Here’s a bit of fun for anyone who loves The Goon Show, is a bit of a word-smith, or simply loves all things trivial (horror!). Included are pieces of Goons trivia and other bits’n’pieces including the odd something-or-other about The Goon Show LIVE!
We wrote this over several bottles of the good stuff, so if you have any suggestions / other trivia which might fit onto this page, let us know using the form at the end of this page.
t Last The 1948 Show’ was a satirical TV show transmitted on Britain’s ITV network during 1967 and 1968.The show starred Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Marty Feldman and Aimi MacDonald. It was written by Monty Python’s future collaborators, Cleese and Chapman and along with “Do Not Adjust Your Set’, is regarded as an important part of the comedy family tree developing from The Goon Show.
entine, Michael (26/01/22 – 26/11/96) became a comedian and scriptwriter after serving in WW2, and was also a founder member of The Goons. He left after the second series but went on to perform and write many TV/radio shows and books. Bentine is still remembered as the ‘other’ Goon, despite few episodes having survived in which he appeared. He received a CBE in 1995 for Services to Entertainment.
razy People’ (Those) was the original name for The Goon Show series broadcast between May and September 1951, as the BBC apparently didn’t understand the term “goon”, which Milligan had taken from 1930s “Popeye” comics. After the first series it was changed to The Goon Show and continued under this name until the last episode in 1972.
o Not Adjust Your Set’ ran from 1967-1968 and took its name from the standard fault card screened during TV breakdowns. Produced by Humphrey Barclay as a children’s programme it quickly became popular with adults and starred future cast members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus; Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones along with David Jason and Denise Coffey.
llington, Ray was the professional name for Henry Pitts Brown (17/03/15 – 27/02/85), best known for his appearances on The Goon Show, both as leader of The Ray Ellington Quartet which provided the musical segments for the show, and in small speaking roles. Although he was born in England, he usually played roles as an African, Native American or Arab chieftain, and occasionally a female character, without a change of accent.
our Yorkshiremen’ (The) sketch which became a staple of the Monty Python shows was first aired in ‘At last the 1948 Show’ and written by the 4 performer/writers. It is a parody of nostalgic conversations about humble beginnings wherein the four Yorkshiremen reminisce about their upbringing and as the conversation progresses, try to outdo one another, with their accounts of deprived childhoods becoming increasingly absurd. A great example of ‘Goonish’ behaviour.
eldray, Max was the professional name for Max van Gelder (12/2/16 – 2/10/04). A jazz harmonica player, Geldray was best known for providing the musical interludes for The Goon Show in nearly every episode, as well as the occasional lines of script. He was born in the Netherlands but moved to the UK at the outbreak of WW2. After The Goon Show finished he moved to the USA.
ackney Empire Theatre, London was the venue where Milligan and Secombe, already friends from having met during WW2, first met Sellers when Secombe was performing at the theatre. The friendship which eventually led to formation of The Goon Show thus began.
diot Weekly’ (The) was a radio programme made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission with a very similar format to The Goon Show. Milligan adapted many of the scripts and jokes for the programme but it still had a distinctly Australian slant, with references to Australian locations and politicians. It ran from 1958 – 1962.
ames Douglas ‘Jimmy’ Grafton (19/05/16 – 2/06/86), was a scriptwriter and the landlord of the family hotel ‘Graftons’, where the Goons began to meet regularly in the late 1940s. He was responsible for introducing their idea for a show to the BBC and also an editor of the early series.
atoomba in The Blue Mountains, Australia, is the home of The Goon Show Live! (TGSL!), inaugurated in June 2013 for Yulefest. TGSL features original scripts performed on stage with both live and recorded sound effects. This unique production has already acquired a devoted following of Goon fans.
