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Theme tunes

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Episode 22 of the third series – ‘The De Goonlies’ – was broadcast on 14 April 1953. The Radio Times listing can be discovered lurking on page 24, just after the Budget announcement. A perfect antidote, I reckon.

The Goons had several theme tunes throughout the decade they were on the air. The first of these was composed by Stanley Black, the orchestra conductor for the first two series. Entitled ‘Goons Gallop’, it was used right up until the sixth series. Press play to hear it played at the end of 'The Whistling Spy Enigma' (Series 5 Episode 1).



Around the middle of the sixth series the tune ‘Lucky Strike’ began to be used at the end of some episodes. Spotify users can hear a studio version recorded by the Wally Stott Orchestra here.


According to this webpage, ‘Lucky Strike’ was composed by Ray Ellington and Laurie Deniz, the guitarist in the Ray Ellington Quartet, along with a “W Scott”. This could be a typo that should read 'Stott'. I have no further information on this but would love to know if the composition credits are accurate.


From the fifth episode of the eighth series (‘The Treasure In The Tower’), the end theme changed to a big band version of ‘Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead’, before ‘Old Comrades’ March’ was used as the end theme for the first time in the 14th episode of that series, ‘African Incident’. These two tunes were alternated throughout the rest of the eighth series, while ‘Old Comrades’ March’ was adopted permanently throughout the last two series.


Here’s a fun jazz version by Acker Bilk:



The tune was likely chosen due to its war links. It had become popular in the UK after being played at the coronation of King George VI in 1937, but is actually a German composition, ‘Alte Kameraden’, written by Carl Teike.


Other tunes popped up now and again. At the end of ‘The Evils of Bushey Spon’ (Series 8 Episode 25), the orchestra played a rendition of ‘The Boys Of The Old Brigade’, a traditional Irish song that was likely requested by Spike, who was always immensely proud of his Irish ancestry.


At the end of ‘The £50 Cure’ (Series 9 Episode 17), the cast sings ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs’. This episode was meant to be the last Goon Show, but Secombe was ill and replaced at late notice by Kenneth Connor, which was a big factor in bringing the show back for the final six-episode 10th series.


The other alternate ending song that springs to my mind is ‘Crest Of A Wave’, which was performed at the end of ‘The Tuscan Salami Scandal’ (Series 6 Episode 23). There was a musicians’ strike at the time and so Max Geldray and Ray Ellington were absent, as was the entire orchestra.


‘Crest Of A Wave’ was the traditional closing song for Ralph Reader’s Gang Shows, a legendary entertainment group that Peter Sellers became involved in during his time with the RAF during the Second World War.



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