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Your turn in the barrel!

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

Episode 19 of the third series – broadcast on 17 March 1953 – saw the Goons attempt to answer the question ‘Where Do Socks Come From?’. I’m not sure where the answer lies, but the listing lies on page 24 of the Radio Times for that week.


The Goons became adept at sneaking in dirty jokes or references into their scripts.

One such recurring reference involved a character declaring that it was “my turn in the barrel” – for example, Bluebottle declaring this in an effort to avoid a dangerous mission that would inevitably resulting in him being deaded.

Bluebottle: What was that noise, my capitain? Seagoon: A man-eating tiger. Bluebottle: Tiger? Seagoon: Yes. [FX: Whoosh] Bluebottle: (Off-mic) I do not like this game - I'm going home! I just remembered it's my turn in the barrel. Exits left to East Finchley on council dust cart.

(from ‘The Affair of the Lone Banana’, Series 5 Episode 5, broadcast 26 October 1954)

This is a reference to a rather blue joke that is unlikely to be broadcast on BBC radio now, never mind in the 1950s.

I’ve borrowed Graham McCann’s version of the joke from a footnote in his book Spike & Co to explain it to those of you who – like me – may be far too innocent to understand the reference.

In a poor little town in the middle of nowhere, a stranger walks into a bar, sits down, buys a drink, and remarks on the fact that there are no women to be seen anywhere. ‘That’s because there’s none in town,’ explains the bartender. The stranger is amazed: ‘How on earth, then, do all of you men cope?’ The bartender smiles: ‘It ain’t too bad. When we get lonesome we go out the back where there’s a barrel with a knothole in it. It don’t sound appealing at first, but, once you’ve tried it, you’re hooked.’ The stranger raises an eyebrow, downs a few more drinks, and then, feeling curious, he sets off out the back and inserts himself through the knothole. A few minutes later, he returns to the bar and exclaims: ‘Man, that was something special! What do I owe you?’ The bartender just grins and says: ‘Nothin’ – but now it’s your turn to get in the barrel.’

(from Spike & Co, by Graham McCann, published Hodder & Staughton, 2006)

You filthy swine.
Seagoon: Step into the barrel of this cannon. Willium: Right. I'm ready. Seagoon: Fire! [FX: Cannon shell] Seagoon: There he goes, ladies, airborne! Willium: That ain't me mate, that's me trousers. They went away they did. Seagoon: Did they? Well you'd better stay in the barrel hadn't you? Willium: It's not my turn mate.

(from ‘The Great British Revolution’, Series 8 Episode 12, broadcast 16 December 1957)

Barrel image by Rachel Claire from Pexels. I apologise profusely.

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