BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Entertainment: TV and Radio
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 15:17 GMT
The prince and the comic
Milligan was given an honorary knighthood last year
Milligan was given an honorary knighthood last year
It may seem like a unusual friendship, but the heir to the British throne and an anarchic comic enjoyed a lasting relationship over the decades.

Prince Charles led the tributes to Spike Milligan after the comedian's death at the age of 83 from liver failure, saying he was "deeply saddened" at the news.

I shall miss his irreverent and hysterical presence

Prince Charles

A statement from him read: "It is hard to see Spike's parting as anything other than the end of a great era of British comedy, exemplified by Spike's extraordinary genius for the play on words and for the art of the nonsensical unexpected.

"His particular form of hilarity and wit has provided countless millions with the kind of helpless mirth which adds unique value to life."

The Goons first appeared in 1951
The Goons first appeared in 1951
Prince Charles had been a fan of the comic since Milligan's days on The Goon Show, an irreverent radio comedy show from the 1950s.

The two first met when Charles became the Prince of Wales in 1969 .

They enjoyed a close friendship over the years, despite Milligan's comical outbursts against the prince.

In 1994, after Charles had written a letter congratulating Milligan on winning a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy awards, the comic labelled him a "grovelling little bastard".


He later apologised to the prince, writing a fax to him saying: "I suppose a knighthood is out of the question."

Soon after Milligan told an interviewer: "He (Charles) wrote back saying, 'I'm sorry, all the New Year's knighthoods are full up, but try a little light grovelling and one might come your way'."

Last year Milligan, who was made a CBE in 1992, was given an honorary knighthood - he had an Irish passport so he could not be given a full knighthood.

During the service the comedian joked: "Do you know there are no dry cleaners in Peru? I thought the statistic would interest you."

Milligan appeared in BBC drama Gormenghast
Milligan appeared in BBC drama Gormenghast
"Well, that is something," the prince replied.

The prince, who was named patron of the Goon Show Preservation Society in 1998, wrote the forward to some of the Goon Show's books of radio scripts.

The society's spokeswoman at the time said that he could mimic the show's characters "brilliantly".

But there were areas where the two men seriously disagreed - Milligan compared hunting and other bloodsports to murder, and Charles was unlikely to have appreciated the comedian's description of the Queen as uncharismatic, with a "cold voice".

In the end their friendship endured and the prince once said of Milligan: "He has made me laugh for more years than I can remember."

The BBC's Richard Antony Baker
"Milligan did prove there was life after the Goon Show"
Actor Stephen Fry
"There was no-one like him"
Friend and broadcaster Nicholas Parsons
"He was a comic icon"

Fans pay respects

His comic art




Picture gallery
Spike's life in pictures

See also:

27 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Irish premier of Milligan comedy
26 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Secombe the 'clown' remembered
11 Apr 01 | Entertainment
Sir Harry: The ultimate entertainer
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more TV and Radio stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more TV and Radio stories