The Shifting Sands of Waziristan



BROADCAST: 24 Jan 1957

By Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens



Greenslade: This is the BBC.

Sellers (American-style game-show host) That is the correct answer! And you win the spon prize of a pair of revolving carpet tacks!

Seagoon: Mr Sellers, kindly remove that Hughie Green disguise and give a rapid impression of the Usalem bird.

GRAMS: Whoooosh.

Sellers: Oh!

Seagoon: "Gone, and never called me ‘mother’".

"Dirty British coaster with a salt caked smoke stack…"

Bloodnok: You filthy swine!

Seagoon: As I was saying;

"Dirty British coaster with a salt caked smoke stack,

Butting through the channel in the mad march days."

Greenslade: Isn’t that by the poet laureate?

Seagoon: Nonsense. It’s by Masefield. Jim Masefield.

Bloodnok: I know another one of his by Kipling. (sings)

On the road to Mandelay

Where the flying fishes play

And the dawn comes up like thunder…

Milligan: (sings)… out of China ‘cross the bay…

FX: Gunshot

Bloodnok: Got him! I couldn’t resist him, he was so beautifully marked!

Seagoon: Naturally. He was just back from the laundry.

Bloodnok: Ohh ho ho! So gather round me lads, while I recount it.

OMNES: Soldier-like grumblings.

Bloodnok: There’s a little green-eyed idol to the north of Kathmandu,

But the wind blew up the chimney just the same,

And when it came to water, we……

ORCHESTRA: Military link. (‘Where are the Boys from the Old Brigade’.)

GRAMS: Fade in sounds of marching.

Greenslade: The tale Bloodnok told was of India, nineteen-hundred and two, from the year of the same name.

Seagoon: Yes. I was fresh out of Sandhurst and it wasn’t long before I joined the army. It was a proud moment when my batman sewed those two gleaming pips onto the seat of my trousers.

Willum: I see you worked your way up from the bottom, sir. Congratulations on you becoming a second Lieutenant.

Seagoon: Yes! To think, just a month ago I was only a Brigadier. Now let me view myself in the ‘commissioned ranks only’ mirror.

FX: Glass smashing.

Willum: Oh! It’s never done that before, sir.

Seagoon: Well, I’ll make damned sure it doesn’t do it again. Take it out and shoot it. Ha ha ha ha ha, e-gad! Yuech yuech yuech yuech! How I look forward to a day on the battlefield!

Milligan: (upper class twit) I say! Seagoon old chap!

Seagoon: Why, it’s Nigel Sponley the third long thing.

Sponley: Yes. Grand news!

Seagoon: What Nigel?

Sponley: The regiment is sailing tonight for active service.

Seagoon: Active service? Does that mean fighting?

Sponley: Yes!

Seagoon: Oh my leg! …my leg, it’s gone!

Sponley: Quick! After it!

Seagoon: In a few bounds Nigel Sponley had the leg trapped by the throat and returned it to me. But it was a close thing.

Sponley: Damn close!

Seagoon: Ha, ha, ha!

Willum: Pardon me Lieutenant The C.O: wants to see you in his dressing gown.

Seagoon: Right! I’ll change at once.

ORCHESTRA: Further military link.

FADE OVER: Milligan doing idiot Sergeant Major in the distance

FX: Door opens then slams.

Seagoon: Seagoon reporting, sir!

C.O: Come in.

FX: Door opens then slams.

Seagoon: Thank you.

C.O: What’s your phone number?

Seagoon: Spon, three-four-nine, sir.

FX: Dialing

C.O: Spon, three-four-nine.

FX: Phone rings.

C.O: Answer that, Seagoon.

FX: Phone lifts.

Seagoon: Hello. Seagoon here.

C.O: Seagoon, come over to my office right away.

Seagoon: Right sir.

FX: Phone down.

FX: Knock on door. (Brisk)

C.O: Come in!

FX: Door opens then slams.

Seagoon: Seagoon reporting, sir.

C.O: You’re a devilishly difficult fellow to get hold of.

Seagoon: Yes, sir. I always grease myself as a precaution.

C.O: (Laughter)

Seagoon: (Joining in)

C.O: A jolly good one, that, by jove! Ah ah ah, oh dear!

(In the distance one can hear Jampton joining in. Which is surprising as no-one knew he was in the scene.)

C.O: Seagoon, this is Commander Greenslade, R.N.

Seagoon: How-do-you-do.

Greenslade: Seagoon. I have here the editor of the NAAFI quarterly.

Grytpype-Thynne: How-do-you-do. Gentlemen I have here in this cardboard suitcase Count Jim ’Thighs’ Moriarty, confidential bus-conductor to the President of France and war correspondent of ‘Health and Sound'.

