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Bournemouth - Branksome Chine Prior to 1951. And The Goon Show.

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posted by alias pepandtim on Sunday 8th of August 2021 11:41:05 PM

The Postcard A postcard bearing no publisher's name that was posted in Bournemouth on Thursday the 20th. September 1951 to: Mr. J. O'Mara, Myrtle Cottage, Magor, Near Newport, Monmouthshire. The message on the divided back of the card was as follows: "Dear Em & John, We are having a grand time. We are at Poole Park at the moment, watching the small boats going out to sea from the harbour. Hope Bert and John are well. Love from Mary and Rose xxx" Magor Magor - meaning 'a wall' - is a large village in Monmouthshire, south east Wales, about 9 miles west of Chepstow and about 9 miles east of the city of Newport. It lies on the Caldicot Levels beside the Severn Estuary. Branksome Park Branksome Park is a suburb of Poole in Dorset, which adjoins Branksome, Dorset. The area covers approximately 360 acres (1.5 km2), mostly occupied by housing, and includes Branksome Chine which leads to the award-winning blue-flagged beaches of Poole. Branksome Park is one of Poole's most affluent areas alongside Sandbanks, Canford Cliffs, Evening Hill, Lilliput, and Salterns Marina. It is on the border of Poole, with Bournemouth being on the other side of The Avenue. It is less than two miles (3 km) from the shopping areas of Westbourne and The Square in the centre of Bournemouth. House prices vary widely in the area; there are small 1960's flats costing just under £200,000, and mansions costing well over £3 million. A new mansion called Sleon House, with 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2) of living accommodation, was recently built with a price tag of £5,250,000. The area is a contrast to neighbouring Sandbanks, whilst although being affluent, the community is not focused towards development based around the beach; in fact there are very few properties directly on the waterfront. Instead most of the residential zone of Branksome Park is inland. Demographically a large percentage of elderly people live in the area. The population of elderly people (mainly over 85) in the area is expected to rise even more by 2025. Although Branksome Park is geographically part of Poole, its origin, like those of Canford Cliffs, Sandbanks, and Lilliput, is a direct result of overspill of the rapidly expanding town of Bournemouth at the turn of the 20th century. Wealthy landowners had settled originally on the East Cliff, then on the West Cliff, and later in Talbot Woods. A lack of remaining land suitable for opulent dwellings, combined with the popularity of Bournemouth as the leading seaside resort during the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, meant that the privileged classes would need to build on the heathland that extended to the Bournemouth boundary. As late as the 1970's, it was common for residents of Branksome Park and Canford Cliffs Village, to refer to themselves as living in Bournemouth. Such residents included Tolkien, Mantovani, and Max Bygraves. The dramatically fast expansion to the town of Bournemouth, facilitated by the need for a main railway line from London to Bournemouth, gave rise to hundreds of working-class labourers and their families seeking work in the area, serving the wealthy landowners, working at the resort's newly built hotels, and on the railway. Housing was also required for these working-class families, and so Branksome quickly developed in an area least likely to be seen by the wealthy. Until the late 1970's, the railway tracks beyond Bournemouth were not electrified. Local facilities include a sports area with tennis courts and a bowling green. Branksome Park also has a small public library and is home to the All Saints Church constructed in 1877, and a school for disabled children which is located on the outskirts of the area. The Chines There are many beautiful walks along many of the paths to the sea; called "Chines". Some of these have now been built on, such as Monkey Chine, but many are still used by walkers and cars such as Branksome and Alum Chine. The term "Chine" is peculiar to the Hampshire and Dorset coast, and also to the Isle of Wight, and describes a deep wooded ravine, with or without a stream or brook, leading to the sea. Recent Development at Branksome Park Branksome Park has seen much residential development in recent years. However, the styles of new buildings remain much less controversial than other places such as Sandbanks. Nevertheless, the architect Eddie Mitchell received planning permission, and has recently finished construction, of a controversial building development known as the 'Thunderbird' which is a 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) residential