Facts and Trivia
Here is some random information and trivia about the Goons that you may or may not know...
Alcohol was forbidden during rehearsals and recording of any BBC show including The Goon Show, so the cast mixed brandy with milk to conceal it. In later episodes the catchphrase "Round the back for the old brandy!" was used to announce the exit of a character or a musical interlude.
In October 2003, residents in the Australian town of Woy Woy planned to commemorate the Goon song, I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas, by walking backwards in a parade through the town. Plans had to be changed due to fears that the council would face lawsuits if anyone injured themselves by walking backwards. The 300 walkers in the parade had to wear their clothes backwards whilst actually walking forwards.
Goon Shows are still broadcast on the digital radio station BBC 7. The ABC Radio National network in Australia has broadcast the Goon Show since the 1960s. The network attempted to 'retire' the series in 2004, but after a huge listener response, broadcasts of the show resumed later the same year. The ABC's broadcasts have made the Goon Show one of the most repeated and longest-running of radio programs of all time.
Students at the University of Cambridge challenged Prince Philip to a tiddlywinks match in 1958. The Duke of Edinburgh appointed The Goons as his royal champions. They played the game on his behalf and the event even inspired a show entitled 'Tiddlywinks'.
Peter Sellers talent for performing the Goon characters was so great, that 4 additonal actors were required to perform the parts when he was unable to attend a recording in January 1959.
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), "Bloodnok's Rock and Roll Call" (the first British record with the word "rock" in its title) and its B-side "The Ying Tong Song", which was reissued as an A-side in the mid-1970s and became a surprise novelty hit.
In 1952 the BBC prepared to broadcast a pilot Goons TV show entitled 'Trial Gallop', with Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine (but not Milligan, strangely). Due to the death of King George VI on the day that was to have been its live transmission, the show was first postponed, then cancelled. The Goons did make it to TV later with 'Idiots Weekly, Price 2d' and 'A Show Called Fred'.
In 1972 the Goons reunited to perform 'The Last Goon Show of All' for radio and television, before an invited audience that didn't include long-time fan The Prince of Wales. He was on military duty with the Royal Navy at the time. The last time all three Goons worked together was in 1978 when they recorded two new songs, 'The Raspberry Song' and 'Rhymes'.
The animated film 'Shrek' makes a reference to The Goon Show. When Donkey and Shrek are looking up at the stars, Shrek points the constellation 'Bloodnok the Flatulent', a reference to the character Major Bloodnok.
Spike Milligan had a major nervous breakdown during the early 1950's. The pressure of writing the shows is given as a major contributing reason for the breakdown and the break-up of his first marriage. He was eventually diagnosed with manic depression and battled it for the rest of his life. He once tried to kill Peter Sellers with a potato knife for no real reason other than... "Sellers was being his usual selfish self and I was, unluckily for him, at the end of my tether".
A Goon Show called 'The Man Who Never Was' was a spoof of the 1956 film of the same name. Peter Sellers performed the voice of Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the actual film. He also performed the voice in some Goon Shows.
After years of worsening heart problems, Peter Sellers had organised a reunion dinner with fellow Goons, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe when he had his final heart attack. In his will he had explicitly requested that Glenn Miller's song "In The Mood" be played at his funeral. This is considered his last touch of humour because he deeply hated the tune.
In 1962 Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, with Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller released the record 'Bridge On The River Wye'. It was a spoof of the film 'Bridge On The River Kwai', being based around the 1957 Goon Show 'An African Incident'. It was intended to have the same name as the film, but shortly before its release, the film company threatened legal action if the name was used. Producer George Martin (of Beatles fame) edited out the 'K' every time the word 'Kwai' was spoken. And so, 'The Bridge on the River Wye' was created.
Most recordings of the early Goon Shows (Series 1 to 3) no longer exists because the BBC simply did not retain archives of everything it broadcast during that period.
Famous fans of the Goons included Prince Charles, The Beatles and Elton John. Yoko Ono gave John Lennon some 40 hours of Goon Show tapes on his 37th birthday and Lennon even reviewed the book 'The Goon Show Scripts' for The New York Times in 1973. Elton John paid £14,000 at an auction of original Goon Show scripts in 1981.
The cast of Monty Python have made no secret that The Goon Show and the comedy of Spike Milligan was a large influence on them, but ironically their famous TV series over-shadowed Milligan's later anarchic TV comedy such as the "Q" series.
In 2001 the BBC recorded a 'new' show entitled 'Goon Again' to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Goon Show. It was based on two unpreserved series 3 episodes from 1953 - "The Story of Civilisation" and "The Plymouth Ho Armada". The cast included Andrew Secombe (son of Harry Secombe) and Christopher Timothy (son of Andrew Timothy - the original announcer).
Catchphrases from The Goon Show form the longest index entry in the 2002 publication of 'The Oxford Dictionary of Catchphrases'.