The Spon Plague

First broadcast on March 3, 1958

Script by Spike Milligan
Produced by Peter Eton
Announced by Wallace Greenslade
Orchestra conducted by Wally Stott

The Characters

Mr Henry Crun Peter Sellers
Miss Minnie Bannister Spike Milligan
Dr. Neddie Seagoon Harry Secombe
Grytpype-Thynne Peter Sellers
Sergeant Throat Spike Milligan
Major Denis Bloodnok Peter Sellers
Eccles Spike Milligan
Count Jim ‘Kidney Wiper’ Moriarty Spike Milligan
Bluebottle Peter Sellers
Nurse Peter Sellers
Mate Peter Sellers
Mr Lalkaka Peter Sellers
Flutt Spike Milligan
Spriggs Spike Milligan
Mr. Banajee Spike Milligan
A Scottish sentry George Chisholm (special guest)

WALLACE

This is the BBC Home Service. It might not sound much but (tearfully) it’s home to me. (Sings) We’ve been together nah fer forty years and it ain’t been a day ...

F.X.

PISTOL SHOT

HARRY

Got him, folks. It was the kindest way out. We had the vet’s permission. Now, folks, by permission of one of the Lord Chamberlain’s secretaries, we present …

ORCHESTRA

TIMPANI ROLL (COME IN ON WORD ‘SECRETARY’)

SPIKE

‘The Great Spon Plague.’

ORCHESTRA

DRAMATIC CHORDS (NEW ONES, PLEASE)

PETER

My name is Doctor Hairy MacSquirter, Squirter MacSquirters of the Clan MacThud Thud and Jim Thudder of Leeds — our history goes back over half a decade. I’ve got nothing to do with tonight’s show, so I’ll bid ye all a guid night.

ORCHESTRA

CHORD IN C. TATTY LA PIT ORCHESTRA

WALLACE

The scene opens in a granny-hurling factory in Tooting.

F.X.

STONE CHISEL SCULPTING ON GRANITE. THEN HAMMERING IRON FROM THE FORGE

THYNNE

(over the F.X.) Gad, it’s my masterpiece! Don’t move, Moriarty, keep that pose. How Michaelangelo would have envied me.

MORIARTY

What are you making?

THYNNE

A pill, Moriarty.

MORIARTY

What — Sapristi — you mean you made me pose nude as a model for a pill?

THYNNE

I wasn’t using all of you, just a certain area. Just round off the pill with sandpaper.

F.X.

SHARP RUBBING WITH SANDPAPER OVER ABOVE SPEECH

THYNNE

There — swallow it.

MORIARTY

(gulps) Ah, what delicious sandpaper. Banana — the flavour of the month. Owwwwwwwwww, more!

THYNNE

Listen, pay attention, you decimated, sparsely-haired French owner of a whopper. I have invented this pill to make us rich.

MORIARTY

You mustn’t be too ambitious, Grytpype, we already own three pieces of brown paper and a conker.

THYNNE

Don’t let that dazzle you. We must go on! Remember, ‘There comes a tide in the time of every man’s affairs’. You know who said that, Moriarty?

MORIARTY

You did, I just heard you. Ah, yes — Shakespeare.

THYNNE

Ignorant swine, it was Henery the Fifth, a great writer. You know the old Apollo Theatre?

MORIARTY

Yes.

THYNNE

Well, he wrote that. Now, get into this mass of chains.

F.X.

CHAINS

THYNNE

(without waiting for F.X.) Now stand on your head in this bucket of lukewarm water.

MORIARTY

Ow ...

F.X.

HEAD IN BUCKET OF WATER

THYNNE

Now, I pour this bottle of rancid yak butter over your knees, so. Next, hold this copy of the Feathered World under your nose, and fit this cricket ball under your chin. There. Next, I haul you up to the ceiling.

F.X.

QUICK WINCHING WHEN HE SAYS ‘HAUL UP’

MORIARTY

(slightly alarmed) What are you going to do now?