development. The building has also received many awards, making it one of the best-known residential buildings in Dorset. Because the style and architecture of existing housing stock is much older, new plans for developments must fit in with existing properties and styles. According to the rules on development in Branksome Park, one can only build more than one property on a plot that is 3/4 of an acre or larger. In 2006, two large Victorian houses were demolished to make way for a controversial new housing development with 20 three storey homes. The Goon Show So what else happened on the day that Mary and Rose posted the card? Well, the 20th. September 1951 marked the final episode of the first series of The Goon Show. The Goon Show is a British radio comedy programme, originally produced and broadcast by the BBC Home Service from 1951 to 1960, with occasional repeats on the BBC Light Programme. The first series, broadcast from the 28th. May to the 20th. September 1951, was entitled Crazy People; subsequent series had the title The Goon Show. The show's chief creator and main writer was Spike Milligan. The scripts mixed ludicrous plots with surreal humour, puns, catchphrases and an array of bizarre sound effects. Some of the later episodes featured electronic effects devised by the fledgling BBC Radiophonic Workshop, many of which were re-used by other shows for decades. Many elements of the show satirised contemporary life in Great Britain, parodying aspects of show business, commerce, industry, art, politics, diplomacy, the police, the military, education, class structure, literature and film. The show was released internationally, and was heard regularly from the 1950's in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India, and Canada, although these versions were frequently edited to avoid controversial subjects. In the United States, NBC began broadcasting the programme on its radio network from the mid-1950's. Subversive and absurdist, The Goon Show exercised a considerable influence on the development of British and American comedy and popular culture. It was cited as a major influence by the Beatles, the American comedy troupe the Firesign Theatre, and the British comedy troupe Monty Python. Background to The Goon Show The series was devised and written by Spike Milligan with the regular collaboration of other writers including Larry Stephens (contributing to around 140 episodes), Eric Sykes (who co-wrote most of the episodes in Series 5), Maurice Wiltshire and John Antrobus. Milligan and Harry Secombe became friends while serving in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War. Famously, Milligan first encountered Secombe after Gunner Milligan's artillery unit accidentally allowed a large howitzer to roll off a cliff, under which Secombe was sitting in a small wireless truck: "Suddenly there was a terrible noise as some monstrous object fell from the sky quite close to us. There was considerable confusion, and in the middle of it all, the flap of the truck was pushed open and a young, helmeted idiot asked 'Anybody see a gun?' It was Milligan." Secombe's answer to that question was: "What colour was it?" Milligan met Peter Sellers after the war at the Hackney Empire, where Secombe was performing, and the three became close friends. The group first formed at Jimmy Grafton's London public house called "Grafton's" in the late 1940's. Sellers had already débuted with the BBC, and Secombe was often heard on Variety Bandbox. Milligan was writing for and acting in the high-profile BBC show Hip-Hip-Hoo-Roy with Derek Roy, and Michael Bentine, who appeared in the first Goon series, had just begun appearing in Charlie Chester's peak-time radio show Stand Easy. The four clicked immediately. Secombe said years later: "It was always a relief to get away from the theatre and join in the revels at Grafton's on a Sunday night". They took to calling themselves "The Goons" and started recording their pub goings-on with a Pickersgill aluminium disk recorder. The BBC producer, Pat Dixon heard a recording and took interest in the group. He pressed the BBC for a long term contract for the gang, knowing that it would secure Sellers for more than just seasonal work, something for which the BBC had been aiming. The BBC acquiesced and ordered an initial series, though without much enthusiasm. The series had its premiere in May 1951, and audience figures grew rapidly, from around 370,000 to nearly two million by the end of the 17th. show. No recordings of any episode of this series are known to have survived. The BBC commissioned a second series and a number of other changes occurred. The musical interludes were shortened, and Max Geldray joined the lineup. Peter Eton, from the BBC's drama department, became the