- Friday 8th February 2019, 3:21pm
- 19,836 posts
Yesterday I listened to the latest repeat on Radio 4 Extra, which was The Moriaty Murder Mystery and I was in hysterics yet again as I had forgotten so much of this superb episode, and so wanted to share that with you; BUT amazingly I found there wasn't an actual Goons thread. OK, there's the sort of "Anyone remember.........." but surely this deserves its own thread for posterity, and let's face it, I won't be here for yonks to wave the flag ..........(picks up violin and plays "Hearts and Flowers")
Never keen on analysis of comedy - it's subjective and if it's good, it's good; but you cannot under estimate the importance of The Goon Show in post war Britain. There were, in my eyes/ears, good radio comedy then (no TV as such) with the likes of Much Binding in the Marsh, Ray's a Laugh, Take It From Here etc. but Spike Milligan, along with others, wanted to tear up the rule book and so Crazy People was born, and when founder member Michael Bentine left after just a few episodes, it went on to become The Goon Show, or as some BBC execs thought when reading the pitch "The Go On Show"
Thank God for the BBC for giving Spike his head and letting him prove a point and prove a point he did as it developed a cult following that remains today, with the likes of The Pythons, Goodies et al all citing Spike as their inspiration.
There are so many characters that come and go played by Spike, Peter and Harry, along with guest stars such as the excellent Man in Black, Valentine Dyall, with his sinister voice - here I list the main ones, starting with the ones that were usually paired :-
(Thought to be the original Goon) - The famous Eccles and Ace cub reporter Bluebottle who most weeks tried not to get deaded by usually being blown up.
Henry Crun and Minnie Bannister - the very ancient couple who live in sin and it is rumoured she had an affair with Denis Bloodnok.
Hercules Grytpype - Thynne and Count Jim "Knees" Moriarty. The dastardly Hercules, who always played the villain but used his long suffering French aristocratic lackey of no fixed abode to do the dirty work.
Mr Banerjee and Mr Lalkaka - two Indian sort of technicians that are called on occasionally to repair something, muttering in an almost incoherent language as they do so
Willium "Mate" Cobblers, usually in some menial task where he gets clobbered and sometimes playing "Sewer Man Sam they calls me Mate"
Major Denis Bloodnok - cashiered so many times for cowardice and affairs with other officer's wives, usually pushed Neddie or anyone else to the front when there was trouble brewing. Sometime purveyor of dirty postcards. An absolute blaggard.
Jim Spriggs - appears on a fairly regular basis, calling everyone Jim in a high pitch repeat of "Jiiiiiiiimmmm"
Little Jim - lives in someone's boot usually and always appears when someone falls in the water by saying "He's fallen in the water", which became a national catchphrase. Speaks gibberish which only Eccles understands.
The gloriously breathy nymphomaniac Cynthia, along with other flirty females played by Sellers "Ooooh, you can come in - your dinner's in the oven" ** The range of Sellers' voices was incredible - even playing Spike's parts when he was indisposed.
Lew/Ernie Cash, the theatrical agent or tailor
The Red Bladder, played by Ray Ellington (whose quartet played one of the music interludes) who was the prime nemesis of Bloodnok
And the man who held it all together Neddie Seagoon with his all leather megaphone/speaking trumpet with which he kept the audience up to speed with the plot.
Also trying to keep it altogether was the announcer Wallace Greenslade who did take part in the story quite often and even had his own fan club.
Mention MUST be made of the music and sound effects, which were absolutely superb when for example a vehicle is powered by a piano or the running away of lots of feet, which usually happened at the start of music breaks when the cast would "all round the back for some brandy there!" The BBC were very strict about no drinking during broadcasts and so it became a running joke as they made up jugs of milk heavily infused with brandy.
They also kept an eye on any sexual innuendo that was sneaked in and which the cast tried to get around, usually with hilarious results when they started to ad lib and you hear Sellers & Milligan breaking up, with Secombe collapsing into fits of giggles. One that comes to mind is Seller's referring to "the last turkey in the shop" - I'll leave you to figure it out.
Other persons of note ('scuse pun), who rarely took part in the script as he really was so wooden (!) was Max Geldray, the Dutch harmonica player who usually did the first music break.
And so finally what it does for me - I sit back, shut my eyes and they take me into a world of insanity. As was sometimes said, especially when they had no tag line Wallace Greenslade would say "It's all in the mind you know".
Bit of trivia for you - the original announcer Andrew Timothy is the father of the actor Christopher Timothy and Ray Ellington is the father of Lance Ellington who is one of the singers in Strictly.
Given that most of it was written by Spike, it's little wonder he had mental breakdowns with that amount of ideas and scriptwriting, and some for me fell by the wayside, but I would say 99% of them I find hilarious, especially my Top Ten 20+: -
The Moriarty Murder Mystery
The Pam's Paper Insurance Policy
Foiled by President Fred
The Jet-Propelled Guided NAAFI
Tales of Old Dartmoor
The Call of the West - (Peter's American accent "Hern, hern" was his take on an American version of "Rhubarb, rhubarb" is hilarious and there is a great spittoon joke)
A Christmas Carol (one of Spike's best jokes on what was then the novelty of a speaking weight machine - for me, very, very, very funny, but I won't spoil it for you)
The Fear of Wages
Six Charlies in Search of an Author
Insurance, the White Man's Burden
Ill Met by Goonlight
The MacReekie Rising of '74 (worth listening to alone for Seller's Scottish Red Hairy McLegs character!! And a rare appearance of the very funny jazz trombone player George Chisholm.)
The Man Who Never Was
The Dreaded Piano Clubber
The Saga of the Internal Mountain
The Siege of Fort Knight
The Whistling Spy Enigma
The Dreaded Batter-Pudding Hurler
Ye Bandit of Sherwood Forest
Robin Hood (similar to above but with the superb Valentine Dyall and Dennis Price)
The Red Fort
The String Robberies
The Scarlet Capsule
The Tale of Men's Shirts