1st BROADCAST: 24 February 1958


Script by Spike Milligan



GREENSLADE: This is the BBC home service… (sings) “But they call it Ireland!”[1]

SELLERS: (Australian) I don’t like what he’s doing Pat, I don’t like it. We ought to have a meeting about it.[2]

GRAMS: Flock of sheep.

SECOMBE: Whilst that record of sheep is being played, here’s the remains of a Goon Show washed up on a Brighton beach near Croydon.

MILLIGAN SENIOR: (Older than god) Yes, ah yes. And in faded writing we see that the title is ….. (coronary gasping) Mnyshaarghyshaargh hlarghghah – part one!

ORCHESTRA: WW I military intro.

GRAMS: Distant guns.

SELLERS: (British military) Nineteen seventeen England was at war.

SECOMBE: (French) France was at war.

ECCLES: I was at lunch.

SELLERS: Nineteen seventeen – and here is an impression of it.

GRAMS: Heavy bombardment.

SEAGOON: Next, an impression of the inside of Gilbert Harding! [3]

GRAMS: Radio-phonic bubbling.

GRAMS: Bugle call. (Let it wind down at end.)

GREENSLADE: (French) Mon Dieu, ze retreat!

GRAMS: Massed boots running away. Screams. Disappearing into distance.

SELLERS: Nineteen seventeen – British chiefs of staff call meeting.

GRAMS: Distant piano/drums combo playing corny jazz. Rattle of tea cups on bone china saucers.

GENERAL SELLERS: Yes alright, that’s enough, that’s enough. After all, enough is as good as a feast.

GENERAL SECOMBE: Well, I haven’t had enough.

GENERAL SELLERS: Oh, haven’t you?


GENERAL SECOMBE: Well, swallow this obstacle.

GENERAL SECOMBE: (Swallowing sound) Ulp!

GRAMS: Cork popping. Electronic indigestion.

GENERAL SECOMBE: Oh, delicious! What was it?

GENERAL SELLERS: It was a nuff.

GENERAL SECOMBE: Oh ha ha! I don’t feel as if I’ve had enough.

GENERAL SELLERS: It was a nuff. It was marked on the tin, (spells) A N-U-double F, net weight four ounces. So you have just eaten a four ounce nuff.

GENERAL SECOMBE: Well, well. If that was a four ounce nuff I haven’t had enough nuff.

GENERAL SELLERS: (Threatening) Well, I’ve had enough. Say ‘ahh!’


FX: Pistol shot (close).

GENERAL SECOMBE: (in pain) …aaaarghhh! I’m dying. At last I’ve had enough!

ORCHESTRA: Thin chord on trumpet, trombone and snare drum.

MILLIGAN SENIOR: End of part one. And now… (coronary gargling) Mnyshyurrrallargh – part two.

GENERAL SELLERS: I called you heads of services[4] together to break the news. Gentlemen, apparently for the last three years we’ve been at war. W – A – R pronounced…

GRAMS: Cannon, rifle fire, bugle, machine gun fire.

GENERAL TWIT:[5] I say! It sounds jolly dangerous.

GENERAL SECOMBE: Who are we at war with?

GENERAL SELLERS: That’s what I keep asking myself. If only we knew, we could tell a policeman. We must try and capture one of those naughty enemies and find the nationality of his body.

GENERAL SECOMBE: Right. I’ll go down to the labour exchange and get a body tester. End of part two, sir! (Heels snap to attention.)

ORCHESTRA: Thin chord.

MILLIGAN SENIOR: And now… (coronary gasping) Hshulmllarghaah, part three.

GREENSLADE: The lounge of the East Acton labour exchange.

GRAMS: Tea rooms orchestra. Beautifully played waltz. Rattle of bone china.

FX: Sudden scratch of needle across record.

GRAMS: Distant sounds of crowd rioting.

GRYTPYPE: Thank you lads. Thank you lads. I’m so glad you like bad music.