THYNNE

Just talk to you. Can you hear me talking?

MORIARTY

Only in words.

THYNNE

Splendid, my little thin-legged steamer. I shall use just words then.

MORIARTY

It’s a miracle, I tell you.

THYNNE

This pill is the only known and unknown cure for the Spon Plague.

MORIARTY

Spon? Is it catching?

THYNNE

I don’t know, no one’s ever had it.

MORIARTY

You mean that yar yar yar boo the tar marg al lung tal mor pol tol nonl doll roll coll yar la backa ta la tickkiety takck a tooo?

THYNNE

(excited) You have it in a nutshell!

MORIARTY

But how do you know people are going to start catching the Spon Plague?

THYNNE

Leave that to me ... I have certain arglers on the Splott mickledoooodle and the Blim blam bloo.

WALLACE

And on that beautifully enunciated rubbish we move to ...

NED

Me, folks, Neddie!

GRAMS

OVATION

NED

Ta. You get all free draws for Christmas. Now for a quick bath.

GRAMS

SPLASH

NED

Now, where’s that instruction manual, ‘Bath Night for Beginners’? Ahhh. Take soap in right hand and apply to all parts ... (Fade)

PETER

(newsreel) This was the great National Health Surgeon, Ned Seagoon, who has just invented dirty necks ...

NED

La ta ta ta teeeeee ... Flutt!

FLUTT

Yeeeeees sir?

NED

Ah, Jimmmm, stand in the sink and take a letter. First, what have I got in my diary this week?

FLUTT

Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat.

NED

Cancel them. I can’t see them till Sunday. Well, I’d better be getting down to the surgery.

GRAMS

GETTING OUT OF BATH (TO GO WITH ABOVE DIALOGUE)

F.X.

DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES

GRAMS

SCREAMS

F.X.

DOOR OPENS IN A HURRY

NED

Ha ha — I forgot my clothes!

ORCHESTRA

SHORT LINK, VERY WEIRD NOTES ALL OVER THE PLACE. UNFINISHED CADENCES, MELODY PASSES FROM INSTRUMENT TO INSTRUMENT WITH A KEY CHANGE AT THE SAME TIME

WALLACE

The scene: Dr Seagoon’s National Health waiting-room.

GRAMS

AGONIZED GROANS, SCREAMS. PEOPLE FALLING TO THE FLOOR. OCCASIONAL SNORING

F.X.

DOOR OPENS

NED

Ah, good morning, patients. Sorry to be so late, but I had to stop for a three month’s holiday in Paris.

NURSE

Shall I send the first patient in?

NED

Yes, darling. Remember, the rich ones first, National Healths last.

NURSE

You first -- drop ‘em.

MATE

Ta, nurse.

NED

Now, what’s the trouble with you?

MATE

I got the Shoo Shoo.

GRAMS

CROWS

MATE

I got a touch of the birds. Get off — shoo, birdies.

NED

Gad, crows, starlings, pigeons — you’ll soon be the Man in the White Suit. Ha ha ha ha ha. Well, getting the bird is a common complaint.

MATE

Yerst, I saw you last week at Coventry. ‘Ere, you do all right for fruit, don’t you.

NED

It’s all lies, folks, I’m a great success.

MATE

Well, how can I cure these birds, mate?

NED

Soon have you well, just wear these bird-cages hanging on your legs. And take this bird-lime three times a second.

MATE

Oh, lovely

NED

Who’s next?

RAY

The Ellington Quartet.

NED

What’s wrong with him?

RAY

This!

RAY ELLINGTON QUARTET

MUSIC

WALLACE

What a terrible illness that must be. And now I have pleasure in announcing a knock at the door.

F.X.

A KNOCK

NED

I have pleasure in saying ‘Come in’.

F.X.

DOOR OPENS

THYNNE

Ah, dear Doctor Ned. I bring you a man stricken with a dread disease. He is Count Jim ‘Kidney Wiper’ —

F.X.

