SP – for Transcription Service Only.

RECORDED: 2 Dec 1956 [1]



Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens.


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC. 
ORCHESTRA: Tatty posthorn fanfare. 
GREENSLADE: This is London calling the world. 
ECCLES: Hello world! 
GREENSLADE: That was the voice of England. 
SEAGOON: Hoo hoo hoo! We're in a bad way, mate. [2]
GREENSLADE: Shoosh! Mister Seagoon – don’t spoil this magic moment. Kindly put on these self-splitting tights. 
SEAGOON: What for? 
GREENSLADE: The Goon Show Christmas pantomime entitled “Robin Hood and his Mirry Mon.”  
GRAMS: Carillion.  
ORCHESTRA: Dramatic introduction. Hold under narration.
NARRATOR: It is now Christmas Eve in the year eleven ninety-one. In distant Acre, my lord King Richard, Coeur-de-Lyon, does battle in a valiant crusade.[3] But here at home in England's realm, a despotic rump is lowered onto our ancient throne. Its owner is yclept Prince John. 
SEAGOON: But for the poor people of England, hope is kindled by a magic name – Robin Hood! 
OMNES: Distant cries of 'Robin Hood' – (variously). 
ORCHESTRA: Dramatic introduction swells.

GRAMS: Distant viols and flutes. Dinner chatter.

FX: Cutlery on plates.

