Terence 'Spike' Milligan (1918-2002) was an Irish comic, actor, author and jazz musician. He spent his childhood in India and moved with his family to Britain at the age of 15. During the Second World War he served in an artillery unit. While in the army he enjoyed playing jazz trumpet. The first signs of his turbulent mental state became apparent after he suffered 'shellshock' and was hospitalised. After the war, Milligan turned to performing at the BBC with some friends (who would congregate at the Grafton Arms pub). Their sketch programme on the wireless (Crazy People) eventually developed into the Goon Show.

As a member of the Goons (along with Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and in the early days Michael Bentine) he achieved massive fame in the 1950's. He wrote most of the Goon Show scripts, which was a hugely demanding job that cost him his marriage and led him to suffer a nervous breakdown (one of many in his life). After ending the Goon Show in 1960 (which was to return just once in 1972 with The Last Goon Show of All for the BBC's 50th anniversary), he concentrated on writing, producing over the course of his life over 50 books ranging from poetry to novels to war memoirs. (See writeups below.)

He has also appeared in numerous films and produced many series (at least 10) of Q Milligan, an anarchic TV sketch show which was undoubtedly a major influence on the Monty Python team. The majority of good British comedy is descended in some way from Spike's work- his brand of surrealism, twisted logic, wordplay and exuberant lampooning of authority in all forms are indelibly stamped on the nation's psyche (Ow!). Milligan has campaigned for several causes including animal rights. He received an honourary knighthood (as he is an Irish citizen) in the 2000 honours list. Much was made in the media of his long-time friendship with Prince Charles. He died of liver failure on February 27, 2002, the last of the Goons.

You see I've just rewritten all that and I notice that Teiresias has done it all much better. Blast!

My dad loved Spike Milligan.

From the many long drives with SM tapes playing, and through the mist of some thirty years, I can only recall two marvellous quotables from that great (and utterly mad) man:

(Absurd Spike): You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose. But you can't pick your friend's nose."

(Sensitive Spike): "There are holes in the sky where the rain gets in. But they're ever so small; that's why rain is thin."

Town of birth: Pune (Poona), India. My dad's nickname for him: Mike Spilligan.

Born Terence Alan Milligan on 16th April 1918, in Ahmed Nagar, India, to Leo Milligan (a Captain in an Irish Regiment at the time of the British Raj), and Florence Milligan, Spike lived in India until he was fifteen. At that time, his father retired from the military and the family moved to England (but despite living in England since 1933 Spike took Irish nationality due to the excessive bureacracy involved in getting a British passport)

After some time playing the trumpet in various Jazz bands, Spike joined the Royal Artillery at the outbreak of the Second World War, where he served in the North African and Italian campaigns, until he was caught standing too close to an exploding mortar and was hospitalised with shellshock. His absolutley amazing accounts of his war years are recounted in his series of books (Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, Rommel? Gunner Who? A Confrontation in the Desert, Monty: His Part in My Victory, Mussolini: His Part in My Downfall, Where Have All The Bullets Gone?, Goodbye Soldier, and Peace Work)

After the war he and some other ex-military types (Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine) decided to put together a radio series for the BBC. Originally a sketch show (much like its successor Monty Python) and known as "Crazy People", a change of producer brought about a change of format and a change of title to "The Goon Show". Initially written by Michael Bentine as well as Spike, artistic differences led to Bentine leaving and Spike assuming the task of writing all the scripts (ultimately leading to a mental breakdown in 1953, when he was hospitalized at St. Luke's Hospital. He was then diagnosed with manic depression/bipolar disorder and since has become patron of the Manic Depressive Fellowship.)

Spike originally attempted to end the Goon Show in 1959 (in part due to the fact that he had used every single sound effect tape the BBC then had), However, a torrent of protest from devoted fans convinced him to make one extra set of programmes which ended with The Last Smoking Seagoon on the 28th January 1960. Even this was not to be quite the end, and The Very Last Goon Show Of All was recorded on television before a Royal audience in 1972. Spike screamed the last line after the applause had died down: "Now, get out!"

Several characters from The Goon Show also appeared in a film he made with Peter Sellers called 'The Muckinese Battlehorn' and in the 60's/70's he also recorded the Q series of comedy programmes (think Monty Python with a Milligan-esque twist), Several of the sketches used to break down into completely anarchic mayhem, with the cast approaching the camera chanting 'What are we going to do now, What are we going to do now.....'. Decidedly odd

Spike is the favorite comic of Prince Charles even though, when accepting the British Comedy Award for Lifetime Achievement he famously called Charles a "groveling little bastard" on live TV and has also been dubbed "the godfather of alternative comedy" by Eddie Izzard, and for his work on the Q Series, 'the inventor of the the joke without a punchline'. As well as his TV and comedy careers, Spike has also written a vast quantity of books (listed at the end of the writeup, in chronological order).

Spike Milligan, last of the Goons passed away in his Sussex home, apparently from liver disease on the 27th February, 2002. As Bluebottle from the Goons might say, finally 'deadded'.

Silly Verse for Kids, 1959
A Dustbin of Milligan, 1961
Puckoon, 1963
A Book of Bits or a Bit of a Book, 1965
A Book of Milliganimals, 1968
The Bedside Milligan, 1969
Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, 1971
Milligan's Ark, 1971
Small Dreams of a Scorpion, 1972
The Goon Show Scripts, 1972
More Goon Show Scripts, 1973
Spike Milligan's Transports of Delight, 1974
Rommel? Gunner Who? A Confrontation in the Desert, 1974
Dip the Puppy, 1975
The Milligan Book of Records, 1975
The Great McGonagall Scrapbook, 1975
William McGonagall: The Truth at Last, 1976
Monty: His Part in My Victory, 1976
Mussolini: His Part in My Downfall, 1978
The Milligan Book of Records, 1978
Goblins, 1978
Open Heart University, 1979
The Goon Cartoons, 1982
The Melting Pot, 1983
The Book of the Goons, 1984
Further Transports of Delight, 1985
Where Have All The Bullets Gone?, 1985
Goodbye, Soldier, 1986
The Mirror Running, 1987
The Lost Goon Shows, 1987
Startling Verse for All the Family, 1987
William McGonagall Meets George Gershwin: A Scottish Fantasy, 1988
Looney: An Irish Fantasy, 1988
It Ends with Magic... A Milligan Family Story, 1990
Peace Work, 1991
Depression and How to Survive It, 1994 (with Anthony Clare)
The Bible (the Old Testament) According to Spike Milligan, 1994
Lady Chatterley's Lover According to Spike Milligan, 1994
Wuthering Heights According to Spike Milligan, 1994
D.H. Lawrence's John Thomas and Lady Jane According to Spike Milligan, 1995
Spike Milligan: A Celebration, 1996 (with Roger Sawyer)
Black Beauty According to Spike Milligan, 1996
Peter Sellers: A Celebration, 1997 (introduction)
Frankenstein According to Spike Milligan, 1997
The Hound of the Baskervilles According to Spike Milligan, 1998
Robin Hood According to Spike Milligan, 1998
Treasure Island According to Spike Milligan, 2000

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