SECOMBE: (Uncouth - distant) Here, give us another tune on the ol’ fiddle der dutch! What about the rock an’ roll, dere?… The ol’ rock an’ roll dere? (Raves)

GRYTPYPE: Later Sir Malcolm, later.[6] But first – here direct from his triumphant tour of the Paris labour exchanges, (known as ‘Eurovision’)[7] – that great unemployed Frenchman, Count Jim ‘Knee-trembler’…

FX: Rattle a stick inside tin-can.

GRYTPYPE: …Moriarty…

GRAMS: Wild cheering. Mix in enormous raspberries.

MORIARTY: Merci. For my first number I sing ‘Sur les Toits de Paris’.[8]

GRAMS: Old fashioned version of ‘Sur les toits de Paris’ with saxophone lead. (Continue under)

MORIARTY: (Sings along) …de de de-de de dee (&c)

FX: Pennies in mug (continue intermittently.)

GRYTPYPE: Thank you. Thank you. Oh no! No! No buttons please – no buttons.

MANAGER: Oh well, I’ll ‘ave you know that I’m the manager of this labour exchange.

WILLIUM: Pardon me manager – any fear of work today?

MANAGER: No. An’ you can take that broken limbs kit off.

WILLIUM: Only you got to be careful these days. There’s a lot o’ work about, matey!

MANAGER: You know as well as I do matey that this labour exchange has always hoist south cones [9] when there’s any danger like that.

WILLIUM: Yeah, but I got to be careful. Only three more days and I celebrate me fifty years without work.

MANAGER: Fifty years unemployed?! Hahahaha! Good heavens. Fill in this form for your OBE.[10]

GRAMS: Big Ben striking.

WILLIUM: (Fear) Aaargh! Oh! Listen, there goes the ‘danger of work’ bell.

MORIARTY: Quick, barricade the doors!

WLLIUM: Aargh!

GRAMS: (High speed) Bolts, bars, chains and slats of wood being nailed in place.

GRYTPYPE: Give me the binoculars Moriarty.

MORIARTY: What can you see?

GRYTPYPE: Nothing.

MORIARTY: But which direction is it going in?

FX: Knock on door. Door hastily opened.

GRYTPYPE: What do you want, knocker?

SEAGOON: I’m from the War Office. Gentlemen, I think you should know that we’re at war.

GRYTPYPE: Oh – was it something we’ve said?

SEAGOON: Heavens no. We want a decent chap to fly to Germany to try and capture one of the enemy – intact.

MORIARTY: Aah! What’s it worth?

SEAGOON: Well, for the chap who is successful there’ll be a nice little nest-egg waiting for him.

MORIARTY: Aah ha! How much in money?

SEAGOON: No money. I told you, he’ll get a nest with an egg in it.

MORIARTY: I should risk my life for an egg in a nest?

SEAGOON: Chickens do it all the time!

MORIARTY: Then send a chicken.

SEAGOON: Gad! What a brilliant idea. Chicken, ‘chun! Quick march!

GRAMS: Regiment marching. Add clucking chicken over. Fade into distance.[11]

GREENSLADE: Meantime, here is a jolly Dutchman who will obliterate himself with porridge – Max Feldray!


MAX GELDRAY  Sometimes I’m Happy” [12]


ORCHESTRA: Dramatic war link.

MILLIGAN SENIOR: And now on the faded document I see, (further coronary gasping) – Umbllahahllumblhallaa, part four.

GREENSLADE: In which Grytpype and Moriarty leave the exchange and seek out their fortune.

GRAMS: Howling wind.

MORIARTY: (Shivering) Arghhh! Auuurgh! Ahoooough! We must find somewhere to sleep tonight.

GRYTPYPE: Yes. Looks, there’s a cottage eight-hundred miles away.

MORIARTY: I’ll knock.

FX: Door knocker. Door opens smartly.