producer. Eton brought stricter discipline to the show's production. He was also an expert at sound effects and microphone technique, ensuring that the show became a far more dynamic listening experience. However, a few episodes into the series Milligan suffered a major nervous breakdown. He was hospitalised in early December 1952, just before the broadcast of episode 5. Fortunately this episode and the following episode had already been written, and the next 12 episodes were co-written by Stephens and Grafton. Milligan was absent as a performer for about two months, returning for episode 17, broadcast in early March 1953. Michael Bentine left the show at the end of Series 2, citing a desire to pursue solo projects, although there had been an increasing degree of creative tension between him and Milligan. Milligan blamed his breakdown and the collapse of his first marriage on the sheer volume of writing the show required. His ground-breaking use of sound effects also contributed to the pressure. All this exacerbated his mental instability that included bipolar disorder, especially during the third series. The BBC however made sure that Spike was surrounded by accomplished radio comedy writers — Sykes, Stephens, Antrobus, Wiltshire, and Grafton — so many of the problems caused by his ill health were skilfully covered over by composite scripts. Many senior BBC staff were variously bemused and befuddled by the show's surreal humour, and it has been reported that senior programme executives erroneously referred to it as The Go On Show, or even The Coon Show. The show's title was inspired, according to Spike Milligan, by Alice the Goon, a character from the Popeye comic. Several of the Goons' nonsense songs were recorded in the late 1950's such as the "Ying Tong Song", number 3 in the UK Singles Chart in 1956. The radio show had high audience ratings in Britain at its peak; tickets for the recording sessions at the BBC's Camden Theatre were constantly over-subscribed, and the various character voices and catchphrases from the show quickly became part of the vernacular. The series has remained consistently popular ever since, with the show being broadcast weekly by Australia's ABC network as late as 2012. The show is also broadcast upon BBC Radio 4 Extra. The scripts exist mostly in fan-transcribed versions via dedicated websites. Although three books were published containing selected scripts, they are out of print, and typically available only in libraries or second-hand dealers. Some more recent biographical books contain selected scripts. There were 10 series of the Goons in total, plus an additional series called Vintage Goons, recorded at the same time as the eighth series, which featured recordings of redevelopments (by Milligan) of short sketches from early shows which had not been recorded . The Format of The Goon Show Throughout its history, each episode of The Goon Show, which usually ran for just under 30 minutes, was essentially structured as a comedy-variety programme, consisting of four or five unconnected comedy segments alternating with musical interludes. The musical segments took up around half the programme. In this formative phase the show co-starred Milligan (who played only minor roles in the early shows), Sellers, Secombe and Michael Bentine as the nominal 'hero' of each episode, madcap inventor Dr Osric Pureheart. Musical performances were by virtuoso jazz harmonica player Max Geldray, singer Ray Ellington and his quartet, and vocal group the Stargazers, but they left after Episode 6 of Series 2, and for the remaining episodes Secombe filled in, singing a straight vocal number. Incidental, theme and backing music was provided by Stanley Black and the BBC Dance Orchestra. Series 2 also saw the first appearances of popular characters Minnie Bannister (Milligan) and Henry Crun (Sellers). From Series 3, The Goon Show (as it was now officially titled) gradually settled into its 'classic' format. Milligan, Stephens and Grafton began to work within a narrative structure, and by the second half of Series 4 each episode typically consisted of three acts linked by a continuing plot, with Geldray performing between Acts I and II, and Ellington between Acts II and III. Almost all the principal and occasional characters were now performed by Milligan and Sellers, with Secombe usually playing only Neddie Seagoon, who had replaced Pureheart as the hero of most of the stories. The closing theme, backing for Geldray and incidental music was now provided by a big band of freelance musicians under the direction of Wally Stott, who had been writing for the show since the first series. From Series 3 onwards, the principal character roles were: Neddie Seagoon (Secombe) Eccles (Milligan) Bluebottle (Sellers) Henry Crun (Sellers) Minnie Bannister (Milligan) Hercules Grytpype-Thynne (Sellers) Count Jim Moriarty (Milligan) Major Dennis Bloodnok (Sellers). Secondary characters were the "Indians", Banerjee and Lalkaka, the servant Abdul/Singez Thingz, Willium "Mate" Cobblers, Cyril, Jim Spriggs, Little Jim, Flowerdew and Chief Ellinga/The Red Bladder – both played by Ray Ellington. There were also occasional guest stars including senior BBC announcer John Snagge, and actors Valentine Dyall, Dick Emery, Kenneth Connor, Dennis Price and Bernard Miles. The traditional plots involved Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty getting Neddie Seagoon involved in some far-fetched plan, and meeting the other cast members along the way. Many characters had regular catchphrases which quickly moved into the vernacular; among the best known are: "He's fallen in the water!" (Little Jim) "You dirty, rotten swine, you! You have deaded me!" (Bluebottle) "You can't get the wood, you know." (Henry, Minnie) "You silly, twisted boy, you." (Grytpype-Thynne) "You can't park 'ere, mate." (Willium) – Milligan's dig at officious BBC commissionaires. "Ying Tong Iddle I Po." (various) – which became the basis for a novelty hit as the "Ying Tong Song." Surrealism The Goon Show has been variously described as "avant-garde", "surrealist", "abstract", and "four dimensional". The show played games with the medium of radio itself. Whole scenes were written in which characters would leave, close the door behind themselves, yet still be inside the room. Further to this, characters would announce their departure, slam a door, but it would be another character who had left the room. That character would then beat on the door for re-admittance, the door would open and close and again the wrong character would be locked out. The show paved the way for surreal and alternative humour, as acknowledged by comedians such as Eddie Izzard. The surrealism was part of the attraction for Sellers, and this exacerbated his mental instability, especially during the third series. Many of the sequences have been cited as being visionary in the way that they challenged the traditional conventions of comedy. In the Pythons' autobiography, Terry Jones states: "The Goons of course were my favourite. It was the surreality of the imagery and the speed of the comedy that I loved - the way they broke up the conventions of radio and played with the very nature of the medium." This is reiterated by Michael Palin and John Cleese. Cleese recalls listening to The Goon Show as a teenager in the mid-1950's: "I was absolutely amazed by its surreal humour. It came at a key stage in my own development, and I never missed a show". Music and Sound Effects in The Goon Show Orchestral introductions, links and accompaniment were provided by a hand-picked big band made up of London-based session musicians. The arrangements and musical direction were done by Wally Stott from the third to the 10th series. Stott produced many arrangements and link passages, further improved by the first-class sound quality the BBC engineers managed to achieve. Members of the band featured prominently in the comedy proceedings, particularly jazz trombonist George Chisholm who frequently played Scots characters. The show's concluding music was usually either "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" or a truncated and ironic rendition of the Alte Kameraden (Old Comrades') march, followed by Max Geldray and the Ray Ellington Quartet playing "Crazy Rhythm" as play-out music. In keeping with the variety requirements of the BBC's light entertainment format, The Goon Show scripts were structured in three acts, separated by two musical interludes. These were provided by the Ray Ellington Quartet – who performed a mixture of jazz, rhythm & blues and calypso songs – and by harmonica virtuoso Max Geldray who performed mostly middle of the road numbers and jazz standards of the 30's and 40's accompanied by the big band. Both Ellington and Geldray also made occasional cameo appearances; Ellington was often drafted in to play stereotypical "black" roles such as a tribal chieftain, native bearer or Major Bloodnok's nemesis (and counterpoint to Bloodnok's affliction) "The Red Bladder". It was in its use of pre-recorded and live sound effects that The Goon Show broke the most new ground. Part of the problem was that: "Not even Milligan knew how to capture electronically the peculiar sounds that came alive in his head – he just knew when it had not yet happened". An example of this comes from an oft-cited story of Milligan filling his two socks with custard in the Camden Theatre canteen, in an attempt to achieve a squelching effect. Milligan asked the BBC canteen ladies to make some custard; they thought he must have had some stomach trouble, so lovingly made him fresh custard – which he