Tales Of Old Dartmoor is an episode of The Goon Show first broadcast by the BBC Home Service on 7th February 1956, taking satirical aim at recent upheavals in the justice system with the story of an underfunded prison that sets sail in search of a steady supply of new inmates. More importantly, however, in 1959 it became the first edition of The Goon Show that you could actually listen to again when it was released with a little assistance from the tape-fiddling skills of one George Martin on the Parlophone album The Best Of The Goon Shows, in what was arguably one of the first manifestations – if not the actual first – of the modern mass-marketed comedy industry as we know it today. So if you ever wanted someone to blame for all of those copies of Paddy McGuinness’ Spot The Ball – At Home! DVD Game piled up in that free books box in your local train station, then unfortunately you will have to look no further than Harry, Spike and Peter.
To celebrate one hundred episodes of the fantastic all things Milligan, Sellers and Secombe celebrating – well, if your definition of ‘celebrating’ includes being rude about Highway –Goon Pod, I joined Tyler Adams for a chat about Tales Of Old Dartmoor and indeed that album itself and how I first came to hear it thanks to a box full of battered Jet Harris And Tony Meehan singles and scribbled-on copies of Beatles For Sale – and why, as fond as I am of that vinyl version, The Goon Show just isn’t the same with the musical breaks edited out. There’s plenty more to chat about that’s only tangentially related to The Goons though including some thoughts on why some comedians are ‘allowed’ to get away with jokes that are rightfully seen as unacceptable now while others are most definitely not, what happens if you play Ned’s Atomic Dustbin the The Goon Show episode directly after Ned’s Atomic Dustbin the band, F.J. Harries’ landmark history book Pipes And Their Taps, whether Connie Francis secretly duetted with Max Geldray, how to tell two entirely different Sabrinas famous for more or less exactly the same reasons apart from each other, what story Eccles and Bluebottle were missing on Listen With Mother while they were trying to work out who had stolen all of the bricks of their prison, and – perhaps most importantly of all – the most appropriate punishment for The Telegoons.
Buy A Book!
You can find much more about Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe’s adventures on spinning vinyl in Top Of The Box Vol. 2, the story behind every album released by BBC Records And Tapes. You can get Top Of The Box Vol. 2 in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here.
Alternately, if you’re just feeling generous, you can buy me a coffee here. If it helps, I understand that the fifties Sabrina was much given to frequenting coffee bars.
You can hear me on Goon Pod chatting about Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren’s George Martin-produced comedy album Peter And Sophia here and the 1966 all-star comedy movie The Wrong Box – featuring Peter Sellers as Dr. Pratt – here.
Meanwhile, if you want to hear more about Harry Secombe serenading blacksmiths from that bit in the middle of a dual carriageway in Highway, then you might well want to listen to Looks Unfamiliar here…
Rule Of Third is a look at some of the comedy shows broadcast in the fifties by Radio 3’s precursor the Third Programme, including Peter Sellers’ little-known early sketch show Third Division; you can find it here.
© Tim Worthington.
Please don’t copy this only with more italics and exclamation marks.