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MILLIGAN, Spike; STEPHENS, Larry

The Goon Show: Series Seven, Episode Four: The Macreekie Rising Of '74

'

London: N.p. [BBC], 1956

23 mimeographed pp., secured with split pin to top left. Revisions, annotations and doodles throughout, some dampstaining to upper half.

First edition. CO-WRITER LARRY STEPHENS' COPY, WITH HIS OWNERSHIP SIGNATURE TO FRONT PAGE AND WITH HIS REVISIONS AND ELABORATE DOODLES THROUGHOUT.

'Larry was an ex-commando captain, who had seen some tough service in the Far East. He had a natural flair for comedy scriptwriting and shared with the Goons their irreverence and sense of the ridiculous, and also their artistic and musical leanings. He was both an able pianist and a meticulous illustrator of the definitive Goon character, with which he was wont to adorn the pages of his script.' (Jimmy Grafton, The Goon Show Companion).

Larry Stephens is one of the more elusive figures in British comedy history. He and Spike Milligan were kindred spirits. Both were jazz fanatics (Stephens was a skilled pianist); both had faced the terror of war (Stephens as a Commando Captain); both battled personal demons.
Stephens began his comedy career writing material for his close friend, the yet-to-be-famous Tony Hancock, but by 1951 had found his spiritual home at The Goon Show. He was a rock for the famously unstable Spike Milligan, able most weeks to distil the essence of Spike's madness into a workable Goon Show script. Stephens' ability to speak fluent Milligan made their writing partnership the most reliably productive on the show, and is also the main reason why the short film The Case of the Mukkinese Battlehorn comes closest of all visual adaptations to capturing the almost abstract imaginary universe of the Goons. But Stephens was an alcoholic, and his excessive drinking led to battles with the BBC as early as Series 2 -- and also to his tragically early death from a cerebral haemorrhage in January 1959, at the age of thirty-five.
Stephens' absent-minded habit of doodling Goonish caricatures on his scripts is well documented (see above), but examples rarely appear on the open market. The script offered here carries some excellent examples, notably the full-page rendering of 'Xerxes Print, Horse-Plucker-In-Ordinary'. The dampstaining (which has not affected the doodles) seems to have taken place a long time ago: Stephens' name on the front page is blanched slightly, but is perfectly legible.
A recording of this show is held in the BBC Sound Archives. Spike Milligan was unwell at the time of recording, and does not appear; his place was taken by George Chisholm.
An extremely rare and highly desirable piece of British comedy history.



Keywords: Spike MILLIGAN Larry STEPHENS'
£3,500.00


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