What's on the telly? Part two: The Magic Christian
The Beatles were very open in their enjoyment of the Goons, and indeed Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers became friends with the Fab Four in the 1960s. Harry Secombe seemed less certain, judging by this photo.
This friendship led to Ringo Starr co-starring in the 1969 film The Magic Christian alongside Sellers, with Milligan appearing as an irate traffic warden.
The cast is exceptional: Richard Attenborough, John Cleese, Dennis Price, Graham Stark, Christopher Lee, Hattie Jacques, Clive Dunn, Raquel Welch, and Roman Polanski are just a few names on the cast list. Also featuring briefly are people like John Snagge, Graham Chapman (who co-wrote an earlier version of the film’s script), Jimmy Clitheroe aka The Clitheroe Kid, John Le Mesurier of Dad’s Army fame, and Yul Brynner.
I must confess at this point that I haven’t seen the whole film, so allow me to point you towards two people who have. Tyler Adams’ excellent Goon Pod has an episode dedicated to the film, and Tyler’s guest Jem Roberts – a prolific author of comedy books – talks in detail about its making.
Subscribe to Goon Pod wherever you get your podcasts. Go on - do it! You won't regret it.
Jem has a book out that I really need to read: Fab Fools is an exploration of the Beatles’ love of and influence on the British comedy scene. I love the Beatles and the Goons, the Beatles loved the Goons – it might as well have ‘for Nick’ written on the front cover. I realise this might reduce the attractiveness to non-Nicks, of which I’m told there are many, so I understand why Jem decided against this.
Buy Fab Fools from independent publisher Candy Jar Books here. Follow the dedicated Fab Fools Twitter account if you're that way inclined - and while you're at it, Jem Roberts, Tyler Adams, and Goon Pod are all active tweeters too. As is The Seagoon Memoirs, for that matter.