Bluebottle: It's writted on this bit of paper, what is eight o'clock, is writted. Eccles: I know that, my good fellow. That's right. When I asked the fella to write it down, it was eight o'clock. Bluebottle: Well then, supposing when somebody asks you the time, it isn't eight o'clock? Eccles: Then I don't show it to them. Bluebottle: Well how do you know when it's eight o'clock? Eccles: I've got it written down on a piece of paper!
— "The Mysterious Punch-up-the-Conker"
BBC Radio comedy show starring Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan (who was also the main writer), and Harry Secombe, which ran from 1951 to 1960. The first series was titled "Crazy People - with Radio's Own Crazy Gang: The Goons". Michael Bentine is credited with being a co-inventor of the concept and in fact was a full Goon for the first two series, but left after artistic and personal differences with Milligan. According to one interview, Milligan overheard Bentine suggesting that he (Milligan) should be fired.Beginning as a sketch comedy series, the show accumulated a cast of recurring characters and evolved into a surreal, continuity-free sitcom, with each episode dropping the characters into a different place, time, and situation, and leaving them to react to it in their characteristic fashion.The plots, such as they were, often revolved around well-meaning fool Neddy Seagoon (Secombe) becoming the target of some plot by impoverished conmen Hercules Grytpype-Thynne and Count Jim "Knees" Moriarty (Sellers and Milligan respectively) Grytpype's influence drags Moriarty down from the competent schemer of series 5 to the cringing dustbin-dweller of series 9. Other major characters included Dirty Coward Major Bloodnok (Sellers), the aged Henry Crun and Minnie Bannister (Sellers and Milligan), happy-go-lucky Chew Toy boy adventurer Bluebottle (Sellers), and The Famous Eccles, the world's biggest idiot (Milligan).Wallace Greenslade acted as the announcer (Andrew Timothy in the earlier series), but was often roped into the story, while Ray Ellington (jazz singer) and Max Geldray (harmonica) provided musical interludes. They also were called on occasionally to play small parts - often parts for which their voices were highly inappropriate. The Ellington Quartet's trumpeter George Chisholm occasionally played mad Scotsmen.The scripts were mostly written by Spike Milligan, with various persons helping him. A few episodes were written by these helpers while Milligan was unavailable. Considerable ad-libbing occurred, much ad-libbing was carefully scripted, and lampshades were regularly hung.The show had several guests over the years, most often Valentine Dyall "the Man in Black" who played various similar but distinct roles.The Goon Show's style of humour was an influence on many later British comedians, notably Monty Python and The Goodies, and even The Beatles' humorous side has roots in this show. (John Lennon specifically credited the Goons as an influence.) It's fair to say that if you like any subsequent British comedy at all, somewhere along the line you have The Goon Show to thank. The Firesign Theater was also deeply influenced by the Goons.Not to be confused with The Goon, a noir/horror/comedic parody comic series about a muscle-bound mob enforcer who fights demons, monsters, and a rival gang led by a necromancer and composed of zombies; nor should it be confused with any shows that happen to be made by goons, or The Gong Show.
Bluebottle: "You dirty rotten swine you! You have deaded me again!", "I don't like this game", "I heard you call, my Capitan!", "Waits for audience applause ... [pauses, waiting; then:] Not a sausage."
Eccles: "Shut up, Eccles!" and "I talk to der trees, dat's why dey put me away..."
"Hellooo" and "Hello dere, I'm da famous Eccles!"
Seagoon (while narrating): "And this is where the story really starts!" He would also frequently respond with "Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?". When in danger, would scream "HELLLP!". At times, would address the audience through a megaphone: "Hello folks! Calling folks"
"I did not wish to know that."
"The highly-esteemed GOOOOON show!"
He would also often make punny jokes and silently chortle.
Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty: "April in Paris - we've found a Charlie!" Grytpype-Thynne also had "You silly, twisted boy" (referring to Neddie) in season 5. Moriarty has "Owwwwww" from season 7 onwards.
Thynne: Have a gorilla.
