The Goons




TERENCE ALAN (SPIKE) MILLIGAN 16 April 1918 - 27 February 2002
PETER SELLERS 8 September 1925 - 24 July 1980
HARRY SECOMBE 8 September 1921 - 12 April 2001





The Goons - Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe – were stars of an immensely popular comedy programme, The Goon Show. The relentless, surreal anarchy of the show was unique and enduringly influential. Driven by scriptwriter Milligan’s manic-depressive personality, it combined army humour, satire on the decline of Empire, plots with a weird, dream-like logic, and a gallery of eccentrics, many of whom were voiced by the chameleonic Sellers. Most of the stories involved mishaps inflicted on Secombe’s naif, irrepressible alter ego Neddy Seagoon. Honourable mention should also be made of Michael Bentine who appeared in the first two series of The Goon Show.

With a few noteable exceptions, Milligan produced scripts throughout the series, sometimes in collaboration with other writers such as Jimmy Grafton, Larry Stephens and Eric Sykes. The strain caused several breakdowns which led to his intermittent absence from the show. On these occasions, his parts were read by Sellers, Graham Stark or Dick Emery.

Interaction between The Goons, musicians Max Geldray and the Ray Ellington and announcers, Andrew Timothy and Wallace Greenslade added to the irreverent, anarchic feel, as did the eccentric use of sound effects. Groundbreaking for its day, the programme spawned new ideas that have influenced other comedians and writers right up to the present time.

The show first appeared on radio in 1951 as Crazy People, changing its name to The Goon Show the following year and continuing until 1960. The cast were reunited in 1972 for a special Last Goon Show of All as part of the BBC's 50th anniversary celebrations.

Catchphrases:

Phrases that were used regularly in the shows were repeated in workplaces and playgrounds by generations of listeners. These are just a few examples:
  • You rotten swine, you! (Bluebottle)
  • He's fallen in the water! (Little Jim)
  • We'll all be murdered in our beds! (Minnie Bannister)
  • You deaded me! (Bluebottle)
  • You silly twisted boy! (Hercules Grytpype-Thynne)


Audio

The Goon Show – Untitled (with Michael Bentine) – BBC Home Service 1952

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Goon Show – Dishonoured – BBC Home Service 1954

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Goon Show – Mysterious Punch Up The Conkers – BBC Home Service 1957

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Goon Show – The Histories of Pliny the Elder – BBC Home Service 1957

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Goon Show – The Moriarty Murder Mystery – BBC Home Service 1958

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Links

The Comedy Guide http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/radio/the_goon_show/

Wapedia – http://wapedia.mobi/en/The_Goon_Show

The Goon Show Site – http://thegoonshow.net/

Spike Milligan – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/1843963.stm

Harry Secombe – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/1272634.stm

Peter Sellers – http://www.petersellers.com/

Further Listening

Episodes of The Goon Show are regularly aired on radio stations such as BBC Radio 7 (UK) and ABC Radio National (Australia).
CDs of many of the shows are produced by BBC Audiobooks.
For details see: http://www.bbcaudiobooks.com/

The Radio Academy is not responsible for the content of external websites.