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The Phantom Raspberry Blower

In 1971, Ronnie Barker starred in 1899: The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town. It was a short TV film written by Spike Milligan, and was later adapted by Barker for a series of sketches for The Two Ronnies TV show.

The Two Ronnies – that’s Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker, in case you thought I was talking about O’Sullivan or Kray – went on the trail of a Jack the Ripper-esque figure who stalked the capital’s streets and made fart noises at people. Here is the full story:

Apparently, however, this story was originally conceived as a way to reunite the Goons, according this article in The Times from 2010. Unfortunately, Peter Sellers’ Hollywood career got in the way and it was destined never to be. That is, until Messrs Barker and Corbett took up the challenge.

It’s very obviously Milligan throughout. There are countless gags that could have (and probably did) come straight from a Q series sketch, and echoes of Goonery abound.

There is a reference in the second part to a Lady Penelope Berkeley-Hunt, a reference that goes totally unnoticed by the audience. (For the innocent among you, Berkeley/Berkshire Hunt is Cockney rhyming slang for, well, never you mind.)

Barker’s career began on the stage, but he moved to radio in the mid-1950s and starred in The Navy Lark from 1959 to 1977. He unsurprisingly crossed paths with many Goons, appearing on two episodes of Michael Bentine’s It’s a Square World, and an episode each of Sykes And A… (written by and starring Eric Sykes) and The Harry Secombe Show.

His film credits include The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins, in which he appeared in the ‘Sloth’ section penned by Milligan. Catch him here from 1:26:23.

Meanwhile, Ronnie Corbett’s TV and film career began in the early 1950s, and the only clear Goon link I can find is his appearance in Casino Royale, the 1967 James Bond spoof starring Peter Sellers.

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