Also, for Moriarty, "Sapristi Nabolis!"
Moriarty has various foreign exclamations.
Henry Crun: "You can't get the wood, you know..." and referring to Minnie as "Modern Min!"
Minnie Bannister: "We'll all be murdered in our beds!"
"I don't know who you are sir, or where you come from, but you've done me a power of good!"
"It was hell in there!"
He was also noted for announcing his presence with strange noises and sometimes would remark, "And other naughty noises!" He would also often make a fart joke.
Jim Spriggs: "Hello Jim", and variants on the latter phrase as well as others wherein they would be repeated in a high-pitched singing voice, e.g. "Hello Jim! HEEEELLOOO JIIIM!"
Little Jim: "He's fallen in the water!" — which is almost the only thing he ever says.
Willium: "You can't park there, mate!"
"Ying tong iddle i po" and "Needle nardle noo", all-purpose catchphrases (most often Neddie's). "It's all in the mind, you know" was also used by everyone, most commontly Grytpype-Thynne.
Wallace Greenslade (usually about Seagoon): "He's very good, you know. Very good."
Milligan was known to comment that a catch phrase was simply a meaningless remark repeated until people were brainwashed into laughing at it.
Charge Into Combat Cut: In the episode "Dishonoured" (remade as "Dishonoured Again") Neddie Seagoon goes off to fight, and we only learn what happens next from Bloodnok's narration.
Bloodnok How that battle raged - I watched it all on television, you know. Seagoon fought like a madman - how else? But alas... On that spot is now a little white stone. Once a year Min lays flowers on it. The stone bears a simple inscription in Hindi - I haven't the heart to tell her that roughly translated it says "Bombay 49 miles".
Comically Small Bribe: Multiple variations, including successful attempts to bribe people with photographs of money.
Seagoon: Wait...this five pound note in the photo...it's a forgery!
And Bluebottle would do nearly anything for a quarter-pound bag of sweets, though that's not wildly implausible for somebody his apparent age. Then again, when you hear what he wants to do with the sweets...
Moriarty: Get Seagoon out of that laboratory, and a fortune in sherbet suckers ... is yours.
Bluebottle: Ohh, ecstasy! For two sherbet suckers, Freda Niggs is mine tonight!
Hyperbole-level poverty was a running gag through the whole series. (After all, it was Britain in The Fifties). For example, the day after a battleship steamed up the river Thames and announced via megaphone in the middle of London, "Hands Up, England!"...
Alderman Spriggs: All in all, gentlemen, the thieves made off with England's entire cash assets of three pounds, eleven and sixpence!
And when John Snagge learns that Wallace Greenslade has been hired away from the BBC for a wage of five pounds a year:
Grytpype-Thynne: (sipping soup) Tell me, Moriarty...what is this foul but economical recipe?
Moriarty: It's a family secret!
Moriarty: They died after the first mouthful. It was terrible! I had to do all the washing up myself!
Moriarty: *humming to himself while alchemical bubbling goes on in background*
Grytpype-Thynne: What is that excruciating brew you're sipping from that boot?
Moriarty: Ohh, taste, taste!
Grytpype-Thynne: *long, slurping sip* *pause* *spitting/splashing sound* Gad, what is it?
Moriarty: Your laundry.
Grytpype-Thynne: What's for breakfast this morning?
Moriarty: This steaming debris fracoule. Here, taste it!
[smacking of lips]
Moriarty: A dish fit for a king, yes?
Grytpype-Thynne: Only if he's abdicated.
And once more, in Who Is Pink Oboe:
Valentine Dyall: By God, that smells good, Moriarty! What is it?
Corpsing: They frequently set each other off, or the studio audience did, or after they flubbed a line.
Creator Breakdown: Milligan was manic-depressive and during the show's run personal and professional pressures, including Executive Meddling, caused him to snap occasionally. The resultant hospitalizations are a big reason he sometimes was absent, and the whole experience is dramatized in Roy Smiles' play Ying Tong: A Walk with the Goons.
