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"Mad" Dan Eccles (//) is the name of a comedy character, created and performed by Spike Milligan, from the 1950s United Kingdom radio comedy series The Goon Show. In the episode "The Macreekie Rising of '74", Peter Sellers had to fill in for the role in Milligan's absence. Very occasionally, he was referred to as 'Mad Dan' Eccles.
Eccles was one of the show's secondary characters, but like his counterpart Bluebottle (portrayed by Sellers), Eccles became extremely popular and he is regarded as epitomising the show's humour.
Milligan visualised Eccles as a tall, lanky, amiable, well-meaning, but incredibly stupid teenager who often found himself involved—usually alongside Bluebottle—in one of the nefarious schemes created by arch-villain Hercules Grytpype-Thynne.
Eccles was often referred to as being something other than an ordinary human. Seagoon says of him "He was the nearest thing I had seen to a human being without actually being one" ("The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-On-Sea"). In "Lurgi Strikes Britain", in a conversation about how Lurgi could easily kill every human in England, Eccles quips, "Then I'm okay, fellers!" In "The Greenslade Story", Grytpype-Thynne mentions that Eccles is colour-blind, and in "The Missing Scroll", Seagoon says of Eccles: "He was living proof that the Piltdown Skull was not a hoax."
The Eccles character and his distinctive voicing were strongly influenced by Milligan's childhood love for the classic Walt Disney cartoons and specifically Disney's anthropomorphic buffoon dog character Goofy. However Eccles transcended the denseness of Goofy, being instead more like a young adult with childlike impulses, which may explain his friendship with Bluebottle. His special talent is for taking things he hears literally, with humorous and occasionally insightful results.
- Seagoon (finding Eccles in a coal cellar): What are you doing here?
- Eccles: Everybody's gotta be somewhere.
and in the same conversation (from "The Last Goon Show of All"):
- Seagoon: After you deliver the coal, you're supposed to go back to the cart!
- Eccles: You mean I should let go of the sack?
- Seagoon: Yes!
- Eccles: But they said they was givin' me the sack!
During an arctic expedition in "Scradge":
- Seagoon: Now then Dr. Eccles, any cases of frozen feet?
- Eccles: You didn't order any cases of frozen feet!
Early cameo at the beginning of "The Great Art Mystery/The Case Of The Fake Neddie Seagoons":
- Eccles: What's going on here!?
- Grytpype-Thynne: Nothing.
- Eccles: Oh I'd better go then.
- Greenslade: The part of the mysterious stranger was played by Eccles. The rest of him was played by Rawicz and Landauer.
Eccles also possessed remarkable stupidity when dealing with physical objects; in "The Greatest Mountain in the World" he describes two sticks of dynamite as "What luck! Two big cigars and they're both lit!"
Eccles would frequently engage in echolalia, a symptom of several mental illnesses (including bipolar disorder, which Milligan himself suffered from). He also had a tendency to copy or outright assume the role of another character in a scene (to the original character's intense frustration), usually culminating in repeated efforts to throw Eccles off the premises.