SHERIFF:[4] Come my Prince John, raise such a great Christmas Yule tide type of feast of vitals for your barons and yet eat not yourself? Come – partake of this side of ox.[5]
PRINCE JOHN:[6] Oh, no thanks. I've just had a boiled egg.
SHERIFF: Oh – my thin Prince, why are you so broody tonight?
PRINCE JOHN: I think the egg's hatched.
SHERIFF: My majesty was given a bad egg? I'll have the chef boiled alive!
PRINCE JOHN: No, I'm not that hungry. Pass me another fairy cake please.
SHERIFF: Your majesty, is it this Robin Hood vagabond that upsets you? 
PRINCE JOHN: (Petulant) Oh, don’t mention that man's name again. Don't mention that man's name to me again! 
SHERIFF: But what part of him shall I mention then? 
PRINCE JOHN: Well, there's so much of him. 
SHERIFF: You insisted on Secombe playing the part. 
SEAGOON: (Distant) What what what what what what what what what? 
SHERIFF: Quiet back there! You're not on 'til the second act. [7]
PRINCE JOHN: My lord, Sheriff of Nottingham, I have decided – you will capture that fellow Robin Hood by Christmas or I'll split your grotkin with a leather mackerel-sheet. 
SHERIFF: Ooo, majesty! 
PRINCE JOHN: The reward will be…er, a hundred gold splonders. 
SHERIFF: One hundred gold splonders! Hahaha! 
ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link 
GRAMS: Bustling market place sounds. 
SPRIGGS: Ding-dong! Clang! Cla-ang! Ring-ding-dong dang-dang! Here ye! Ding-dang! Stolen – one bell. Hear ye good people of Nottingham, a proclamation from the Sheriff. He sends you Christmas and ex-mas greetings at the same time and he will give one gold splonder for the capture of Robin Hood, dead or alive, or both. Also, there will be an archery-type contest on ye green. A willow wand will be split in thrice and there will be a prize of a dirty big Christmas pudding ... (fades into distance.) 
GRYTPYPE: Did ye hear that, Moriarty? Ye golden splonder for ye Robin Hood. 
MORIARTY: Ye money. Owww! Ye owww! Ye gotta go owwww! 
GRYTPYPE: You've got to go….
BOTH: … owww.
MORIARTY: Another record sold. [8]
GRYTPYPE: And ye archery contest. 
MORIARTY: That’s what he said. 
GRYTPYPE: Moriarty, methinks me can gain me a gold splonder. 
MORIARTY: (Splutters) But how? We've got no contacts. 
GRYTPYPE: Please, don’t do that with your teeth out. Stop worrying, Moriarty – I've got a trump card up my sleeve. 
MORIARTY: And I've got newspaper in my boots. 
GRYTPYPE: Yes, well you always were a snappy dresser, weren't you? Come steaming Frank, pack the jam tins – you and I are going to take a coach ride through Sherwood Forest. 
MORIARTY: Oh, a little ta-ta’s! 
ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.
GRAMS: Horses and carriage. 
ORCHESTRA: Solo trumpet plays postillion fanfare. ('Pop Goes the Weasel'.)
BANNISTER: What a… what a lovely tune that was. 
CRUN: Yes. Its snowing, Min. Doesn’t it look nice? 
CRUN: I wonder where we are, Min? 
BANNISTER: I'll find out. Pardon me, young man – could you tell us where we are? 
GRYTPYPE: (Slightly off mic.) You're riding in a coach, Ma'am. 
BANNISTER: Oh – thank you, young man. 
CRUN: What did he say, Min? 
BANNISTER: He said we're riding in a coach, Henry. 
CRUN: Ohh. Where's Auntie Gladys? 
BANNISTER: Oh… Oh, she waved us goodbye when we left. 
CRUN: Ohh. The wonders of speed travel. To think we only came to see Auntie Gladys off and here we are riding through Sherwood Forest. [9]
BANNISTER: Oh! It's wonders of modern type travel, Henry.
CRUN: Yes, yes.
BANNISTER: Ooh! Oo dear! What that..? Ooh… Ooh… Pardon me, young man, is that your Christmas brown paper parcel under the seat? 
GRYTPYPE: That brown Christmas parcel, madam, is an eccentric French count of some thirty-two summers. [10]
GRYTPYPE: He insists on riding with his back to the axle. I think it's  something to do with the shortage of money. 
BANNISTER: Ooh dear. He said its something to do with the shortage of money, Henry. 
CRUN: You can't get it, Min. There's a shortage of shortages too, you know.
BANNISTER: Where will it all end! Ooh – hallelujah. Ooh… ooh dear. 
CRUN: Min, did you put the cat out? 
BANNISTER: No – it wasn't on fire. 
CRUN: Oh dear. Well I'm going up to bed, Min. 
BANNISTER: Now, no smoking up top now. I'll lock up from the hellion.[11]
GRAMS: Horse whinnying. Horses hooves slowing to stop. 
BOTH: (Geriatric shock and awe.)
SEAGOON: Merry Christmas – your money or your life! 
CRUN: A happy new year. An outlaw! 
BANNISTER: Ooh mercy, we'll all be murdered in our beds! (Shouts) Get away, you devil in green. 
CRUN: Go on Min, give him the length of your tongue. 
BANNISTER: I will. (Shouts out.) Six and a half inches! 
FX: Door opens.
SEAGOON: Come on, get out of that bed and hand over your money. 
BOTH: (Anxious whimpering and aged fear.) Ohhhiyooo! Ooh dear!
SEAGOON: Don't worry, old wrinkled retainer – I won't harm a hair of your head.
CRUN: If you can find a hair on my head, I'll pay you for it. 
SEAGOON: Wait! What's that shaking heap of bones under the seat? 
GRYTPYPE: That is, and I quote from this floodlit bankruptcy note, Count Jim “Spring-knees” Moriarty, who seeks the English archer Robin Hood. 
SEAGOON: I am he! He-he-he-he! 
ORCHESTRA: Tatty chord. 
SEAGOON: Next dance, please. 