Additional experiences included Sellers locking Milligan in his car trunk in an experiment to find out what made the squeaking noise when it was driving (a policeman stopped Sellers, opened the boot and found Milligan drawing Xs with chalk and just responded "Oh, it's you")...
...And, while Sellers himself was in a black mood, Milligan knocking on his door, stark naked in broad daylight, and delivering a punchline - accounts vary as to whether this was "Do You Know The Address Of A Good Tailor?", or that Milligan was pretending to be selling matches, culminating in Sellers buying a pack and then closing the door.
The "good tailor" joke was, according to Milligan's autobiography, a catchphrase of the eccentric in the battery (well, one of the battery eccentrics) during Milligan's service in the artillery... who also used "Gentlemen - I think there's a thief in the battery".
Darkest Africa: Spoofed; quite a few episodes are set here and the conceit of the noble British colonial fighter is mocked with Major Bloodnok.
A Day in the Limelight: The Greenslade Story, for two people. Wallace Greenslade the announcer gets this entire episode about him, and his rise to fame and fortune, while veteran newsreader John Snagge steps into the Goons studio for the first time to be the viewpoint character, playing himself. (His earlier cameos were pre-recorded)
Death Is Cheap: Bluebottle, following his deading, would usually get in touch to say "You rotten swine, you," and on one occasion encouraged Eccles to "be deaded, then you can go home for tea!"
Possibly explained by the fact that they never erected a fourth wall, except on those occasions they planned on blowing it up.
Drop The Cow: One episode ("The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler") ended with the heroes on a raft, faced with a difficult decision - they could either eat some batter pudding and live, or preserve the pudding as evidence and die in the cause of justice. The Lemony Narrator then asked listeners to write in with the "classic ending" they wished to hear.
Suggestions to be written on a piece of batter pudding.
Talk about your lemony endings...
Narrator: For you cretins who insist on a happy ending, here it is. (sappy violin music) Grytpype: Darling — darling, will you marry me? Bloodnok: Of course I will, darling! Narrator: Good night!
Edited for Syndication: When the show was picked up for distribution by the BBC Transcription Service their copies were cut to standard lengths, and to remove any potentially offensive content. In many instances these are the only versions that survive in the archives. Over the years the BBC's restoration experts have made heroic efforts to find and reinstate the missing material, often from private off-air recordings.
"The Greatest Mountain In The World!, Or: I Knew Fred Croot, Or: The Greatest Mountain In The World!"
"Round the World in 80 Days, or: Money Refunded". In this particular case, the announcement preceded a short violin solo after which Milligan, as Little Jim, could be heard doling out cash with a charitable "There's Money For You, There's Money For You!"
"The Search for Rommel's Treasure, or..." (dramatic fanfare, lasting nearly 30 seconds) "...I've forgotten what I was going to say now."
Evil Laugh: Valentine Dyall's gets a good work-out in "The Canal".
The Fifties: The episodes set in the 'present day', as well as the general cultural references. Despite its surreal nature the show is a good introduction to British attitudes in The Fifties, such as constant references to the government being broke and nostalgia about glory days (parodied with Bloodnok). There are also some jokes which require a little period knowledge to get, such as:
Grytpype-Thynne: I've been in touch with one of the French governments...
Fat Idiot: there was a lot of jests about Seacombe's weight.
Grytpype-Thynne: I've heard of you; you're Neddie Seagoon, the famous size.
Moriarty: (holding Neddie up with a pistol) Right; turn around. Seagoon: I'm not strong enough. Moriarty: Very well, we'll walk around you. Seagoon: (narrating) Dear listeners; even though I had my back turned to them, I could still see them in a 16-foot mirror that I rushed out and bought...
And even Seacombe got in on it regularly.
Moriarty: This is going to be a long trip. Seagoon, how much ground can you cover in a day? Seagoon: I can cover ten square yards standing still.
Milligan later admitted, when the show was over, that he had written Grytpype-Thynne as a closeted homosexual; this clarifies certain lines of dialogue, such as:
Eccles: If I close my eyes, I won't be able to see you!