Moriarty: How-do-you-do gentlemen. I have news. An outpost of the British Empire is in danger!

Seagoon: Tell us something new, mate.

Moriarty: What!

Grytpype-Thynne: Lieutenant Seagoon, we have it on good authority from our milkman that the besieged garrison at Fort Thud on the frontier of Waziristan has lost its union jack.

Seagoon: You mean our troops don’t know what side they’re on?

C.O: They know which side they’re on but they can’t prove it!

Seagoon: Gad! It must be hell out there.

C.O: It is. Now then, what we’ve got to do…

Eccles: Here, here, here! What’s going on here?

Seagoon: Nothing.

Eccles: Oh, I’ll clear off then.

C.O: Seajune, we want you to take the plans of a union jack to Fort Thud.

Seagoon: The plans?

C.O: Yes. You must realise Seagoon that all union jacks are made from an original set of rare plans left behind by King Arthur in an early British waiting room, circa BC.

Seagoon: You mean, (and I say this on behalf of the bewildered listeners) that without those plans Britain would never be able to build another union jack?

C.O: Exactly.

Seagoon: (Choking back tears) I say…

Greenslade: (Very emotional) Easy old man.

C.O: (Tense) Steady, Commander.

Seagoon: I’ll be alright…What was that all about then?

C.O: Seagoon, don’t spoil everything so. Without these carefully rehearsed moments of dramatic tension, where would the empire be today, sir?

Seagoon: Where it’s always been, in Leister Square!

ORCHESTRA: Tatty chord in C

Seagoon: Hup!

FX: Cymbal snap.

Seagoon: So gentlemen, this is where the story really starts, and here to hold it up is Max Geldray. Alright lads! Round the back for the old brandy there!

GRAMS: Boots running away.


ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.

Sellers: The Shifting Sunds of Weziristoon part pflin!

Seagoon: With the plans of the union jack secreted in the hip pocket of my hat, I set fire to my socks and set off hot-foot for Fort Thud, which was under the command of its commander, where at this very moment folks, they are playing his signature tune.

ORCHESTRA: Bloodnok Theme

Bloodnok: Ohohohohohohoh! Ohohohohohoh! Ohohohohoh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Ohoh!

FX: Cork popping.

Bloodnok: Oh, that’s better! Now…

GRAMS: Extended sounds of pouring.

Bloodnok: (Drinking sounds.)

Singhiz-Thingz: Major! Major Bloodnok, sir! The Colonel is coming. Tottenham three, Arsenal two; snow on high ground.

Bloodnok: The Colonel? Chain the brandy to the wall. I know his sort.

Chinstrap: (Entering) A glass of port? I don’t mind if I do.

Bloodnok: By the great leather puttees of Gemard R. Goldstein! Colonel Chinstrap it’s you sir!

Chinstrap: Yes sir. Colonel Chinstrap is always me.

Bloodnok: What a fortunate co-incidence for you both.

Chinstrap: Well, if you insist Dennis, just a chotta-peg.

Bloodnok: Yes, yes, yes.

GRAMS: Pouring

Bloodnok: Enough?

Chinstrap: Just a spot more.

GRAMS: Further pouring.

Bloodnok: Cheers.

Chinstrap: Cheers.

FX: Glasses clink.

(Sounds of drinking.)

Bloodnok: Have another?

Chinstrap: Ah, just a small one please.

GRAMS: Further further pouring.

Bloodnok: Cheers.

Chinstrap: Cheers.

FX: Glasses clink.

(Sounds of further drinking.)

Bloodnok: Spot more?

Chinstrap: Err, no, no. I think it’s about time you had one.

Bloodnok: Yes, yes, yes, oh yes, I will then.

GRAMS: Further further further pouring.

(Sounds of further further further drinking.)

Bloodnok: Does you good, you know, doesn’t it?

Chinstrap: I say, Dennis…

Bloodnok: Yes, yes?

Chinstrap: Anything happen during the night?

Bloodnok: The night? Oh, the night, yes. Well Humphrey, the fort was attacked by fifteen thousand tribesmen, but they were driven off by a frenzied shrieking figure waving a whiskey bottle.

Chinstrap: Good heavens. Who was it?

Bloodnok: You sir!

Chinstrap: Are you sure, Dennis?

Bloodnok: Am I sure?! Of course I’m sure. You weren’t the only one in that night-shirt you know! Ohhh! It was hell in there!

GRAMS: (Further further further further sounds of pouring.)

Bloodnok: Well, bottoms up!

Chinstrap: Cheers.

(Sounds of further further further further drinking.)

FX: Glasses clink.

Chinstrap: I have a toast.

Bloodnok: Yes?