accepted with thanks and immediately poured into his sock, much to their horror. Secombe recalled: "Back in the studio, Spike had already placed a sheet of three-ply near a microphone. One after the other, he swung the filled socks around his head against the wood, but failed to produce the sound effect he was seeking". Secombe noted that: "Spike used to drive the studio managers mad with his insistence on getting the sound effects he wanted. In the beginning, when the programme was recorded on disc, it was extremely difficult to achieve the right sound effect. There were, I think, four turntables on the go simultaneously, with different sounds being played on each – chickens clucking, Big Ben striking, donkeys braying, massive explosions, ships' sirens – all happening at once. It was only when tape came into use that Spike felt really happy with the effects." An FX instruction in one script read: "Sound effect of two lions walking away, bumping against each other. If you can't get two lions, two hippos will do". Over time, the sound engineers became increasingly adept at translating the script into desired sounds, assisted from the late 1950's onwards by specialists in the BBC's newly-formed Radiophonic Workshop. Milligan's relationship with BBC managers preparing for the recording of episodes was often acrimonious, and resulted in rows. Milligan later agreed that he was a diva during this time, adding: "I was trying to shake the BBC out of its apathy. Sound effects were a knock on the door and tramps on gravel– that was it, and I tried to transform it". Many of the sound effects created for later programmes featured innovative production techniques borrowed from the realm of musique concrète, and using the then-new technology of magnetic tape. Many of these sequences involved the use of complex multiple edits, echo and reverberation, and the deliberate slowing down, speeding up or reversing of tapes. One of the most famous was the legendary "Bloodnok's Stomach" sound effect, created by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to represent the sound of Major Bloodnok's digestive system in action, which included a variety of inexplicable gurgling and explosive noises. Lewis (1995) states that: "Bloodnok's stomach was achieved by overlaying burps, whoops from oscillators, water splashes, cork-like pops, and light artillery blasts". The Goon Show Running Jokes The Dreaded Lurgi Several of the words and phrases invented for the show soon entered common usage, the most famous being the word Lurgi. In the episode "Lurgi Strikes Britain", Spike Milligan introduced the fictional malady of Lurgi (sometimes spelled Lurgy), which has survived into modern usage to mean the common cold, or any miscellaneous or non-specific illness (often preceded by the adjective "dreaded"). The symptoms of Lurgi included the uncontrollable urge to cry "Eeeeyack-a-boo", though even during the episode the ailment proved to be an extortionate attempt to sell brass band musical instruments. Milligan was later to make up his own definition in Treasure Island According to Spike Milligan, where Jim Hawkins' mother describes it as: "Like brown spots of shit on the liver". Brandyyy! Alcohol was strictly forbidden during rehearsals and recording, so the cast fortified themselves with milk. The milk in turn was fortified with brandy. In later episodes the catchphrase "Round the back for the old brandy!" was used to announce the exit of one or more characters. Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb! During radio programmes of the 1920's and 1930's, the background noise for crowd scenes was often achieved by a moderately large group of people mumbling "rhubarb" under their breath with random inflections. This was often parodied by Milligan, who would try to get the same effect with only three or four people, clearly intoning the word rather than mumbling. After some time, Secombe began throwing in "custard" during these scenes. Raspberry Blowing As well as being used as a comic device randomly inserted into different sketches to avoid silence, the blowing of raspberries entered the Goons as Harry Secombe's signal to the other actors that he was going to crack up; you would hear a joke from him, a raspberry, and a stream of laughter. In the Goons' musical recording "The Ying-Tong Song", Milligan performed a solo for raspberry-blower, as one might for tuba or baritone saxophone. Milligan made much use of a rather surreal Columbia 78RPM sound effects disc, which bears the innocuous title "Donkey" on the label. Approximating possibly the most obscene and flatulent noise ever recorded, it appeared first in the show "The Sinking of Westminster Pier" as a sound to accompany an oyster opening its shell; it thereafter became known as Fred the Oyster, and appears as