More Christmas puddings
On 15 November 1955, the Goons prepared everyone for the festive period by regaling them with the dramatic tale of 'The International Christmas Pudding'.
The episode was "especially writted for the wireless" by Spike Milligan as the ninth instalment of the sixth series, as per page 24 of the Radio Times. It was an intrepid tale of adventure and danger. Let the great poet, tragedian and twit William McGoonigall set the scene:
McGoonigall (Sellers): Many years ago in the year 562 BC, The great monumental International Christmas Pudding was struck by lightning, which also struck a tree. And the magnificent International Christmas Pudding, which had been erected by Sisygambis atop a temple tall, was broken into two portions by the knock it received during the fall. And oh, these portions had been carried to a far corner of the earth. And this terrible disaster is not an occasion for mirth, and oh...
(Sisygambis, so the internet tells me, was a member of one of the royal families of Persia in the third century BC, so a little late for McGoonigall's date. She was the mother of Darius III of Persia, who abandoned her and the rest of his family when he was defeated by Alexander the Great. Sisygambis and her family were so well treated by Alexander that she refused to celebrate when Darius' army returned to liberate them. Darius was deaded soon after this, which probably serves him right.)
In 1843, the Goons report that a fossilised fragment of the International Christmas Pudding has been located. The British government decides to track down the rest of it and claim it for the empire!
Meanwhile, in Hyde Park...
Grytpype: Good evening. Have a picture of Queen Victoria. Seagoon: No thanks, I'm trying to give them up. Grytpype: I don't think you'll ever do it, I've tried and failed.
Grytpype and Moriarty are down on their luck. On hearing that Seagoon has money, they decide not eat him and instead help him decide what to do with his millions.
He considers many different options, such as a fund for "third-rate music hall comedians".
Moriarty: What? I say I say I say, what is it that has eight wheels and flies? Grytpype: I don't know. What is it that has eight wheels and flies? Moriarty: Two corporation dustcarts! Grytpype: I don't wish to know that.
This is a repeat of the joke first broadcast on 15 March 1955 in episode 25 of the fifth series. But who's counting? Oh right. Me.
Other options explored by Seagoon - and enacted by Moriarty and Grytpype in a vain effort to earn the money - include swimming the channel and running a mile in three minutes. Captain Matthew Webb was the first person to swim the English Channel in 1875, and while Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier in 1953, no one has got close to three minutes. Apart from Moriarty, apparently.
Finally, Grytpype suggests that Seagoon funds an expedition to track down the International Christmas Pudding.
Seagoon: As I puffed my Queen Victoria, he told me the amazing story of the great International Christmas Pudding, originally built at Alexandria in BC 2000, destroyed and sacked by the Carthaginians under Plato's Republic, and its fragments scattered the length and longth of the known world. Grytpype: Thank you Neddie, you saved me telling you. [...] If only all these fragments of the great International Christmas Pudding could be found and reassembled under one roof, the whole magnificent structure could be completely restored. What an incentive to goodwill and understanding among men.
Seagoon travels to Sudan (which was effectively a British colony from 1899 to 1956) and meets with Major Bloodnok, International Christmas Pudding agent for the Sudan, who warns him that "there are men here who would be willing to drive you out of the country at any price" - taxi drivers. See also: Series 3, Episode 17.
Bloodnok: It's all here lad, in Africa. Three quarters of it is worshipped as a god by the savage Naringi Burbas, and the other quarter has turned man-eater and is roaming the forest of Ying-Tong-Iddle-I-Po.
Seagoon invites Bloodnok to accompany him on a safari, but he's never played one before. For the first time in quite a while, we get a list of essential Goon equipment - and it's one of the best.
One knee-action, self-reciprocating Christmas Pudding gun.
One hand painted inflatable Christmas Pudding decoy with rubber hollow.
One portable plastic and gravel road.
One long bent thing with a sort of lump on the end.
One waterproof cover for same.
33 boxes of yellow kosher boots.
Another long bent thing with a sort of lump on the end.
One uncooked leather trilby with sugar feather.
One 60-foot explodable granite statue with built-in plunger.
Detailed plans of what to do with long bent thing with a sort of lump on the end.
How can they possibly fail?
The action then switches to another expedition, collecting moss for the BBC, featuring Henry Crun, Minnie Bannister and Eccles. It's a classic dialogue - well, trialogue, really - as Eccles in the tent upstairs takes his boots off. All five of them. Before we can work out quite where all these boots come from, the action is interrupted by a savage portion of the International Christmas Pudding, and Seagoon and Bloodnok arrive to lead the attempt to capture it.
Bloodnok: Are you mad? That Christmas Pudding can never be held captive inside anything. Seagoon: Then we must dig a pudding pit, and line the sides with custard, so it can't climb out.
The third helping of the episode contains some quite wonderful Goon sound effects and audio pictures. The savage man-eating pudding is chased through the jungle by the Naringi Burbas, tracked down with the aid of Bluebottle, and eventually caught using a giant plate and pudding dish.
A running 'joke' of sorts through series six is references to Sabrina. Norma Sykes, as she was actually called, was an actress and model who was quite sadly typecast in 'dumb blonde' roles and made famous - by men, naturally - for her figure.
This joke is actually quite respectful, unlike many others - but that's a story for another day.
Bloodnok: Don't worry lad, don't worry, it's a blessing in disguise. Seagoon: What is? Bloodnok: Sabrina with a beard. Seagoon: I don't see what Sabrina needs a beard for. I think she looks attractive enough without one. Bloodnok: I suppose she does really, I've never thought of it that way.
Secombe stumbles over his lines at one point and gets the giggles, but recovers quickly to pay Bluebottle in jelly babies for him to lead them to the Naringi Burbas' village, where the final showdown is to take place.
The pudding is captured, but it has hydrophobia (a fear of water and apparently a common symptom of rabies). Seagoon bravely dives under the dish lid to administer a vital injection.
Grytpype: Well done Moriarty. That pudding will be worth a fortune. Now we'll ditch Neddie. [The pair laugh] [FX: Knocking on dish cover] Moriarty: Wait! He's knocking. Lift up the cover. Hup! Seagoon: Ah. Thank you. Moriarty: Neddie! How's the pudding? Seagoon: [burps] Delicious!
And that's that, except for a brief vocal performance from Jim Pills (Spike Milligan), who sings to cover for the fact that the programme was running at less than the required time (28 minutes, I believe).
In other tenuous Christmas pudding news, the BBC's Light Programme broadcast an update from the Trans-Antarctic Expedition on 14 November 1955. There is no news of whether they had found any of the giant pudding slice that was supposed to be delivered by Major Bloodnok.
The International Christmas Pudding
Series 6 Episode 9
Broadcast: 15 November 1955
Written by: Spike Milligan
Producer: Peter Eton