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The Egg of the Great Auk

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Series 3, episode 2 – ‘The Egg of the Great Auk’ – was broadcast on 18 November 1952 at 9:30pm on the Home Service. Proof, if proof is needed, is on page 26 of the Radio Times.

The Great Auk was a species of flightless bird that us lovely humans managed to drive to extinction in the 1800s. Here’s a stuffed one in a Glasgow museum, complete with egg.

Sadly, as no recording of this show exists, we’ll never know whether or not it was Bloodnok’s curries that finally did for the poor birds.

In his Goonography, Roger Wilmut explains in detail some of the changes made for this series. With the exit of the Stargazers, the show was now split into three sections with two musical interludes, rather than four and three. Producer Peter Eton was trying to persuade the writing team of Milligan and Stephens (plus editor Jimmy Grafton) to take on longer plots, meaning several sketches ran over two sections.

Stanley Black and the BBC Dance Orchestra departed for other commitments, and were replaced by Angela Morley (then known as Wally Stott) and orchestra. Morley knew the Goons well as she wrote arrangements for Max Geldray, and had filled in for Black during the second series.

Character-wise, Secombe was starting to take centre stage more and more, and was enticed into mishaps and misadventures by a new character – Moriarty. More of him later. Ahem.

Grytpype: Moriarty, there is only one way to stop a car: sex appeal… Now roll up your trouser legs and show them the hairs on your socks. Moriarty: My socks? But I ate them last night! Grytpype: All by yourself? You greedy French swine! What about me? Moriarty: Every time I tried to eat you, you kept waking up. Grytpype: So! Those teeth marks on my underwear were yours! Moriarty: It was hell in there, I tell you!

(from ‘The Seagoon Memoirs’, Series 9 Episode 7, broadcast 19 December 1958)

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