While this will be of most interest to fans of the legendary BBC radio show, The Goon Show, which was on the air from 1951-1960, it is funny enough that I think most people will enjoy it without knowing the specifics being talked about.
It comes from an interview on the Michael Parkinson show done with two members of the Goons, Peter Sellers and (as readers here know) my fave Harry Secombe. And mostly they’re talking about the third member and program’s creator and writer, Spike Milligan. The full interview unfortunately isn’t available, so instead I’ll post several segments. All of which are a treat, whether or not (as I said) you know the show.
Actually, this first clip is from a separate Parkinson show with Peter Sellers only, in 1974. It’s him going through a list of all the characters that the three actors played on The Goon Show – reading from what I believe is a book that Milligan wrote with scripts from the show and commentary (which I say because I have two of the books) – and discussing their voices. Now, of course, if you know the real voices, this will be funnier. But even if you don’t – just know that Sellers gets the voices spot on (including those that Milligan did), which is really impressive and tour-de-force, as he changes from one character to the next, even more, and what he says is really funny. Fun, too, is how much he seems to greatly enjoy it.
This clip is from the aforementioned joint Parkinson interview with Secombe. It’s a very funny story that Sellers tells about where the character Bluebottle came from and how he came up with the voice for him. Even not knowing who Bluebottle is or knowing his voice, it’s a treat. Bluebottle was not a major character, though a regular one – and very popular.
As background, Bluebottle was a whiney, high-pitched Boy Scout who would give stage directions for himself. ("Enter Bluebottle wearing string and cardboard pajamas. Waits for audience applause. Not a sausage." Which would then bring about great applause from the studio audience.)
I didn’t originally plan to post this next video, but I came across it by accident, and it must be included here. It’s from an hour-long special “Heroes of Comedy” about The Goons. Within it, they include the clip above of Sellers explaining how he came up with the voice for Bluebottle. But the point here is to jump directly to the 25:15 mark. Because they tracked down the fellow the Bluebottle story is about, and he not only discusses it, but clearly agreed to be dressed pretty much like he had been at the time!
And finally, this is Secombe from the same Parkinson interview (but before Sellers was brought on), talking about how he met Spike Milligan in the army during WWII in North Africa, and a bit about how The Goon Show came about.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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