SEAGOON: A-ha, two men eight-hundred miles away. Welcome to the Manor de O’Fens. It’s only a luxury fifty-million pound villa, but… (his voice catches) – it’s home to me. What’s mine is yours. Let’s be jolly friends forever!

GRYTPYPE: (Laughs) Hahaha! Is your name Charlie?


GRYTPYPE: Well you look like one.

SEAGOON: No, no. My name’s Neddie Seagoon folks.

GRAMS: Wild cheering.


GRAMS: Cheering stops.

SEAGOON: (Laughs) Hahahaha, hahaha! Ah, thank you folks.

MORIARTY: Ah, what a nice little place he has here, ehi? What a nice little place. What a nice little room and a nice little floor. Nice. Everywhere is nice. (Raves)

GRYTPYPE: Yes Moriarty.

SEAGOON: It is a nice place, isn’t it? It belong to Lord Elpus.

MORIARTY: Lord ‘Elp Us.

SEAGOON: Yes. I’m looking after it for him while he’s away.

GRYTPYPE: Will he be gone long?

SEAGOON: Quite a while I should say. They buried him this morning.

GRYTPYPE: What was the trouble?

SEAGOON: Well, he’d been lying on his back for two days.

GRYTPYPE: That doesn’t mean a man’s dead.

SEAGOON: (Laughs) Haha! This time it did. He was at the bottom of the lake.

MORIARTY: Aw! Poor man.

GRYTPYPE: Well Neddie, I’m going to be frank…

SEAGOON: Right. I’ll be Tom…

MORIARTY: I’ll be Gladys.

FX: Slap on bare skin.

GRYTPYPE: Neddie, how would you like to buy these duff [13] shares in the German army?

SEAGOON: Are they worth anything?

GRYTPYPE: Of course! You know, I have certain information that I just thought of, that the Germans are bound to win any war they enter.

SEAGOON: What a chance! Wait here. I’ll just get my savings out of the P.O. [14]

GRYTPYPE: This I must see.

SEAGOON: It’s all in pennies.

GRYTPYPE: Well, we don’t mind spending pennies. Moriarty, come…

MORIARTY: Alright.

GRAMS: Recording: MORIARTY: One…

                              FX: Penny dropped.

                              MORIARTY: Two…

                              FX: Penny dropped.


                              FX: Penny dropped.


Gradually speed the whole thing up to infinity. Large explosion finishes the lot.

MORIARTY: Fifty pounds!

FX: Cash register. Money in till.

GRYTPYPE: Thank you Ned. And now, a sailors farewell.

GRAMS: Long blast on ships hooter. Gradually speed it up. Finish with a champagne cork popping.

SEAGOON: And so saying, the two nice men threw me out of the house.

GRAMS: Body into water.

SEAGOON: Who left that splash outside?

CONSTABLE: ‘Ere, your name Neddie Seagoon?

SEAGOON: Ah ha! A river policeman standing in the river.

CONSTABLE: Yeah, I’m on duty. I’m delivering your call-up papers.

SEAGOON: There must be some mistake. I only order the Times.

CONSTABLE: Don’t mess about now, there’s a war on. W – A – R pronounced…

GRAMS: (Recording- faster) Waaaaaarrrrr!

CONSTABLE: Your country needs YOU! Y – O – U pronounced…

GRAMS: (Recording- faster) Yooooouuuu!

CONSTABLE: Now then, try this ‘ere cannon on for size.

SEAGOON: Right. (Struggles) Ei egh ooh – ee – aah! (With echo) I say! This barrel is empty.

CONSTABLE: Ha ha! It must have been ripe. (Laughs) Ha ha ha hargh!

SEAGOON: (Echo) Hellooo!

MILLIGAN: (Distant – echo) Hellooo!

SEAGOON: Aaaah. Aliekoo!

MILLIGAN: Aaaah. Aliekoo!