SWANEE WHISTLE

THYNNE

— Moriarty.

MORIARTY

Owwww, save me, Doctor ...

NED

Right, just lie face-down on this back. Now, just run a stethoscope over his pockets. Gad, this man is suffering from poverty. Take this bottle of pound notes and inject them into his wallet three times a day.

MORIARTY

Owwwwwwwwww ... Lovely medicine.

THYNNE

Dear Surgeon, you have overlooked one terrifying aspect of the dear Count’s condition. This man has the Spon Plague.

NED

I’ve never heard of it.

THYNNE

That’s because the Count is the first man to have caught it.

NED

Are you sure?

THYNNE

He has all the symptoms — namely, bare knees.

NED

Is it catching?

THYNNE

Yes — stand back! Too late — you’ve got it.

NED

What what what what what?

THYNNE

You’ve got the bare knees.

NED

No I haven’t.

THYNNE

Roll your trousers up.

F.X.

WOODEN VENETIAN BLIND PULLED UP

THYNNE

There — bare knees.

NED

Ahhhhhhh — I’ve got the Spon!

GRAMS

ABSOLUTE RUNNING AT HIGH SPEED IN ALL DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES SCREAMING ‘HELPPPP’. ALL DONE AT TOP SPEED. REPEAT TOP SPEED AND ON GRAMS — THAT IS, RECORDED RECORDS, PRE-RECORDED

WALLACE

Even as Seagoon is stricken with Spon, the British Medical Council are quick to seek a cure.

GRAMS

DUCK QUACKING

PETER

(Wolfit) Aaah, and so, gentlemen, I must conclude by drawing your attention to the fact that the use of leeches is not only useless but harmful.

OMNES

Paaah, ha, rubbish — man’s unbalanced. He’ll lose his stethoscope licence.

PETER

(confident idiot of middle age) Hur, hur. Gentlemen, I maintain that I have used leeches for years, and not one of them has ever been ill.

HARRY

Bravo, there’s proof.

PETER

I might add that neither have I received any complaints from the patients’ next of kin.

GRAMS

OLD MEN’S APPLAUSE

F.X.

DOOR BURSTS OPEN

NED

Stop stip stup stap stop. Gentlemen, grave news! A new malignant plague is upon us.

PETER

Oh, gooooood. Business is looking up.

NED

Who’s business is looking up?

PETER

Bird-watchers. Ha he he

NED

It’s the plague, I tell you, the fearful and fearsome plague.

SPIKE

Splendid, we haven’t had a good plague for years.

PETER

Yes, you get out of touch.

NED

Gentlemen, every patient that I examined this morning at a nominal fee of twenty guineas has the Spon Plague. Even I have it at a nominal fee of two and sixpence. The symptoms are bare knees - roll your trouser legs up.

GRAMS

SEVERAL WOODEN VENETIAN BLINDS BEING PULLED UP SHARPLY WITH A CLATTER

PETER

Oh, dearrrr. We got it.

NED

There’s only one cure. Try and run away from your knees!

GRAMS

GREAT PROTESTING QUACKING BY DRAKES AND DUCKS. BOOTS RUNNING INTO DISTANCE

ORCHESTRA

DRAMATIC CHORDS

WALLACE

The Spon Plague spread like wild-fire. Everywhere people were going down with it. Several people went up with it, and one gentleman was known to have gone sideways with it. The country was in a turmoil as one Minister remarked —

PETER

They’ve never had it so good.

WALLACE

Meantime, in a new satellite town slum —

GRAMS

RAIN POURING DOWN ONTO FLOOR, MUSICAL SOUND OF RAIN, DROPS PLOPPING INTO SMALL POOLS OF WATER

CRUN

Oooh, dear ... dearrrr dearrrr ... oh dearrrr … Min? Modern Min?

MINNIE

What is it, cocky?

CRUN

Where have you put the roof?

MINNIE

I sent it to the menders, it was leaking, cocky.

