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'Haydn's been dead for years'

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Episode 11 of the fourth series saw the Goons taking on ‘The Spanish Armada’. It was broadcast on 11 December 1953 at 9:30pm, as per page 42 of the Radio Times.

Without a recording of the episode, we don’t know whether this was a repeat or adaptation of the final episode of the third series, ‘The Story of the Plymouth Hoe Armada’ – although I’m going to go out on a limb and say it probably was similar.

Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens revisited and reused their favourite jokes, sketches and storylines throughout the Goons’ run. ‘The Man Who Never Was’ was revisited twice after its initial third series outing, and ‘Dishonoured’ from the fifth series was revamped for episode 13 of the ninth series.

Another excerpt from ‘The Spanish Armada’, below, was obviously a favourite pun of Spike and Larry’s, as it emerged again in ‘The Jet-Propelled Guided NAAFI’ (Series 6 Episode 19).

Moriarty: Pssst! Grytpype-Thynne: Who's that? Moriarty: Psssst! Grytpype-Thynne: How do you spell it? Moriarty: (raspberry) Grytpype-Thynne: You illiterate swine. It's Moriarty, where are you? Moriarty: Here. In the piano! Grytpype-Thynne: What the devil are you doing in there? Moriarty: I'm hidin'. Grytpype-Thynne: Don't be silly, Haydn's been dead for years.

(from ‘The Jet Propelled Guided NAAFI’, Series 6 Episode 19, broadcast 24 January 1956)

Joseph Haydn, when he was not dead. As painted by Thomas Hardy.

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