such in the scripts. This recording was often used as a reaction to a bad joke. Examples include The Last Goon Show of All during which Neddie shouts old jokes into a fuel tank in order to "start the show". Years later, Milligan collaborated with Ronnie Barker on The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town in which the credits read, "Raspberries professionally blown by Spike Milligan". "Trapped in a Piano" In several shows, one character, typically either Henry Crun or Minnie Bannister, would be found trapped in a piano. In The Mystery of the Fake Neddie Seagoon, Crun was inside a piano, and his speech was accompanied by suitable piano noises. In The Jet-Propelled Guided NAAFI, Moriarty is hiding in a piano disguised as one of the strings. Gritpype-Thynne plays a "do-re-mi" scale to find him - Moriarty is "mi". Films The following films were a product of Goon activity: -- Let's Go Crazy (1951) -- Penny Points to Paradise (1951) -- Down Among the Z Men (1952) (with Bentine) -- The Case of the Mukkinese Battle Horn (1956), a two-reeler starring Milligan, Sellers and Dick Emery -- The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1959), a surreal one-reeler short subject starring Milligan and Sellers and directed by Dick Lester. Books Spike Milligan teamed up with illustrator Pete Clarke to produce two books of comic strip Goons. The stories were slightly modified versions of classic Goon shows. They were: -- The Goon Cartoons (1982) "The Last Goon Show of All", "The Affair of the Lone Banana", "The Scarlet Capsule", "The Pevensey Bay Disaster". -- More Goon Cartoons (1983) "The Case of the Vanishing Room", "The Case of the Missing C.D. Plates", "The Saga of the Internal Mountain", "Rommel's Treasure". Other books were as follows: -- The Goon Show Scripts (1972) by Milligan "The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler", "The Phantom Head Shaver", "The Affair of the Lone Banana", "The Canal", "Napoleon's Piano", "Foiled by President Fred", "The Mighty Wurlitzer", "The Hastings Flyer", "The House of Teeth". -- More Goon Show Scripts (1973) by Milligan "The Battle of Spion Kop", "Ned's Atomic Dustbin", "The spy; or, Who is Pink Oboe?", "Call of the West", "The Scarlet Capsule", "The Tay Bridge Disaster", "The Gold-plate Robbery", "The £50 Cure". Film A recreation of a Goon Show broadcast before a studio audience is seen early in the HBO Original Movie, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004), with Geoffrey Rush as Sellers, Edward Tudor-Pole as Spike Milligan, Steve Pemberton as Harry Secombe and Lance Ellington as Ray Ellington. Stage Ying Tong is a play written by Roy Smiles which is set partly in a radio studio, partly in a mental asylum and partly in Spike Milligan's mind. It recreates the Goons recording the show, but part way through Spike has a mental breakdown and is committed to an asylum. While it features all of the Goons throughout, the focus is on Milligan and his breakdown. The Birmingham Comedy Festival The Birmingham Comedy Festival produced a theatre production as part of their festival in 2014 staging two Milligan Goon Show scripts, The Canal and The Phantom Head Shaver (of Brighton). The festival produced a second touring production in 2017 featuring two more Milligan scripts, The House Of Teeth and The Jet Propelled Guided NAAFI. The Apollo Theatre Company Touring in late 2018 in the UK, the Apollo Theatre Company in conjunction with Spike Milligan Productions recreated three episodes of The Goon Show - The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler, Tails of Men's Shirts, and The Phantom Head Shaver - with recreations of the original scripts. Co-producer Norma Farnes, Milligan’s ex-manager, agreed to the use of the material on the basis that the production was respectful of the scripts. The roles of Sellers, Milligan, and Secombe were played by Julian McDowell, Colin Elmer and Clive Greenwood. Television and Radio The Idiot Weekly, which starred Peter Sellers, was the first attempt to translate Goon Show humour to television. Made for Associated-Rediffusion during 1956 and only broadcast in the London area, it was mainly written by Milligan, with Eric Sykes as script editor. The Idiot Weekly (1958–1962) was an Australian radio comedy series written by and starring Milligan with an Australian supporting cast. It was made for the ABC during Milligan's numerous visits to Australia, where his family had emigrated. Milligan adapted some Goon Show scripts and included his Goon Show characters (notably Eccles) in many episodes. Six episodes of The Idiot Weekly were remade by the BBC as The Omar Khayyam Show in 1963. The Telegoons (1963–1964) The Telegoons was a 15-minute BBC puppet show featuring the voices of Milligan, Secombe and Sellers, and adapted from the radio scripts. 