March in Goonland
Orme Court update - Michael Bentine - Griff Rhys Jones on Goon Pod - Hancock's Half Hour - Spike Down Under - Angela Morley - An Album Called Fred - The Booted Gorilla!
A semi-regular round up of what's been happening with our heroes in the past month. Click the links above to skip to particular stories, or just have a scroll.
Orme Court sold - psst, tck, vung!
First up this month is the final sale of Orme Court, home to Spike Milligan, Eric Sykes, Larry Stephens and a whole host of British comedy writers and performers for decades as Associated London Scripts since 1959.
I love that plaque and I’m delighted Jane Milligan has rescued it.
The building is now the official embassy for Kosovo, which has led to plenty of amusing references to pianos being thrown out of embassy windows. Get your corp diplomatique plates ready!
Moriarty: Sapristi piano! Unless we can get that Corp Diplomatique plate secretly screwed on that piano, we are psst, tck, vung!
(from 'The Case of the Missing CD Plates', broadcast 18 October 1955)
Here's a potted history of ALS from the Beeb.
A celebration of Bentine
In the 101st anniversary of his birth, 'The Original Goon' Michael Bentine is one of the figures being celebrated in Watford in April.
Write On Comedy is exploring Watford's comedy connections during the month, including the most famous Peruvian born there.
As well as the exhibition, there is a Comedy Carnival taking place from 19-22 April. More information from Write On Comedy here.
If you're on Twitter, give Robert Ross a follow. He's a comedy historian and one of the organisers of the Watford exhibition.
Goon Pod episodes – Griff Rhys Jones
Tyler Adams of the world’s greatest Goon Show podcast, Goon Pod, hit the jackpot this month with the release of his interview with Griff Rhys Jones.
It’s a lovely interview that covers a lot of ground, including his encounters with Spike Milligan and the Goons, but much more besides.
If you haven’t subscribed to Goon Pod already, do so immediately.
Hancock’s Half Hour
Speaking of which, there’s been some tantalising research in the wake of Goon Pod’s chat with Very Nearly an Armful – the Tony Hancock podcast. Can we call it a mash-up?
While it’s well known that Harry Secombe deputised for Hancock in several episodes, and Peter Sellers featured in a recently rediscovered recording, there’s a strong suspicion that Spike featured in one too. Here’s what we know.
When Spike decided to become an Aussie
Australian newspaper The Age republished an article from this month in 1983, in which Mr Milligan talks about becoming an Australian and being worried about nuclear war.
“I’m becoming a naturalised Australian this year... It sounds like I’m going to have a kidney transplant, doesn’t it? Yes, Bob Hawke’s [then the Australian prime minister] going to put me on a machine and make me a naturalised Australian: It’s going to need blood group O and a Fosters mixture.”
Spike talks to The Age, 30 March 1983
Remembering Angela Morley
The website uDiscoverMusic has a well-researched article about Goon Show (and Hancock's Half Hour) musical director Angela Morley. Author Sasha Geffen explores Morley's film work and her early life.
It's great to see Morley being remembered and celebrated in this way. Titchfield Festival Theatre in Portsmouth recently finished staging a play about her, titled The Other Woman. You can read a review here.
Her playful, curious ear teased out that precipice where fear gives way to wonder, in childhood especially but also past it, that dizzying place where the moment opens up and the impossible crystallizes into the real.
(Sasha Geffen writes on Angela Morley for uDiscoverMusic)
(A note at the bottom of the page says the article was first published in 2021, but as it's dated 10 March 2023 and deserves to be read, I thought I'd overlook that small detail.)
An Album Called Fred
While we're on the subject of music, it’s worth flagging this release from earlier in the year: An Album Called Fred is a new CD that contains much Goon-related audio ephemera. (That was a very pleasing set of words to write.)
From musical performances by Ray Ellington, Max Geldray, and Harry Secombe, to soundtracks from episodes of A Show Called Fred, right through to the recurring musical gags of ‘Sous Les Toits De Paris’ and ‘You’re Dancing On My Heart’ – it’s a must-have for Goon afficionados.
A bit more information about some of the tracks is available on the Goon Show Preservation Society website here.
Buy from Jasmine Records or that looney with the spaceship.
The Booted Gorilla - Found!
Finally, an emergency announcement from Bwana Seagoon: