BROADCAST: 4 Nov 1957


Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens


GREENSLADE: This is the BBC.
SECOMBE: What beautiful words, Wal. Why don’t we set it to music?
GREENSLADE: It would be a jolly good idea.
SECOMBE: (Effete) Of course! Just stand under this tree and listen.
ORCHESTRA: Corny version of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ – introduction only.

SECOMBE: (sings) Oohh…..
GREENSLADE: Just a minute, please! Just a minute Mister Secombe. That music was written by Edward Elgar Sir.
SECOMBE: Edward Elgar!? He got in quick, didn’t he? You’d better watch these composers. Same thing happened before. I wrote Handel’s Largo, and when I got it to the publishers, he’d already written it. You know what he called it? Handel’s Largo. Same as me.
GREENSLADE: Is your name Handel’s Largo?
SECOMBE: What, what, what, what, what? You’ll get a belt on that big shiny ear-‘ole of yours.
SELLERS: Never mind, there, Hershel. Never mind.
SECOMBE: Good heavens! It’s Peter Sellers, who has just broken his own record of keeping a car for more than a month.
SELLERS: Well, you may laugh Hershel. The trouble is, nobody’s yet invented a Hi-Fi car, that takes films in colour with a built in tape recorder. But the day will come mark ye! (Car impressions) Brrrrrrrrrrrm brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm.
SECOMBE: Stop those car impressions!
SELLERS: I can’t – this is a chauffeur-driven impression. Stop here, James! (Car impression) Brrrrm…
SECOMBE: How can you afford such expensive impressions?
SELLERS: Because I do a brilliant impression of a large bank account.
SECOMBE Splendid! (Laughs) Nyanyanyah! You’re just the type to do the impressions in our most recent leather Goon Show entitled ‘The Space Age!’
ORCHESTRA: Epic Space-Age Introduction.
GRAMS: Fade in Morse code over. Distant dog barking.[1]Continue under.
SELLERS: (Over Morse) When news of the new Russian satellite was released on the Sunday, the high-ranking British astronomers were unfortunately away for the weekend. However, the moment they were informed of the phenomena they immediately continued their weekend holiday.
GREENSLADE: But in Hailsham, a small English village just across the Channel from France, an Englishman staunch and true was at work.
SEAGOON: Ah, that’s my cue. Thank you Wal. (Clears throat) Ahem. Now where’s my tin speaking trumpet? (Through megaphone) Hello folks. He-ello folks! Calling folks! This is gunner Neddie Seagoon speaking to you, from a hayloft in a barn at Poole Farm. I am carrying out a vital scientific experiment, folks. I am discovering how long a World War One army deserter can survive in a hayloft on horse fodder, raw carrots, grass, cardboard, string, rope, old actors…
FX: Knocking.
SEAGOON: What! Who’s that? (Shouts) Halt, who goes there? Shoot or I’ll fire!

FX: Door opens.
GRYTPYPE: Ah, good morning ragged military gentleman.
SEAGOON: Good heavens! It’s the military police.
GRYTPYPE: Yes, Neddie.
SEAGOON: It’s all a mistake I tell you! I didn’t know the fifty-sixth heavy regiment was sailing for North Africa.[2] I… I overslept, that’s all. I… I’m not afraid of the Germans! Ha ha! (Shouts) Come out and fight! Down with the Kaiser! There, you see, I’m a patriot. (Sings) Rule Britannia, There’ll always be an England. A-hem.
GRYTPYPE: They all say that, you know.
SEAGOON: What, what, what, what, what?
GRYTPYPE: There there, Neddie – little Neddie. We are bearers of grand tidings.
SEAGOON: Huzzah! Of course, the King’s pardon.
GRYTPYPE: (Laughing) Well, not quite Neddie.
SEAGOON: Have we captured Berlin yet?
GRYTPYPE: The war – Berlin, yes. Yes it fell to us but we lost it again.
SEAGOON: Good heavens. World War One still on. [3]