26 episodes were made. All episodes are known to have survived, having been unofficially released online. The Goon Show - The Whistling Spy Enigma (Secombe & Friends) (1966) Recorded for Harry Secombe's six-part comedy series, of which only a portion was actually used for the original broadcast, this was similar to Tails of Men's Shirts as a re-enactment of a radio play for television. Whilst initially it was thought that only the portion used in the TV show survived, a full copy of the performance was found by the British Film Institute. The Goon Show - Tails of Men's Shirts (1968) Essentially a re-enactment of a radio performance, the three Goons were joined by John Cleese as announcer for a special shown on Thames Television. An almost-complete copy of this broadcast is held by the British Film Institute. The Last Goon Show of All (1972) In 1972, the Goons reunited to perform The Last Goon Show of All. Goon Again (2001) In 2001, the BBC recorded a "new" Goon Show, Goon Again, featuring Andy Secombe (son of Harry), Jon Glover and Jeffrey Holland, with Christopher Timothy (son of Andrew Timothy) announcing and Lance Ellington (son of Ray Ellington) singing, based on two lost series 3 episodes from 1953, The Story of Civilisation and The Plymouth Ho Armada, both written by Milligan and Stephens. Records The Goons made a number of records including "I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas" (originally sung by Milligan in the show to fill in during a musicians' strike), and "Bloodnok's Rock and Roll Call", the B-side of which, the "Ying Tong Song", soon became more popular and was re-issued as an A-side in the mid-1970's, becoming a surprise novelty hit. The last time all three Goons worked together was in 1978 when they recorded two new songs, "The Raspberry Song" and "Rhymes". Bridge on the River Wye (Parlophone 1962) Bridge on the River Wye was a comedy LP with Milligan and Sellers as well as Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller. A spoof of the film The Bridge on the River Kwai, it was originally recorded under that name. However, the film company threatened legal action if the name was used. Thus some clever editing of the recording by future Beatles producer George Martin removed the K every time the word Kwai was uttered, creating Bridge on the River Wye. The LP is based on The Goon Show's African Incident (1957), which featured Sellers' vocal impersonation of Alec Guinness. How to Win an Election (1964) In 1964, Milligan, Secombe and Sellers lent their voices to a comedy LP, How to Win an Election (or Not Lose by Much). It was not exactly a Goons reunion, because Sellers was in Hollywood and had to record his lines separately. The album was reissued on CD in 1997. The Goons' Impact on Comedy and Culture In George Perry's book The Life of Python (1999) he comments: "In the Britain of 1950, humour was derived from three main sources: print, film and radio, and despite the advent of television, throughout the 1950's radio remained the dominant source of broadcast comedy. In this period, two radio comedy shows exercised a profound influence. The first was Take It From Here, with its polished professionalism. The other was The Goon Show, with its absurdity, manic surreality and unpredictability." On the influence of The Goons, Eric Sykes wrote that in the post-World War II years: "Other shows came along, but 'The House of Comedy' needed electricity. Then, out of the blue ... The Goons ... Spike Milligan simply blew the roof off, and lit the whole place with sunshine. At a cursory glance, The Goon Show was merely quick-fire delivery of extremely funny lines mouthed by eccentric characters, but this was only the froth. In The Goon Show, Spike was unknowingly portraying every facet of the British psyche". Sykes and Milligan, along with Ray Galton, Alan Simpson, Frankie Howerd and Stanley ("Scruffy") Dale, co-founded the writers' cooperative Associated London Scripts (ALS), which over time included others including Larry Stephens. In his book Spike & Co, Graham McCann says: "The anarchic spirit of the Goon Show...would inspire, directly or indirectly and to varying extents, Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Young Ones, Vic Reeves' Big Night Out, The League of Gentlemen, Brass Eye and countless other strange and bold new comedies". Other ALS-related comedies such as Sykes and A..., Hancock's Half Hour, Steptoe and Son, Beyond Our Ken, and Round The Horne influenced their own genres of comedy. Eddie Izzard notes that: "The Goons and Milligan in particular influenced a new generation of comedians who came to be known as 'alternative'." John Cleese notes that: "In comedy, there are a very small number of defining moments when somebody comes along and genuinely creates a breakthrough, takes us