Chinstrap: Here’s to the old country sir!

Bloodnok: What old country?

Chinstrap: Any old country. Cheers!

Bloodnok: Cheers.

(Sounds of further further further further further drinking.)

Bloodnok: Well now Colonel, I suppose you’re wondering why you sent for me.

Chinstrap: Yes, I… [(just a minute, just a minute my boy,) (to audience) QUIET OUT THERE! Blasted goldfish!!

Bloodnok: They should wear slippers, you know.]

Chinstrap: Well, if you insist, just a….

FX: Door opening.

Eccles: Here! What’s going on here?

Bloodnok: Nothing.

Eccles: Well I’ll clear off then.

FX: Door closes.

GRAMS: (Further further further further further further sounds of pouring. Mix in distant sounds of gunfire.)

Bloodnok: Look, the relief column’s arrived!

Chinstrap: Send her in.

FX: Door opens.

GRAMS: Tram arriving at junction.

Bloodnok: Great Scott! It’s a 49 tram!

Chinstrap: Then it’s one of ours.

Seagoon: (Entering) Gentlemen, here are the plans for the union jack you so desperately need.

Bloodnok: Hurray, hurray!

Seagoon: Sorry I’m late gentlemen, but your fort is twenty miles further north than it says on the map.

Chinstrap: Twenty miles further north? Then it’s happened again. This fort was built on shifting sands, and your combined extra weight must have set it going north again.

Bloodnok: You’re right, Colonel. Look out of the wall!

Seagoon: Great spons of galloping hearn! The fort’s crossing the frontier into Waziristan.

FX: Door knock.

Bloodnok: Ohohohouuuahhhhohhhuuuuah! Ohohohohuuuuuahhhhhhhohhh! I recognize that knocking. It’s the devilish Waziric tribal chief ‘The Wad of Char’!

FX: Heavy knocking.

Ellington: Let me in, Bloodnok, or I’ll open this door, cor blimey!

FX: Door opens

Ellington: Now…

Bloodnok: Curse! He knew the combination of the hinges.

Chinstrap: I say sir; ask what he wants while I climb out the window.

Ellington: Come back! Your fort now resting on my father’s domain.

Bloodnok: How painful for him.

Ellington: I warn you Bloodnok, your fort is now in the sacred car-park of El Bow. Cost you seven and six an hour, mate. Pay by cash cheque at sunrise or we attack.

Bloodnok: I’m warning YOU, Wad of Char, unless you withdraw that threat by dawn, we’ll pay.

Ellington: Alright, mate. And now my latest number. Yim bom bulla boo!

Bloodnok: You filthy swine, you.


ORCHESTRA: Military link.

Greenslade: The Shifting Sands of Waziristan. Part three, The Shifting Sands of Waziristan.

Seagoon: Quite right, yes.

Greenslade: Through the night…

Seagoon: Yes?

Greenslade: …on the fort’s battlements…

Seagoon: Yes yes yes?

Greenslade: …British soldiers…

Seagoon: Oooo, yes?

Greenslade: …stood to for the expected attack.

Seagoon: Right!

GRAMS: Howling wind

Bluebottle: Are you wearing your long winter draws, Eccles?

Eccles: No, I am not wearing my winter-draws-Eccles.

Bluebottle: Oh.

Eccles: Nope, no. I never wear them, ‘bottle.

Bluebottle: Cor. Aren’t you afraid of going around without wearing any of them?

Eccles: Nope.

Bluebottle: Oh what courage! Do you know that you’re a second Wyatt Earp?

Eccles: Doesn’t Wyatt Earp wear long draws?

Bluebottle: I do not know. I have never looked up his trouser legs.

Eccles: I’ll tell you something. I looked up my dad’s trousers once, and I discovered something.

Bluebottle: What?

Eccles: That’s where he keeps his legs. ‘Bottle, you ever seen your daddy’s legs.

Bluebottle: No. He always takes them to work with him.

Eccles: Oh. What for, ‘bottle?

Bluebottle: He uses them to stop his trousers from bending.

Eccles: Oh, fine. That’s good. That’s good, good, good…

Bluebottle: Eeeeeeeeee! Eccles! Do not look now, right behind you there’s a pair of great big naked legs.

Eccles: Oooooo, legs? Whose are they?

Bluebottle: I’ll look up his trousers and see. Ohhhhhhhh! It’s Ray Ellington.

Ellington: Yes, but me playing part of ‘Wad of Char’.

Bluebottle: Oh-hohoeeei! The enemy! Immediately attacks for England. Hit, hit, strike! Hit, hit, hit! strike! Hit strike, hit strike, strike hit!! Hit hit hit hit hit hit hit HIT! Knees falls off, collapses, loses.