CRUN

Oh, dearrrr. It’s freezing cold in here, Min.

MINNIE

Well, sit nearer to Africa, it’s warmer there.

CRUN

Oh yes! Nothing like an Africa to keep you warm, Mm.

WALLACE

Yes, folks — do away with dirty coal — keep yourselves warm with Africa. Africa is now on sale to anyone who wants to make it a second India.

CRUN

Hear that, Mm?

MINNIE

They knock Africa down and build flats there.

CRUN

I wish Disraeli was back.

MINNIE

He will be, Henery, he’s just gone down to the shops.

F.X.

KNOCK ON DOOR

MINNIE

Ah, that’s him. Come in!

F.X.

DOOR OPENS

MINNIE & CRUN

Morning, morning.

CRUN

Come in, Doctor Ned.

MINNIE

How’s the Spon Plague?

CRUN

Oh, Doctor, is there no cure?

NED

None.

F.X.

DOOR OPENS

THYNNE

News, Ned. I’ve found the cure — this bottle of pills. Ten shillings, please.

F.X.

TILL

THYNNE

Ta, Ned, and a sailor’s farewell.

GRAMS

QUEEN MARY’S HOOTER

NED

And so saying, he went through the door and disappeared into the night.

THYNNE

Did I? Well, I might have been told a bit sooner than this.

NED

And so saying, he went through..

THYNNE

Yes, they know...

NED

So saying, I read the instructions on the pills. Take three paces south, stretch our right arm, roll down trouser legs.

F.X.

WOODEN VENETIAN BLINDS ROLLING DOWN

NED

Eureka! Huzza, folks, my bare knees have gone! Taxi!

GRAMS

EXPLOSION

MATE

Yerst, mate?

NED

The Ministry of Health and Dirt, please.

MATE

Ta.

GRAMS

BLOODNOK THEME. BUBBLING CAULDRON. EXPLOSIONS

BLOODNOK

Gad, I can’t send these to the laundry. There must be a cure for this. I can’t go in the street, I —

GRAMS

EXPLOSION

BLOODNOK

Ooooh, a taxi.

NED

Yes, it’s the new type.

BLOODNOK

Come in.

NED

I am in.

BLOODNOK

Oh, he am in.

NED

Bloodnok, I’ve come here on business.

BLOODNOK

It’s the quickest way. I always travel on business. Sit down.

F.X.

DUCK CALL

BLOODNOK

Eeehohhhhh ... Every chair a whoopee cushion. Now, here’s my brochure. And an interesting health picture of Sabrina.

NED

Thank you, and here is a picture of her clothes.

BLOODNOK

Good heavens, who’s that man inside ‘em?

ECCLES

It’s me.

BLOODNOK

Get out, you fool. Now, Ned. Ohhh, oh dear, that’s quite upset me.

NED

Bloodnok, here’s a statue waiting to be unveiled.

F.X.

HEAVY TEARING

BLOODNOK

Oooh, it’s a statue of you saying —
   

GRAMS

HARRY (PRE-RECORDED) SAYING ‘I’VE DISCOVERED A CURE FOR SPON PLAGUE’

BLOODNOK

Thank you. And here is a wood carving of me saying

GRAMS

BUBBLING CAULDRON. EXPLOSION

BLOODNOK

Oooh, there must be a cure for it.

NED

Yes, and that cure is these anti-Spon pills.

BLOODNOK

Splendid. Now, sir, you’ll find my static water tank in the attic.

NED

I’m not interested in your water tank.

BLOODNOK

So, that’s your attitude. Well, sir, I’m not interested in your water tank.

NED

What? You’re insulting the plumbing I love. Just for that, take that!

MAX

(very loud) Ploogieeeee!

BLOODNOK

It’s Max Geldray! Run for it.