Grytpype-Thynne: ...Will you miss me?
Friendly Fire: In "The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-on-Sea", Seagoon and Crun are fired upon by Nazi artillery across the Channel when they light a match, so Crun has the idea to light a German match ("Brilliant! They won't fire on their own matches!")...only for them to be fired upon by the British artillery.
If one hasn't read up on it going in, s/he might not realize many jokes about Bloodnok are fart gags, accomplished through odd sound effects (i.e. explosions) and suggestive phrases, e.g. "No more curried eggs for me!".
Maybe it's just my filthy imagination, but I think the fact that one episode featured a character named Dr. Longdongle may count as an example.
Then there was the referenced-but-never-seen character called Hugh Jampton (ie Huge Hampton, 'Hampton Wick' being rhyming slang for...well, work it out yourself!).
There are occasional cracks about elderly people and their sex lives (or lack thereof) involving Minn and Henry Crun. Some of them are pretty coarse if you're paying attention.
Henry Crun: It's the war-whoops of the Nakatacka Indians!
Minnie: Are they the ones that commit atrocities?
Henry Crun: Yes, Min.
Minnie: I'll go upstairs and get ready!
"Bend over for the golden rivet!" The punchline to a very old Royal Navy joke which isn't about rum or the lash.
The broadcasts of the show had to be edited for the BBC World Service broadcasts to India. In the dialogues between the two funny-Asian characters, Sellers and Milligan (both having lived in India) were fond of slipping in Hindi obscenities that would pass right by most British ears. But when re-broadcast to India and Pakistan...
When the shows were packaged for overseas broadcast by the BBC Transcription Service, their literature was careful to identify which shows "our old friends Lalkaka and Bannerjee" appeared in.
Milligan once responded to complaints about the dirty joke leftovers by saying, "if they know why it's dirty, they've got no business complaining about it."
Seagoon in "The Greatest Mountain in the World" when he denounces the idea of building their own mountain as ridiculous, chucks the unlucky suggester out of the meeting, and then promptly claims the plan for himself.
In "The Great Nadger Plague", the revelation of the villains' plot includes Grytpype-Thynne describing it to Moriarty as "a brilliant idea of mine that you thought of".
Grand Finale: Not within the original run, but the 1972 special The Last Goon Show of All did live up to its name and brought back the key recurring characters for one last go-round, in a story that has No Ending.
Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Harry Secombe's signature character Neddie Seagoon — a case of friendly mockery from Milligan, as Secombe was actually an excellent singer with a professional musical career.
This becomes a small running gag of the episode entitled The Greenslade Story, broadcast just after Secombe had released a new record - John Snagge, a prominent BBC announcer, threatened to ban it on popular broadcast programme "Housewives' Choice".
I Can Explain: Major Bloodnok, when interrupted with a woman. In one episode, he quickly introduces the woman he is with as his sister; when rebuffed, he reintroduces her as his mother.
Impossible Insurance: In "Insurance, The White Man's Burden" Seagoon is talked into insuring the English Channel against catching fire. Later on Henry Crun pours oil on the Channel to calm it, and then burns it off. Unfortunately Seagoon still doesn't get to collect because Grytpype and Moriarty have done a runner.
Then there's "The Canal", where Lord Valentine Seagoon keeps buying life insurance for his son Neddie using increasingly unlikely and specific death scenarios ("How much would it cost to insure Neddie against putting concrete blocks on his feet, blowing himself up with dynamite and then landing in the canal?") before, of course, engineering those exact scenarios.
Improbable Aiming Skills: In "The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-On-Sea", the German artillery is capable of firing upon anyone who so much as lights a match!
Crun: It's much too dark to see, strike a light.
Seagoon: Not allowed during blackout. Only 28 miles across the channel, German guns are watching this coast!
Crun: Don't be silly, they can't see a little match being struck!
Seagoon: Oh, all right.
(FX: Match struck; low whine, then an explosion. Pause.)
Seagoon: Any questions?
