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Enter Bluebottle!

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Episode 12 of the second series was broadcast on 15 April 1952 at 9:30pm on the Home Service. The Radio Times listing is here.

A genuine cardboard-and-string Boy Scout hero, Bluebottle was based on a specific person: Ruxton Hayward, who accosted first Michael Bentine and then Peter Sellers.

“Harry and I had just got out of a taxi and were going into the stage door of the Chiswick Empire, when out of the shadows - it was raining - came a six-foot-two man with a long red beard and a scoutmasters outfit [and] a racing bicycle. He said [adopts high-pitched voice]: ‘Hello. I want to be a Goon.’”

(Michael Bentine interviewed for ‘At Last The Go On Show’, BBC radio documentary, 1991)

Secombe and Bentine puzzled over him for a second, pondering whether it was one of their fellow Goons in disguise, before realising he was for real. As Bentine recalls, Hayward said he wanted to be a Goon, but the reality is he wanted Sellers to appear at a forthcoming scouts’ event. Bentine pointed him in the general direction of Sellers:

“I said… ‘You’ll have to go over to Finsbury Park Empire. I’m sorry it’s raining… You go over there and you talk to Peter, and you say that I think you’re a genius.’ ‘Yes, I will. I will,’ he said, ‘yes.’ He practically said ‘my captain’. And went roaring off into this howling gale.”

(Michael Bentine interviewed for ‘At Last The Go On Show’, BBC radio documentary, 1991)

Peter Sellers and Ruxton Hayward himself take up the story in this clip from Heroes of Comedy: The Goons.

Such was Ruxton Hayward’s remarkable appearance and unique voice, Sellers adopted him into his repertoire. Initially referred to in early scripts as Ernie Splutmuscle, he eventually became a regular character and took on his famous moniker.

Ruxton Hayward

Other sources have Bluebottle’s characterisation based on old schoolmates of Peter Sellers – but it’s Ruxton who gained fame.

According to the US Goon Show website, despite being a fan of the show he didn’t realise he was the inspiration for Bluebottle until he saw the above interview with Sellers, Secombe and Michael Parkinson in 1972. He went on to appear at Goon Show Preservation Society gatherings and was interviewed several times about his meetings with the Goons.

Listening through the fourth and fifth series, Bluebottle develops his habit of reading out stage instructions, beginning with: “Enter Bluebottle! Pauses for audience applause – as usual, not a sausage.”

Bluebottle occasionally provided his own sound effects of applause to compensate for the lack of actual clapping from the audience. However, this became redundant as the audiences began to be more and more delighted by his entrance.

His other distinguishing feature was his habit of being “deaded” on a weekly basis, usually by being blown up. Think of him as a predecessor to Kenny from South Park.

Bluebottle: Wait a minute. Are you sure this match will not ignite the gas, thereby deading me, as it has on many previous occasions? Seagoon: Of course not. They're safety matches. Bluebottle: Thank you for your words of comfort, Captain. I trust you with my life… Strikes safety match for safety. [FX: Strikes match] Bluebottle: Ah-hah! You're waiting for me to get deaded, aren't you? But I'm not going to. This week Bluebottle is not going to be deaded. So the- [FX: Explosion, followed by knock on door. Door opens.] Bluebottle: You rotten swine, you! Seeks among debris for shattered underpants, shredded boots and three 1" by 1 ½" lumps of head.

(from ‘The Siege of Fort Knight’, Vintage Goons Episode 13)

Ruxton Hayward died in 2011, but will always be remembered fondly by Goon Show fans around the world.

Photo sourced from

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