into territory where nobody has been before. The only experiences to which I can compare my own discovery of the Goons are going to see N. F. Simpson's play One Way Pendulum ... or, later on, hearing Peter Cook for the first time. They were just light years ahead of everyone else." The Beatles The Goons made a considerable impact on the humour of the Beatles, especially John Lennon. On the 30th. September 1973, Lennon reviewed the book The Goon Show Scripts for The New York Times. He wrote: "I was 12 when The Goon Show first hit me, 16 when they finished with me. Their humour was the only proof that the world was insane. One of my earlier efforts at writing was a 'newspaper' called The Daily Howl. I would write it at night, then take it into school and read it aloud to my friends. Looking at it now, it seems strangely similar to The Goon Show." Lennon also noted that George Martin, the Beatles' long-time producer, had previously made records with both Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers. Firesign Theatre The NBC radio network broadcast the programme in the United States in the mid-1950's. In 1965, Peter Bergman met and befriended Milligan during the time he worked in England on the BBC television program Not So Much a Program, More a Way of Life. He also saw the Beatles in concert, which gave him the inspiration to form a four-man comedy group. When he returned to the US the following year to host the radio show Radio Free Oz in Los Angeles, he teamed with Philip Proctor, Phil Austin, and David Ossman to form the Firesign Theatre. Proctor, Austin, and Ossman were big fans of the Monitor broadcasts of the Goon Show. According to Ossman: "We all listened to The Goon Show, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, at various times in our lives. We heard a lot of those shows. They impressed us when we started doing radio ourselves, because they sustained characters in a really surreal and weird kind of situation for a long period of time. They were doing that show for 10 years, all the way through the 1950's. So we were just listening to them at the end. It was that madness and the ability to go anywhere and do anything and yet sustain those funny characters. So when we first did written radio, where we would sit down and write half hour skits and do them once a week, which we did in the fall of 1967, we did things that were imitative of The Goon Show and learned a lot of voices from them and such". Monty Python Among the influences on Monty Python, the members of the comedy team are described as being: "Indebted to BBC radio comedy, and particularly to the Goon Show." The future members of Monty Python were fans, and on many occasions they expressed their collective debt to Milligan and The Goons. Scudamore cites an interview for example, in which John Cleese stated: "The Goon Show influenced us enormously". He reiterates this point in his contribution to Ventham's book: "We all loved The Goon Show in the Monty Python Team: it ignited some energy in us. It was more a spirit that was passed on, rather than any particular technique. The point is that once somebody has crossed a barrier and done something that has never been done before, it is terribly easy for everybody else to cross it". Similarly, in the introduction to Graham Chapman's posthumous 2006 anthology, Yoakum notes that: "While other radio comedies influenced Chapman, the show that truly astounded Graham, and was a major influence on his comedy was The Goon Show." Chapman himself states in the book: "From about the age of seven or eight I used to be an avid listener to a radio programme called The Goon Show. In fact, at that stage I wanted to be a Goon". In their episode Election Night Special, the Pythons gave an appreciative nod to their forebears. When one of the on-screen election reporters asks his companion, "What do you make of the nylon dog cardigan and plastic mule rest?" a voice offstage yells, "There's no such thing!" to which the reporter replies, "Thank you, Spike." Deaths of The Goons Peter Sellers died on the 24th. July 1980, aged 54. Michael Bentine died on the 26th. November 1996, aged 74. Harry Secombe died on the 11th. April 2001, aged 79. Milligan claimed to be relieved that Secombe had died before him, because had he died before Secombe, then Secombe would have been in a position to sing at his funeral. Terence "Spike" Milligan died on the 27th. February 2002, aged 83; Secombe ended up singing at his funeral anyway, as a recording. Two years later, Milligan's wish to have the words "I told you I was ill" inscribed on his gravestone was finally granted, although the church would only agree if the words were written in Irish, as Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite.

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