BANNISTER: Thank you sir. 
GRYTPYPE: Robin, my friend and I wish to join your band. We play C-melody saxophones. 
SEAGOON: Give proof.
ORCHESTRA: Saxophone duet version of “Sax O Phun.” [12]
SEAGOON: Split me ferikin – ye bloweth a cool metal pipe! By Fred the Kenton, I'll sign you on for five and seven. [13]
GRYTPYPE: Give the man five and seven, Moriarty and sign on. 
FX: Cash register. Coin in till. 
SEAGOON: Thank you. Now report to Q-stores for the old battle dress of Lincoln green there, two bows and arrows and a pair of spare feet. Breakfast oh-six-hundred, parade oh-six-oh-one. Right Max O’Geldray, beguile me with a merry tune on your nostrils.
MAX GELDRAY - "You're the cream in my coffee" [14]
ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.
HARP: Troubadour introduction.
SPRIGGS: (Singing)        The snow was gently falling, 
                                      as Robin to Nottingham went. 
                                      He entered the archery contest 
                                      with a hat all battered and a-bent…
Oh – that’s enough of that… 
GRAMS: Spring – whoosh – thud of arrow. (Three in very quick succession.)
SEAGOON: Ye Grytpype, do you think ye people will recognise me in this Kentucky minstrel disguise? [15]
MORIARTY: Its your turn to shoot, Robin. 
GRYTPYPE: No – I shot him last time. Hohoho! Ye joke, Robin. 
SEAGOON: Yes. Ye ha-ha. 
GREENSLADE: (Distant) Ye next bowman please. 
MORIARTY: (Whispers) Your turn. 
SEAGOON: Watch this for shooting. 
GRAMS: Spring – whoosh – thud of arrow. 
SHERIFF: Ahhhhhhhhhhhrrrgh! A bull! 
GREENSLADE: Ye charlie disguised as ye Kentucky minstrel wins.
SEAGOON: Ye hooray. 
PRINCE JOHN: Come here, archer – you pull a mean bow. 
SEAGOON: Yes, it was given me by a mean uncle. Hahahaha, ye joke! 
PRINCE JOHN: Oh no, no. Leave ye jokes to me – I wear ye funny crown. Now tell me, where did you learn to pull a long bow? 
SEAGOON: I took a postal correspondence course. The envelopes were six feet long. Hahahaha 
PRINCE JOHN: Please don’t tell any more like that. It’s bad enough having to laugh at my own without having to listen to yours. (The smelling salts please.) 
FX: Child’s squeaky toy.
SHERIFF: There, there, your majesty. Give him his prize and let him go. 
PRINCE JOHN: Here – a ten shilling postal order for one and three… and a piece of holly. 
SEAGOON: This smells of trickery 
PRINCE JOHN: Mm? (Sniffs) It smells alright to me. 
GRYTPYPE: Stop! Your majesty, ere the archer departs, allow me to remove his wig. 
MORIARTY: … and his trousers!
OMNES: (Amazed murmurings.) Oooo! Wow!
SHERIFF: Its Robin Hood. Ye seize him! 
CAST: (Struggling sounds.)
SEAGOON: Stop! Stop! Ye traitor, Thynne. I'll write to the Times about this. 
FX: Quill scratching on paper 
SEAGOON: (Over) “Dear Sir, I should like to say... “
SHERIFF: Silence wretch! 
GRYTPYPE: Your majesty, may we crave the reward of one golden splonder? 
PRINCE JOHN: One? Well, I offered a hundred and a hundred you shall have. 
SHERIFF: Ah, thank you sire. Here steaming churls, one golden splonder. MORIARTY: One out of a hundred? We've been taken for charlies. One golden splonder – owwww!
GRYTPYPE: Wait a minute – who cops the other ninety-nine? 
SHERIFF: Inland Revenue. 
GRYTPYPE: I've never heard of them. 
SHERIFF: They've heard of me. Merry christmas. 
PRINCE JOHN: No, no – stop all this arguing. I'm not having ye happy time. I'm quit of ye colour. 
SHERIFF: Have ye aspirin. 
PRINCE JOHN: No, I'm not strong enough. 
SHERIFF: All your ills will be gone by dawn tomorrow when Robin Hood will be hung... drawn... quartered... clubbed... struck... lifted... lowered... hurled... stretched... drowned... dragged.... drugged... bashed... bonked... thudded... tweaked... walloped and then... plugged on a gillikin spike. [16]
PRINCE JOHN: (Weak) Do you mind if I sit down? 
SHERIFF: No! Throw the wretch into dungeons dark, dank and donk! 
OMNES: (Struggling sounds.)
SEAGOON: You devils – ye'll pay for this! 
SHERIFF: Nonsense – we get it all free on National Health. 
ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link. 
HARP: Troubadour introduction.
SPRIGGS: (singing)        Cast into dungeons dark dank and donk, 
                                      all hopes of freedom gone. 
                                      Chained to the walls by his nose, teeth and ears, 
                                      three for the price of one. [17]
(Mutters) It’s not very good but it’s the best I could do…
SEAGOON:[18] He's gone. Don’t worry folks – I wont be in this cell for long. Ha ha ha! They've promised to take me out at dawn and hang me.[19] But… but they'll never do it. Before then my brilliant lieutenant Friar Balsam, has promised to rescue me. 
FR. BALSAM: Pssssst.[20] 
SEAGOON: What is that I hear? 
FR. BALSAM: Pssss-ssssst.
SEAGOON: How do you spell it? 
FR. BALSAM: Pss-sss-sst 
SEAGOON: What! Why, that’s the way Friar Balsam pronounces his Pssssst's! Is that you Friar Balsam, come to rescue me? 
SEAGOON: Where are you my clever lieutenant? 
FR. BALSAM: Behind you – chained to the wall by the ears, nose and throat. 
SEAGOON: You clever lieutenant! You've disguised yourself as a prisoner.
