The Goon Show Preservation Society

     The Curse of Frankenstein - Blast!

From Newsletter no: 96 dated April 1999 written by Graeme Foot

This show was broadcast quite a way into the Eighth series of the Goon Show, the series that Roger Wilmut describes as "at their worst… very messy." This isn't very messy but it has its tatty moments, and the plot as such is practically non-existent, full off gaping holes and scenes that do little to propel the momentum of the Show forward. That's the bad news. The good news is that this show has been reissued on one of those nice new shiny BBC CDs (in glorious Kendall-scope) and it's definitely worth hearing. Why? Pull up a bottle of Red Agony Whisky dear reader and let me tell you…

If, like the Goons' you find the poetry of McGonagall funny, as indeed they found many other things Scottish (no offence intended, my dear friends North of the Border) then you will howl with laughter at parts of this show.

You have a choice of three titles, one of which - (the one by which this show is known) bears no resemblance to the story whatsoever and the other two announced by dear old George Chisholm, as "My Heart's in the Highlands, but my feet are in Bombay" - or - "I was the Victim of a Terrible Explosion".

Speeded-up bagpipe music ushers us into the 'death-chamber' of the Laird Red Hairy McBurke (Peter) where he lays (as Wal' puts it) "deein' on his bed, shot in the chanters." He summons 'Andrrrewww' (Chisholm) to his side, who ministers tenderly to him with what sounds like fourteen gallons of rough scotch whisky being gulped, followed by explosions and more bagpipes… "Och! That's better…" His family are summoned to hear the reading of the will. The door opens and the sound of countless pairs of feet are heard to walk in, "Well, I've had a guid life."

Already we can hear that this show could never work in vision. The FX and orchestral links are heavily whisky-flavoured, and give this show a smashing atmosphere. Jock McMoriarty battles his way through the members of the orchestra, all co-opted to speak in Tartan, to the Laird's bedside. On hearing the amount of "One Million Pooooooonds", gives him much vent to "Oww McOww" and "warm black moonlacht nyackabackowws!" I can't hear this section without tears of laughter rolling down my face. Spike is enjoying himself to the full. The Laird has stipulated that his fortune will go to the first Scotsman to reach the South Pole and play the bagpipes there, the noo. A short pause is followed by an instant huge Pipe Band marching off into the distance. Great timing by the FX team.

Moriarty has yet another problem to add to his life, as he has never learned to play the bagpipes - as indeed, no man ever has, as Grytpype points out. Grytpype hands his lines over to Greenslade here, as he is rather tired. Neddie, lurking at Rowton House (a heavily dated reference that I don't understand) (It was actually a now-heavily-demolished Salvation Army doss-house for the financially challenged -ED) is co-opted to be the mug to do the dirty work for them. His protestations that he is too delicate for work are overcome with offers of money and 'Geldrays', and Spike delightfully gets his voice wrong announcing Max's rather nice I Kiss Your Hand Madame. Wally Stott's arrangement - great chuntering reed sections, flatulent brass - is worthy of Nelson Riddle or the like. This doesn't prevent Geldray's fun annihilation on the last note though…

Ned points out, "that wasn't bagpipes, that was a nose!" in his protestations proving he is fit enough for the task ahead. Ned hails a cab - FX Explosion. "Yerss Mate, where to?" and is then fleeced for a new starter. "On your marks, get set…" at which Willium runs off into the distance, making car noises and going "Mate" for all he's worth. I get the idea that Spike really enjoyed writing the FX for this show. Although there are many better shows for audio ingenuity, all the FX in this one gel really well. Min and Hen are given the task ("Morning, morniiinnggg.") of equipping Ned with a size six-and-seven-eighths expedition kit. Ned's instructions tell him to go immediately to the Falkland Islands (Splash; cue Little Jim...).

The race is further complicated by the addition of Bloodnok in a flaming brown paper kilt. Bluebottle and Eccles attempt to extinguish the fire ("Squirt squirt, squirty squirt!") -. mucho laughter from audience and Harry, but a lack of water prevents this. Eccles points out with unusual erudition that there is no water in the Sahara Desert, ( ? ). Captain Idiot (Harry with v.high voice) points out his compass was got from a perfectly good Christmas Cracker... Meanwhile, Ned and Spriggs obtain another compass from another cracker, and Spriggs tries to add yet another catchphrase "I don't like clubbing Jim" to a show that's starting to rely heavily on them and therefore creak a bit.

We are just about ready for Ellington's break, (which is missing from this episode so doesn't happen) but the arrival of Swede steering the Woolwich Free Ferry saves us from the empty space, (with yet another cracker bought compass) and thus he is 50,000 miles off course. Swede offers to ferry Ned's party to the South Pole if he will first get a ticket from the ticket office in Woolwich.

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