Seagoon, Eccles, Bluebottle and Major Bloodnok.

If you recognise these names, then you will have heard The Goon Show, which rewrote the rules of comedy during the 1950s.

The mad brilliance of Spike Miligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe in their radio show paved the way for the likes Monty Python and Eddie Izzard.

Now you can relive those days as, part of Birmingham Comedy Festival , a theatre is transformed into a 1950s radio studio and two classic episodes are brought to life on stage.

Four actors will perform The Phantom Head Shaver (of Brighton), a mystery which Seagoon has to solve, and The Canal, a tale of family greed and murder.

Producer Dave Freak explains: “We picked these two shows because some of the Goons’ scripts are massively loved and people know them very well.

“We wanted to do something a bit obscure and different that people didn’t know so they wouldn’t come with any preconceptions.

“Also some of the scripts are very much of their time and have a lot of references to 1950s events. The references in these scripts are less obvious so they are easier to follow for people who weren’t around then.

“Both were recorded in 1954 and written by Spike Milligan. We had to go to his estate to ask for permission to use them.”

The Goon Show ran from 1951 to 1960 with 238 episodes of 30 minutes.

The scripts mixed ludicrous plots with surreal humour, catchphrases and sound effects.

The Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham will be transformed into a 1950s radio studio, complete with authentic period microphones and a costumed usher.

Spike Milligan with Harry Seacombe and Peter Sellers rehearsing for the Goons radio show for the BBC in 1963.
Spike Milligan with Harry Seacombe and Peter Sellers rehearsing for the Goons radio show for the BBC in 1963.
 

The audience will be treated as if they were coming to watch the episodes recorded back in the 1950s.

There will be a live jazz band for the musical interludes and a foley artist creating sound effects live on stage.

Dave adds: “It’s a very physical performance, which you can’t appreciate when you listen to it on the radio.

“Often in recordings you can hear the audience laughing and nothing has been said, so clearly something has happened between the actors. We hope to recreate that electricity between the cast.

“I can’t remember the first time I heard The Goons, but I suspect it was a rare repeated broadcast as a kid.

“They had long gone before I was born, but elder relatives often dropped in catchphrases, did silly voices, and other comedians and musicians referenced them.

“In that post-war, pre-TV age, they had millions of listeners. Millions!

“As far as we’re aware, no-one else has really recreated their episodes on stage apart from the Goons.

“We had a day of auditions for the actors and had a great response, with people coming from as far as London and Liverpool.

“It was a real mix of people and ages.

“We were surprised by how many people, especially in their 20s and 30s, were so passionate about the Goons.”

The chosen actors are Robert Coletta, Richard Usher, Phil Hemming and Jim Rennie.

Birmingham actor Robert takes on several of Spike Milligan’s characters including the daft Eccles.

He says: “It’s an enjoyable challenge to be portraying the godfathers of British comedy on stage, to be performing Milligan’s scripts to both fans of the show and hopefully a new generation.”

* The Goon Show is performed at the Old Joint Stock Theatre on October 3 and 4. For tickets, ring 0121 200 0946 or go to
www.oldjointstock.co.uk