SEAGOON: Mi mi mi mi mi!

MILLIGAN: Mi mi mi mi mi mi!

SEAGOON: Hallallaloo!

MILLIGAN: Hallallaloo!

SEAGOON: I’m an idiot.

MILLIGAN: You certainly are.

SEAGOON: What what what what what what what what what what what!?

GRAMS: (Recording – gradually speed up to infinity)

SEAGOON & MILLIGAN: What what what what what what what what what what what what what what…

CONSTABLE: Private Seagoon, I’m sending you to Aldershot. Follow this shell.

GRAMS: Cannon fires. Shell trajectory.


ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

FX: Quill on parchment.

CRUN: Drawers, cellular – one. Shirts, angora – two. Tins, mess – one. Socks, worsted grey – two pairs. Photographs of Mansfield Jane – three. Guns, bang – one. [15]

GRAMS: Pane of glass smashing. Body falls to floor.


CRUN: (Shock) Aarrgh! Min, a man has just come in through the roof.

BANNISTER: Ooh. Oh dear, the place is in such a mess too.

SEAGOON: (Groans) Aaargh!

CRUN: Min, here he is.

BANNISTER: Oh poor fellow. What’s your name young man?

SEAGOON: (Dazed) Mwaawaawaawrughhh!

BANNISTER: It’s Mister mwaawaawaawaarghh!

CRUN: Good morning.

BANNISTER: Morning Mister mwaawaawaawaarghh!

SEAGOON: Morning. (Extended)

SEAGOON: Please, I’m Private Seagoon. I’ve been sent here for my uniform. You see, England’s at war.

BANNISTER: War? I’d better go and get the washing in.

CRUN: Sir, we haven’t a uniform big enough for you here, but er… go to this address…

SEAGOON: (Reading) The Elephant Equipment Unit, Poona, India. Right. FAREWELL!

GRAMS: Boots running. (Recording – over. Gradually speed everything up.)

SEAGOON: (Sings) On the road to Mandalay

                                                  where the flying fishes play

                                                  and the sea rolls up like thunder

                                                  from China round the bay… [16]

GREENSLADE: In anticipation of his arrival, the BBC have placed a microphone at his destination. So, over to that.

ORCHESTRA: Bloodnok Theme.

GRAMS: Tropical thunderstorm. Torrential rain. Floodwaters. Swarms of flies. Mix in enormous raspberries. Sudden sound of cloth ripping. Racing car engine speeded up. Ratchet winding. Sudden explosion. Collapse of junk yard – bits and pieces falling everywhere.

BLOODNOK: (Over) Ooh! OOOOOOH! (Extended) Oh dear. Oh dear, dear! Sergeant – take ‘em out and shoot ‘em!

SERGEANT O’FLANAGAN: (Distant) Oooh no sir, I’ll not go near them socks. Last time they damn near overpowered me sir.[17]     

GRAMS: Weeping socks.

BLOODNOK: You see what you’ve done? You’ve offended them. Down boys. Down! Do you realise sir that these socks were mentioned in dispatches?

SERGEANT O’FLANAGAN: Alright. Socks ‘SHUN! Quick march. (Over)

GRAMS: Boots marching. Squeaking wooden joints over.

BLOODNOK: Gad! What a magnificent sight. A squadron of British army socks on the march. Into distance.

GRAMS: Thumps on door by something wet and soggy, interspersed with quacks.

BLOODNOK: Oooo! Someone knocking on the door with a duck.

FX: Door opens.

BLOODNOK: Oooh ho!

ECCLES: Hello my darling.

BLOODNOK: Eccles! What do you want?
ECCLES: I love you my darling. My love.

BLOODNOK: Steady Madame! Steady Madame!

ECCLES: Let me serenade you my darling.


ECCLES: I wrote this tune for you darling.

ORCHESTRA: Bass drum solo.

ECCLES: Hoi! Encore…

ORCHESTRA: Bass drum. Single crotchet.

