Summer ’56 (part II): Everyone’s a Goon
The Goons truly were everywhere in the mid-1950s. Even when they weren’t there, anything mildly chaotic or confusing was compared to the show.
The Suez canal crisis was lampooned more than once by the Goons, which is perhaps why they were not far from this writer’s mind when covering international discussions.
Under the charter
From London and Cairo, the scene shifts to New York, where the Suez Canal problem now formally appears on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council. Be prepared for verbal fireworks and a complicating of issues which, if you can keep your grasp on the realities of the situation, may appear to be in the best traditions of the Goon Show.
(from Lancashire Evening Post, 26 September 1956)
Captain Pureheart (Bentine): Ruination! All my work, ruined! I resign! Sellers: Why, captain? Pureheart: After all that digging, do you know what they want to do with my beautiful canal? Sellers: What? Pureheart: Fill it with water!
(Series 2 Episode 1, 22 January 1952)
It’s often said by fans of cliches that “football’s a funny old game”. Well, this is a funny old article about being a football supporter from the Cornish Guardian.
What Mr Fan goes through during the 90 minutes on Saturday afternoon is quite unexplicable [sic], being a mixture of delight, despair, anger, fear, envy, doubt and hope! Saturday evening is spent in club or tavern replaying the match as it ought to have been played. Sunday is “post-mortem day” and further libellous thoughts about the selection committee — and Monday is “Hope-building-up day”—only to be shattered over again [by] the announcement of the team for Saturday’s fixture, chosen it seems in the middle of a “Goon Show”.
(excerpt from ‘The rock ‘n’ roll rhythm of Mr Fan’, an odd column from the Cornish Guardian, 20 September 1956)
Bloodnok: So the Romans want to take the field against us, do they? Seagoon: That's right, Britannicus. [...] And, you never know, we might win! Bloodnok: Win? No, we mustn't! We don't want to spoil our record!
(from 'The Histories of Pliny the Elder', Series 7 Episode 25, broadcast 28 March 1957)
Sometimes the parallels drawn by reviewers or writers didn’t quite work. This one, for example, takes a sudden dark turn that I’ve never seen in a Goon script.
A surrealist mime at grammar school next week
The Wedding on the Eiffel Tower, a surrealist mime by the great and notorious M. Jean Cocteau, is being presented Banbury Grammar School Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week. It is like an earnest Goon Show; a photographer tells a wedding group to watch the birdie and out comes an ostrich, or a lion, or a bathing girl, or a horrible child (“a casualty for the next war”). It is preceded by Bernard Shaw’s pantomime about martyrdom, Androcles and the Lion, and both plays are being acted in an arena, on the floor of the hall, with the audience all round.
(from the Banbury Advertiser, 11 July 1956)
One group of self-titled Goons that crop up every so often in the newspaper archives is the Aqua-Goons – a swimming and diving team that I would very much like to have seen.
The Diving Meteors open the programme, making the first big splash, and exhibit their skill in fine style. Sixteen Mermaids and De Vere Girls in a delightful formation make way for the Goons, a slapstick team of swimmers who make a lot of fun.
(from a review of Blackpool’s ‘Big Splash’ from The Stage, 12 July 1956)
While he wasn’t in the Aqua-Goons, to the best of my knowledge, Welsh rugby player and professional swimmer and diver Rex “Tarzan” Richards sounds like he could have been.
Writing for the Western Mail on 29 August 1956, J B G Thomas recounts seeing Richards in a show in Bournemouth.
I saw him perform in the show. He did a special swim-to-music exhibition; some danger diving of an intricate nature, and then took part in an hilarious exhibition of "goon" diving, which required skill, precision-timing, strength and nerve.
(from the Western Mail, 29 August 1956)
All together now: He’s fallen in the water!
Finally, dogs are always welcome in this blog, especially ones called ‘The Goon’ (or Eccles).
Reprieved rebel dog will soon be champion
Just over four years ago a small black and white Welsh Collie dog was taken to the New Pond Kennels, Worplesdon, Surrey, to be destroyed.
It had bitten the postman, and frightened the tradesmen away, said the owner. But then young Andrew Montgomery, the son of the kennel owner, took a fancy to the dog and managed to win it a reprieve.
By dint of hard work and patient training that dog, now five years old, and known as The Goon, is well on the way to becoming an obedience champion. […] In the long jump competition for large dogs The Goon cleared 15 feet to win the event.
(from the Lewisham Borough News, 31 July 1956)
Dog image sourced from UKPets. Football image by Markus Spiske via Pexels. Splash image provided by Wix.