Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘John Dagleish’

I was never really a fan of The Goon Show. Well, I wasn’t born when it started and was still at junior school when it ended. Though I’ve subsequently heard repeated episodes, for me it was never able to compete with Beyond Our Ken and The Navy Lark, both of which started shortly before it ended. When Ian Hislop & Nick Newman’s show began, in a replica of the radio studio, I thought it might be just a homage to it, but its more than that, even though its the part of Spike Milligan’s life that it covers.

Each half starts with a brilliant sound effects demonstration by Janet, illustrating her contribution to The Goon Show and how this changed over time. Co-incidentally, the last show we saw at the Watermill just three months ago, Brief Encounter, used similar sound effects created before your eyes. From here we meet its principle writer, Spike Milligan (I didn’t know that), fellow performers Harry Secombe & Peter Sellers, producer Dennis Main-Wilson & his successor Peter Eton and the BBC Executive and bane of all their lives as they write and perform these madcap shows – 250 of them over nine years.

Based on this showing, they were a lot funnier than I remembered. They were ground-breaking in their surreal eccentricity, largely due to Milligan it seems, and went on to influence many that followed, including Monty Python and The League of Gentlemen. In between show recordings, we see their relationships grow and develop, and Spike’s mental health decline under the pressure of having to deliver scripts to deadlines, which made the recordings themselves seem like light relief.

Paul Hart’s production, with an authentic period design by Katie Lias, is very slick and fast paced and the outstanding cast, led by the excellent John Dalgleish as Spike, deliver with bells on. Margaret Cabourn-Smith is particularly charming as sound effects Janet and Jeremy Lloyd captured the essence of Secombe brilliantly. Peter Dukes stood in for the isolating George Kemp as Peter Sellers and did a remarkable job, without a script in sight.

A charming, nostalgic and funny show that reminds you of the manic genius of Spike Milligan, who went on to do so much more and have a profound influence on generations to come.

Read Full Post »