The Case of the Missing Heir
On 11 January 1955, the Goons investigated ‘The Case of the Missing Heir’ for episode 16 of the fifth series. Readers of the Radio Times can find the listing here, but for the first time this series there is no synopsis, meaning no clue as to the mysteries to unfold.
Then again, given the accuracy of these so far, listeners were arguably still in the dark even if they had read the synopses.
The setting is Austria, 1909, in the rural hamlet of Baik, on the river Bonce. Baik-on-Bonce. Bacon buns. Something tells me that joke was written just before lunchtime. Ned Seagoon attends a Grand Ball, also attended by the Crown Prince.
Grytpype-Thynne: Yes, the Crown Prince, being of the house of Eidelburger, was the heir. But we reactionaries did not want another Eidelburger on the throne. So, that night at the Grand Ball, we conspired.
The old idle bugger joke again.
This episode has another that joke was officially verboten by the BBC’s Green Book: “there is an absolute ban upon… jokes about lavatories”, according to the corporation.
Grytpype and Moriarty are conspiring at the palace to assassinate the Crown Prince.
Grytpype: Well, ah, let’s go into the throne room. [FX: Rattling of doorknob] Minnie Bannister: Noooo. Grytpype: Curse, somebody's in there.
Grytpype and Moriarty decide to rope Neddie into overthrowing the prince by tricking him (Neddie) into thinking he is the true heir. What follows is a very roundabout way of Seagoon obtaining a bomb, hiding it in the prince’s bed, and attempting to corral the villagers to support him.
Eccles arrives to deliver a message, which he writes on a piece of paper, only for it to tell Seagoon that Eccles has a message for him. Hotel owners Crun and Bannister take Seagoon’s breakfast order in German, only to realise they don’t speak the language. Seagoon runs all over the town and keeps knocking on the same door to inform its owner about the revolution.
It’s all amusing stuff but lacks any of the meat or punch of some of the previous fifth series episodes, consisting of mainly filler and extended gags. There is even one sequence in which Wallace Greenslade introduces the sound of an empty room. It’s no wonder Grytpype remarks towards the end of the episode: “We just don’t care, do we?”
Hold on. What about the bomb in the Crown Prince’s bed? There is indeed an explosion, but Grytpype arrives just after it to inform Neddie that something has gone wrong.
Grytpype: I've had news that the Crown Prince left for Switzerland this morning. Seagoon: But who was in his bed? Bluebottle: You rotten swines you!
A great payoff for a show that lacked the usual Goon sparkle, in my view anyway. It makes me wonder whether it was this episode that led to Eric Sykes vowing never to attend another Goon Show performance.
The script is billed as having been written by Sykes and Milligan, rather than the other way around, and I can see this being seen as less funny on paper than when delivered to an audience.
Perhaps we’ll never know.
Title: The Case of the Missing Heir
Series 5, Episode 16
Broadcast: 11 January 1955
Written by: Eric Sykes and Spike Milligan
Producer: Peter Eton
Image of empty room by Michal Jarmoluk; image of throne room by Jacqueline Macou.