I'm a Humanitarian: Played for laughs in "The Great International Christmas Pudding" when Seagoon meets Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty, who are so poor and desperate that they immediately attempt to cook and eat him.
Intelligible Unintelligible: The Gothic Horror spoof "The Canal" features a character who never speaks, only emits long eerie screams... which the other characters react to as if they were intelligible speech.
Mysterious character:(long eerie scream) Lord Dyall: It's in the cabinet by the bed, dear.
It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Exploding cucumbers that blast someone into orbit; someone driving a wall - this show did 'random weirdness' before TV did, never mind the Internet.
Grytpype: Jove, yes! This: *several seconds of modern full-kit drum solo* Signed yours sincerely, *congas*, PS, *triangle jingling*.
Neddie: What beautiful handwriting you have.
"The Goon Show is now available in half-pint bottles. (switches to American accent) Yes, don't listen to the Goon Show, drink it, in the new economy-size serving! Drink: Goon Show!"
All scotsmen, when speaking, are accompanied by bagpipes. And only when speaking. If they say just "Yes", there'll be a quick one-second burst on the bagpipes in the background.
"And that, listeners, was the sound of Neddie and Eccles driving a wall at high speed".
"Listeners may doubt the authenticity of that sound effect, a boa constrictor galloping. If the truth be known, a horse covered in a snakeskin was used to replicate the sound. As for the chicken noises, we can only apologize."
Lampshaded after a quick series of very random sound effects, including a train accelerating, some battle trumpets, alchemical bubbling, and a chipmunk's scream of anguish; "I'm afraid you'll have to work that one out for yourselves, listeners."
In one case this is even in the script - a Running Gag is that different brands of cigarettes are referred to as 'gorillas', 'baboons', 'monkeys' etc., and the script notes that the sound effect of Eccles and Seagoon smoking gorillas should be "SOUND OF TWO GORILLAS FIGHTING - IF CAN'T GET THAT, TRY TWO LIONS"
"Ladies and gentlemen, as there is no audible sound for a piece of string we substitute this" *long stream of gibberish*
"This is part of the BBC's new economy drive. They have found it is cheaper to travel by bagpipes..."
At one point, they knock over a bottle containing the BBC.
In "The Siege of Fort Night", Seagoon and Crun found that the gas oven Crun invented could connect to the railway station. They use this as a shortcut to the fort and bring the oven with them through the oven door. Eccles, following their instructions, hands the front, back, left and right sides in before he realises that he can't close the door and then go through it to bring the inside with him. Solution? Send the door separately.
One common example of this was deliberate tactics used to drag out short scripts; sound effects of people running up miles of staircase might end with someone commenting, "The scriptwriter paid me to waste time there."
Henry Crun (Sellers): You know Min, a script writer named Spike Milligan gave me two guineas to take a long time walking up these steps. He said it helps him in his work. Minnie Bannister (Milligan): Yes, I know! ** Also, after something happened that was only possible because it was a radio show (such as Eccles standing on Neddie's shoulders, then pulling Neddie up so he could reach a high place), someone would often remark that they'd, "like to see them do this on television," or similar.
Two whole episodes were based on this. In one, the characters would frequently remark upon the significance of the scene-link music or sound effects. In another, the musician's union was on strike, and so they brought in Adolphus Spriggs (played by Milligan) to a-capella the entire theme song, all the scene links, dramatic chords, and even a few sound effects.
In "The Lost Gold Mine of Charlotte"...
Bloodnok: (narrating, a mourning violin playing in background) Alone, I was, there in the Arizona desert. Left alone to die... I don't want to die! I'm too old for that. But here I am, with naught but the sun, sands, a shovel to bury myself with, and that red indian over there who insists on playing that blasted violin!
Literal-Minded: Most usually Eccles and Bluebottle, but everyone and the narration was also prone to using jokes of this type.
Seagoon: I could tell by his broken English that he was a broken Englishman.
Loads and Loads of Roles: Everyone played multiple roles, especially if someone was absent. Sellers sometimes filled in for absentees, but it took four people to fill in for him the day he was absent.
