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Meet The Goon Show characters

The Goon Show achieved cult status globally for many reasons, but it’s the characters which Milligan, Sellers and Secombe breathed life into who gave the series its ‘personality’.

Many of these delightful misfits became household names… and some of their catch-cries and other dialogue inserted themselves into the English vernacular; for example, ‘the dreaded lurgi’ was invented on 9th (Tuesday) November 1954, in episode 7 of the fifth series of The Goon Show.

Let us introduce these ‘loveable’ rascals to you… click the link for the character you’d like to meet (at your own risk).

 

Name: Eccles

Played by: Spike Milligan

Characteristics: Eccles was one of the show’s secondary characters but became extremely popular and he is regarded as epitomising the show’s humour. Milligan visualised Eccles as a tall, lanky teenager or young man who was amiable and well meaning, but incredibly stupid. When told to ‘shut up’, he frequently joins in and continues long after everyone else has finished. He is friends with Bluebottle and together, they assist Neddie Seagoon. Eccles takes things that he hears literally, with humorous and occasionally insightful results.

Character Based Upon: Milligan’s love of classic Walt Disney cartoons especially Goofy.

Catch Phrases: “Fine, fine, fine”; “Shut up Eccles”; “I’m the famous Eccles”

 

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Name: Minnie Bannister

Played by: Spike Milligan

Characteristics: Minnie is a feeble old spinster but partner of Henry Crun who alludes to an interesting past, possibly dancing the Can-can at the Windmill Theatre and is still interested in modern music.  She appears to have had a passionate affair with Major Bloodnok and still flirts with him, like a young girl in many episodes.

Character Based Upon: Not known

Catch Phrases: “Henrryyy”; “We’ll all be murdered in our beds!”

 

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Name: Major Denis Bloodnok, IND.ARM. RTD. (Military idiot, coward and bar)

Played by: Peter Sellers

Characteristics: Bloodnok is a corrupt military idiot who suffers from flatulence and his entrance is often accompanied by appropriate noises. He is a complete coward who will sell and betray anyone or anything for money. Bloodnok is frequently referred to as a womaniser. Seagoon was previously his batman.

Character Based Upon: Probably built upon the crusty old officers played by Sellers during his time with ENSA (Entertainment Service Association)

Catch Phrases: “It was hell in there”; “Nurse, the screens”; “No more curried eggs for me”

 

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Name: Bluebottle

Played by: Peter Sellers

Characteristics: Bluebottle is a squeaky voiced Boy Scout from East Finchley who usually gets blown up in every episode.   He is patriotic and willing to work for sweets, though not always successfully, and is a companion of Eccles with whom he often has comic dialogues. Bluebottle reads his stage directions out loud and always asks for audience applause.

Character Based Upon: Ruxton Hayward, a scoutmaster once met by Sellers.

Catch Phrases: “You rotten swine, you deaded me”; “I don’t like this game”; “Enter Bluebottle, waits for applause”; “Not a sausage”;

 

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Name: Lew /Ernie Cash

Played by: Peter Sellers

Characteristics: A fast talking showbiz agent with a deep nasally voice.

Character Based Upon: Lew Grade, a Jewish show business impresario.

Catch Phrases: None

 

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Name: Henry Crun

Played by: Peter Sellers

Characteristics: An elderly idiot and partner of Minnie Bannister, Henry Crun often struggles to keep up with the action around him whilst squabbling with Minnie. Both Crun and Bannister often play significant parts in the stories sharing an extended scene between them.

Character Based Upon: Not known

Catch Phrases: “You can’t get the wood you know”;

 

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Name: The Hon. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

Played by: Peter Sellers

Characteristics: A plausible, smooth, well-educated member of the aristocracy but also a scheming cad, Grytpype-Thynne generally collaborates with Count Moriarty to swindle Neddie Seagoon. He is usually impoverished and the plot consists of him thinking up a money making scheme, with Seagoon being the fall-guy. In early scripts, however, Grytpype was often cast as a government official, and not necessarily a villain. His relationship with Moriarty also changes from equal collaborator, to Moriarty becoming his lackey. References to Grytpype’s homosexuality are made frequently during the shows.