Ellington: Listen, little spirit of empire. You give me the key to fort gates and me give you four ounces dolly-mixture.

Bluebottle: Hoi hoi hoi hoi hoi hoi! Every man has got his price. Here is the key.

Ellington: And here is four ounces dolly-mixture. Goodbye, mate.

GRAMS: Whoosh

Bluebottle: Puts leading dolly-mixture into dinner hole. Savours morsel. Ahi hoo hooo! Huh hu hu hui! I have been trickéd! These dolly-mixtures are forgeries made from compressed senna-pods. Faints with horror. Faint, fall, thud.

Seagoon: What’s going on here? Who’s this soldier sleeping on guard? Good heavens, Private Bluebottle!

Bluebottle: Captain, I have done a terrible thing! I gave the key of the fort gate to the dreaded ‘Wad of Char’.

Seagoon: What! You’ll be shot for this. Take aim, fire!

FX: Rifle shot

Bluebottle: Thank you Captain. Can I go home now?

Seagoon: Colonel, what are we going to do?

Chinstrap: We’ll have to drink our way out.

GRAMS: Machine gun fire. Bugle playing advance over. Sounds of battle.

Bloodnok: Ooooooh oooh! The Waziris are attacking. Oooohh! Ooooooh!

Anybody got a hole in the ground?

Seagoon: Bloodnok, this is a fine time to turn coward!

Bloodnok: I know. That’s why I chose it.

FX: Cork popping.

Chinstrap: Gentlemen, we’ll drink our way out!

Seagoon: No. Wait! Wait! Ehehehehehehheiei!

Chinstrap: Yes, I couldn’t agree more.

Seagoon: What are those lumps at the bottom of the foothills?

Eccles: Toes!

Seagoon: Shut up, Eccles! Gentlemen, look! They’re hauling ‘Thin Tom’, their long range cannon into position.

Bloodnok: They’re loading it…

Chinstrap: By gad, sir, they’re lighting the fuse…

Sponley: They’re, they’re pointing it at us…

Bloodnok: They’re going to fire it.

Seagoon: I wonder what they’re up to.

GRAMS: Shell dropping

Bloodnok: Duck!

GRAMS: Explosion followed by hen clucking

Seagoon: That’s no duck, that’s a chicken.

Chinstrap: By gad, sir, they’re firing hens at us.

Bloodnok: A FOUL trick.

Chinstrap: EGG-sactly.

Milligan: We’re being SHELLED.

Seagoon: Stop cracking YOKES!

GRAMS: Massed rifle fire.

Greenslade: Through the long night the Waziris attacked, firing their bullets from the hidden position inside their rifle barrels. Then at dawn, good tidings.

OMNES: Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

Crun: Gentlemen of the fort, we have worked all night and completed a union jack. Owing to the shortage I was forced to build it of wood.

Chinstrap: Wood? How is it going to wave?

Crun: I put hinges down the middle.

Seagoon: Great news! Hoist it up the flag-pole.

Crun: We can’t do that. You see I used the flag-pole to build the flag.

Minnie: Yes, yes. He…ah…he…got the….

GRAMS: Heavy grand piano rolling across stage.

Minnie: Ohh! We’ll all be….

Chinstrap: I say, what’s that?

Seagoon: The fort! It’s sliding back on the shifting sands towards India! Look, I see the frontier approaching.

FX: Quick knocking

Seagoon: There it is at the back door now.

FX: Door opening

Official: (Sellers as Cockney Jewish) Good morning gentlemen, British Customs Officers.

Spriggs: Yes indeed. That’s who we arrrrrrrre!

Official: Are you bringing any wines or spirits into the country?

Chinstrap: Only a flask full of brandy, sir.

Official: How much does it hold?

Chinstrap: Forty-eight gallons.

Official: I wondered why your trousers were round your ankles. Forty-eight gallons eh? That’ll be seventy-five pounds in annas.

Seagoon: Anna doesn’t live here anymore.

Official: You can’t take this fort across into India until you get rid of that brandy.

Chinstrap: Gentlemen, we’ll have to drink our way out of this.

Seagoon: Right, volunteer one pace forward march!

GRAMS: Regiment coming to attention

Seagoon: Name?

Chinstrap: Chinstrap, late of one pace back. Good health,

GRAMS: Liquid bubbling out of bottle.

Chinstrap: (Gulping)

Greenslade: That was all fifty-scree years ago, but to this day a white stone marks the spot where Chinstrap saved the day.

Bloodnok: Yes, and it carries this simple inscription;

"Here lies Colonel Chinstrap,


From the inside."

Seagoon: That’s it. All round the back for the old Marlon Brandy there!

GRAMS: Massed boots running away.