MORIARTY: Yes, at this very moment the Germans are attacking the Bank of England.
SEAGOON: Strange. I haven’t heard any gunfire.
GRYTPYPE: (low) Moriarty quick – your World War One impressions.
MORIARTY: Bang, bang, ratatata, boom, bang, fire! Pomb! Twing! Pwing! Ratatatata bang bang… &c (continues under)
GREENSLADE: We would like to assure nervous listeners that the shellfire they hear is not genuine. It is being done orally by an unscrupulous military policeman who takes protection money from deserters like Neddie, who are not aware that the war is over. And if you’ll pardon me, I’ll slip away before they notice my Boer War helmet!
MORIARTY: Boom, bang, burrm, boom. Boom, ratatatatat, boom. BAAANG!
SEAGOON: (Scared) Good heavens! That last one was close.
SEAGOON: Look, lads. I’ve had enough of this. I’ve only got three shillings.
GRYTPYPE: Oh I see. Just one moment, please.
GRYTPYPE & MORIARTY: Rhubarb, rhubarb, hairy pie, hairy pie… &c
MORIARTY:[4] Yes Neddie. We’ve got a little invention here we call ‘The Deserter’s Friend’!
SEAGOON: What is it – a woman?!
GRYTPYPE: No Neddie. With this gadget you can hide in space.
SEAGOON: Space? But I’m taking up too much already. [5]
GRYTPYPE: Lad, we have perfected a method of getting a man off the ground under his own power. He needs no other means of propulsion.
SEAGOON: What, what, what, what, what, (clucks) bwark bwark bwark bwaaark bwk bwk! Has it been successful?
GRYTPYPE: Successful? (Laughs) Do you hear that, Count? (Both laugh) Why, even last night the dear Count here went up on the heath and unaided elevated himself into space to the height of twenty feet.
SEAGOON: Gad! What’s this invention called?
GRYTPYPE: A ladder. Of course I may think of a better name for it later, but…
SEAGOON: No, no, no! Ladder’s a good name for it. I must tell folks. Just a moment – my trumpet. (Megaphone) Calling folks! Hello folks! With this invention folks, I can go on being a deserter forever. The military police will never find me up there, folks. (normal) How much?
GRYTPYPE: Well, to anyone else Neddie, ten shillings. But to you, thirty-eight pounds.
SEAGOON: Ha ha! I couldn’t take advantage. I’ll pay what everyone else does, (laughs) hahaha – ten shillings. How would you like it?
GRYTPYPE: In thirty-eight one-pound notes.
SEAGOON: Right. See I’ve got forty pounds here. I’ll peel them off. Forty, thirty-nine, thirty-eight. There! Thirty-eight pounds.
GRYTPYPE: Thank you, Ned. Now pick a card. Don’t let me see it… What is it?
SEAGOON: The forty-three of diamonds.
GRYTPYPE: You lose, pay pontoons only. Twenty-eight pounds, Neddie.
FX: Cash register. Money in till.
GRYTPYPE: I thank you.
MORIARTY: And now Neddie, here Neddie are the full scale plans of a ladder.
SEAGOON: These plans are made of paper.
GRYTPYPE: Yes, Ned. If chased by military police, place plans against a wall, climb up and then fold the plans up after you.  
SEAGOON: Brilliant! But I’d better not take any chances. I think I’ll make a wooden one.
GRYTPYPE: Splendid. And here to cover the sound of your carpentry is Max Geldray to play his old Dutch muffled teeth! [6]

MAX GELDRAY – “Limehouse Blues”[7]

