A guide to series one of the Goon Show: Crazy People

Episode 1 (recorded 27 May 1951)

  1. Herschell & Jones
  2. The Story of the BRM
  3. Dick Barton, Special Agent
  4. The Quest for Tutankhamen
  5. Salute to Britain

Fascinating fact:
First use of the word ‘lurgi’.

Episode 2 (recorded 3 June 1951)

  1. Herschell & Jones
  2. Ernest Splutmuscle, Rat Catcher
  3. A Hundred Years from Today
  4. The East Pole

Scripted credits:
The script was concocted by Spike Milligan. Additions to the mixture made by Larry Stephens.

Episode 3 (recorded 10 June 1951)

  1. Herschell & Jones – Jones’ Schooldays
  2. Russian Sports
  3. Sound Effects
  4. The Bluffs
  5. History of Flight

Scripted credits:
The script was written in Urdu by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and translated by Jimmy Grafton.

Episode 4 (recorded 17 June 1951)

  1. Herschell & Jones – Jones goes to prison
  2. Slimming
  3. Honeymoon Memories
  4. Parliament in Session
  5. The Conquest of Everest

Scripted credits:
The script was mapped out by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and plotted by Jimmy Grafton.

Episode 5 (recorded 24 June 1951)

  1. Herschell & Jones – Jones’ adventures in Russia
  2. Visit to the Health Clinic
  3. Story of the Airliner
  4. Holidays
  5. Story of the Yukon Gold Rush

Scripted credits:
The script cargo was swung aboard by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and lashed and stowed by Jimmy Grafton.
Fascinating fact:
First scripted appearance of Major Bloodnok (although the name Bloodnok has been crossed through and replaced with O’Shea).

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Episode 6 (recorded 1 July 1951)

  1. Further Adventures of Herschel
  2. The Story of Civilisation
  3. Splutmuscle – The Boxer
  4. Operations of MI6
  5. African Adventures

Scripted credits:
Script equipment and stores including a Bentine bundle were supplied by Messrs Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens through selling agent Jimmy Grafton.

Episode 7 (recorded 8 July 1951)

  1. Herschel & Jones
  2. The History of Communications
  3. Adventures of Phillip String
  4. Sea Stories
  5. The Building of the Merseygoon Tunnel

Scripted credits:
Script was dug up by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and refined by Jimmy Grafton.
Fascinating fact:
First named appearance of a character called Eccles (although played by Peter Sellers).

Episode 8 (recorded 15 July 1951)

  1. Herschel & Jones
  2. BBC Skit
  3. Episode 2 of Phillip String
  4. Commentaries from the Funfair
  5. The Goonbird

Scripted credits:
Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens wrote the log which was then chopped up by Jimmy Grafton.
Fascinating fact:
Eccles appears again but this time played by Spike Milligan.

Episode 9 (recorded 22 July 1951)

  1. Herschel & Jones
  2. Summertime Activities
  3. Episode 3 of Phillip String
  4. Splutmuscle the Private Investigator
  5. Journey into Space

Scripted credits:
Script was by Spike Milligan, Larry Stephens and Jimmy Grafton.
Fascinating fact:
Contains a version of the ‘World’s Funniest Joke‘.

Episode 10 (recorded 29 July 1951)

  1. Herschel & Jones
  2. The Building of the Sydney Harbour Goon Bridge
  3. Air Pageant and Widdigoon Country Fair Commentary
  4. The Story of Colonel Slocombe

Scripted credits:
Regimental orders were scripted by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and the seal was affixed by Jimmy Grafton.

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Episode 11 (recorded 5 August 1951)

  1. Herschel & Jones
  2. Stories of Scotland Yard
  3. Mock Sea-battle Commentary
  4. The Quest for the White Queen

Scripted credits:
The script was discovered by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and dusted off by Jimmy Grafton.
Fascinating fact:
First appearance of Major Bloodnok.

Episode 12 (recorded 12 August 1951)

  1. Herschel & Jones
  2. The Bentine Lurgi-driven Tank
  3. The Quest for Cloot Wilmington

Scripted credits:
The script was written in cipher by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and decoded by Jimmy Grafton.

Episode 13 (recorded 19 August 1951)

  1. Herschel & Jones
  2. Survey of Britain
  3. Clushboot-on-Sea
  4. The Story of Colonel Slocombe

Scripted credits:
The script was designed for me by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens under the watchful eye of my publicity agent Jimmy Grafton.

