Death in the desert
Ladies and gentlepong, the Goons, in direct conflict with the British Arts Council, present number 23 in their series of six: Crimes my mother taught me.
Episode 2 of the fifth series was billed in the Radio Times thus:
“How young Ned Seagoon journeys by steam packet to the Americas to find the Lost Gold Mine and how, after being foully tricked by several desperadoes, he eventually triumphs… The action takes place aboard the SS Filthmuck, in a New Orleans dustbin, near the desert town of San Fairee Ann, and in a dried-up gulch near Hammersmith.”
I trust we’re all clear on that?
Broadcast on 5 October 1954, as per page 24 of that week's Radio Times, the story indeed traces Neddie Seagoon's attempt to find a lost gold mine and keep the fortune for himself. However, he needs the help of several other scoundrels and lowlifes. The first such characters he meets while playing cards on the boat to America.
Seagoon: Hmm… Let’s see what kind of a hand I’ve got. Four fingers and one thumb. Right gents, I’ll go thruppence on this. There’s my hand: four aces. Grytpype: Sorry Secombe, I’ve got five. There, thruppence please. Seagoon: Well, hahaha, that’s cleared me out.
Seagoon writes an IOU for three whole pence on the back of the map, leaving it with Grytpype and Moriarty. They split the map between them - thus beginning a theme of map portions and careful paper tearing that runs through the show. More of that later.
Neddie discovers his mistake and, setting fire to his boots, sets off hot foot in pursuit of Grytpype and Moriarty. He seeks shelter.
Minnie Bannister: Now, what do you want, buddy? Seagoon: A bed for the night... Bannister: I'll see if I can get a bed for you, just wait here buddy. [FX: Door opens and closes. Pistol shot, scream of agony. Door opens.] Bannister: Room for one, buddy.
While contemplating his next steps, Seagoon meets Major Bloodnok and persuades him to join the hunt for the Moriarty, Grytpype, and the gold mine.
This is one of the first times we have heard Grytpype and Moriarty team up to deceive Neddie Seagoon. But their partnership doesn’t last long this time:
Moriarty: That swine Grytpype-Thynne, he tied me up, slapped me in chains, buried me up to my neck in the sand when I wasn’t looking. Seagoon: I’m going to leave you to die. Bloodnok: Oh no, Seagoon, the man might be attacked by soaking wet elephants. Seagoon: What!? The nearest elephants are across the Atlantic! Bloodnok: How do you think they get soaking wet?
As the characters cross (and double-cross) each other, the map is torn up into smaller and smaller pieces. As the complexity of the plot increases, Wallace Greenslade is forced to explain:
Greenslade: So that listeners are not confused by the number of map portions now in existence, here’s an exact tally of the present distribution: Captain Hercules Grytpype-Thynne - one half; Major Bloodnok - one quarter less one eighth given to Count Moriarty; Neddie Seagoon - one quarter less one eighth given to Moriarty; Moriarty - one quarter. Henry Crun - nil.
Meanwhile, Grytpype has teamed up with Eccles to help him reach the mine, as he only has half of the map. Seagoon and Moriarty abandon a struggling Bloodnok - who then teams up with "Big Chief Worry-Guts" (aka Harry Secombe) - while they bring Bluebottle into the fold.
Bluebottle: I am drunk with the power of the map portions. These will guarantee me untold riches, even wealth. I shall have my own toothbrush, my own tooth. And a ball pointed pen with a real pointed ball! Oh, regains decorum. OK, follow me. Spits like cowboy but dribbles down shirt.
Quite a few people have sections of the map now. Perhaps it's time I tried to explain.
Or something like that.
Greenslade: Listeners may be wondering about what has become of Count Moriarty. The truth is, he WAS suddenly attacked by a soaking wet elephant.
Eccles successfully leads the remaining group to the lost gold mine, but the entrance is covered with massive boulders. Fortunately, Bluebottle has some sticks of dynamite handy. Unfortunately, Bluebottle is tasked with lighting them.
As a deaded Bluebottle exits left, Seagoon steps inside the mine at last...
Seagoon: Is this really the lost gold mine of Charlotte? But, but there's no gold! Eccles: Well, that's-yah-lotte!
Title: The Lost Gold Mine (of Charlotte)
Series 5, Episode 2
Broadcast: 5 October 1954
Written by: Spike Milligan
Producer: Peter Eton