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Audio Drama Review

Book Cover

The Goon Show
Compendium Volume 1
Series 5 - Part 1


Written by: Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes
Starring: Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan
BBC Audio
RRP: £55.00
ISBN: 978 1 4056 7800 1
Available 07 April 2008

Immensely popular and hugely influential, legendary series The Goon Show changed the face of British comedy. Now, for the first time, this box set collection presents the episodes in chronological order of original broadcast date. This release features thirteen episodes of the groundbreaking show, starring Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers, as well as some additional material from the BBC archives...

Some fans of The Goons might wonder why the BBC's first collection starts at series five. The simple answer is that this is the first series for which all of the episodes exist in the BBC's archives. Apparently no episodes from the show's first and third series survive, only two episodes are archived from the second series and only some of the episodes from the fourth series were selected for preservation by the BBC.

This volume includes: The Whistling Spy Enigma, The Lost Gold Mine (of Charlotte), The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler (of Bexhill-on-Sea), The Phantom Head Shaver (of Brighton), The Affair of the Lone Banana, The Canal, Lurgi Strikes Britain! (aka Lurgi Strikes Again), The Mystery of the Marie Celeste (solved), The Last Tram (from Clapham), The Booted Gorilla (found?), The Spanish Suitcase, Dishonoured or The Fall of Neddie Seagoon and Forog. These were originally broadcast between 28 September and 16 November 1954.

Remastered using new material and the latest technology to give the best possible sound quality, these recordings are sure to appeal to all collectors of The Goon Show - even though this isn't the first time these recordings have been released. It's just the first time they've been collected in chronological order.

Highlights include:

The Lost Gold Mine (of Charlotte): Neddie Seagoon discovers a map to the Lost Gold Mine of Andrea Charlotte, and sets out to make his fortune. He looses the map in a game of cards, when he accidentally uses the back of the map to write an I.O.U. Realising that he's lost the map, Seagoon sets out to get the pieces back again as he gets closer to his goal. The desert takes its toll, and one by one those searching for the treasure come to a sticky end... until only Seagoon and Eccles survive.

The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler (of Bexhill-on-Sea): Bexhill-on-Sea is terrorised by the Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler who randomly strikes down villagers with batter puddings straight from his portable gas oven. Constable Ned Seagoon sets out to track down the fiend.

The Affair of the Lone Banana: Inspector Neddie Seagoon investigates the disappearance of Fred Nurke, the only clue - a lone banana - leads Neddie to South America. There he discovers the significance of the banana and makes contact with Nurke just in time...

Lurgi Strikes Britain! (aka Lurgi Strikes Again): A terrible blight - Lurgi - is sweeping across Britain. Doctor Neddie Seagoon is called in. He goes before parliament and gets funds to cure the nation. With military precision he cuts to the heart of the matter... and Britain is saved... or is it?

The Mystery of the Marie Celeste (solved): Grytpype-Thynne advertises for a new crew for his seagoing mission to find the Marie Celeste. Good old Ned Seagoon signs up after he's offered £5,000 pounds. Ignore the fact that the Marie Celeste never existed (it was actually called the Mary Celeste), this is an enjoyably fun episode.

The Last Tram (from Clapham): All of the trams are supposed to have been discontinued two and a half years ago, but there is one that was forgotten about. The number 33 tram from Clapham is still running, Ned Seagoon heads off to find it and bring it back in.

Dishonoured or The Fall of Neddie Seagoon: Neddie gets a job working at The Slippery Bank Ltd. Working under Grytpype-Thynne, Neddie is in charge of looking after the gold. When Grytpype-Thynne spots Neddie trying to run off with the gold, the two agree to split the loot and head for the hills.

Forog: The Goons go all sci-fi as a thick fog descends on London. What is it hiding? There appears to be something alive and lurking in the dark?

Also featured are some rare archive bonus items including out-takes and the programme Me and My Shadows: Peter Sellers. Although, be warned, the quality of the extras is pretty appalling. They're all pretty quiet - why these couldn't have been treated in the same way they episodes is beyond me. You'd think if the BBC were going to go to all the trouble to release these episodes in chronological order, and have the original recordings digitally enhanced, that they'd also do the same for the extras. Although, I can't really grumble - the fact that they have been included at all is a small miracle.

This collection also comes with two small booklets. One gives notes on the shows, actors and a Who's Who (so that the listener can better appreciate some of the more topical jokes). The other booklet gives more detailed information on the episodes as well as the bonus material

This collection has been remastered, offering the best quality recordings available to date. Although the very end of The Booted Gorilla (found?) and Dishonoured or The Fall of Neddie Seagoon seemed to have a pretty major glitch on the recording. It sounds like a dodgy speaker connection. And no, it wasn't my equipment, as I tried the episodes on two different CD players. Also the episode Forog has a very noticeable drop in quality for it's opening as well as at certain points throughout the entire play.

Fans of The Goons will need to add this to their collection.


Darren Rea

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