BLOODNOK: Thank you. It brought tears to my knees.

ECCLES: My little darling. I want you to have these. I picked these for you. I grew them myself.

BLOODNOK: A handful of hair! How sweet. (Calls) Singhez? Put these in a jar of hair oil. Come inside, you silly fellow – you military fool. Come inside.

ECCLES: Ah, ta. It’s the spring you know. (It’s the spring folks.) I want some old fashioned loving.

BLOODNOK: (Calls) GRANNIE! Come down!

FX: Knock on door. Door opens.

GRAMS: Locomotive at high speed. Squeal of brakes. Hiss of steam.

BLOODNOK: Aaaaaaaagh! A puff-puff train.

SEAGOON: Ah, how nice of you to meet me at the station Major.

BLOODNOK: Well, it was the least I could do – a quantity I specialise in.

SEAGOON: How’s the war going?

BLOODNOK: Well, the Germans are losing.

SEAGOON: Oh horrors! Folks, folks – then these shares are losing their values folks. (Crying) Gnygnygnygnygnygn folks!

BLOODNOK: Don’t worry Neddie folks. Look, here’s a special offer – ten thousand unused nineteen-hundred and four calendars.

SEAGOON: Nineteen-oh-four? That’s gone.

BLOODNOK: Ah, but if it ever comes back, you’ll make a fortune.

SEAGOON: You looney military man – how can it come back?

BLOODNOK: Great laraping nurglers! Look here, Monday comes back once a week, December comes back once a year…


BLOODNOK: Well, nineteen-oh-four will come back. It just takes longer, that’s all.

SEAGOON: It’s a deal.


SEAGOON: Ha ha! Here is an advance one shilling and Ray Ellington quartet.






GRAMS: Distant cannons. Continue under.

GREENSLADE: On the western front, Seagoon prayed for the Germans to win.

BLOODNOK: I say, Colonel, there’s something dashed strange about that Private SEAGOON.

COLONEL: Ah yes?

BLOODNOK: During that last German attack all he did was point his finger at them and shout “Bang! You’re dead.”

COLONEL: Aaahoough! Perhaps he’d run out of ammunition.

BLOODNOK: No he hadn’t. I inspected his finger and it was fully loaded.

COLONEL: Is this true Seagoon?

SEAGOON: I… I… I… It was like this you see. I…I…er…

COLONEL: I’ll give you ten seconds to answer the question.

GRAMS: Countdown music.

SEAGOON: (Close to tears) I’m sorry. I can’t answer.

SELLERS: (American) Well, hard luck. Anyway, you win yourself a wonderful dishonourable discharge from the army. So let’s give him a great big hand.

GRAMS: Tremendous applause.

ORCHESTRA: Broadway chord.

SEAGOON: And so I volunteered to become a civilian. I got measured for a cowards suit.

GRAMS: Massed sewing machines. Distant Hindu chanting.

LALKAKA: Mister Banerjee! Mister Banerjee!

BANERJEE:[19] What is it?

LALKAKA: Look Mister Banerjee, are you positive that Seagoon gentleman sahib has got a thirteen inch chest and a ninety-two inch waist?

BANERJEE: That is the measurements that they sent to me in the post today. Therefore I can only presume that it is true.

LALKAKA: But how can a man be that shape and LIVE? Listen to me – the only way to move him must be to roll him along, you see.

BANERJEE: But I hope you’re not refusing to make this gentleman a suit. Because if so you are ruining our substantial business that we have created as darzies[20] in the cantonment.

LALKAKA: Listen babu. Listen. I’m not refusing you, you understand. But what I’m telling you is that I cannot believe man that any man can be this shape, you are understanding?

FX: Door opens. Shop bell.

SEAGOON: Good morning.

LALKAKA: Good heavens – it’s true! Come in sir. We won’t keep you one moment.

BANERJEE: Sit down here and take your trousers off.