GREENSLADE: That was Max Geldray who played ‘Standing inside a pair of Trousers’. You will remember that Neddie has built himself a ladder. Part Two, we find him hiding at the top.
GRAMS: Traffic noise. Continue under.
SEAGOON: Hello folks, calling folks. I’m in a deserter’s paradise folks, balanced on top of a secret twenty-foot ladder in the middle of Piccadilly circus.
GREENSLADE: And damned silly you look too, Mister Seagoon.
SEAGOON: Shh! Quiet Wal – you want people to see me?
GREENSLADE: It matters not if they do. The crux being that World War One from which you hide, was terminated in nineteen eighteen.
SEAGOON: Ohh, ohhh, ohhh! Thirty-eight years I’ve been a coward for nothing. Wait! That means they owe me thirty-eight years coward deserters back pay. I’d better get down to Whitehall.
ORCHESTRA: Bloodnok theme.
BLOODNOK: Ohhohhhohh, oh dear, oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, that Chinese ginger! There ought to be a law against it you know. Well, it’s time the delightful Madame La Tool was here. Get my handkerchief and my electric tango boots on.[8] Now, turn the gas stove down low. Must have a romantic atmosphere, you know.
FX: Knocking.
BLOODNOK: That’s here now. I’ll just put the light out.
FX: Gunshot.
BLOODNOK: Owww! Got it right in the filaments. Now…
FX: Door opens.
BLOODNOK: Ahh, Millie! Ahh Millie! To my arms darling, and let us waltz.
ORCHESTRA: Waltz introduction. [9]
BLOODNOK: (singing) Let’s waltz the whole night through,
                              the Darjeeling one-step with you.
                              It’s cooler than Poona,
                              and I’d rather sooner
                              do it in Darjeeling with you,
                              Up in the old bazaar,
                              I’ll give a loud Huzzah!
                              Let’s live our moment,
                              in Bombay cantonment,
                              the Darjeeling one-step with you, with you,
                              the Darjeeling one-step with you!
BLOODNOK: I kiss your hand Madame. (Slobbering) Mmmh. Mmmmh! Mkoughoch! Mkgrough!
SEAGOON: And that’s as far as it goes. I’m promised to another.
BLOODNOK: Well, I don’t know who you are sir or where you’ve come from, but you’ve done me a power of good, I’ll tell you.
SEAGOON: Well I’m Gunner Ned Seagoon.
BLOODNOK: What are you doing on top of that ladder, sir? World War One is over.
SEAGOON: I know. I’m practising for the next one.
BLOODNOK: But how can you? They haven’t written the music for it yet.
SEAGOON: Of course they have sir. It goes like this.
GRAMS: Explosion
BLOODNOK: What’s it called?
SEAGOON: World War Two.
BLOODNOK: Wait a moment. I… (Where’s my old photographs? Wait a minute.) Aren’t you Gunner Ned Seagoon of the deserters barn, Hailsham?
BLOODNOK: Then what are you doing deserting your own coward’s post?
SEAGOON: I heard the Kaiser’s surrendered.
BLOODNOK: Nonsense sir. Singhiz, do some impressions.
SINGHEZ: Bang bang bang ratatat! Bang! Boom!  
BLOODNOK: There. You heard that with your own ears. German World War One rifle fire, interpreted into English by Havaldar Singhiz-Things. [10]
SEAGOON: I’d better get back on duty as a coward then.
FX: Door opens.
IDIOT CORPORAL:[11] Aaahgh Major, aaargh, the ahh Russians have forced a arghh satellite into the aagh ionosphere.
BLOODNOK: The filthy swines! And me with only one change of underwear.
GREENSLADE: May I explain Major?
BLOODNOK: What, what, what?
GREENSLADE: I said, may I explain…
BLOODNOK: Well get on with it, then.
GREENSLADE: Well, this is a satellite moon circling the Earth.
BLOODNOK: The great Space Race has begun. Men, on your marks, get set…
FX: Starting pistol.

