There are many references to G&S music dotted around popular culture. Here is our little list that you may have heard of in Television Stage Music and Film. Various G&S songs are also widely used as a basis for other amusing comedy (on ID cards, computers).



Conviction (5.01)
Gunn is given the entire knowledge of the law and the complete works of Gilbert and Sullivan through telepathy.


HMS Yakko (#3) (see for more details). Uses parodies of songs including:

Babylon 5

Atonement (4.05)
Marcus sings the major general's song in a cargo hold

The Box of Delights

Abner Brown sings "Take a pair of sparkling eyes", from Gondoliers

Dr Who

The Talons of Weng Chiang A couple of bars of the opening of The Mikado can be heard in this one, despite its accompanying a Chinese themed magic show rather than Japanese.

Ghost Light The line "I'm a man of property" is spoken, taken from Patience


Cape Feare (9.22)

West Wing

And It's Surely To Their Credit (2.05)
Cast spends time arguing whether 'He's an Englishman' is from Pirates or Pinafore, culminating in their decorating a new employee's office in G&S posters and singing 'He is an Englishman'
Sam Seaborn, Deputy Communications Director for the White House, used to be Recording Secretary for the Princeton University Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

Mandatory Minimums (1.20)
Sam: "He's trying to practice on"
Toby: "Credulous simplicity?"
Which is taken from a line from Pirates,
King: "Am I to understand that, to save his contemptible life, he dared to practice on our credulous simplicity?"

Lord John Marbury (1.11)
CJ: "The Earl of Sherbourne, he is the great great grandson of a former Viceroy and for thirteen years served as the Queen's minster to either India or Pakistan. Lord Marbury is here to counsel the President, and if you think this is all starting to sound like a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, I don't blame you a bit"

Inauguration Part One (4.14)
President Bartlet describes Will Bailey's father, the NATO Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, as "the very model of a modern Major General, referring to the song from Pirates.


Thoroughly Modern Millie

Features a G&S-like patter song, 'Speed Test', which borrows from the Ruddigore song 'It Doesn't Matter'


Tom Lehrer's

Elements song is a parody of the Major General's Song.


Beautiful (2000)

Uses I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General 'The Pirates of Penzance'

Chariots of Fire

Harold Abrahams is a big G&S fan in the film. He sings "With Catlike Tread" (Pirates) as a party piece, and "For He Is An Englishman" (Pinafore) playing while he receives his medal. "Three Little Maids" (Mikado) is also heard.

Dick Deadeye or, Duty Done (1971)

( for more information)
The absolutely fabulous, completely surreal Dick Deadeye the movie, written and produced by Ronald Searle. Almost the most wacky G&S related thing we've ever seen. A complete review of the plot can be found here.
Various G&S characters float on and off, but the plot bears little resemblence to anything but an acid trip...

Foul Play

If you want to know who we are (The Mikado)

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

Selections from The Pirates of Penzance
Selections from HMS Pinafore

Kate & Leopold

I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General from (The Pirates of Penzance)

Permanent Record (1988)

This very poor early Keanu Reeves vehicle, where a group of high school students are putting on a production of HMS Pinafore when one of them ruins the party by committing suicide. Towards the end, there's a scene where the character playing Josephine (in the play within the film) is about to sing the gorgeous "Sorry her lot who loves too well", when she breaks off and sings some absolutely dismal pop tune instead as a tribute to him.

Peter Pan (2003)

When I Was a Lad (HMS Pinafore)


Extract from The Pirates of Penzance

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

Three little maids from school are we (The Mikado)

Raiders of the Lost Ark

When Marion bids Sallah goodbye, she kisses him several times, then he sings "A British Tar Is a Soaring Soul, As Free as a Mountain Bird" (HMS Pinafore)

Star Trek: Insurrection

A British Tar (HMS Pinafore)

The Talented Mr Ripley

We're Called Gondolieri (The Gondoliers)

Topsy Turvy

1999 film about the theatre preparation and production for the Mikado. Includes:


Ah, leave me not to pine (The Pirates of Penzance)

The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)

I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General (The Pirates of Penzance)