Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Two influential producers of Goon Shows – Pat Dixon and Charles Chilton – share a birthday.
Chilton was born on this day in 1917. He was very much a BBC man, having joined the corporation as a messenger boy aged 15. He went on to write and produce many successful shows, including Riders Of The Range, which he turned into a comic strip, and The Long Long Trail, which he helped to take to the stage as Oh! What A Lovely War. The latter was an account of the First World War and was dedicated to his father, who was killed during that war.
Riders Of The Range saw Chilton made an honorary deputy marshal when he took the show to the US in 1950, according to an article from November of that year in the Dundee Evening Telegraph. He was also a science fiction writer, penning the Journey Into Space trilogy in the mid-1950s first as a radio serial and then as novels.
A much better tribute to Charles Chilton – better than anything I could write – is available on the Down The Tubes website, written by Steve Winders. It’s a great insight into Chilton’s long and varied career.
In all Chilton produced 25 Goon Show episodes, including seven of the 14 Vintage Goons series recorded for the BBC Transcription Service in 1958. The show was already a major success by the time he joined, but was in need of a steady hand at the tiller following the departure of Pat Dixon at the end of the seventh series.
The eighth series was a little unsettled, as – according to Roger Wilmut’s Goonography – Milligan didn’t really get on with some of the other producers assigned to the show. Chilton had already worked with the Goons for a couple of episodes on Series 3 in 1953, was probably a little more accustomed to Milligan’s way of working. Chilton also produced the second and third series of Michael Bentine’s TV show Round The Bend, so was arguably tuned into the humour, too.
Charles Chilton’s shows were:
Episodes 18 and 19, Series 3
Episodes 1-5, Series 8
Episodes 17-26, Series 8
Episodes 1, 2, and 9-14 of Vintage Goons
There’s an article featuring Chilton talking about his childhood – which included delivering newspapers on roller skates – from the Camden New Journal available here.
Pat Dixon was born on this day in 1904. He was the first at the BBC to truly see the Goons’ potential and recommended them for the first series. He also appointed Dennis Main Wilson as producer for the first two series.
In all, Dixon produced 32 episodes, including the majority of the seventh series. This, in my eyes at least, means he gets production credit for some of my favourite episodes: ‘The Mysterious Punch-Up-The-Conker’, ‘Ill Met By Goonlight’, and ‘Six Charlies In Search Of An Author’.
Owing to time constraints on my part, I’m going to revisit Mr Dixon in more detail later in the year – he deserves far more than just three paragraphs!