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What's on the telly? Part three: The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins

Just over 50 years ago in November 1951, a star-studded comedy curio hit cinemas.

The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins was directed by honorary Goon Graham Stark, and consisted of seven featurettes - one for each sin - written by different comic writers and starring a multitude of comedians and actors. 'Envy' starred Harry Secombe, while 'Sloth' was written by and starred Spike Milligan.

The sections are stitched together by animations provided by Bob Godfrey, the cartoonist and animator behind Roobarb and Custard and Henry's Cat - two favourites of mine as a kid!

The film is an interesting concept and quite well executed, and is a great showcase of British comedy talent of the time. However, as funny as it is at times, there are also some horribly dated jokes - I cringed to see Harry Secombe in blackface.

Spike's section is, in view, the funniest - but why not watch the whole thing and judge for yourself?

Here's a rundown of some of the biggest names in the film - all details via IMDB. So many crossed paths multiple times throughout their careers, working with various Goons in different ways. I've counted about a dozen people who appeared on Dick Emery's TV shows, for instance.


Written by Bob Larbey and John Esmonde. A chauffeur is sent into a sewer after his greedy rich boss drops a 50p piece down the drain. More and more people pitch in to help find the coin. When the chauffeur finally emerges with the 50p, he's sacked by his boss - who promptly falls into the sewer.


  • Bruce Forsyth, a man who needs little introduction. Brucey had a quite astonishing career that spanned more than 70 years - including officially the longest television career of any male entertainer.

  • Paul Whitsun-Jones has a very tenuous link to the Goons: he played James Fullalove in The Quatermass Experiment in the 1950s, which inspired the Goon Show episode 'The Scarlet Capsule'. In this, Bluebottle appears as a journalist, the same role as Fullalove has.

  • Bernard Bresslaw starred in many Carry On films as well as working with Eric Sykes on several TV projects.

  • Joan Sims puts a super turn as a policewoman, which is to be expected from the 'First Lady of Carry On'.

  • Roy Hudd, the highly successful actor and comedian and, of course, comedy partner of Emu. He was, so Wikipedia tells me, the voice of Max Quordlepleen in the radio version of Hitchhikers.


Written by Dave Freeman, who provided material to The Idiot Weekly Price 2d and Son of Fred, before embarking on a successful scriptwriting career. Our Harry is sent by his insistent wife to persuade an old couple to sell their house. He tries many tactics, including pretending that a motorway is going to be built right through their house (Hitchhikers again, anyone?). He eventually succeeds - only for the house to be actually demolished.


  • Harry Secombe, demonstrating a range of accents.

  • June Whitfield, whose career spanned almost as long as Brucey's and made her about as famous. She appeared in Yes, It's The Cathode Ray Tube Show with Sellers and Bentine and The Idiot Weekly Price 2d in the 1950s.


Written by comedy legends Graham Chapman and Barry Cryer. I was fortunate enough to see Cryer perform at Kings Place in London and he was every bit as funny, warm, and great company as you'd expect. 'Gluttony' sees Leslie Phillips playing a businessman at a slimming biscuit manufacturer, who hides food all over his office and then spends a date night with Julie Ege trying to eat all her food.


  • Leslie Phillips, who appeared in many series over a lengthy TV and film career. Latterly he voiced the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter films.

  • Julie Ege, a Norwegian actress who appeared in the Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service and later appeared in Rentadick alongside Spike Milligan.


Written by Graham Stark, based on a story by Marty Feldman about a man trying to get a date, and succeeding only in being very, very creepy.


  • Harry Corbett, who gained fame as Harold Steptoe in Steptoe & Son.

  • Cheryl Kennedy, who played Emily in Pickwick alongside Harry Secombe.

  • Bill Pertwee, best known as Chief Warden Hodges but who also appeared with Milligan in The World of Beachcomber and Oh! In Colour.

  • Anouska Hempel, who also appeared in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.


Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, writers for Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe & Son among many others. This section sees two drivers stand off against each other, refusing to back up, and is very funny.


  • Ian Carmichael, whose TV roles include Bertie Wooster in the 1960s series The World of Wooster, and the narrator for the television adaptation of The Wind In The Willows.

  • Alfie Bass also has a James Bond link, having appeared in Moonraker in 1979. His TV roles include Private Bootsie Bisley in The Army Game and Mr Goldberg in Are You Being Served?

  • Audrey Nicholson, who was married to Graham Stark at the time and had a long career in TV.

  • Keith Smith, whose many credits include a small role in I'm All Right Jack, one of Peter Sellers' first big film hits, and regular work with Eric Sykes in Sykes And A... and with Milligan in Q6.


Written by Spike Milligan. I think we all know him by now. 'Sloth' is a black and white silent film in the classic Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin mould. It features several illustrations of people being very lazy, including Spike standing under a tree waiting for an apple to fall so he can eat it. The best section, in my view.


  • Spike Milligan, of course.

  • Ronnie Brody, who appeared in The Bed-Sitting Room and The World of Beachcomber, and had a small role in Superman III, as did George Chisholm.

  • Ronnie Barker, who I think we all know.

  • Peter Butterworth, a regular fixture in Carry On films.

  • Marty Feldman, famous comedian and scriptwriter whose credits are too numerous to even begin to mention.

  • Davy Kaye, perhaps best known as the admiral in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

  • David Lodge, whose credits include roles in The Magic Christian, The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, I'm All Right Jack, Q6 and There's A Lot Of It About

  • Cardew Robinson, who worked with Milligan on several projects including Q6. He also appeared in I'm All Right Jack.

  • Madeline Smith, another Bond girl, this time from 1973's Live And Let Die


Written by Graham Chapman and Barry Cryer. Two old men are told off for littering by a park warden, so decide to kill him. After some classic slapstick capers, they eventually succeed - but also kill themselves. They end up in hell, with the park warden as the devil.


  • Ronald Fraser, who played The Army in The Bed-Sitting Room film in 1969.

  • Stephen Lewis, of On The Buses fame - "I 'ate you Butler!" - who is quite brilliant, playing essentially the same character.

  • Arthur Howard, who went on to have small roles in two Pink Panther movies and the 1979 Bond film Moonraker.

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