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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 7:27am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Comedian Spike Milligan was born 100 years ago today:


If you're familiar with THE GOON SHOW or MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS (he is said to have inspired it), you'll know of Milligan's work. 


Edited by Robbie Parry on 16 April 2018 at 7:55am
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John Byrne

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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 8:32am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

O boy, do I know his work! I used to be able to recite entire episodes of THE GOON SHOW from memory -- doing all the voices, of course!

That started when I was but a child, and no doubt shaped my talent in that area.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 10:05am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I wonder if the likes of THE GOON SHOW would stand up today. Are they timeless or not?

Some can be. I watched a HANCOCK'S HALF-HOUR sketch on BBC years ago. Stood up well. 

There's a THE TWO RONNIES sketch where he asks for fork handles, but the store owner thinks he is asking for four candles. That also stands up well. Timeless! 
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 11:08am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I remember his `Q` series, specifically Q8, i was only a
kid at the time and found his humour hit and miss, some
sketches going on far too long! Maybe as an adult i
would appreciate it more?
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 11:50am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

This is very childish but it did make me laugh: LINK
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Darren Ashmore
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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 1:49pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Bill I too have fond memories of the Q series as a kid, the sketches did seem to stretch out a bit.  BBCiplayer has most of the later series online and I watched a few some months ago. It holds up really well and really is better viewed as an adult.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 2:11pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Thank`s Darren, i will have a look!
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 25 April 2018 at 12:20pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I love the goon shows I've been able to get/hear, no nostalgia involved so I think it must be simply good stuff that stands up. Bought a few import DVDs of Milligan's Q and some of Bentine's puppet serie... I wish they hadn't wiped some of Q of course, and I wish some other programmes with Spike, and Bentine's Square titled shows, would be available. Peter Sellers also did some wonderful stuff, but at least he was recognized in the U.S. Thus leaving poor Harry Secombe as the most unknown goon I suppose?

Milligan was great in the '60s Bed Sitting Room movie. The DVD for that had a nice long interview with him as an extra!
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 25 April 2018 at 1:59pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Harry Secombe was always on the TV when I was young with a terribly boring Sunday evening/afternoon show called Highway. It was like ITV's equivalent to the BBC's Songs of Praise.

Not the kind of stuff I was interested in...
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 25 April 2018 at 2:11pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

On BBC you had Highway, on ITV you had Highway to Heaven,
boring Sunday afternoon tv!
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Gordon Somers
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Posted: 25 April 2018 at 3:02pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Absolutely love Spike Milligan - almost everything he did had me in stitches. His nonsense poetry for children are a great read and I used to read them to mine - on the ning nang nong anyone.
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Steven Brake
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 5:05am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I've just finished Humphrey Carpenter's biography on Milligan (and I'm tempted to start Roger Lewis's biography of Peter Sellers), and I was startled to find out racist and anti-Semitic Milligan was - and it wasn't "granddad doesn't realise how times have changed, he doesn't mean any harm with what he's saying" bigotry, but keenly, almost passionately, held views.

It's interesting to note how Milligan seems to largely have gotten a free pass for his ugly opinions, while Benny Hill was pilloried for his supposed sexism (I say "supposed", as I'm not really that familiar with his work).
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John Byrne

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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 5:30am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I don't recall any racism or anti-Semitism in Milligan's work. If anything, quite the opposite.

There is, for example, a scene in his comic novel PUCKOON in which a British colonel realizes it is a Jewish doctor who is about to tend to an injury he has sustained. "Get me a white man!" the colonel demands.

We are then told it was the most satisfying surgery the doctor had ever performed -- without an anesthetic.

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 6:35am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I've not read the aforementioned biography of Spike Milligan, but I've read some of his letters published around the time Peter Sellers died, wherein Milligan lamented that public ceremonies in Sellers' honor didn't mention his Jewish lineage through his mother, and wherein Milligan made such statements: "...the Jewish people, their tradition and their religion, which I think are among the most splendid in the world."
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Steven Brake
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 8:42am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

@JB and Michael Penn:

I'm not sure if it's on Youtube, but you might want to watch - and shudder! - at "Curry and Chips". "Q", Milligan's TV show, also featured lots of digs at Jews and Pakistani's.

According to Carpenter, Milligan wouldn't swear the oath of allegiance because he refused to take it alongside black immigrants (Carpenter cites this from either Milligan's wife, or one of his secretaries - I forget which). There's also an account of him attending a literary party and looking round in disgust because there were "too many" Jews in the room.

More worryingly, many of his former friends insist that Milligan was a supporter of Mosley's blackshirts in the 1930s

I'm wary of interpreting past works in the light of modern sensibilities, but Milligan did make statements that his contemporaries found eccentric at best and downright inflammatory at worst.
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 10:26am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

While it's the style of the times apparently to flip your wig in outrage over every flawed moment of any human being that ever lived... I've evolved somehow to take the bad with the good... we are all flawed works in progress. I might not be able to enjoy the songwriting artistry of a Charles Manson, I do have limits, but I can't deny I was entertained by Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, y'know?

I'm not enough an expert on Mr. Milligan to try to defend him. I can only say that i haven't seen it in what I have been exposed to... the curry eating Daleks in a tower block type apartment skit was just too bizarre to find racist. Maybe that's how he insidiously poisoned me, but I doubt it... perhaps if he'd done an older radio show called 'Put Out That Light Mrs. Mosley' he could be saved for some, I certainly wasn't there. He would've been in the company of the erstwhile King Eddie VIII though, plus Charles Lindberg and Henry Ford. Flawed people aren't all flaw.
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Steven Brake
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 11:50am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

@Rebecca:

Yes, as I've posted above, I'm not in favour of the modern tendency to ignore historical context, and judge our predecessors by our values.

Milligan was undoubtedly a huge figure in comedy, with John Cleese calling him "the great god" of that strain of strange English comedy (despite Milligan taking Irish citizenship!), but he does seem to have held some pretty ugly views. He often claimed that none of his "Q" series were repeated by the BBC because they hated him, but, by the sounds of many of the sketches, they're probably more concerned about the criticism they'd receive if they did.
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