FR. BALSAM: Have I got news for you. The truth is, I'm a prisoner too. My arms are chained by the neck. 
SEAGOON: Are… are your legs chained?
SEAGOON: Then… then let's dance.
FR. BALSAM: Delighted!
GRAMS: Jazz tune. 
SEAGOON: Gad! You waltz divinely. Do you come here often? 
FR. BALSAM: Only when I'm caught. 
SEAGOON: Ha-ha-ha. Can't we face life together? 
FR. BALSAM: I've got news for you…we are facing life together! 
SEAGOON: What? Stop! Send that band back to their own cell. I've just remembered – I'm going to be killed tomorrow. We must escape. Wait!... This stone I'm chained to, it's… it's loose. 
FR. BALSAM: Really?
SEAGOON: Yes… I can feel a draft. (Straining noises.) Done it.  
FR. BALSAM: What? 
SEAGOON: Taken an aspirin. I don’t want to catch cold. 
FR. BALSAM: Wait a moment – I… I’ve an idea. Place your chain twixt my teeth. 
SEAGOON: There. ‘Tis twixt. Now... PULL! 
FR. BALSAM: (Muffled straining noises.) 
SEAGOON: Go on, Friar Balsam – pull! Let those strong, white English teeth, pull us to freedom. 
GRAMS: Cork popping. Dentures in a bucket.
FR. BALSAM: (toothless) Well – don't just stand there! Put ‘em in a glass of water. 
SEAGOON: Never mind ye choppers – you’ve pulled the stone out. Follow me through to FREEDOM! 
GRAMS: Clanking of chains 
FR. BALSAM: (straining noises) Gad! It is ye dark in here. 
SEAGOON: Yes. Its not worth opening ye eyes. 
FR. BALSAM: What a relief to get out of that filthy cell twenty-five. Now then, where are we? 
SEAGOON: In filthy cell twenty-six. Shh! There's somebody coming with a lighted candle. 
FR. BALSAM: (whispers) It looks like the Sheriff. 
SEAGOON: So – he's disguised himself as a lighted candle. Quick! Hide under this straw. 
GRAMS: Bolts being drawn back. 
FR. BALSAM: He’ll never spot us under this.
SHERIFF: Alright you two idiots. Come out from under that straw. 
FR. BALSAM: What, what, what!
SEAGOON: What what what what what! 
SHERIFF: Now listen, I'm going to make a bargain with you. Two Christmas weight poplin shirts with holly attached to tail, five and eleven pence.[21] Or in Canadian money, six thousand dollars. 
SEAGOON: Time to pay? 
SHERIFF: Yes, I think it is time to pay.
SEAGOON: I'm sorry. I've only got one on and one in the wash. 
SHERIFF: So! You turn my ye offer down? Very well - pay your ransom of a thousand golden splonders or hang! 
SEAGOON: Ye gulp. Give me till the end of Ray Ellington’s number.
SHERIFF: Not a moment longer!
RAY ELLINGTON  - 'She's a three handed woman' [22]
GREENSLADE: (Distant) Dong, dong! Christmas Eve and all's well. 
SEAGOON: Midnight… 
ECCLES: Dong! 
SEAGOON: One o'clock. 
FR. BALSAM: Gad, if that ransom money doesn't arrive by dawn, we shall never see the North Pole again. 
SEAGOON: Yes, and after all that cactus I planted too. 
GRAMS: Heavy door opening. 
SHERIFF: Alright you dogs, kneel down for Prince John. 
PRINCE JOHN: Oh no, they'll get all their knees dirty. 
SHERIFF: Listen scum... 
FR. BALSAM: Mister Scum to you!
SHERIFF: Robin Hood – a thousand splonders, NOW! 
SEAGOON: Quick, blow out his candle! 
FR. BALSAM: Fssssh! 
SHERIFF: Aggghh – you devils! Have at you! 
GRAMS: Long series of thumps. Heavy boxing gloves, pieces of wood, blunt instruments all striking hard objects. (Extended) 
FX: Shaking of chains over.
CAST: Various yells, groans and cries.
ECCLES: (Breathless) Alright we've finished.
SEAGOON: (Panting) Thank you Jack. He's doing his nut there. Now you swine – had enough? 
ECCLES: (Breathless) Yeah, I had enough. 
SEAGOON: It’s Will Eccles! What are you doing in prison? 
ECCLES: Six months – what are you doing? 
FR. BALSAM: Then where are those two scoundrels? 
GRAMS: Heavy door being closed. 
SEAGOON: They've locked us in from the outside!
ECCLES: Do something.
FX: Telephone receiver picked up. Telephone being dialled. 
GREENSLADE: (Over dialling.) Dear listeners, the sound you are hearing is an early British Telephone, circa fourteen-twelve. 
NORRIS:[23] (On telephone.) Hello? Robin Hood to Headquarters here. 
SEAGOON: Hello – Norris? 
NORRIS: Robin! Where are you – in the nick? 
SEAGOON: Yes. Listen, unless I give him a thousand golden splonders, the Sheriff’s going to kill me for Christmas. 
NORRIS: A thousand? Offer him nine-fifty and take a chance. 
SEAGOON: No. No, its a thousand or nothing. 
NORRIS: You giving me a choice? Don't worry schmoolik, I'm sending the schlapper round with the geld right away. [24]
FX: Phone being hung up. 
FX: Knocking on door. 
NORRIS: (Still on telephone.) That's him at the door now. 
SEAGOON: That’s an old gag.
NORRIS: So? This is fourteen-twelve remember. You should get new gags now yet, already? 
SEAGOON: Ying-tong-iddle-i-po muzzeltof![25] 
FX: Phone hangs up again. 
SEAGOON: It's no good. Lew is unreliable. He let Milligan down at Eastbourne.[26] 
ECCLES: I know! 
SEAGOON: He might never send that money. We must escape at once – if not twice. 
FR. BALSAM: Wait! Look up there – a high window with no barring. 
SEAGOON: Curse these licensing laws! 
ECCLES: Wait! I got a license for climbing out of windows. 
SEAGOON: Splendid, young Eccles. Get against that wall. Right. 
SEAGOON: Now Friar Balsam – you climb on his shoulders.
FR. BALSAM: Right-oh, yes. 
