'Ray Ellington's New Show'
Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Ahead of episode one on 28 May, The Stage flagged one of the musical acts in an article published on this day in 1951.
Ray Ellington Quartet
Now appearing regularly in [sic] the BBC Saturday night "Top Score", the Ray Ellington Quartet start their second radio series next week, when their "Goon" show goes on the air on Monday, May 28. This will be the first of six weekly half-hour programmes to be pre-recorded each Sunday. The Quartet have a week of variety at Blackpool Palace from Monday next, and will listen-in to the radio show in their dressing room...
The new bassist-comedy man, Len Harrison, is settling down well with the Quartet, and full personnel is now Ray Ellington, drums and vocals; Dick Katz, piano; Laurie Deniz, electric guitar; and Len Harrison, bass.
(Article from page 3 of The Stage, 24 May 1951)
Another article from later in the same issue strikes a slightly wary tone, having evidently asked Spike Milligan to explain himself.
Spike Milligan, who is at present with Joe Loss* (who, incidentally, gave him his first Number One booking at the Shepherds Bush Empire), will be heard on Monday at 6.45 in the Home Service in "Crazy People".
The Artists in this "gang" include Peter Sellers, Michael Bentine, Harry Secombe and Margaret Lindsay** ("We Beg to Differ" programme), who prefer to call themselves "The Goons". The nearest definition Spike Milligan says that he can give to the word "Goon" is "that every one of the gags has an illogical conclusion". Mr Milligan wrote the script for this programme assisted by Larry Stephen***, an ex-commando.
It will be interesting to know how this show, with a new type of humour, will appeal to listeners.
(Article from page 7 of The Stage, 24 May 1951)
We're nearly there folks...
* I believe this reference to Joe Loss means the famous band leader. Spike's initial entertainment successes were through the Bill Hall Trio, a comedy-jazz act for which he played guitar and banjo, leading him to pursue a music career. Spike was also an accomplished trumpet player, which is probably what brought him to the attention of Joe Loss. The Joe Loss Orchestra was founded in the early 1930s and is apparently still going, more than 30 years after Loss's death.
** Margaret Lindsay was a comedy actress who had appeared with Harry Secombe, Michael Bentine and Peter Sellers on other radio shows, most notably Third Division, a forerunner of The Goon Show. She was supposed to appear in the first episode of The Goon Show, but for whatever reason did not, and there her association with the cast and the show seems to have ended.
*** Larry Stephens, who we will come to later, co-wrote many Goon Show scripts before his death in 1959.