Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of comedy legend Spike Milligan. I couldn’t resist paying a small tribute to his by
posting this piece, taken from an episode of The Goon Show which was first broadcast in 1957. Spike wrote most of the scripts for this long-running and hugely popular radio show as well as playing several of the characters including, in this clip, the gormless Eccles heard in dialogue with Bluebottle, played by Peter Sellers.
The Goon Show shattered the conventions of radio comedy with its anarchic humour, nonsensical plots, and sheer silliness; it was a direct ancestor of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a debt acknowledged by the Python team. However, the strain of producing weekly scripts for The Goon Show exacted a heavy toll on Spike Milligan who had numerous nervous breakdowns. Not surprisingly, given the rate at which they had to be written, the episodes are uneven in quality but at times Spike Milligan’s comic writing rose to extraordinary heights of genius, as exemplified as this joyfully absurd sequence, which I think is totally brilliant.