MORIARTY: Hello Neddie. How are you Neddie? Ha ha ha!

SEAGOON: YOU! Spelt Y – O – U, pronounced…


SEAGOON: What about those duff German Army shares? Germany’s nearly lost the war.

GRYTPYPE: Neddie, if you lend us those nineteen-oh-four calendars all will be well. Now, (self fade) what I want to do about this is…

SEAGOON: His idea was to drop the nineteen-oh-four calendars on England by Zeppelin, making the English believe the war hadn’t even started, giving Germany the advantage. (Gloats) Gnyagnyagnyagnyaaa! Giving Germany the advantage.

GRAMS: Drone of distant airships. Continue under.

GREENSLADE: (Over) Meantime, midnight on a lonely anti-aircraft site in Epping forest.

GRAMS: Fade in crickets, frogs and other night time noises.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ooh! What is that noise out there?

GRAMS: Terrific raspberry.

BLUEBOTTLE: Advance Major Bloodnok and be recognised.

SPRIGGS: (Approaching) Hello Jim. Hello Ji-iim! Hello Jim.

BLUEBOTTLE: Hello Jim. Hello Ji-iim! Name the password.

SPRIGGS: Oh, I don’t know Jim. I don’t know the password Ji-iim.

BLUEBOTTLE: Captain! Captain Hertz![21]

CAPTAIN HERTZ: (Distant. Giggling) Haha! What is it? (Approaching) Haha – he won’t believe that… Haha! His name was darling, Stalin. Haha!

BLUEBOTTLE: I say, ‘dis man doesn’t know the passèd word.

CAPTAIN HERTZ: (giggling) Neither do I. Haha! Oh dear. Haha!

SPRIGGS: What are you laughing at Jim? What are you laughing at Ji-iim?

CAPTAIN HERTZ: (giggling) What’s he laughing at? Haha! He can’t seem to believe my… hahaha! (Extended)

BLUEBOTTLE: I told him not to wear them woolly underpants.

CAPTAIN HERTZ: (giggling) Woolly underpants! Woolly underpants! Hehehehe…

GRAMS: Multiple splashes in water.


LITTLE JIM: He’s fallen in the water.

BLUEBOTTLE: Little Jim. Little Jim!

LITTLE JIM: Yes. (Extended)

BLUEBOTTLE: Ohihoyi! Suddenly sees studio audience. Hello everybody.

GRAMS: Hysterical applause.

BLUEBOTTLE: Hui hui! Thank you clappers, thank you. For my first song I will sing “The Rock-a-round”.

ORCHESTRA: Rock introduction – (aka Bill Haley and his Comets.)

BLUEBOTTLE: (Sings) You gotta rock and rock

                              Ya gotta rock all day.

                              Ya gotta rock around

                              the clock all day…[22]

GRAMS: (Over) Whistle of something falling.

BLUEBOTTLE:       And you….

FX: Woodblock. Single stroke.

BLUEBOTTLE: (Pain) Ooohaoh! You’ve nutted me. I’ve been nutted. Oh! My nut, nut, nut. Oh, lumps on my nuttie nut! (Crying) Oohioohi!

ORCHESTRA: Final chord.

GRAMS: Wild cheering from fans.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ahi, you silly twits. I wasn’t singing – I was in agony. I was hit on the head by this.

SPRIGGS: Ooh Jim, it’s a nineteen-hundred and four calendar.

BLUEBOTTLE: Cor – if it’s nineteen-oh four I’d better get back home to mum.

SPRIGGS: What for?

BLUEBOTTLE: I haven’t been born yet.

SPRIGGS: Oooh Jim!

BLUEBOTTLE: Cor, my Dad won’t half kill me for this.

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

GREENSLADE: (Broadcasting) Here is a special news bulletin: British troops will come home from France at once.

SEAGOON: Hooray folks! They think it’s nineteen-hundred and four. The plan worked! My German army shares will be worth a fortune.