CAST: Straining noises. Gradually getting further from the mics with every line.
ECCLES: Don’t hurt yourself, now! 
FR. BALSAM: That's it.
ECCLES: Be careful…
FR. BALSAM: Now, come up. Now Robin – come on. 
SEAGOON: Hup! Curse! I… still can't reach it. 
ECCLES: I know. I'll come up – I’ll get up on your shoulders. That alright?
FR. BALSAM: Yes… Up you come then!
ECCLES: You’ve got a patch in your trousers.
CAST: (Straining.)
ECCLES: (Distant) Still can't reach. Now you get up on my shoulders, Friar Balsam. 
SEAGOON: (Distant) And I'll get up on yours. Hup! 
CAST: (Continue to discuss getting on each others shoulders.)
GREENSLADE: (Over) Ladies and gentlemen. The feat now being performed is extremely dangerous and should only be done on radio by experienced idiots. Meantime, a stranger is admitted to the presence of Prince John. 
GRAMS: Running footsteps approaching – slow down – stop. 
BLUEBOTTLE: Enter Bluebottle in doublet made from Mum's old drawers. 
SHERIFF: Silence! What is this sodden piece of cardboard? 
BLUEBOTTLE: Silence, or I will strike! Moves right, brandishes string sword in sheriff's face. 
SHERIFF: That string sword doesn't frighten me, lad. 
BLUEBOTTLE: Ah, doesn't it? You just wait till I tie a knot in it then! 
PRINCE JOHN: Silence please – stop this violence. Where's the money? 
BLUEBOTTLE: I will not give it to you until you free Robinge Hood. 
SHERIFF: Wha-at? Tie him to a stake! 
BLUEBOTTLE: No! Do not tie me to a steak – I'm a vegetarian! 
PRINCE JOHN: Then tie him to a stick of celery. 
BLUEBOTTLE: Ooh, lovely! But I warn you, one step nearer and I will bring the power of fists into play. BLAN BLUN SPLUT – I will go. BLIN SPOWEE ZON, HIT, HIT-HIT-HIT-HIT-HIT. Do you know that I learnt all my boxing off comic strips? Have you ever seen a comic strip? 
PRINCE JOHN: Only in a steam bath. It was ghastly. 
SHERIFF: Come here! 
BLUEBOTTLE: Ohohohohnye! Let go of my set of ankles. It is Christmas – Merry Christmas! (Sings) “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the ...” 
FX: Door bursts open. 
SEAGOON: Drop that Bluebottle! 
SHERIFF: Curses! Robin is free. 
PRINCE JOHN: It's Robin Hood! I feel quite faint. 
SHERIFF: I know how his men fight – so take that. BLAT! SPLAT! BLUN! ZOWEE! SOCK! THUD! 
OMNES: (Various comic book punches are thrown.)
BLUEBOTTLE: (Over) Oh! My captain is over there, fighting to rescue me. 
SEAGOON: That's what you think! 
SHERIFF: Ahh! There you are! 
BLUEBOTTLE: My captain did that! 
BLUEBOTTLE: My captain copped that! 
SEAGOON: Wallop! 
BLUEBOTTLE: Oww! I copped that! 
PRINCE JOHN: Stop! Stop! Stop! Robin Hood, call your men off! Call them off – do you hear me! 
SEAGOON: Come on boy – (whistles) come on – (whistles.)
PRINCE JOHN: No, no! Please – I told you no more jokes like that. We give in. 
SHERIFF: We were better on the bonks, bangs and kruds. 
PRINCE JOHN: But we had so few of them. 
SHERIFF: You win, you devil Robin. Give us a thousand gold splonders and a piece of holly and you can go. 
SEAGOON: Here, catch! Ha ha ha. And let that be a lesson to you! (laughs) Come along chaps – in two. One... two... 
SEAGOON/BLUEBOTTLE/ECCLES: (singing – gradually fading into distance.) 
                                                   Robin Hood, Robin Hood, 
                                                   riding through the glen.  
                                                   Robin Hood, Robin Hood 
                                                   with his band of men. 
                                                   Feared by the good, loved by the bad, 
                                                   Robin Hood, (how’s your Dad?)…[27]
                                                   Robin Hood… (Dissolves into chaos.)
ORCHESTRA: Heavy bass drum strokes.
GREENSLADE: Oh! I do believe they've finished. Well, I must be off and catch the bus, you know. Goodnight. 
ORCHESTRA: End theme. 
SEAGOON: (Over band) Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Please, we forgot. From all of us here waist deep in the snow of Sherwood Forest, we send Christmas greetings to all the people waist deep in the snow of Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. We also send greetings to all those chest deep in snow in the... er… aforementioned countries. Ahem. I'll do that again. Hehe! (Do you mind, Chisholm?) We also send greetings to all those... I'll start again...  We also send greetings... I'll start from the beginning, shall I? Thank you. Stop! Stop! (Raspberry). Oohi hi! We forgot. From all of us here waist deep in the snow of Sherwood Forest, we send Christmas greetings to all the people waist deep in the snow of Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. We also send greetings to all those chest deep in those countries. Hmhm! And a merry Christmas to you all. [28]
ORCHESTRA: End theme.
GREENSLADE: That was the Goon Show, a BBC recorded program featuring Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan, Valentine Dyall and Dennis Price. With the Ray Ellington Quartet and Max Geldray and the orchestra conducted by Wally Stott. Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stevens. Announcer Wallace Greenslade. The program produced by Pat Dixon.