For contrast, in certain episodes where Milligan was missing, Sellers filled in for him... and until the credits were announced, no-one listening at home noticed.
This also happened to characters within the show, e.g.:
Brutus Moriartus: Why don't you stop him, Julius Caesar? Bloodnok: How can I when I'm playing the part of Bloodnok?
Englishman: I am the Manager, the Proprietor, the Head Waiter, and the Chief Cashier of the Restaurant Fred. Seagoon: Who's Fred? Englishman: I am! Seagoon: Gad! Englishman: Yes - Fred Gad!
Henry Crun: Who was that knocking? Moriarty: It was my friend, Grytpype-Thynne. Henry Crun: I can't see him. Moriarty: That's because you were playing him. Henry Crun: What? Moriarty: He's never here when you're here. Henry Crun: I don't understand... Moriarty: Neither do the audience, that's why this isn't getting a laugh!
Which is Fridge Brilliance, as Orwell originally named the room after a real conference room at BBC Broadcasting House in which tedious planning meetings for new programmes (possibly including soap operas) were held.
Mad Libs Catch Phrase: "(With) X(-o), the new wonder Y-Z'er". Based on a common advertising slogan format on radio in The Fifties. Examples include "Lifo, the new wonder life-giver", "Leggo, the new wonder leg-regrower" and "Brains, the new wonder head-filler".
Majored in Western Hypocrisy: Spoofed in the episode "The Gold Plate Robbery": Visiting Morocco, Neddie Seagoon meets an Arab nomad who went to college in Cambridge and speaks English like a native — with a broad Cockney accent.
Missing Episode: Very few episodes from the first four seasons weren't purged by the BBC, meaning that fourth Goon Michael Bentine, who left after season two, has been virtually forgotten.
A handful of season 4 episodes have now been found and remastered, but that's still no consolation to Bentine fans.
Twelve episodes are omitted from the uncut BBC releases on CD because EMI bought the commercial rights years ago and prepared heavily shortened versions. This doesn't apply to UK broadcasts so fans can hear those episodes on BBC Radio 4 Extra reruns, but most of those are in the cut Transcription Service versions. Since the cuts in the two versions are usually in different places, fans with editing software and a lot of patience could possibly put more complete versions together.
The Movie: The little-remembered Down Among the Z-Men was a rare Goon Show spinoff made in the early days with Michael Bentine in the cast. The script didn't really reflect the Goons' style of humour, but it does include a good Bentine solo routine.
More successful was The Case of the Mukkinese Battle Horn, a half-hour short written by Milligan and starring Milligan and Sellers in their Goon Show roles with guest appearances from Dick Emery and Graham Stark.
Trader Horn: My name is Horn. Trader Horn. Born in Houndsditch. How do you like a name like that eh? Horn-Trader-Horn-born-in-Houndsditch. My father must have been mad.
Also in "The Missing Scroll", later re-titled "The Lost Music of Purdom":
Seagoon: My name is Seagoon, Neddie Seagoon. You've possibly seen my name in the Mirror. It reads: Noogeas Eidden, Noogeas.
James Bond referenced directly in another episode...
Seagoon: (answering a phone) Who's this?
Caller: *whistles the James Bond theme*
Seagoon: James Bond!
Caller: Err, no sir. I'm agent double-oh, three one six, two eight seven four.
Seagoon: Ah, premium bond.
Narrator: BBC announcer Andrew Timothy as himself; succeeded by Wallace Greenslade, ditto.
Greenslade also became a character of his own - thanking his fan clubs, claiming to be among the listeners in their ignorance, frequently mentioning prominent BBC announcer John Snagge, and even once being the star of an entire show parodying his career as announcer, named "The Greenslade Story, or Winds Light To Variable".
In the aforementioned story, they even got John Snagge into the studio to be the viewpoint character.
In "What's My Line", Greenslade admitted he was thinking "Hooray for ITV" while saying "This is the BBC," and John Snagge marched in with the BBC firing squad and shot him.
