Hear what your ear can hear
Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Turn to page 22 of your Radio Times to locate the listing for episode 17 of the second series, broadcast on 20 May 1952.
How can you listen to the Goon Show in 2021?
As a kid, all the episodes I listened to were on cassettes – mostly official BBC collections, but also a few home recordings. As an adult, I’ve picked up a few LPs, and I also have a couple of the BBC collections on CD. (I’m told by my partner that these formats are all obsolete and I’m SO OLD for hanging on to my CD collection and not just listening to everything on Spotify.)
For the 21st century Goon fan, there are a few options I’ve found for building out your digital collection.
There are a couple of channels on Spotify that stream Goon Show episodes. This one has 130 episodes available, although the quality of the audio and edits are shaky in some cases. There is also this channel, with episodes and music available, although I haven’t explored that one much yet.
The giant audiobook website has a number of Goon Show compilations available, including some of the official compendiums. As of 26 May 2021 (the day I’m writing this blog), I can see available:
The Goon Show Compendiums Volume 3, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14
BBC Radio Collection Volumes 1-25 inclusive, and 29-34
The Goon Show Classics, Volumes 1 and 2
The Last Goon Show Of All & At Last The Go On Show
Parkinson interviews the Goons and Peter Sellers
Spike Milligan: The Parkinson Interviews
The Original Goon (one of Michael Bentine’s autobiographies)
A subscription is £7.99 a month and comes with one free credit, which has effectively meant I’ve bought three compendiums for just £24. Bargain.
There are several channels on YouTube with Goon Show recordings. There is one I’m going to link to in later blogs: The Goons - Topic. It’s worth searching for different Goon terms though as there is a plethora of interesting material available on top of the shows themselves.
This is an amazing website that provides free downloads for hundreds of radio programmes from English-speaking countries going back decades. As of 26 May 2021 the site has more than 170 Goon Show episodes and extras, as well as such Goon-related gems as:
The Milligan Papers, written by John Antrobus and starring Spike Milligan
The Michael Bentine Show, a series he recorded in the 1980s
The Idiot Weekly, Spike Milligan’s Australian version of the Goon Show
You can also find other influential comedies of the time, including:
Educating Archie, one of Eric Sykes’ first big successes on BBC radio
Ray’s A Laugh, which provided an initial platform for Peter Sellers
It’s That Man Again, which did so much to pave the way for the Goons in the 1940s
I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, a 1960s show that owes a significant debt to the Goons
Honestly, you should definitely spend some time just browsing this site. It is an absolute gold mine of radio nostalgia and audio history. Look out for the World War Two radio excerpts too.