Staff Newspaper of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
IC Reporter
 Issue 107, 26 June 2001
Minister praises research centre «
Shining lights scoop 25,000 prize «
Pisa stands proud «
e-MasterClass - the human touch «
Sinfonia 21 world premieres «
European Business Plan win «
Want to get ahead? «
Nicholas has Sachs appeal «
JIF award «
Something fishy... «
Inaugural lecture «
Goon, but not forgotten... «
March - June 2001 «
Regular Features
In Brief «
Media Spotlight «

Goon, but not forgotten...
by Tanya Reed

WHEN Ian Thompson was 12 years old, he fell off his chair laughing at an old tape of the Goon Show that his grandfather gave him.

Fourteen years on, the research assistant in the department of materials spends his spare time as editor of the Goon Show Preservation Society magazine.

Ian Thompson with a 1958 photograph of the Goons playing tiddlywinks at Cambridge University, and a poster celebrating Spike Milligan's knighthood
"I joined the Society four years ago and was made editor in February, probably because of all my computer equipment at home," he explains.

"I'm able to scan pictures and write word documents; before, the magazine was all typewriters and glue sticks. I've brought the magazine into the 21st century."

The antics of Goons, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Michael Bentine and Spike Milligan, resulted in an inimitable style of comedy which used characters such as Eccles, Bluebottle and Neddy Seagoon.

Ian has been able to reproduce previously unseen, original scripts, due to part of a bequest to the Society by the late George Brown, its former chairman.

The scripts were written by Spike Milligan and produced by Peter Eton. They show handwritten changes that occurred during Sunday night run-throughs of the Goon Show before broadcast.

"George left us a treasure trove of material. We are the only people with the six original scripts from pre-series three and a large percentage of images and recordings. The BBC don't have them as they frequently recorded over original tapes to recycle them," said Ian.

"We also have audio recordings of series four and five - copies were taken by people who worked on the show - as well as footage of the Goons mucking about off-stage between recordings."

The Goon Show Preservation Society's Patron is the Prince of Wales. Its Honorary President is last surviving Goon, Spike Milligan, and it has 650 members in Britain and 150 members abroad. Most of its collection is kept with Society secretary, Dr Steve Arnold, at his home in Tilbury, Essex.

The organisation owns one of four puppets used in the series, Telegoons. Leek-chewing Neddy Seagoon is two feet high, worked by original strings and rods and has a plaster of paris face. Society members are constantly trying to track down the remaining six, believed to be hidden in attics.

"There were rumours they were seen in an Indian restaurant in Kensington so a lot of us zoomed off to try and find them but without any luck," added Ian.

"John Hamilton, the special effects man from the show, has also given us private tapes, bits and pieces. With this latest material, there is no reason why we could not stage a proper collection at one of our conventions.

"We're not looking to sell it, but for people to appreciate it. It would be a celebration of Spike's genius."

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© Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, 2001
26 June 2001