GRAMS: Boots running away at speed.
GREENSLADE: And so England joined in the attempt to conquer space. The question was, how could we get ahead of Russia? Soon, the great all-leather laboratory at Neasden was working full-blast on a project.
FX: Occasional hammer on metal. Continue under.
CRUN: Now Min, Min, get this rocket strapped up your back and stand in the fireplace.[12]
BANNISTER: All right Henry.
CRUN: And remember modern Min, keep your elbows well in till you’re clear of the chimney.
BANNISTER: Oh dear. What about the heat from the rocket, Henry?
CRUN: Well, hold the lid of this biscuit tin behind you to protect your nether limbs. Now modern Min, when you’re well clear of the Earth get extra power by strapping on these leather duck wings.
BANNISTER:[13] How do I operate them, Henry?
CRUN: Don’t worry, modern Min. As soon as you’re up this instruction manual on leather wings will be rocketed up to you. Now let us check your outer space nourishments pack.
BANNISTER: All right Henry. Let me see, one all-leather box… ***barks?
CRUN: Ahh, two and thruppence…
BANNISTER: Packet of Indian tea, net weight quarter pound…
CRUN: Eight pence farthing…
BANNISTER: And a small brown loaf.
CRUN: Now your medical survival kit. One fishtooo! One outer space lemon and horsehair poultice. One stratosphere packet of ling cenapods, and Alistair’s horse oils. One bottle of Indian brandyyyy! Now Min, think yourself lucky to have modern science at your disposal!
BANNISTER: Oh, are you going to dispose of me then?
FX: Knock on door.
BANNISTER: Oh, we’ll all be murdered in our beds! Oh, deary! Oooh phish too!... &c
CRUN: Wait a minute. (calls) Coming, sir! Min, don’t go up till I come.
FX: Door opens
SEAGOON: Oh, help me sir! The military police are after me.
CRUN: I can’t think what they see in you, sir. Where are you?
SEAGOON: On top of this ladder.
CRUN: Oh, you’re in the air force then! Come in.
FX: Door shuts
CRUN: Now sir, you are just in time to see Britain’s…
FX: Match striking
CRUN: …first woman into space!
GRAMS: Rocket taking off.
BANNISTER: (Over rocket) Ohhhhhh!
SEAGOON: Good heavens! She’s gone up the chimney.
CRUN: Yes! Now to pick up her signals on this wireless set.
GRAMS: Wireless signal. Continue under.
CRUN: Calling Min. Calling modern Min.
BANNISTER: Pitopotung! Gnitopotongiyong… &c (Rubbish)
CRUN: Ah-hah! England now has a successful Min Bannister circling the Earth! Min, can you give us your exact position?
BANNISTER: I’m stuck half-way up the chimney! [14]
CRUN: Ohh, Min! This has put England years behind. We must defeat the chimney barrier.
SEAGOON: Don’t worry. I have an invention here which can get her well clear of the chimney and into space!

CRUN: What?

SEAGOON: Yes! It’s called a twenty-foot ladder, because of its length.
CRUN: Quick, get it up the chimney then. (Strains) Huh! Now up you go. Can you reach her?
SEAGOON: (Distant) Not quite. The ladder’s not long enough.
CRUN: Don’t worry. (To himself) Just put this giant, handy, interballistic rocket to the bottom of the ladder – light the fuse, so…
FX: Match striking
GRAMS: Rocket blasting off.
BANNISTER: Ohh… Ohhhh!
CRUN: What’s the matter, Min?
BANNISTER: A man just went past me on a ladder!
CRUN: Min, this is a great day for army deserters.
CRUN: The first one has just been launched into space! Let’s send up Ray Ellington! Come along… [15]