Secombe: That was only a recording of John Snagge and his merry huntsmen.
Negative Continuity: Every show started with the full roster of characters, usually involved in a completely different story from last time.
Newscaster Cameo: John Snagge, in several episodes, provided fictional news reports commenting on the events of the episode.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Strongly averted, with the scripts casually throwing in anyone they felt like, even people who one might be expect were beyond the comedy pale - for example, in "The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-on-Sea", Inspector Neddie is calling a list of phone numbers of possible suspects:
Neddie: Hello? Winston Churchill: Ten Downing Street here. Neddie:(gulps) I'm so sorry. (slams phone down) No - it couldn't be him - who'd he want to throw a batter pudding at? (phone rings, he answers) Clement Attlee: Hello, this is Mr. Attlee. Someone's just thrown a batter pudding at me!
Another one featuring Churchill:
The Phantom Head Shaver struck again and again. The tourist trade was threatened; that week only two gentlemen visited Brighton. Winston Churchill: Come on Clem, what have we got to lose?
The BBC eventually banned Sellers' Churchill impersonations after the man himself allegedly objected to a topical joke.
No Ending: Just one example: "The Great String Robbery" ends with Seagoon being informed that the entire show has been "all in your mind, you know". In wild panic, he screams for help, demanding to know "Who Wrote This Script?".
Oh Wait This Is My Grocery List: In "The Canal", Henry Crun attempts to read helpful advice to Neddie after he falls in the canal, and gets halfway through a cake recipe before realising he's got hold of a cookbook instead of the Lifesaving Manual. It's typical of the series that the still-drowning Neddie's response to this realisation is to wonder what he should do with the cake batter he's just made.
Only Sane Man: Grytpype-Thynne was the only character who had some vague knowledge of how ridiculous the situations were and how crazy all of the others were. Of course, he tried to exploit this at every opportunity.
Overly-Long Gag: Several minutes of silence or footsteps was common, and then there's Minnie and Henry's dialogues, many of which boil down to talking in circles for minutes at a stretch.
Or a good thirty seconds of various bits of metal jangling together as someone empties their pockets. Followed by:
Seagoon: Quit stalling - empty your pockets!
They were fond of this gag, but they did seem to know when to cut it off:
Seagoon: Open my money chest and put on a gramophone record of seven thousand pounds in shillings.
Thirty seconds of coins clinking, one by one
Bloodnok: Wait a minute, that was only three thousand five hundred pounds!
Seagoon: I'll play you the other side.
Bloodnok: No, wait; I'll play the rest when I get home.
Overranked Soldier: How self-proclaimed 'dirty coward' Major Denis Bloodnok ever obtained his rank is a mystery. More than one episode implies that blackmail had something to do with it.
Patriotic Fervour: Seagoon, often claiming things "For ENGLAAAAND!" (despite Harry Secombe being Welsh).
Paying In Coins: In the episode "The Canal", Bluebottle (as the accredited agent of Lloyds of London) arrives to pay out insurance of £40,000 — in pennies, counted one by one. He gets as far as 4,000,832 pennies (roughly £16,670) before Eccles drops the hat he's counting them out into, and has to start again.
The Pete Best: Michael Bentine, who left the show early in its run and is largely forgotten due to the early episodes mostly being lost.
Bloodnok: As we entered the jungle clearing, surrounded by the beat of tribal drums, I knew at once we were face-to-face with some strange African customs. Ellington: Anything to declare, white man?
Visual Pun: I'm not sure if this counts, but this show had a lot of:
Seagoon: ... when suddenly, a brown hand fell on my shoulder. Moriarty: Ah, excuse me! But did a brown hand just fall on your shoulder? Seagoon: Yes. Is it yours?
Puff of Logic: Spoken words had significant power in The Goon Show. A good example is an episode in which Seagoon and co. are wandering in a desert. They spot a house, but are informed by Bloodnok that it's only a mirage. Refusing to believe him, Neddie staggers up to it, only to watch it vanish into nothingness ... and then Eccles falls out of the upper floor.