Character Based Upon: Possibly the actor George Sanders, according to Sellers.

Catch Phrases: “You silly twisted boy”; “Moriarty, please..”;

 

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Name: Flowerdew

Played by: Peter Sellers

Characteristics: A camp and effeminate man who makes infrequent appearances throughout the shows. He is often some type of official and is very good at using a sewing machine.

Character Based Upon: Not known

Catch Phrases: None

 

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Name: Gladys

Played by: Ray Ellington, Wallace Greenslade or Peter Sellers

Characteristics: A sexless person whose voice and gender was always questionable. She was usually a personal assistant or secretary.

Character Based Upon: Not known

Catch Phrases: “Yes Darling”

 

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Name: Jim (Adolphus) Spriggs / Jim Pills

Played by: Spike Milligan

Characteristics: Jim Spriggs or Pills makes frequent appearances in the shows. He calls everybody ‘Jim’ pronounced ‘Jeeeemmmm’ and sometimes repeats his lines, for no obvious reason, in a falsetto song.

Character Based Upon: Not known

Catch Phrases: ‘Jeeeemmmm”;

 

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Name: Little Jim

Played by: Spike Milligan

Characteristics: A timid child who is Eccles’ nephew and has only one line.

Character Based Upon: The phrase was originated by Peter Seller’s young son.

Catch Phrases: “He’s fallen in the water”

 

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Name: MateWillium Cobblers

Played by: Peter Sellers

Characteristics: A working class cockney idiot who played all sorts of roles, but mostly officials such as policemen, soldiers and various menials. Reported to be related to Grytpype- Thynne and calls everybody ‘mate’.

Character Based Upon: A hardware store owner known to the Goons.

Catch Phrases: “You can’t park ‘ere, mate”.

 

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Name: McGoonagall

Played by: Peter Sellers or Spike Milligan

Characteristics: A terrible Scottish poet who summarises the plot in an overstated manner.

Character Based Upon: 19th Century poet William McGonagall.

Catch Phrases: None

 

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Name: Count Jim Toulouse- Moriarty

Played by: Spike Milligan

Characteristics: Moriarty is an impoverished member of the French aristocracy who has turned to crime to support his lifestyle. He and his criminal counterpart Grytpype- Thynne always appear to be permanently destitute and he is often found scavenging in dustbins looking for food.  Over the years, Moriarty changed from a debonair and efficient French criminal mastermind and confidence trickster into a snivelling sidekick of Grytpype-Thynne, who is often disparaging of his behaviour.

Character Based Upon: Probably Professor Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Catch Phrases:  “Sapristi nabolas!”; “Sapristi nyuckoes!” ; “Sapristi bombpetts!”; “Owwww”;

 

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Name: Neddie Seagoon

Played by: Harry Secombe

Characteristics: Seagoon was the lead role and always played by Secombe. He would sometimes have a different name, to fit in with the setting of the plot e.g. Caractacus Seagoon in ‘The Histories of Pliny the Elder’; Winston Seagoon in ‘Nineteen Eighty Five’; Prof Ned Quatermess in “The Scarlet Capsule’; Samuel Pepys in ‘The Flea’; Neddie Toulouse-Lautrec in ‘Tales of Montmartre’; Ned Scratchitt in ‘A Christmas Carol’; Robin Hood in ‘Robin Hood & his Merry Men’ and Nugent Dirt as a Yorkshireman, also in ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Neddie is an honest but gullible character who is willing to lay down his life for his country but is frequently exploited by Moriarty and Grytpype-Thynne. He is often unemployed and episodes start with him taking a new job which leads to trouble. Physically, he usually resembles Secombe himself, being short and stout and usually Welsh, although Secombe also played Yorkshiremen when the script required, as above.

Character Based Upon: Devised by Secombe and loosely based upon himself.

Catch Phrases: “What, what, what, what, what?”; “Needle nardle noo”; “ I don’t wish to know that”; “Ying tong yiddle I po”; “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!”

 

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Name: Miss Throat/ Sgt Throat/Throat

Played by: Spike Milligan

Characteristics: A non-feminine very gravelly voice.

Character Based Upon: Spike apparently invented this voice by belching.

Catch Phrases: “Right”; “Right mate”

 

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