[1] Although the subject of Robin Hood was a favourite for stage and pantomime, this episode – a rewrite of “Ye Bandit of Sherwood Forest” (14/5th) was probably more influenced by the current smash hit ITV series “The Adventures of Robin Hood” than by any pantomime antecedents. Airing between 1955 and 1960 in Britain, the series was produced by Lew Grade who carefully formatted the serial to conform with the broadcasting procedures of American television. Starring Richard Greene, it dramatised the traditional legend of Robin Hood, while adding many new incidents to his life, though strictly within the framework of the original stories.


[2] Which was putting it mildly. The Suez crisis was entering its final disastrous stage. After decades of British high handedness and downright arrogance, the Egyptians under their young President Gamal Abdel Nasser, had thrown off their heritage of imperial humiliation, formed a non-aligned government, announced a program of public works, drew up plans for the Aswan High dam, and nationalised the Suez Canal. The British under Eden, seeing this as theft, hatched a plot whereby Israel would invade the territory of Suez, while Britain and France would then attack – theoretically to separate both sides, but actually so as to grab back control of the canal. The US refused to co-operate and faced with scathing international and internal pressure the Prime Minister withdrew British troops and resigned in January 1957. The state of the nation that December was incredibly tense. Reservists wrote “bollocks” across their call up papers. Demonstrators blocked the off centre of London; in Southampton Royal Engineers pelted superior officers with stones and Lord Mountbatten told the young Queen Elizabeth that her “government was behaving like lunatics.”

