Sunday, November 04, 2018

The Goons: Heroes of comedy?

What to make of the Goons? I grew up knowing they had been wonderfully funny, but when I watched The Last Goon Show of All on television as a 12-year-old I was hugely disappointed.

Lately, though, I have been listening to the Goons on Radio 4 Extra in the mornings (it sure beats John Humphrys) and found myself warming to them.

You sense the studio audience's delight when Bluebottle makes his appearance and I find that things thought avant garde in the Sixties, like dragging the continuity announcer into the proceedings, had been done by the Goons long before.

Peter Sellers, though apparently an awful human being, was a comic genius and a great actor. Harry Secombe is still hard to forgive for If I Ruled the World and Highway, though it seems his ingenuous geniality was the show's heart.

Spike Milligan? I have always had problems with Spike Milligan. I found his Q television shows in the Seventies, which are now lauded, horribly self-indulgent.

This documentary, which features a notably high class of talking head, goes some way to explaining the Goons' importance in Fifties Britain.


Paul Walter said...

There was a time when the only excitement we had on a Sunday was tuning into "highway" to see what colour anorak Harry Secombe was wearing that week... (someone once said that - I can't claim it to be original)

callmemadam said...

Agree with all that. My favourite line, possibly, 'Excuse the mess, we've had the Socialists in.'

Anonymous said...

For all that Highway was rather twee and cloying, it at least took a gentle respectful interest in the specifics of particular places in English regions (and perhaps Scotland and Wales, too, I can't remember). Today people outside London (and a few other sophisticated cities) seem either to be ignored on television, or treated with patronising contempt.