BLOODNOK: Wrong! The British dropped nineteen-eighteen calendars on Berlin and THE GERMANS SURRENDERED!

SEAGOON: (Weeping) Oh oh oh oh dear! (Normal) Sounds about the end, doesn’t it Wal?

GREENSLADE: Perfectly correct Mister Seagoon. Goodnight.

SEAGOON: Goodnight Wal.

GRAMS: Boots running.

(Recording – over) SEAGOON: I can hear your socks, Moriarty. I know you’re there! (Fade into distance)

ORCHESTRA: End theme.

GREENSLADE: (Over) 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. Announcer Wallace Greenslade. The programme produced by Charles Chilton.

ORCHESTRA: Play out.


[1] The quote is from the song “A Little Bit of Heaven” by Brennan and Ball, 1914, one of the many fashionable Irish parlour songs from the first decades of the twentieth century. Joseph Keirn Brennan (1873-1948) also wrote “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” (1944).


[2] Peter speaks this line with a broad Australian accent. This dig at colonials seems to have been caused by an outburst in the Australian Parliament in October 1957, by a representative who claimed that the broadcasts of the Goon Show by the ABC on the Sabbath was disgraceful. Senator Kendall (Lab. QLD) declared that if another atomic bomb was to be dropped, he hoped it would be on the radio station 3AR on 7.30 Sunday evening when the Goon Show was broadcast.

Australia was a favourite destination for Spike, (whose parents and brother lived there), and its public were devoted fans of the show. Undoubtedly, Spike was not the only one who deprecated Mr Kendall’s bleating. 


[3] Gilbert Harding (1907-1960) was an irascible, outspoken broadcaster and quiz master, known as “the rudest man in Britain” because of his treatment of witless contestants, panellists and the public. He often bullied guests when they were evasive or spoke imperfect English, shocking viewers with his unrestrained rudeness.  For over a decade, Harding compeered “What’s My Line” (see The Goon Show 7th series). In 1960, John Freeman deliberately tried to ‘out’ him as homosexual in a live television show entitled ‘Face to Face’. The attempt was unsuccessful, but the interview was one of the most wrenching pieces of television ever witnessed, as Harding was gradually reduced to a miserable wreck. He confessed on-screen that "…my bad manners and bad temper are quite indefensible...I'm almost unfit to live with...I'm profoundly lonely...I should be very glad to be dead." 

Two months later, Harding dropped dead in a London Street at the age of 53.

[4] The services were at the time of writing, the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force, each administered by the Admiralty, the War Office and the Air Ministry. The three services were combined in 1964. During World War I, there existed a highly volatile attitude of competitiveness, suspicion and aggressive non-co-operation between the three services, an attitude not entirely overcome during World War II, despite Churchill’s authority.


[5] Milligan’s performances of high ranking officers nearly always included a speech defect of some kind.


[6] Sir Malcolm Sargent, (1895-1967) English conductor, organist and composer, was the chief conductor of the Proms from 1948 to 1967, and a leading exponent of the English choral tradition. Despite his deep religious convictions, he was a notorious womaniser – a fact he never denied, maintaining long term liaisons with women at the highest level of London society. A famous saying at the time was, “Promise me that whatever happens, I shan’t have to go home alone in a taxi with Malcolm Sargent.”


[7] Grytpype is referring to the Eurovision Song Contest, began in 1956 and about to be presented for the third time. The United Kingdom did not enter the contest this year, which was eventually decided in favour of France.


[8] ‘Sur les toits de Paris’ (‘On the Roofs of Paris) was the first French sound film to achieve international success. First opening at the Moulin Rouge cinema Paris in May of 1930, it was directed by René Clair with songs by Raoul Moretti and René Nazelles.


