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The Best British Belly-laugh Down Under!

A Goon-type History

A brief Goon Show history...

The Goon Show was first broadcast in 1951 on BBC radio and ran until 1960. There were originally four main cast members; Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine, but Bentine left early in the series, leaving Milligan, Sellers and Secombe to perform as The Goons, ably assisted by the occasional guest star, an announcer (mostly Wallace Greenslade) and full orchestra.

The original format, a series of sketches, continued throughout the series. Originally titled the ‘Crazy People’, the series originated in an era when the UK was still recovering from the horrors of World War II and gave the British population a reason to laugh again. Food and petrol were still rationed and post-war austerity meant Britain was a rather sad and downtrodden place to live.

The Goons produced surreal and ludicrous storylines, puns, catchphrases and ground-breaking sound effects. Nothing and no one was safe from their humour. They ridiculed the pomposity of the aristocracy, authoritative figures, history and the general stupidity of humankind. Goons’ humour was also strongly rooted in the tradition of madcap British comedy films produced by studios such as Ealing during the 1940s and 1950s.

Spike Milligan202 episodes were produced, featuring many characters, which were mainly performed by the multi-talented performers Milligan, Sellers and Secombe. Some of the major characters featured were Neddie Seagoon, Bluebottle, Major Dennis Bloodnok, Eccles, Minnie Bannister, Henry Crun, Hercules Grytpype-Thynne and Count Moriarty, but there were many other delightful and crazy identities introduced in every episode. Milligan was the creative force behind the series and responsible for a large number of the scripts but was also assisted by other writers such as Eric Sykes, Larry Stevens, John Antrobus and Maurice Wiltshire.

The massive influence that the Goons had on comedy cannot be underestimated. Without the Goons, there would have been no ‘ Monty Python’s Flying Circus’, ‘At Last The 48 Show’, ‘National Lampoon’,  ‘The Goodies’, ‘Fawlty Towers’, ‘Saturday Night Live’ or ‘South Park’ etc. Few comedies from the UK have endured so well or been so beloved. Episodes are still being repeated all around the world, and the BBC continues to release them on CD.

 

The Goon Show LIVE! story...

June 29, 2013 was the date of our inaugural performance of The Goon Show LIVE!

Then, the cast featured the talents of:

  • Robin Queree as Spike Milligan
  • John Stretton as Peter Sellers
  • David Attrill as Wallace Greenslade, who also adeptly played our sound effects during the show
  • Simon Lenthen as Neddie Seagoon (and whose hairy roundage is still with the show)
  • David Watkins as our ‘Crooner’, who took masterful charge of the interludes during each episode

This first show was presented at the historic Paragon, Australia’s oldest cafe and chocolate maker. Situated in Katoomba, Blue Mountains, this was the perfect venue for our launch.

The show featured three original The Goon Show episodes which were writted (sic) by Spike Milligan;

  • A Christmas Carol; series 10, episode 1, first broadcast 24th December, 1959
  • The International Christmas Pudding; series 6, episode 9, first broadcast 15th November, 1955
  • The Raid of the International Christmas Pudding; series 6, episode 17, first broadcast 3rd January, 1956

This initial season ran from the 29th June to 3rd August 2013. To date, there have been 58 shows.

At Wahroonga, Sydney in March 2014Since then, The Goon Show LIVE! has toured to Sydney (including two tours in support of the Rotary Club of Wahroonga) and the Hunter Valley. There have been a few one-off shows around the place too.

In 2015, David Watkins left the show, after wowing audiences with his clever style-blend of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby.

2017 heralded more cast changes, with Robin Queree, David Attrill and John Stretton leaving the show after the July shows in the Blue Mountains. They all played and toured with The Goon Show LIVE! from the first show in June 2013, to the delight of audiences. We miss David’s dry wit on and off the stage, and John’s boundless energy and silly humour. Robin’s uncanny semblance of Spike Millgan (he WAS Spike back from the grave) was a special gift that the producers and audiences alike truely cherished.

The Lads of The Goon Show LIVE!Stepping into those hard to follow footsteps, 3 ‘newbies’ joined the cast in time for the 2018 June and July shows; John Bailey, Johnny Cordukes and D. C. Callan. Meet them here.

Major highlights include performing in Woy Woy… Milligan Mecca, in September 2015 and November the following year. This is a very special place on the NSW Central Coast, because it’s where Spike’s parents settled down when they came to Australia.

Some other interesting bits & pieces;

  • In our first season, a gentleman drove from Melbourne just to see our show
  • In that first season we had a marriage proposal staged during one of the performances
  • A couple flew all the way from Auckland N.Z. especially to see us during our second Yulefest season in 2014
  • A group of 3 gentlemen planned their Australian holiday from the U.K. specifically around our March 2015 Sydney shows
  • There are plethora of devotees who keep on returning again and again to our shows… one couple has been to at least 6 shows (you know who you are…)

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