Another good example occured when Greenslade drew attention to the fact that Eccles and Seagoon were attempting (and succeeding!) in climbing on each other's shoulders up the inside of a pillar box. Not one second after he says this, both fall to the ground.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Songs written and recorded by the Goons themselves such as "I'm Walking Backwards For Christmas" started out because their usual musicians, Max Geldray and Ray Ellington, were unable to participate in a recording due to taking part in a Musicians' Union strike.
Record Needle Scratch: In Bluebottle's own single, The Bluebottle Blues, he becomes so exasperated with Seagoon's attempts to murder him that he announces he will escape to the hole in the centre of the record. This he does, following it with the sound of the record slowing to a stop.
This was also frequently used to imply something to the audience, when it actually didn't happen. For instance, a soldier would be asked to escort a spy out of the room. Footsteps are heard trailing off into the distance. The interrogator comments positively on the competence of the soldier. "Then why did he leave me behind?", asks the spy, evidently still in the room.
Room 101: In "Nineteen Eighty-Five!", Ned Seagoon is locked in a room and forced to listen to a recording... of himself, singing.
A splash sound effect as someone falls in a body of water, swiftly followed by Little Jim saying "He's fallen in the wah-tah!";
Referring to 'a photograph of...', 'a cardboard cutout of...', 'a mental picture of...' etc. as though it's the same as the real thing.
Seagoon (while trying to seize control of a train from a hostile Grytpype-Thynne): Eccles, cover me with this photograph of a gun!
Shaped Like Itself: "It was in the year 1656 that the dreaded nadger plague swept across Europe like the Dreaded Nadger Plague of 1656."
A Simple Plan: Usually a Zany Scheme dreamt up by Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty. Occasionally involved a Batman Gambit with Seagoon as a willing but incompetent pawn, in which Seagoon's incompetence was harnessed to produce the required result.
Sound to Screen Adaptation: The Telegoons, a 1963-64 BBC TV series that remade some of the stories with puppets providing the visuals.
There were also a couple of TV adaptations which basically re-created the original radio productions, ie with the cast reading their scripts in front of microphones.
Neddie: And, dear listener, changed he had. He looked tired and weary. His eyes... his eyes were sunk back in his head. They were bloodshot, watery, and red-rimmed. What had caused this? Neddie's father: Neddie, we've bought a television set.
In "The Mummified Priest", Crun announces he is having an ancient Egyptian manuscript sent to his museum to be translated. Neddie isn't sure about his translation skills, but don't worry; Crun "knows two men who are experts at reading ancient scripts; Bob Hope and Steve Allen."
Talking to Himself: Sellers did this on occasion, especially if he was filling in for absent cast members.
He'd periodically find it impossible to remember which voice he was supposed to be using at any given moment, leading to conversations that made very little sense (even for the Goon Show). Hilarity ensued.
Bloodnok: "Sellers! How dare you change from my voice to his for one joke only!"
Willium: Hello hello hello, who's this kipping on the floor? What's this label round his neck say? (reads) "I am the new tenant 'ere". Oh, are you, mate? What's this second label say? (reads) "Yes I am."
Theme Naming: A Running Gag is that different kinds of cigarettes or cigars are named after different types of primate.
Unwitting Pawn: Seagoon, always. To take one example, in The Case of the Missing CD Plates, Moriarty runs him (and his bagpipes; It Makes Sense in Context) over with a steamroller but escapes prosecution due to the steamroller having Corps Diplomatique, or diplomatic immunity plates - Moriarty later drops a piano on his head - and then cons Seagoon into breaking into an evidence warehouse to screw a CD plate to the wreckage of the piano so he can get off that one as well.
Moriarty: You see señor, the united anti-socialist neo-democratic pro-fascist communist party is fighting to overthrow the unilateral democratic united partisan bellicose pacifist cobelligerent tory labour liberal party!
Seagoon: Whose side are you on?
Moriarty: There are no sides - we are all in this together.