Updated: Dec 7, 2022
Young Ned Seagoon is wintering in Spain when he is approached by Senor Moriarty of the Deuxieme Bureau, who casually mentions that Major Denis Bloodnok, a fellow Britisher, is languishing in Gonzales Jail under suspicion of having taken part in a mysterious jewel robbery at Valladolid. Senor Grytpype-Thynne arrives on the scene and suggests that Neddie is very much like Major Bloodnok in appearance and that he would be rendering Britain great service if he were to replace Major Bloodnok of MI5 in prison. Ned Seagoon, patriot to the core, agrees to the proposition - with startling results.
(from the Radio Times, page 24, issue 1621, published 3 December 1954)
The Goons travelled to Spain for episode 11 of the fifth series, broadcast on 7 December 1954, as per page 24 of the Radio Times. Take a moment to admire the space-age cover image of Bluebottle’s hero Jet Morgan from Journey Into Space, the brainchild of future Goon Show producer Charles Chilton.
The opening section takes a quick jab at a long-running BBC serial that had just broadcast its 1,000th episode.
Bluebottle: Olé! Seagoon: That olé of olés could only herald the coming of the highly esteemed Goon Show! [FX: Panic-stricken audience running out, door slams] Seagoon: Who unlocked the doors? Mr Greenslade, emergency music! [FX: 'The Archers' theme tune and animal noises] Seagoon: Stop! [music stops] I knew that would get them back in.
What the Archers never had, though, was Wallace Greenslade adopting a West Country accent. What with this and his French accent, Wal was obviously giving Peter Sellers a run for his money.
To Spain, and Ned Seagoon – after a night of sensuous morris dancing – is approached by Moriarty, purporting to be an inspector with the Spanish police looking into a jewellery theft.
Moriarty: A Britisher has already been incasseroled in the Madrid jail, and sentenced to 94 years, señor. Seagoon: So he was found guilty, eh? Moriarty: I don't know, they haven't tried him yet.
In a strange coincidence, the great British bullfighter Major El Bloodnok is unavailable for tomorrow’s bullfight due to being in jail for, Neddie is assured by Grytpype and Moriarty, just 48 hours for a minor offence. Having declined to stand in for Bloodnok at the bullfight -
Seagoon: The crowd will recognise that I’m not El Bloodnok. Grytpype: Yes, but the bull won’t. Seagoon: I’ll tell him.
- they instead decide that he will instead replace Bloodnok in jail. It’s not until the switch has happened that Seagoon finds out that he’s been swindled, and instead of standing in for a 48-hour sentence, he’s been banged up for 94 years for a jewellery theft.
What of this suitcase mentioned in the title, you ask? Well, allow Greenslade to change the scene and I’ll tell you.
Greenslade: Listeners, as you all know so well, where the Calle de Carla meets the Prada in the Plaza de Madrid, stands the Hotel – Fred. I was staying there as a guest of señor Henry Crun, the manager.
Moriarty visits Crun to enquire about the whereabouts of Major Bloodnok’s suitcase. Apparently, a Bloodnok has taken it with him, although he was claiming to be Seagoon. The real Bloodnok, disguised as Seagoon, is smuggled into the jail to fetch the suitcase from the real Seagoon, who is disguised as Bloodnok. Oh, and Eccles is in the cell too.
It’s all rather confusing really.
Seagoon, being innocent, has already sent the suitcase back to the hotel with the porter – a Mr Greenslade.
Bloodnok: Knuckle me sombrero and Spanish me knuckles, sent it - Moriarty! He knew it was being sent back to the Hotel Fred, that's why he wanted to get me in here. That's what it's all about! Seagoon: What are we going to do? Eccles: 94 years.
Grytpype and Moriarty arrive back at the hotel to track down Mr Crun and the suitcase. He’s a very clever man, the porter assures them, having not paid a peseta of tax in several years. Of course, now he’s in jail.
This jail cell is now getting rather full: Seagoon, Bloodnok, and Eccles have been joined by Crun, Grytpype, and Moriarty. It’s remarkable that Peter Sellers remembered which voice he was supposed to be doing for which lines.
At least they’ve found the suitcase. But instead of the jewels, it’s just Bloodnok’s underwear (it must have been hell in there).
But wait – there’s one more person in the cell. Enter Spanish Bluebottle!
Bluebottle: I'm here to brighten up the script and to fight the dreaded Spanish-type bull. I'm not afraid of those needle-pointed horns - thinks: Yes I am! Moves left, strums spittoon and does Caspitor dance.
Our boy scout hero assures his friends that he knows all about bullfighting, having watched the 1941 bullfighting-themed film Blood And Sand. He also declares that watching this film taught him that “Ali Cann knew what he was doing”. I’ve no idea who this is, as it doesn’t appear to be related to any of the film versions of Blood And Sand, nor to any bullfighters. Whoever it is, he doesn't help Bluebottle deal with the fact he's now stuck in jail.
EDIT (07/12/22): My thanks to Andrew Crowther on Twitter who has pointed out that "Ali Cann" is actually Aly Khan, who was married to Rita Hayworth from 1949 to 1953. Hayworth was regularly the subject of Goon jokes, usually centred on the number of husbands she'd had (Khan was the third). She appeared in Blood And Sand - implying that, as Andrew suggests, Bluebottle's "hormones were getting the better of him".
Bluebottle: You rotten Spanish onions you! You have trapped me into coming here. And I thought it was just a play we was acting. Now I can't go home!
None of them can. As 93 years tick by, the prisoners' only recreation is "to climb up on each other's shoulders and look through a tiny crack in Eccles' head"
Seagoon:. We could see the harbour, and occasionally a beautiful yacht, which belonged to one of the newly rich families in Spain - El Greenslade. Grytpype: Rather a funny name for a yacht - it was called the Spanish Suitcase!
Yes, not content with being the Phantom Head Shaver, Wal also made off with the jewels.
After the oddity that was ‘The Booted Gorilla’, this episode is right back on form, with the cast firing on all cylinders. One of the best lines has to be heard (see links below) – Peter Sellers as Bloodnok is told the suitcase is in jail, to which he blurts out: “But it’s innocent!”
Title: The Spanish Suitcase
Series 5, Episode 11
Broadcast: 7 December 1954
Written by: Spike Milligan
Producer: Peter Eton