[3] The third crusade (1189-1192) was an attempt by the united nations of Europe to reconquer the Holy Land from the hold of Saladin, (Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub.) Henry II of England, Phillip II of France, and Frederick I Barbarossa led their fiefs in an enthusiastic, continental commitment to the plans for invasion, but due to confusion, accidents, betrayals and disease, the force which eventually took Acre was led by Richard I of England, Leopold V of Austria and Phillip II of France. The city was captured on July 12, 1191 after which Richard executed the Muslim garrison in sight of Saladin’s army. Nonetheless, in 1192, Richard and Saladin signed a treaty allowing Jerusalem to remain under Muslim control, while ensuring the safety of unarmed Christian pilgrims visiting the city.


[4] Valentine Dyall (1908-1985), English character actor. For many years he narrated the BBC radio series “Appointment with Fear”, continuing his career in film and television playing an assortment of evil masterminds and criminals, including “The Haunting” (1963), “Casino Royale” (1967) “The Avengers”,The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (both on TV and LP) and as the “Black Guardian” in many episodes of  Dr Who.”


[5] Much of this episode seems to have recorded with elevated levels of reverb from the sound desk. The scene in the castle hall, and the lengthy prison scene all have tremendous levels of echo – apparently on purpose.


[6] Dennistoun Franklyn John Rose-Price (Dennis Price) – (1915-1973) British actor. Starred in many leading roles in theatre and cinema after the war, including “Kind Hearts and Coronets” (1949), “I’m All Right Jack” (1959) and “Victim” (1961,) an exposè concerning the insidious problem of homosexual blackmailing.

[7] Somebody – probably Secombe, blows a raspberry in Dyall’s direction.


[8] You Gotta Go OWW!” (Count Jim Moriarty, with Gravely Stephens (Pharmacological Pianist) and the Massed Alberts), released December 1956. Parlophone R.4251.


[9] “Sherwood Forest” is a Royal Forest in Nottinghamshire, one of the few areas of Great Britain continuously afforested since the last ice age. Presently it covers an area of about 423 square kilometres, and contains a number of trees estimated to be between 800 – 1000 years old.

[10] Which means Moriarty was born in 1924, the same year the Milligan started school in Poona.


[11] I am not totally sure what Spike says as he mumbles his final words. It sounds as if the word he uses could be “hellion”, a colloquialism meaning ‘a troublesome or mischievous person, especially a child’. (Oxford Ref. Dict.)

[12] One of Milligan’s most oft used musical excerpts, “Sax O Phun” is a novelty number by Rudy Wiedoeft, first recorded for Victor on August 20th 1924. It was called a “study in laugh and slap-tongue.”


[13] This is a reference to the US band leader Stan Kenton (1911-1979), whose American Jazz Orchestra pioneered many different forms of band sounds from the 40’s until the 60’s. He had toured Europe twice in the fifties and backed such singers as Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughan. The arrangements he used were highly innovative, having… “individuality and modernity without getting bogged down in atonality, electronic gimmicks and self conscious abstractions.”