GRAMS: Final chords of symphonic piece. Applause.
OMNES: Clapping over. Cries of “Well done there!” “Good luck there!”
GREENSLADE: The scene is the opera house Aldershot. A critical first-night audience are judging the military police ‘solo ballet contest’.
MILITARY MC: Thank you, thank you! And now for an encore, Lance-Corporal Ninjer will dance the solo pas de deux from the Constable ballet, Coppelia.
IDIOT SERGEANT MAJOR: (Approaching) Stop! Stop! Stop the concert! Stop the concert I say!
OMNES: Disapproval.
IDIOT SERGEANT MAJOR: Please, this is a great day for the military police. As you know men, since the last war thirty-three million – that is one third of the male population of England, have been deserters. Well, we have found ONE of them!
GRAMS: Massive cheering.
IDIOT LIEUTENANT: Where’s, er where’s this deserter then der? Where’s this old deserter, der?
IDIOT SERGEANT MAJOR: Well, I’ll tell you there. We’ve got him trapped. He’s circling the Earth five-hundred mile up. So step forward the tallest man in the regiment, there.
FX: Boots taking one step forward.  
IDIOT SERGEANT MAJOR: Brave man. What’s your name?
ECCLES: Lance-Corporal Ecc… Lance-Corporal Eccles.
IDIOT SERGEANT MAJOR: You’re not the tallest man in the regiment.
ECCLES: Well, the feller that pushed me forward seem to think so.  
IDIOT SERGEANT MAJOR: All right, pick a partner and I’ll arrange transport.
ECCLES: All right. Um, er yeah ok. Ok now. Nope, not him. Not him… No, not you. You’ve had it… No, no, not him… No, no… Ahh ha hau! You.  
BLUEBOTTLE: You would pick me, you big steaming nit!
ECCLES: Oh, Bottle! Bottle!
BLUEBOTTLE: Don’t you bottle me. I’m on my way to do my Mum’s shopping I am! (to self) Half a cake of small brown, tin of salmon, quarter black shag. (Normal) I don’t want to play this military police game. What’s the matter with you, man?
ECCLES: Owwowohohh!
BLUEBOTTLE: It’s all right you saying that. (to self) Half pound sago, quarter rice, one tin condensed milk. (normal) My Mum says with all these politicians about I’m not to play in the park! [16]
SERGEANT ELLINGTON: Right, come on you two. Fall in! Now, march behind each other. By the right, quick march! Left, left, left right left… (Into distance.)
BLUEBOTTLE: We’d better follow him, hadn’t we Eccles?
ORCHESTRA: Old Comrades March. Segue immediately into dramatic chords.

GRAMS: Distant military commands over tannoy system.
GREENSLADE: At dawn, (as you can hear), a great military police space rocket was prepared. The red cap was screwed on, and inside, final orders were given.
IDIOT CAPTAIN:[17] Now men, (cigarettes out) – as you chaps know, we are about to make the first arrest of a deserter in outer space. Now sergeant, five seconds from now we’ll synchronize instruments. Five, four, three, two, one!
ORCHESTRA: Band tuning.
IDIOT CAPTAIN: Splendid! Right now men, you all know your stations.
ECCLES: Clapham Junction.
IDIOT CAPTAIN: Shut up, Eccles.
ECCLES: Shut up… &c
IDIOT CAPTAIN: Now then, (shut up Eccles) – now then, switch on the heat generator!
GRAMS: Sound of electrical generator.
IDIOT CAPTAIN: Raise engine temperature!
IDIOT ENGINEER: (off) Engine temperature raised, sir.
GRAMS: Generator swells .
IDIOT CAPTAIN: Right. Combine maximum heat power!
IDIOT ENGINEER: (off) Heat power at maximum!
GRAMS: Generator swells again.
IDIOT CAPTAIN: Right. Bluebottle, seal those pipes!
BLUEBOTTLE: Aieeargh! That’s hot!
IDIOT CAPTAIN: That’s hot enough. FIRE!
ECCLES: Fire! Where? Oh, the rocket. Fire the rocket!
GRAMS: Enormous explosion. Sound of missile streaming off.
IDIOT CAPTAIN: All right chaps, we’re five-hundred miles up now, and well clear of the Earth. Remove liberty bodices and replace dentures.
FX: Slurping noises.
ELLINGTON: Captain, captain look! There’s a face at the window.
IDIOT CAPTAIN: What! Draw the curtains. I wonder who it is. What height are we at?
ELLINGTON: Four hundred and ninety-two miles.
IDIOT CAPTAIN: Hmm, can’t be Seagoon. He’s only four foot nine.
BLUEBOTTLE: Pardon me captain, he’s standing on a ladder and he’s got no clothes on.
IDIOT CAPTAIN: So, improperly dressed eh?
BLUEBOTTLE: No, he’s not dressed at all. He is N-U-D-E!
IDIOT CAPTAIN: That’s him – Nudie Seagoon!
ECCLES: Nude? Give me them binoculars. Ohhh.
FX: Knocking on door.
BLOODNOK: I say, it is Seagoon. He’s knocking to come in. There’s manners for you.
SECOMBE: Don’t let him in Major!
BLOODNOK: Why not?
SECOMBE: I can’t play two parts at once.
BLOODNOK: Well, get out.
FX: Door opens. Wind blowing. Door closes.
BLOODNOK: That’s got rid of him. Now, let deserter Seagoon in.
FX: Door opens. Wind blowing. Door closes.
SEAGOON: Ahh, thank you Major. (megaphone) Hello folks, calling folks. It’s me, folks, Neddie. I’m saved!
GRAMS: Ovation, cheering
GRYTPYPE: Stop! Deserter Seagoon, you’re under military arrest.
SEAGOON: I’m not frightened any more. World War One is over.
MORIARTY: Ah, yes, but since then, we’ve had World War Two!
SEAGOON: Ahh, (Hysteria) I must hide! I must hide!
GRYTPYPE: Yes, Neddie. Now for a few shillings a week we know a nice little
spot where you can hide…
SEAGOON: (Gabbling) Yes, yes. But you’ll tell me when it’s over, won’t you? (Self fade).
GREENSLADE: You see, it’s all in the mind, you know. [18]
ORCHESTRA: End music.
GREENSLADE: That was the Goon Show, a BBC recorded program 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 Roy Spear.

