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You can't get the wood, you know

The final episode of the fourth (and longest) Goon Show series was broadcast on 19 April 1954 – as proven by the Radio Times listing here.

‘The Siege of Fort Night’ was also rerecorded as part of the Vintage Goons series but not initially broadcast in the UK. It is this version that survives as a recording.

In yesterday’s blog covering ‘The Great Bank of England Robbery’, I argued that this was the first real demonstration of Milligan flexing his creative muscles and playing with listener perceptions, by trapping Seagoon, Eccles and Bloodnok in a seemingly cavernous pillar box. In ‘The Siege of Fort Night’ he’s at it again, bending the laws of time, space, physics, reality and kitchenware.

A regiment at Fort Night is under siege, as you may have guessed from the title, and Seagoon must get them a means of cooking equipment that will survive the monsoon season – a waterproof gas stove, in other words.

Army officer (Sellers): There is one man… who might be able to help. Seagoon: Not… not… not Ned Sopkin? Army officer: You’re dead right, it’s not Ned Sopkin. It’s Henry Crun.
Well, wooden you know it.

Crun is indeed able to build a gas stove, despite his warnings that “you can’t get the wood, you know”. However, upon testing (with Minnie Bannister inside) it floats off down the river.

While Crun sets about making a new one, Seagoon contacts Major Bloodnok to work out how to get the waterproof gas stove to the fort. Having ruled out most methods of transport, they resort to “electrified Mongolian bagpipes”.

Greenslade: Hurrying overland by sea, Henry Crun and his waterproof gas stove reached base camp disguised as a bale of tobacco. Seagoon: Crun, you've arrived in the nicotine!

With the gas stove in place and fully assembled, Crun begins to turn the dial. But, dear reader, this is a Goon Show.

Crun: Now I'll turn on the gas and set the regulo at 3. [FX: Switch. Organ music starts.] Crun: Dear, dear, that's not right, is it. I think I'll try regulo 2. Hm. Just have a look inside the oven. [FX: Door opens. Railway station noises.] Tannoy (Milligan): The train now standing at Platform 3 is for Barnsley, Kidgely, Glasgow and France. [FX: Guard's whistle, train leaves.]
Set your gas stoves to 'tea'.

There’s obviously been some mistake – ah yes, the stove was set to 5. At 2, we find… Ray Ellington. There is no time to fix the stove, though. They must proceed towards the fort.

Part-way there our heroes discover some locals, and are introduced to some local customs: “Anything to declare, white man?”

But time is running out, and there are still 18 miles to cover on foot to the fort.

Fortunately, there is an alternative means of transport available – the train inside the gas stove.

Crun: Everybody get into the gas stove and then bring it in after us. I’ll get in first. Come on, Seagoon. Eccles? Hand me in the right side of the stove. Eccles: Okay. [strains] Crun: Now the left. Eccles: [strains] Crun: Now the top and the back. Eccles: [strains] Crun: Good, good. Now, close the oven door from the outside and bring it in after you. Eccles: Wait a minute. Close it from the outside. And bring it in after me. That would mean climbing through it when it’s shut and not opening it till I get through. Oh, ho-ho! Seagoon: Eccles! What are you waiting for? Eccles: I don’t know how to do it. Seagoon: Oh, very well. We’ll take the rest of the oven by train and you can get the oven door and go ahead on foot.

Due to the laws of Goon physics they all arrive at the fort within an hour and are invited in by the butler. To connect the gas stove to the mains requires a small person’s assistance – enter Bluebottle.

Despite being understandably wary, he is reassured by Seagoon that he can use a match to light the way as they’re safety matches.

[FX: Match being lit] Bluebottle: Ah-hah! You're waiting for me to get deaded, in't you? But I'm not going to. This week Bluebottle is not going to be deaded. So… there! [FX: Explosion, breaking glass. Pause. Knock on door. Door opens.] Postman (Milligan): There’s a brown paper parcel for you, sir. Seagoon: Oh, thank you. [FX: Parcel being opened] Eccles: Oh! It's you! Bluebottle: You rotten swine, you! You… driddled me! Seeks among debris for shattered underpants, shredded boots and three 1 inch by 1½ inch lumps of head.

Tragedy of tragedies! Not only has the explosion deaded poor Bluebottle, but it has also exploded the gas stove. Refusing to surrender to the enemies of the Queen, the Goons take up arms – well, swords – and enter the battle, only to find… there is no one there.

Seagoon: What a disappointing ending to the show… Taxi! [FX: Taxi drives up and screeches to a halt, door opens] Greenslade: Perhaps listeners will now believe how bad things really are in the Old Country. Good night.

Title: The Siege of Fort Night

Series 4, Episode 30

Written by: Spike Milligan

Producer: Peter Eton

Vintage Goons version

Title: The Siege of Fort Night

Producer: Charles Chilton

Wood photo by João Vítor Heinrichs from Pexels, gas oven photo by Karsten Paulick from Pixabay.

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