[14] Published in 1928, written by DeSylva, Brown and Henderson for the Broadway musical “Hold Everything." Recorded by nearly every major entertainer since then, it has also suffered probably the most number of parodies, including “You’re the fly in my coffee, you’re the nail in my shoe…” etc.


[15] The “Kentucky Minstrels” was a popular BBC radio variety show, broadcast from 1933-1950. The show was an exaggerated depiction of African American life from plantation days in the southern states, accentuated with the use of stereotypical racist and sexist humour. The main characters were played for many years by Isaac “Ilk” F. Hatch, Harry Scott and Eddie Whaley, Scott and Whaley going on to appear in the British Film “Kentucky Minstrels” in 1934. The radio tradition was transmuted to television in 1958 as “The Black and White Minstrel Show” and ran for more than a decade.


[16] What is a ‘gillikin spike”? It is a word play on Spike’s name of course.


[17] Milligan mistakenly sings “Chained by the walls…” but intentionally rhymes ‘one’ with ‘gone.’


[18] Once again the sound desk adds reverberation to the scene, beginning with this line.


[19] In the unexpurgated version Secombe muffs this line and repeats it. He adds – “I’ve said it!”


[20] This is performed by Sellers, performing Major Bloodnok performing Friar Balsam. It is part of an endearing thread of self consciousness woven throughout the Goon Shows whereby characters knew precisely what was going on, and that they were either playing a character within a character, or that they were covering up for someone else, or – on occasion, for Milligan himself. Bluebottle, Henry Crun and Bloodnok often talk about Spike and his job as a writer. Henry once actually states – “A script writer named Spike Milligan asked me to take a long time walking up these stairs. He says it helps him in his work”


[21] Poplin is a medium to heavy weight, durable fabric, made of a blend of materials.


[22] By Raleigh and Taylor. Recorded by (amongst others) “Louis Jordan and his Tympani Five” for Decca in 1951.

[23] Sellers, with another Golders’ Green accent.


[24]Shmoolik” is a Yiddish/New York slang word. Has been known to mean a person who kvetches and bitches obsessively about topics no one cares about, though this is by no means definitive. A ‘shmooler’ is a goon or a dude – which is closer to Spike’s meaning I think. A “Schlapper” is a term that was once used to mean a ‘money man’ or ‘paymaster’. It comes from the habit of counting out a wad of bills, flapping each of the bills down on the table in a forthright manner. The modern usage of the word means a whore, and has come about because of the payment implied by that description.

[25]Muzzeltof” is Yiddish for “good luck!”


[26] The “Lew” referred to is probably Lew Grade, (1906-1998) theatre and television impresario. During the 50’s he established himself as a powerful player in the lucrative new British commercial TV networks, forming  ATV in 1955 and making a huge impact on the light entertainment/variety market. His first programming success was the commissioning of “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” produced at Nettlefold Studios and syndicated to the US through CBS. What had happened between Spike and Lew down at Eastbourne I have not been able to discover, but it seems obvious that Secombe’s line “he might never send the money,” has something to do with it.



[27] This chaos is not at all unstructured. Milligan was not in the habit of letting things get out of control. For example – he reverses the wording of Carl Sigman’s theme of the TV series, from “Feared by the bad, loved by the good” so that he can rhyme it with his favourite aside for Eccles “How’s your ol’ dad?”


[28] This remarkable and touching message was a frequent occurrence on the BBC transcription service every festive season. Sixty years later, and with personal communication options abounding in every home, we forget that this was the decade when immigrants – sometimes no older than 12, from the poorest cities of England, were sent abroad to be settled in distant parts of the Commonwealth, far from the wretchedness of post war Britain, and with no more than occasional letters from their families to keep their spirits up. Milligan’s immediate family had immigrated to Australia in 1951, and it was a seminal moment in Spike’s life.

The feeling of dislocation and the traumatic separation that many immigrants felt at Christmas time is summed up in Secombe’s daft version of the Queen’s Christmas message. Everything about his speech is redolent of 1950’s Britain – the muddle headedness, the improvisation, the chaos, the ignorance about snow depths in Australia and New Zealand in December – combining to bring a lump to the throat of expatriates in every corner of the rapidly shrinking British Empire, thinking of their loved ones at home in merry England.