THE GOON SHOW: “The Toothpaste Expedition”

The Goon Show – Series 4, episode 20

First broadcast: BBC Home Service, 12 February 1954

Cast: Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan

Musical interludes by the Ray Ellington Quartet and Max Geldray

Orchestra conducted by Wally Stott

Announcer: Wallace Greenslade

Writers: Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens

Producer: Peter Eton


My review

One of the “lost” episodes, this one survives as an off-air recording, and is not held by the BBC.

Milligan was having an off week, as well he might.  He supported his family by writing 30 episodes of the Goon Show a year, and the pressure had led to his hospitalization with a mental breakdown the previous year.

Two of the three sketches appeared in earlier shows (both themselves now lost), while the third feels more like an improv sketch.

  • A magazine-format sketch parodying the British public school.  “The ancient school of Rottingdean was built in the 16th century by its founder, the Dean of Murdle, whose body lies buried in the grounds – hence the name ‘Rotting Dean’ .”  This sketch first appeared in Series 2, episode 2.
  • “The Toothpaste Expedition”: The world faces a shortage of toothpaste, so two expeditions are sent to look for another mine; the one sent to the Sahara ends up at the North Pole, while the one destined for the Arctic finds themselves in Egypt.  This sketch first appeared in Series 3, episode 5.
  • Henry Crun, that eminent sportsman, and Eccles hunt moose in Canada.

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