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Friday, April 3, 1998 Published at 05:09 GMT 06:09 UK


Charles joins the Goon squad
image: [ Charles: has sung the Goons' Ying Tong song in public ]
Charles: has sung the Goons' Ying Tong song in public

Fans of Bluebottle, Eccles and Count Jim Moriarty are to have a prince as their patron.

Prince Charles is to hold the honorary position with the Goon Show Preservation Society for the next five years.

[ image: The Goons: comedy pioneers]
The Goons: comedy pioneers
The prince has been a great fan of the surreal humour of the classic BBC radio series since he was a boy.

Friends say he has treated them to impressions of the many characters played by Spike Milligan, Sir Harry Secombe and the late Peter Sellers.

The prince even remained a keen admirer after Spike Milligan famously accused him of grovelling at an awards ceremony in 1995.

The society's secretary, Maxine Ventham, said: "We are over the moon he's decided to accept. He gets asked about so many patronages that we never thought we had a chance.

"We are especially delighted because it's just ahead of Spike's 80th birthday later this month.

"It's very good of him after Spike's comment, but they are still friends and I know they meet up occasionally.

"Prince Charles can do the characters' voices brilliantly, which is quite funny when you think that he's the heir to the throne."

[ image: Milligan: pressure of writing a script each week led to a breakdown]
Milligan: pressure of writing a script each week led to a breakdown
The prince once wrote an introduction to a book of Goon Show scripts, in which he counted himself among their most dedicated fans.

In September last year, he sent a message to the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the last show - a special in 1972 made to celebrate the BBC's 50th anniversary.

Both the surviving members of the classic Goons cast, Spike Milligan and Sir Harry Secombe, also attended the prince's wedding.

The Goons became a national institution after they first hit the airwaves in 1951. Characters like Bluebottle and Henry Crun became household names, and more than 240 episodes were broadcast.

The show's brand of anarchic humour, fed by Spike Milligan's scripts, is widely credited as the inspiration for successive generations of comedians, including the Monty Python team and, more recently, Reeves and Mortimer.

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