Updated: May 24, 2022
‘The Mummified Priest’ was episode 17 of the fourth series. It was originally broadcast on 22 January 1954, and is listed in the Radio Times here.
The script was dusted off and rerecorded in 1958 and broadcast on 22 September that year as part of the Vintage Goons series.
The original show has not survived, but the Vintage Goons version has. So let’s look at that.
Greenslade: Direct from the J Arthur Rank gong beating school, we present Peter Sandlers, Hatty Seaton and Spot Millican in... Secombe: The Gong Show!
J Arthur Rank was an industrialist who founded the British National Films Company in the 1930s. It later became the Rank Organisation, and its films’ opening credit sequences always included a man hitting a gong.
Our story begins with Neddie Seagoon getting a job at the British Museum from Professor Spon (Peter Sellers).
Seagoon: British Museum sir? But could I do the job? Spon: Do it? It's right up your street. Seagoon: Well that'll save bus fares. Spon: It's Egyptology, and I've recommended Eccles as well. Eccles: Oh goody, goody, my man. What's the money like? Spon: It comes in various sizes. Pennies, thrupenny bits, you know. They pay according to intelligence. Eccles: We can't live on nothing! Spon: Live on nothing? Ahahahaha, rubbish! Seagoon: And so we lived on rubbish.
A typical Milligan sequence of ‘capping a joke’ multiple times – in other words, adding another punchline. Spike was particularly good at this.
Soon enough, Seagoon and his supervisor, Professor Henry Crun, are sent an ancient Egyptian manuscript to translate…
Seagoon: Supposing we fail? Crun: We won't! I know two men who are experts in reading ancient scripts. Seagoon: Who? Crun: Bob Hope and Steve Allen.
This was a jibe at two American comedians and TV hosts, who Spike evidently felt were a little too corny for his liking.
Upon translating the script, the pair find that it is not a set of old jokes, but in fact a guide to a burial chamber and gold treasure!
Seagoon: Give me that script! Or I'll kill you by death! Crun: Don't kill me! I'm too old to die! Seagoon: Nonsense, you're just the right age.
Seagoon locks Crun in a cellar and hightails it to Egypt, contacting Major Bloodnok. Bloodnok recognises him straight away (“Who else could walk under a piano stool?”) and agrees to help him locate the tomb.
Before they can set off, guess what? We need another Goonish list of essentials.
One crate containing three leather fire engines
One parcel containing a tall, thin hairless Abyssinian laundry manager, with low boots
A large chest, containing Jane Mansfield, and one large chest (you naughty man, Spike!)
60 gross of anti-snore night-shirts, with cold kippers sown inside
Onwards, into the desert.
Seagoon: 10 miles nearer the tomb and the treasure. The treasure that Mr Crun tried to deprive me of! But I'll have it! Ha ha. The treasure. Treasure, ha ha ha! I'll have it! I'll have it!! [calms down] Why are you all staring like that at me, eh? Why are you staring at me like that?!! Bloodnok: Umm - err - Well - because you're so beautiful. Seagoon: For a moment, I thought you were going to lie to me. Bloodnok: [aside] Greenslade... He thinks he's beautiful. Greenslade: Yes I know, you see, it's the first sign of madness. Eccles: [shouts] Oh, beautiful? Bloodnok and Greenslade: Yes Eccles?
Through the desert they trek, driven onwards by their lust for gold. Vultures begin circling – “Keep your eyes on the ones carrying knives and forks” – but still our heroes march on. They find a house, which turns out to be a mirage after they go on. Eccles is particularly miffed by this as he was upstairs when the mirage vanished.
Then – success! They find the tomb. But it is a labyrinth of corridors and they spend months walking around before they finally find the door to the burial chamber itself.
Bloodnok: Look! A large, underground chamber! Eccles: Oooohh. Bloodnok: And there – there's a body on the floor! Seagoon: It must be the long-dead Egyptian priest! Crun: It's me, Mr Crun! You naughty man; throwing me down this cellar! Seagoon: (insane) Oh no... no... no...
Such are the laws of time and space in the Goons’ universe.
John Dredge is the guest on this episode of Goon Pod, discussing 'The Mummified Priest' with pod-king and fellow Goonaholic Tyler Adams.
The Mummified Priest
Series 4, Episode 17
Broadcast: 22 January 1954
Vintage Goons version recorded: 6 October 1957
Vintage Goons version broadcast: 22 September 1958
Written by: Spike Milligan
Producer: Peter Eton
YouTube (Vintage Goons version): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qS7ju40bvE
Transcript (Vintage Goons version): http://www.thegoonshow.net/scripts_show.asp?title=svge01_the_mummified_priest