The show's chief creator and main writer was Spike Milligan. The scripts mixed ludicrous plots with surreal humour, puns, catchphrases and an array of bizarre sound effects. Some of the later episodes feature electronic effects devised by the then-fledgling BBC Radiophonic Workshop, many of which were reused by other shows for decades afterwards. Many elements of the show satirised contemporary life in Britain, parodying aspects of show business, commerce, industry, art, politics, diplomacy, the police, the military, education, class structure, literature and film.
The show was released internationally through the BBC Transcription Service (TS). It was heard regularly from the 1950s in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India and Canada, although these TS versions were frequently edited to avoid controversial subjects. NBC began broadcasting the programme on its radio network from the mid-1950s. The programme exercised a considerable influence on the subsequent development of British and American comedy and popular culture. It was cited as a major influence by the Beatles, Monty Python and the American comedy team The Firesign Theater.