[1] Russians sent dog into space on this date? Check


[2] Milligan’s war service was in the 56th heavy artillery.

[3] Secombe blunders here. What follows is this:

                              SEAGOON: Woorld War One still on.

                              MORIARTY: Willed Wore Win still on?

                              SEAGOON: World War One…You try and say it. World War one still on!

                              MORIARTY: World War Woo! Wilde begone! &c


[4] Milligan is lost for a second.


[5] Milligan says “You can say that again” slightly off mic. Spike’s generosity to his friends and acquaintances was equally balanced by his ability to be thoroughly cruel.

[6] Apparently Geldray was involved in some sort of home handyman activity, and this oblique reference to carpentry is part of the casts in-joke. Milligan mentions this is the previous show.


[7] A jazz standard written by Furber and Braham in 1922.


[8] One of the characteristics that Sellers seems to have added to Bloodnok over the years, was his old fashioned tendency to pronounce ‘my’ as ‘me’. The upper class in England were particularly guilty of this habit, which included such things as pronouncing ‘day’ as ‘dee’ – as in “Thursdee, Fridee, Saturdee.”

[9] This is the second song in the series based on Bloodnok’s memories of India. In last weeks episode “The Great Regents Park Swim’ Bloodnok had performed ‘The Curry and Rice’ Waltz, also set in Darjeeling.


[10] Havaldar is the Indian Army equivalent of a Sergeant.


[11] Unknown character name. Spike plays the part with the sort of twit accent he enjoyed giving to upper class officers. If the Goon Show is any indication, it seems the war had left him with the impression that upper class officers had ridiculous accents. Spike himself had quite a cultured accent, of quite considerable clarity.


[12] Henry Crun appears in two guises in the Goon Shows; in some shows he is barely comprehensible (eg: ‘The Great Regents Park Swim’) while in others like this one, he is lucid, brilliant and except for a slight change of accent, almost a rival for Bloodnok in his subterfuge.


[13] Milligan was corpsing badly by now. A characteristic of the 8th series, is the lack of discipline by the cast.


[14] And in one line, Milligan manages to capture the essence of British life in the 50’s. With the national debt eating away at their incomes courtesy of the lend-loan repayments, the advent of the cold war, the space age and the burgeoning electronics era beginning in Japan and the US, most Britons felt that their nation was stuck half way up a great many chimneys.


[15] On the 17 of June 1999,  John Broughton, an Australian astronomer at Reedy Creek Observatory, Queensland, identified a main-belt asteroid between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. Numbered 17166 it was given the appellation ‘Secombe’ in honour of Sir Harry Secombe, another situation where Spike’s writing proved prophetical. Both Milligan and Sellers have asteroids named after them, 15947 and 17078.

[16] Election coming? Park reference?


[17] Secombe. Harry never had the ability to sound anything other than himself. Here he speaks with a slightly upper class voice.


[18] A line which Spike undoubtedly got from one of the first psychiatrists who examined him after being blown up in Italy during the war. Spike’s distain for hearty, well meaning clinicians who thought psychological trauma was overcome by will power, was enduring and ferocious.