ast Goon Show of All’ was broadcast on 5/10/72 as part of the celebrations for of the 50th anniversary of the BBC. It was simulcast on radio and TV and featured Milligan, Secombe and Sellers along with Andrew Timothy as the announcer who finished with “And from Goon Show number 167, farewell. P.S. Forever”
onty Python’s Flying Circus’ is perhaps the most famous TV series in the family tree originating with The Goon Show. It was broadcast as a TV series by the BBC from 1969 – 1974 and is widely regarded, like The Goon Show, as pushing the acceptable boundaries of content and style. It was written, performed and conceived by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.
onsense words were an important part of the scripts for The Goon Show. Usually conceived by Milligan, many have become part of the English language, e.g. ‘lurgy’. Others are well known catch phrases loved and recognised by all Goons fans, including Secombe’s ‘Ying tong tiddle I po’ and ‘Needle nardle noo’.
utrageous is a comment often used at the time, about Goon Show programmes. They delighted in making fun of the stuffy BBC and its censors and occasionally pushed the boundaries of good taste to the limit. One character often used for their outrageous announcements, was Earnest Hearn/Hern/Herne who was meant to be American.
rince Charles is a genuine fan and supporter of the Goons, despite being born too early to hear most of the original shows. He is the Honorary President of The Goon Show Preservation Society, has written a foreword for ‘More Goon Scripts’ (the 2nd Series) and has been known to make public performances of the ‘Ying Tong Song’.
ueer/homosexual references abound in the Goon Show scripts. In Britain during the 1950s and early 1960s, racial and sexually discriminating comments on radio shows were not illegal although some of the more risqué Goon Show references probably slipped past the BBC censors. Flowerdew, was a homosexual character who appeared in many episodes.
epeats of The Goon Show have continued since the 1950s when they were first broadcast. They are still regularly played on BBC Radio 4, ABC Radio National and Fabcat Goon Show Radio, available through the internet. The BBC Light Programme also occasionally repeated episodes during the original run.
abrina’, real name Norma Ann Sykes (19/5/36 – ) was an object of lustful fascination to the Goons, especially Spike Milligan, who loved to slip a script reference to her past the BBC censors. Famed for her fabulous proportions and complete lack of talent, she became one of the biggest celebrities of the 1950s and 1960s and appeared in a number of films.
elegoons’ (The) was a comedy puppet show adapted from The Goon Show and produced for BBCTV. There were 2 series made of 13 episodes each, which were shown during 1963-64.Secombe, Sellers and Milligan supplied the original voices from The Goon Show. They also appeared in ‘TV Comic’, as a strip, during the 1960s.
nderdogs were frequent characters in The Goon Show. Victims of oppression, naivety and inadequacy, characters such as Eccles, Bluebottle and even Seagoon, consistently fail in their endeavours in most episodes but continue to try for recognition.
iolence was a weekly occurrence in each episode, wherein Bluebottle, Eccles or even the whole cast would be blown up. Milligan had been caught in an explosion during WW2 at the battle of Monte Cassino and he appeared to be compelled to re-enact this form of violence, through his scripts. The most violent episode is considered to be ‘The Last Tram’.
oy Woy became the home of Milligan’s parents in the 1950s, where Spike was a frequent visitor and patron for a local environmental group. He would visit Woy Woy to have a break from the pressures of fame, to write and to wander around Blackwall Mt. It was often mentioned derogatively but affectionately in his work.
In fact, The Goon Show LIVE! performed at Woy Woy in September 2016; and plans are afoot to return soon.
mas episodes were broadcast annually, but some series had several shows that had a Xmas theme or reference to the season. At least 10 episodes fall into this category from the special of ‘Cinderella’ broadcast on 26/12/51 to ‘A Christmas Carol’ on 24/12/59.
ulefest or Christmas in July, was originally an indigenous Germanic mid-winter feast but has now become a way to celebrate a traditional European Christmas, for countries where Christmas falls into the summer season. It has been celebrated in the Blue Mountains (home of The Goon Show LIVE!), for over 20 years.
any is defined as ‘amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic’. It describes people and situations that are both truly funny as well as ludicrous. What better definition for the much beloved humour of The Goon Show characters! It is an old fashioned word, for a humour that is never out of fashion.