On 11 November 1952, the third series of The Goon Show began. As was customary for the start of a new series, the Radio Times ran an article previewing what was to come. They asked Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens to write it. They should have known what to expect.
This is the first episode to have a title, at least of sorts. While it doesn’t appear in the official Radio Times listing, Roger Wilmut’s exhaustive list of episodes in his Goonography calls it ‘Fred of the Islands’, based on the sketch that made up the middle section of the show (i.e. between the two musical numbers). This is the case for quite a few of the third series’ episodes, before they settle down into single-story half-hours from series 4.
This episode also marked the start of Angela Morley’s role leading the orchestra on a permanent basis. I’ve got a longer blog on her work in the pipeline to coincide with her birthday in March, but I wanted to include a link here to an example of how the orchestra helped give an epic feel to the show at times.
Milligan described links like these as being “like Hollywood epics”, and this is a good example, from ‘The Lost Emperor’ (Series 6, Episode 3).
This was also the first episode without Michael Bentine – but more of that later.