Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan KBE (16 April 1918 – 27 February 2002) was a comedian, writer and actor. The son of an Irish father and an English mother, his early life was spent in India, where he was born. The majority of his working life was spent in the United Kingdom. A jazz trumpeter in his youth, he disliked his first name and began to call himself "Spike" after hearing a popular band of the time on Radio Luxembourg, called Spike Jones and his City Slickers.
Milligan was the co-creator, main writer and a principal cast member of The Goon Show, performing a range of roles including the popular Eccles and Minnie Bannister characters. Milligan wrote and edited many books, including Puckoon and his seven-volume autobiographical account of his time serving during the Second World War, beginning with Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall. He is also noted as a popular writer of comical verse; much of his poetry was written for children, including Silly Verse for Kids (1959). After success with the groundbreaking British radio programme, The Goon Show, Milligan translated this success to television with Q5, a surreal sketch show which is credited as a major influence on the members of Monty Python's Flying Circus. He was the oldest, longest lived and last surviving member of the Goons. (Read more at Wikipedia)
Links To Peel
Peel listened to The Goon Show (most episodes of which were written by Milligan) during his National Service, enjoyed it and shared the enthusiasm for the anarchic style of comedy which made the show such a success with the listening public in the 1950s. However, in Margrave of the Marshes (pp. 130-131) he admitted that he was not a member of the Goons' cult following, which has survived to the present day. In the twenty-first century, he said, the Goons simply sounded childish to him.
Otherwise,the DJ was generally a fan of Milligan's comedy work, especially The World Of Beachcomber, which he recommended his listeners to watch on BBC2, on his 04 February 1968 show. (Sadly, no episodes of this series appear to have survived.) Peel, according to Margrave Of The Marshes met Spike Milligan, and describes not liking him:
- "Spike Milligan I did once meet, when I stood in for a guest who had failed to appear for a programme on the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS). I didn't like him at all. For a start, Milligan seemed to have no interest in anyone other than himself and seemed to regard me as some sort of threat, which I most certainly was not. I had been rather excited at the unexpected opportunity of meeting him and was disconcerted when he chose to attempt to obliterate any of the drab answers I was giving to the drab questions I, as a stand-in, was being asked, by making hilarious Goon-type noises until the presenter turned back to him."
Milligan was known for his erratic behaviour - he suffered from severe bipolar disorder - and there are many reports of him offending people he met or was working with, so this was no isolated incident. But he was also known for his writing, and it is possible that Peel might have been influenced by him, given the DJ's early liking for comic literature. Milligan and the Goons were certainly an influence on John Lennon and the other Beatles. Musically, however, Milligan and Peel would have had little in common, as Milligan remained a jazz-lover with a loathing for pop and rock. Most of his record releases were of comedy material, although in the late 1950s and occasionally thereafter he recorded some sentimental pop ballads which were released as singles, but were commercially unsuccessful.