Tag Archives: Peter Sellers

August 5th 1975

“Had a haircut. Went up Nigs in evening + saw Inspector Clewso film”

Another busy day in the life of this hormonal teenager.

I suspect the “Inspector Clewso” film (that’s some BAD spelling) would have been “A Shot in the Dark

It was the second film in the “Pink Panther” series of comedies starring Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau (the correct spelling) and the one which first introduced film-goers to a pair of equally endearing characters: Clouseau’s idiosyncratic boss (the superb Herbert Lom) and Kato, his servant.

Blake Edwards was again in the Director’s chair (a role he would maintain through all but the most recent – hideous – Pink Panther movies) and co-wrote the script with (and here’s some trivia) William Peter Blatty who would later gain notoriety via writing the horror fest “The Exorcist”

“A Shot in the Dark” was not, for me, the best of the Pink Panther movies (My fave… “The Return of the Pink Panther“) but it did feature the delectable Elke Somner and a memorable scene where she and Sellers run naked from a nudist colony before getting arrested.

Years later, another in the series would play an inadvertent part in my own career. I had a job for a few months as a sales representative for Precision Video in the then new video rental industry and I had to drive to outlets all over the South Coast in a vain attempt to sell them films. The first I ever had to hawk was “The Revenge of the Pink Panther“, Sellers last outing as Clouseau before he died. It would be something of an omen for the job – which I hated anyway – and I left barely three months later. The contacts I made were invaluable though and it led to me running a chain of succesful libraries and even being headhunted for a management position in the company which eventually became Blockbuster in the UK. I turned it down, which was good given everything that would subsequently happen.

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The 1973 Diary (IV)

How very very SAD was I that I went through this informative article on “Taking Your First Photographs” and circled every mention of the word (band name) “Focus”

At the end of the article I wrote “Focus was written 16 times on the last 4 pages – now then, there’s not a lot of people who know vat!

Trivia corner – The phrase “not a lot of people know that” is often – and wrongly – attributed to actor Michael Caine. It was actually coined by Peter Sellers – doing an impersonation of Michael Caine – on the Parkinson show one Saturday evening. The phrase stuck in the public’s mind.

Caine HATES it, apparently.

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December 30th 1972

Not much dun all day as car broke down on way to Dick Emery” / “Watched the Goons on Parkinson”

Looks like my folks had a torrid time getting to that show last night?

I did wonder if a diary entry would throw up the opportunity to write about The Goons?!

The Goon Show was a BBC radio comedy programme which entertained the UK  for most of the 50’s. However, its influence continues to pervade well over half a century later.

Created by (the world’s GREATEST comedian EVER) Spike Milligan, The Goon Show featured anarchic surreal comedy decades before anarchic surreal comedy became fashionable. Spike’s eccentric scripts – acted out by Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike himself – were ludicrous to the extreme, combining obtuse plots, puns, silly voices and daft sound effects.

The shows were VERY much the precursor to – and the primary influence behind – the likes of Peter Cook, Monty Python, The Firesign Theatre, The Young Ones… in fact almost all alternative comedy.

Spike created characters like Neddy Seagoon, Eccles, Bluebottle. Moriarty and more, whilst single-handedly inventing (IMHO) the “catchphrase”. Radio listeners would sit and wait for their favourite characterto utter things like “I ‘ave been deaded“, “You rotten swine you“, “We’ll all be murdered in our Beds” or (my favourite) “He’s fallen in the wah-ter

From 1951 until 1960, Spike and the gang banged out over 260 episodes. However, the pressure of writing, and then having to perform, all this material took its toll on Milligan who suffered from (what later came to be called) bipolar disorder. Thus consigning Spike to the seemingly never-ending list of “tortured comics” (see “Lenny Bruce“, “Bill Hicks” or “Mitch Hedberg“). Indeed, Spike was absent from the show for several months in 1954 after he attempted to murder Peter Sellers….. with a potato peeler!

The Goon Show ceased to be in 1960, but was repeated constantly on BBC radio. (Indeed, it is STILL repeated on BBC’s Radio 7!).

In 1972, to celebrate the BBC’s 50th anniversary, the troupe were persuaded to get back together for “The Last Goon Show of All“. Although far from the tightest or funniest of Millgan’s scripts it nevertheless serves as a suitable tribute to how bizarre The Goons were, even outside of their heyday. It was simulcasted as a BBC TV documentary… here seen in 5 segments (the funniest, I think, being Part 3)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

As per my diary entry, the Goons obviously got together to promote the show on Michael Parkinson‘s popular TV chat show, although I can find no footage to substantiate that.

Years later – in 2001 to be precise – I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting Spike in person. He was nearing the end of his time, very frail and weak, but still willing to travel the country to do instore meet & greets to promote his latest book “Treasure Island“.

I dutifully queued in line at the Southampton Waterstones to meet him and have him sign my copy of the book. When it was my turn to at the desk I told him “Mr Milligan, I’d like to shake your hand” and held mine out. He looked me in the eye and said “You don’t have anything do you” (referring to sicknesses or illnesses). I shook my head at which point he grabbed my hand with both of his – in a genuine friendly grasp – to which I simply mumbled “Thank you sincerely for all the laughter you’ve given me over the years”. He smiled. I smiled. I walked away.

I’m not normally phased by ‘stardom’ – always reminding myself that these people are just “people” – but on this occasion I felt genuinely starstruck and in awe of the presence I was in.

There are a million and one online sites dedicated to The Goons, but this one seems to be pretty comprehensive.

Finally, here’s the Goons’ novelty hit single “The Ying Tong Song” from 1956!…

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