The Goon Show - The Goon Show Compendium Volume One: Series 5, Part 1

The ultimate in Goon Show audio

Messrs Milligan, Sellers and Secombe
have been the subject of a long-term
reissue project from BBC Worldwide under
the Radio Collection imprint, which has
recently reached volume 25. Don’t
assume, however, that this new boxed
series of Goon shows is a mere collection
of those long-standing reissues.

This, the first in a long-term, heavily
researched and superbly produced series
of releases, goes much further than the
Radio Collection series. It takes each and
every Goon show and remasters them all,
from scratch, via original acetates and
third-party master tapes, piecing together
all the missing bits which were taken out
by the censors during the 50s and 60s, or
which were purposefully trimmed. They
add a heap of outtakes and bonus tracks, such as the rare Peter Sellers archive
program Me & My Shadows, in which
Sellers impersonates a number of the
Goon characters, plus specially-recorded
Radio 7 introductions from Eric Sykes.

The BBC has stated that, generally
speaking, two new Compendium box sets
will be released per year, starting with
series five of The Goons and ranging up to
the truncated tenth and final series.
Thereafter, the company will look to fill in
the gaps by examining all the surviving
Goons shows from the first four series.

The original master tapes of the
unedited shows no longer exist, so
recreating those unedited shows involved
some serious detective work. The shows
were edited in two long series by the
Transcription Service. Firstly, in the 50s,
they were cut to 29 minutes and 30
seconds per show and, again, in the 60s
cut to around 27 minutes – the latter
mainly to accommodate the commercial
breaks when shows were sent to
commercial stations abroad. In addition,
anything that may have been censored in
the 50s was not necessarily deemed risky
in the 60s, and vice-versa. Anything
vaguely sexual was cut in the 50s, while a
lot of race-based material passed without
comment. In the more permissive 60s,
many of the smut gags stayed, while the
racist overtones were cut. Hence, what we
have now are complete, unedited shows
for the first time.

Collectors themselves have also played
their part, having been encouraged to fill
in gaps and loan their recordings to the
BBC under amnesty. Negotiations are still
underway to retrieve more “lost” material
from one or two collectors but, basically,
these box sets will contain everything
available on The Goons. It’s not always in
the best of quality, but that this stuff exists
is the main thing.

Listening to the shows is a joy. They
sound clean and dynamic, and the wit is
as fresh and as sparkling as ever. Spike
Milligan managed to create in words what
Salvador Dalí created in image – but
Milligan was a hell of lot funnier.

5 stars 5 stars 5 stars 5 stars 5 stars

BBC Worldwide | 978-1-4056-7800-1 (7-CD)

Reviewed by Paul Rigby
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