GRAMS

THUNDERING FEET INTO THE DISTANCE WITH SMALL EXPLOSIONS, AND SCREAMS BY BLOODNOK

MAX & ORCHESTRA

MUSIC

WALLACE

Max Geldray is now appearing at the St James’s Theatre. Mr Geldray will shortly be knocked down to make way for offices. I have great pleasure in announcing the chord of C.

ORCHESTRA

CHORD IN C (NICE AND BIG)

GRAMS

GREAT SHOVELLING OF MONEY. COINS EVERYWHERE — ROLLING ALONG THE GROUND

THYNNE

Hear that sound, folks? Money — M-O-N-E-Y, pronounced —

GRAMS

GRYTPYPE-THYNNE (PRE-RECORDED), SLIGHTLY FASTER, SAYING ‘MONEYYYYY’

MORIARTY

Yes, Grytpype, the anti-Spon pills are selling like wild-fire. Ah hahahahahahah.

F.X.

KNOCK ON DOOR. DOOR OPENS

THYNNE

Yes?

WALLACE

Meantime, in a Government Laboratory.

THYNNE

Thank you.

F.X.

DOOR CLOSES

GRAMS

FADE IN BUBBLING CAULDRON

MORIARTY

Listen, I can hear the best brains that low wages can buy.

BLUEBOTTLE

Don’t take any notice of dem, Eccles. Now, my man, to our works. Remember, we’re boy scientists working for our country. Picks up Union Jack, cleans boots.

ECCLES

Here, Bottle, I got a rise yesterday.

BLUE BOTTLE

How much?

ECCLES

Tree inches.

BLUEBOTTLE

Oh, what did you getted dat for, brainy?

ECCLES

I wrote a tune.

BLUEBOTTLE

Oh, play it, den.

ECCLES

OK.

GRAMS

HAMMERING OF NAILS IN WOOD

ECCLES

Hoi!

BLUEBOTTLE

Coo, I wish I was musical.

ECCLES

Come on, den, now all join in the chorus.

GRAMS

GREAT MASS OF HAMMERING NAILS IN WOOD AT DIFFERENT TEMPOS

WALLACE

(over) What a grand sight to see the studio audience hammering nails into each other.

F.X.

SPOT EFFECT CARRIES ON HAMMERING WITH THE ABOVE

BLUEBOTTLE

‘Ray for tunes! Now to the anti-Spon experiment. Roll up your trousers for the injection.

F.X.

WOODEN BLIND ROLLED UP

BLUE BOTTLE

Here, you’re cured — you ain’t got bare knees.

ECCLES

No, I always wear long underpants.

BLUEBOTTLE

Oh, den we got the answer to Spon.

ORCHESTRA

DRAMATIC CHORDS

NED

Yes, folks, the Ministry of Health acted immediately. Within thirty years everyone had been immunized with long woollen underpants.

MORIARTY

Owwww, we’re ruined. R-U-I-N-E-D, pronounced —

GRAMS

MORIARTY (PRE-RECORDED) SAYING ‘RUINEDDDDDDDD’

THYNNE

(furious) Foiled by long woollen things, but I’ll get even, mark’ee. Taxi!

GRAMS

EXPLOSION

SPRIGGS

Where to, Jim, where to, Jimmmm?

THYNNE

Drive me up the wall.

SPRIGGS

Wo, wo wo wo wo wo wo wo.

THYNNE

Thank you. How much?

SPRIGGS

That’s four and six, pronounced —

GRAMS

SPRIGGS (PRE-RECORDED) SAYING ‘TENNNNN BOB’

THYNNE

Right, take it out of this.

F.X.

PISTOL SHOT

SPRIGGS

Thank you, Jim.

THYNNE

Moriarty, where’s Neddie?

MORIARTY

In Scotland.

THYNNE

Right, let’s go to him.

GRAMS

WHOOSH. BAGPIPES IN DISTANCE

NED

Hello, Grytpype, how nice to see you lads.

THYNNE

Bad news, Ned. Roll up your kilt.

F.X.

WHISTLE UP

MORIARTY

Oww owww.

