Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

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Hercules Grytpype-Thynne was a character from the British 1950s comedy radio programme The Goon Show. He was voiced by Peter Sellers. In the episode "Who Is Pink Oboe?", Valentine Dyall filled-in for the role in Sellers' absence.

Grytpype-Thynne is the smooth spoken and sophisticated principal villain on the show, and is usually accompanied by his companion in crime, Count Jim Moriarty. The main plot usually follows an impoverished Grytpype-Thynne thinking up a money making scheme which involves (the usually equally impoverished) Neddie Seagoon being the fall-guy. In early scripts, however, Grytpype was often cast as a government official, and not necessarily a villain. For instance in "The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-on-Sea" he is a police inspector; in "The Whistling Spy Enigma" he is the secret Government agent who sends Neddie Seagoon to Hungary to booby-trap the boots of the national football team; and in "The Jet-Propelled Guided NAAFI" he is Prime Minister Neddie's butler and confidante, but also an undercover Soviet agent plotting with Moriarty to sell the guided NAAFI secrets to the Russians. In "The Histories of Pliny the Elder", he was Julius Caesar.

In later series, he and Moriarty are much further down the respectability scale, often found sharing the same suit, eating newspaper stew, or living up trees, in dustbins, in open drains, or on top of disused factory chimneys.

Grytpype's relationship with Moriarty also goes downhill in later series; he often refers to Moriarty in very insulting tones. The lowest point appears in "The Pam's Paper Policy"; on the way out of Ray Ellington's musical piece, there is the prolonged sound of clubbing, mixed in with Moriarty's howls of pain, and Grytpype says, "Let that clubbing be a lesson to you, you crutty French schlapper!"

Grytpype sometimes offers Neddie things instead of cigarettes, such as gorillas or pictures of Queen Victoria. Seagoon's usual response is "No I'm trying to give them up", "No, they hurt my throat", or "I've just put one out". This happened most notably in "Rommel's Treasure", "The Great International Christmas Pudding" and "Napoleon's Piano".

Grytpype often used the word "Charlie", Cockney rhyming slang for "cunt" (which might be derived from Charlie Hunt), instead of "person" or "fellow", a trait that was also made fun of several times during the show. His book of ideas for schemes, alphabetically ordered, reads, "A… B… C… Charlie." In another instance, in "The Jet-Propelled Guided NAAFI", he refers to Seagoon as "Charlie". Seagoon states that his name is not Charlie, to which Grytpype responds, "I know, but for some reason I always think of you as Charlie". Having put one over on Seagoon, he and Moriarty would often break into song, singing "April in Pareess… We've found a Charlie".

Sellers drew inspiration for the character from actor George Sanders;[1] the script of "The Dreaded Batter-Pudding Hurler of Bexhill on Sea" has the stage direction "Sanders throughout" next to the first appearance of Grytpype-Thynne.[2]

Sexuality[edit]

In The Goon Show Scripts, published in 1972, it was revealed that Hercules Grytpype-Thynne was homosexual.[3] The same authority also intimated that he was the half-brother of Willium "Mate" Cobblers, having the same mother, a certain "Vera Colin".

Though potentially politically incorrect in current idiom, and apparently obscure to some observers, Grytpype-Thynne's sexuality is also evident from his name - a typical Milligan device which evaded BBC censorship.

Grytpype's sexual preference occasionally appeared in the show.

  • In "The Lost Emperor" he and Moriarity are held at gunpoint by Eccles, and they are trying to persuade him to close his eyes so they can escape. Notably, previous dialogue of this scene revealed Grytpype to be naked, having been taken hostage while in the bath.
Eccles: If I close my eyes I won't be able to see you!
Grytpype: (intimately) Will you miss me?
Eccles: (alarmed) Here here here here!

Later in the same show, Seagoon refers to Grytpype as 'attractive', flattering him, and following the climax they exclaim 'darling, together again at last!' and begin to dance.

  • Similarly, in "Rommel's Treasure", Seagoon engages Grytpype with the unfounded appraisal that "[He's] just as beautiful as the night I first married you". Repeating that phrase by the end of the script, the two dance away.
  • Another example would be in "The Telephone". Grytpype says to Neddy Seagoon that he and Moriarty are bachelors. When Neddy enquires as to why they haven't married yet, he replies "I would but Moriarty doesn't love me."[1]
  • Occasionally, Moriarty would return his affections; in "The Choking Horror", the two share a last dance upon learning that within seconds they will become the victims of a London air raid.
  • In "The Last Goon Show Of All", Grytpype is slightly more flamboyant and camp, as is the stereotype with homosexual men, especially the minor Goons character Flowerdew; he refers to Moriarty as 'Stupid Frenchy-Poo' and abandons his usually serious tone to talk frivolously to Neddy about 'Knee-Trembling'.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wilmut, Roger and Jimmy Grafton (1976). The Goon Show Companion: A History and Goonography. Robson Books Ltd. p. 90-93. ISBN 0903895641. 
  2. ^ Farnes, Norma (ed.) (1997). The Goons: The Story. Virgin Publishing Ltd. p. 33. ISBN 1852276797. 
  3. ^ Milligan, Spike (1972). The Goon Show Scripts. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-7130-0076-7. OCLC 685806.  On page 15, in the section on "The Main Characters", the biography for Grytpype-Thynne mentions "homosexuality" six times, including: "Recreations: Homosexuality."