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Spike Milligan

Spike Milligan (April 16, 1918 - February 27, 2002) was a comedian, novelist, poet, jazz musician (trumpet and guitar) and member of the Goons. He was born Terence Alan Milligan in Ahmed Nagar or Ahmadnagar, India to an Irish-born officer in the British army. Though he lived most of his life in Britain and served in the British army, he was declared stateless in 1960, and took Irish citizenship.

Table of contents
1 Biography
2 Radio Comedy shows
3 TV Comedy shows
4 Theatre
5 Movies
6 Books
7 Quotations
8 External Links


Spike Milligan suffered from bipolar disorder for most of his life, having at least ten breakdowns. He was a strident campaigner on environmental matters, particularly arguing against unnecessary noise. He served in the Royal Artillery in World War 2 in North Africa and also Italy, where he was hospitalized for shell shock. During most of the 30s and early 40s he performed as a jazz trumpeter but even then he did comedy sketches. After his hospitalisation he played guitar with a jazz/comedy group called The Bill Hall Trio, at first in concert parties for the troops and, after the War, for a short time on stage. While he was with the Central Pool of Artists (a group, in his own words, "of bomb-happy squaddies") he began to write parodies of their mainstream plays, that displayed many of the key elements of what would become The Goon Show.

He was the primary author of the Goon Show scripts as well as a performer, and is considered the father of modern British comedy, having inspired many performers, notably Monty Python's Flying Circus. Writing a show a week affected his health greatly and caused him to have a series of nervous breakdowns. On one occasion Peter Sellers had to lock his door against a knife-wielding Milligan; on another, Sellers and Harry Secombe broke into Milligan's dressing room, fearing he was suicidal. Eventually lithium was found to be the most effective treatment.

He also had a number of acting parts in theatre, film and television series such as Gormenghast, and was (almost inevitably) noted as an ad-libber. He wrote nonsense verse for children, the best of which is comparable with that of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, and (while depressed) serious poetry.

The Prince of Wales was a noted fan, and Milligan caused a stir by calling him a "little grovelling bastard" on television in 1994. He later faxed the prince, saying "I suppose a knighthood is out of the question now?" The knighthood (honorary because of his Irish citizenship) was finally awarded in 2000.

Even late in life Milligan's black humour had not deserted him. After the death of friend Harry Secombe he said, "I'm glad he died before me, because I didn't want him to sing at my funeral." A recording of Secombe singing was played at Milligan's memorial service. In a BBC poll in August 1999, Spike Milligan was voted the "funniest person of the last 1000 years".

Radio Comedy shows

TV Comedy shows





External Links