[9] Milligan seems to have written a ‘south cone’ – though Secombe’s pronunciation is extremely hard to follow. A ‘south cone’ is a flag raised to signal a coming storm. It is part of the International Commercial code of signals first introduced in 1857 and widely used aboard shipping, though the system also crept into use in other commercial fields which required workers to be kept abreast of dangerous changes to the weather. A ‘south cone’ specifically meant a gale coming from the southward as opposed to a ‘north cone’ which meant the opposite.


[10] OBE stands for the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. It is an order of chivalry given by the British monarch to military or civilian personal for meritorious service to their country. Although the OBE does not make one a knight, it does confer upon the individual a host of important privileges.

[11] As has been often pointed out in the Goon Show commentaries, the idea of a regiment marching along clucking was a source of unending comic delight to Milligan, who based his idea of an incident he had witnessed during World War II.

[12] First performed in the short lived show “A Night Out” in 1925, ‘Sometimes I’m Happy’ (Youmans & Caesar) was eventually a major hit in the show “Hit the Deck” premiering in New York in March 1927.

Hit the Deck” was eventually filmed in 1955, starring Jane Powell, Tony Martin, Debbie Reynolds and Walter Pidgeon.


[13] Duff, according to the Oxford Reference Dictionary, means worthless or counterfeit.


[14] Postal savings systems were first introduced in Great Britain in 1861, in a scheme vigorously supported by Sir Rowland Hill (advocate of the penny post) and William Ewert Gladstone, (the then Chancellor of the Exchequer.)  Banks, traditionally, were the realm of the wealthy and existed only in major cities, so frugal Britons of the lower classes kept their savings at home or on their person. By 1927, one in four Britons had savings accounts, with £283 million on deposit. Milligan writes a very funny scene for Minnie and Henry in “What’s My Line” ( /7) set in a GPO.


[15] Clearly a reference to his father Leo Milligan – the mad quarter-bloke.


[16]The Road to Mandalay” (Kipling/Speaks: 1907) was Oley Speaks’ one-hit wonder - a setting of the famous Rudyard Kipling poem first published in the collection ‘Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses’ in 1892. Frank Sinatra was on the point of releasing his own version of the song, having recorded it in October of ’57 for his new album, ‘Come Fly with Me’.  Secombe sings a highly imaginative version of the text.


[17] Secombe’s pronunciation is extremely hard to follow. Not made any easier by a BBC edit.

[18] A number written by Ellington himself, obviously inspired by the launch of Sputnik – the first artificial satellite put into earth’s orbit. The Russian satellite was launched in October of 1957, and precipitated the Sputnik crisis which ignited the great US/USSR space race which culminated in the moon landings in 1969.  The satellite, travelling at 29,000 kilometres per hour, emitted a ‘beep beep’ signal which lasted 22 days until the batteries ran out. The transmission was actively followed by news stations, by ham radio operators and by anyone possessing a short wave receiver.


[19] Milligan interjects here: “It’ll be on the Hindu hit parade soon.”


[20] A darzi was a tailor. The word is Urdu. Tailors were traditionally Muslim. To have a profession inside the cantonment was a guarantee of success in the days of the Raj, as if provided relative safety from ethnic violence and the sahibs and memsahibs would patronise your business.

[21] Hertz may well be one of the myriad of colonial names which stayed with Milligan after his family’s tour of duty in India and Burma. Fort Hertz, in remote north-eastern Burma in the district of Putao, was established in 1914, and would have been one of the British outposts his father would have been familiar with as a quartermaster to the British forces in Rangoon.


[22] This is a witty take-off of the Freedman/Myers song “Rock around the Clock” (1952), made famous by Bill Haley and His Comets.  After a slow start on the charts, the song fast became an anthem for America’s rebellious youth when it was used in the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’ (1955) – causing near riots in British cinemas. Its wild popularity caused the group to undertake a European tour in 1957 to cash in on the phenomenal success of this chart buster.  What Spike thought of the number is easily surmised by Bluebottles explanation of his own actions.