The GREAT HAIRY GOONDEX replaces the old Fandom site that was removed for reasons only known to the hosts just when it was being rescued. It is a fan site about The Goon Show, a classic radio show from the 1950’s created in England for the BBC by Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers.
The show had it’s roots in meetings at Grafton’s, a pub in London owned by Jimmy Grafton. Running from 1951 to 1960, originally the main crew consisted of four people – the fourth being Michael Bentine who left in 1953. The first two series had no story titles and the show was originally known as “Crazy People”. Story titles were introduced in 1953. The BBC didn’t preserve the first three years and most of it is now lost. From 1954 though copies started being made for the overseas distribution. These are the shows that are still being transmitted on radio today. The show was syndicated throughout the Commonwealth – including Australia on the ABC.
Even though they were minor players, the show also made household names of Max Geldray, Ray Ellington and Wallace Greenslade. There were also occasional guest appearances by the likes of Valentine Dyall, Dick Emery, AE Matthews, Charlotte Mitchell, George Chisholm (who was a member of Wally Stott’s band) and others.
After the series ended in 1960, all three men went on to successful careers – Sellers in particular in film. Everyone except for Greenslade (who died in 1961), and Stott (who had undergone a sex change to Angela Morley and was snubbed) returned for the Last Goon Show of All – a special presentation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the BBC. This was filmed for television and showed just how the show was produced back in the 50’s. HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne were in the audience – much to the amusing frustration of Prince Charles, who was at sea at the time and expressed this through a telegram that Andrew Timothy (who was the substitute for Greenslade and was in fact the announcer before Wallace in 1951 and 1952) read out just before the show began – laced with Goon style humour just to show how much of a fan he was.
The Monty Python crew were also influenced by the Goon Show.
None of the names are with us now, with Spike the last to pass in 2002 of the big three. Spike had an affinity with Australia, with his parents living here on the New South Wales Central Coast. Spike himself even did some work for Australia Post in it’s training videos. It included a rare serious moment in public for Spike – who congratulated Australia Post for getting a letter to him that simply said “Spike Milligan, C/O His mum, Woy Woy”. Sellers died in 1980, Ellington in 1985, Secombe in 2001, Geldray in 2004 and Angela Morley was the last overall to pass in 2009. Timothy died in 1990.
In 2001 a special “Goon Again” was produced with Andrew Secombe (Harry’s son), Christopher Timothy (Andrew’s son, and well known himself as James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small) and Lance Ellington (Ray’s son) all appearing, with Jon Glover and Jeffrey Holland covering for the roles of Sellers and Milligan, and Harry Pitch providing the harmonica interlude. On this occasion a combination of two old scripts were used – The Story of Civilisation and The Spanish Armada. Spike was still around then and acknowledged the performance by telegram, but did not attend. Harry was also around but passed less than a month after the recording and six weeks before it’s transmission.
And I am yet to fall in the water! But I am a silly twisted boy you know!