Episode 14 (recorded 26 August 1951)

  1. Herschel & Jones
  2. Dick Barton, Special Agent
  3. The Boxer Rebellion

Scripted credits:
The whole thing was deliberately planned by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and callously approved by Jimmy Grafton.

Episode 15 (recorded 2 September 1951)

  1. Herschel & Jones
  2. The Goonitania
  3. The Quest for the Ring-tailed Yakkabakaka

Scripted credits:
The funeral notices were written by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and printed by Jimmy Grafton.

Episode 16 (recorded 9 September 1951)

  1. Courting Hydia Harbinger
  2. The Salvaging of the Goonitania
  3. Sound Effects Men on Trial
  4. Bloodnok of Burma

Scripted credits:
History was created by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and chronicled by Jimmy Grafton.

Episode 17 (recorded 16 September 1951)

  1. Music Lessons
  2. The Brabagoon
  3. Holiday Time
  4. Bloodnok the Peacemaker

Scripted credits:
Passes were made out by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens and signed by Jimmy Grafton.

Special episode (recorded 16 December 1951)
Title: Cinderella

By Royal Command-o!

Just before 8 o’clock on the evening of the 3rd of November 1952, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Margaret arrived at the Palladium in London’s Argyll Street. A crowd estimated at 10,000 lined the streets, eager to catch a glimpse of Her Majesty’s first attendance at the Royal Variety Performance as monarch.

Max Bygraves, Vera Lynn, Norman Wisdom and Tony Hancock were all on the bill but appearing towards the end of the show, in a section based on a BBC radio programme called ‘In Town Tonight’, was an act described in the official programme as ‘The Commando’. This Commando, Gerry Brereton, was a ballad-singing baritone and having only recently become a professional singer, he was relatively unknown.
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During the war, Gerry served with No. 3 Commando and in 1943 his unit took part in Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily. In July 1943, after successfully capturing the town of Cassibile, 3 Commando embarked on HMS Prince Albert with the aim of landing in the Bay of Agnone and then seizing the Ponte dei Malati bridge. The bridge connected Syracuse to Catania and as it was essential for a rapid advance, it had to be taken intact.

There was a shortage of landing craft and so the commandos had to disembark in two waves. The first wave landed around seven miles from the bridge and came under immediate enemy fire. A few hours later, the second wave landed and suffered the same fate. Despite this, the commandos managed to get off the beach and push inland. The first group was in position at the Malati bridge at 3 am on the 14th of July where the single platoon of Italians garrisoned there was quickly overcome. The commandos settled in to defend their position until reinforcements arrived.

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Operation Husky: The Sicily Landings 9-10 July 1943. Commando troops can be seen in their landing craft going towards the harbour boom in the setting sun. © IWM (A 18086)

Over the course of the next few hours they came under intensive mortar and shell fire and the number of casualties grew: 30 were killed, 66 wounded and 59 reported missing or captured. Among the wounded was Gerry Brereton who lost his sight in an explosion.

Before the war, Gerry had a promising career as a footballer with Derby County but now totally blind, he needed to find a new way to earn a living. His journey to the London Palladium can be tracked through his mentions in the magazine of St. Dunstan’s, a charity helping blind ex-Service personnel (now known as Blind Veterans UK).

In 1946, the ‘St. Dunstan’s Review’ reported that Gerry had secured a job as a telephone operator at an iron foundry but less than a year later, there came the first of several announcements to say he could be heard in a radio broadcast. In 1949 he received a fantastic reception from the audience when he took part in Hughie Green’s ‘Opportunity Knocks’ and by 1950 he was described by one of his local BBC assistant senior producers as, “the North’s leading vocalist.” His success growing, Gerry decided to move with his family from his home in Derby to see if he could hit the big time in London.

He was a guest singer in a concert at the Royal Festival Hall and then spots in several radio and TV broadcasts culminated in his invitation to appear at the Royal Variety Performance. He walked on stage unaided, having memorised the route during rehearsals, and sang ‘Here in My Heart’. The audience took him to their hearts and he was the only artiste to be called back to take a second bow.

The next day, the newspapers were full of praise for him. A recording contract followed and it wasn’t long before Gerry released his first record on Parlophone, ‘Wyoming Lullaby’.

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A version of this appeared in the Commando Veterans Association journal ‘Dispatches’ in April 2016.