THYNNE

Not too high, Ned ... Gad, he’s got it, Moriarty!

NED

Got what? What what?

THYNNE

You’ve got the Quodge.

NED

The Quodge? What’s the symptoms?

THYNNE

It’s bare knees covered with long underpants.

NED

I’ve got ‘em, I’ve got the Quodge!

GRAMS

HARRY (PRE-RECORDED) SCREAMING ‘HELLPPPP~ RUNNING BOOTS

ORCHESTRA

DRAMATIC CHORDS

PETER (SCOTTISH)

The Quodge spread through Scotland like wild-fire. The hospitals were full of Quodge victims. It was a terrible sight ter see those knees covered with long underpants. So that the disease didna spread, a great wall was built by the English ter keep the Quodge north of the border. Contractor Jim Hadrian.

GRAMS

WIND HOWLING ON MOOR. DISTANT BAGPIPES. HORSE APPROACHES

SENTRY

Halt — who gaes theere, the noo?

LALKAKA

Please do not shoot. We are two Indian gentlemen Western-style. We are here to investigate the Quodge on behalf of the Indian Government.

SENTRY

Advance and be recognized.

BANAJEE

I don’t see the point, sir. You have never seen us before, therefore it is in the extreme of possibilities that you will recognize us.

LALKAKA

I must concur with Mr Banajee. I can recognize him and he in turn can recognize me.

BANAJEE

There is much truth in what you say, Mr Lalkaka.

LALKAKA

Indeed, man, yes. Every morning I am arising from my charpoy and looking in the mirror, I am seeing myself and I say ‘Hello, there, there you are again, my fine fellow.’

SENTRY

You’ll both get a bullet up yer back if you’re no away.

LALKAKA

Please, European soldier, let’s explain we are selling ties.

F.X.

SHOTS. SCREAMS

GRAMS

LALKAKA & BANAJEE (PRE-RECORDED) SCREAMING IN HINDU. RUNNING FEET SPEEDED UP, LIKE WET FISH BEING SLAPPED

THYNNE

Well done, sentry, it’s patriotism like that that’s made Egypt what it is today.

SENTRY

Oh, and what is it today?

MORIARTY

It’s Thursday.

SENTRY

Oh, it’s ma day off.

GRAMS

WHOOSH

THYNNE

Right, open the gates, Moriarty, and let the stricken masses through.

F.X.

GREAT BOLT SLIDES BACK QUICKLY

GRAMS

GREAT YELLING MASSES, BAGPIPES, ALL PLAYING AT SPEED

THYNNE

This way, Scottish people don’t panic I have here on this stall a cure for the Quodge.

ORCHESTRA

A RARARARARARARARAR RARRRR.

F.X.

TILL RINGING UP OVER AND OVER AGAIN

THYNNE

Thank you ta -— ta one over there ... (Fades behind —)

NED

Ha, ha, the swine didn’t recognize me I got a bottle —- what’s it say?

GRAMS

PETER (PRE-RECORDED) SAYING IN IDIOT VOICE ‘TO CURE THE QUODGE, SWALLOW THE PILLS’

NED

Gad, a talking bottle ... (Gulps)

GRAMS

PETER (PRE-RECORDED) SAYING IN IDIOT VOICE ‘YES, NOW REMOVE LONG UNDERPANTS’

F.X.

RIPPING

NED

Gad, cured! Not a trace of long underpants left —but wait — bare knees! I’ve got the Spon again!

THYNNE

I have the cure here.

F.X.

TILL

NED

Swallow pill, pull on underpants — cured! Wait a minute — long underpants? The Quodge!

WALLACE

Dinner is served, gentlemen.

NED

Oh, down to the old canteen then. Goodnight, folks.

WALLACE

You can come out now, it’s all over. Pronounced —

GRAMS

WALLACE (PRE-R ECORDED) SAYING ‘OVERRRRRRRR’

ORCHESTRA

OLD COMRADES MARCH