writing which is very uncommon for Milligan and Stephens. Considering that this show was recorded on the same evening as “The Telephone” (and so must have been written at roughly the same time) the writing comes out sounding stilted and hollow, without that spark of life that was common to scripts of the seventh series.


A bad script? Not a bit of it.


There are two very, very funny scenes, both of which illuminate certain Goon characters in unusual ways. Firstly, the scene between Grytpype and Moriarty. It is part of the great story of the decline and fall of Count Fred ‘Legs’ Moriarty. His toothless whinging, whimpering, slathering and chomping as he mourns his lost French heritage is brilliantly written – “You should never have left France!” says Grytpype. “I never lefted it. It left me!” he cries.  Equally interesting is the scene between Eccles and Bluebottle about why he is driving a christmas pudding.  Because I want to learn to play the piano,”  explains Eccles. The twist of logic that Spike uses here is totally captivating, and part of the overall development of Eccles’ and Bluebottles’ scenes, that went on under the noses of the audience during the 7th series, and which eventually gave us the all time classic exchange of “What’s the time Eccles?” two months later.


As I have noted in reference no. 6, the British Armed forces during that Christmas were extremely tetchy about their place in the world. With a resounding military success in Suez snatched away from their grasp by public opinion and the combined machinations of the USA and the USSR, it seemed to many people serving overseas on behalf of Her Majesties Government that the future of the British Overseas forces were about as bleak as the Antarctic tundra, and that the ‘threepenny bits’ owed to overworked, underappreciated soldiers were being rapidly consumed by untrustworthy leaders and foreign shysters of all sorts.

And many conscripts were quite convinced that there was little enough reason for their call up anyway, and little enough reason for the invasion of the Suez zone – just one instance more in the British Empire’s long tradition of sending middle and lower class boys to their deaths in foreign climes, all for the sake of the rich and the powerful. The burgeoning socialist conscience of post-war, middle-class Great Britain, was not to be underestimated after a decade of revolutionary re-organization by the labour government. Boys, orphaned by fathers who had died in WWII, whose grandfathers had in turn orphaned them in WWI and whose great grandfathers had orphaned them in the Boer conflict, turned viciously against the noble spirit of empire in 1956 and said “Enough is enough.” Regimental desertions, disruptions, demonstrations, disobedience and a downright, obvious demonstration of social disobedience by conscripts led the government and press to react (initially casually, but eventually) severely against the fact that the justification of this war was questioned by the public. The demonstrations against the Suez crisis laid the blueprint for the massed, public defiance of the anti-Vietnam rallies, a decade later and taught the government of Great Britain the value of ‘sexing up’ its war publicity. (Many of the details I refer to are found in “A History of Modern Britain” Part II – Marr, A. Macmillan, London, 2007.)

I cannot help but think that Milligan appreciated these facts and wrote this script from a soldier’s point of view. Born a soldier’s son, Milligan uses military words like Bangalore Torpedos, Fairey Gannets, sit. reps., map refs., barracks humour (like the ‘last turkey in the shop’), duff (rather than ‘pudding’) – and a hundred other small details which give him away as being a soldier, writing from a soldier’s point of view. I wonder what the boys huddled over a wireless in a cyclone hut in the Ross Dependencies thought of the script, above the transmission crackle and the howling gales. I think it likely that just the sound of Bluebottle saying “I am somebody in the modern army of today,” with his silly Finchley, boy-scout’s voice, while driving a mechanised Christmas pudding in a blinding snow storm, was enough to bring a grin to the face of a lonely, ice bound squaddie.