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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 16:46 GMT
Final respects to Milligan
Spike Milligan
Milligan: His funeral was kept private
Family, friends and fans of Spike Milligan, who died last week aged 83, have gathered to pay their last respects to the comic genius at his funeral in East Sussex.

The private funeral on Friday at St Anthony of Padua Church in Rye, near Milligan's home in Udimore, was attended by around 100 mourners, including Milligan's third wife Shelagh and his children.

Outside the church, around 50 fans also gathered to say goodbye to Milligan, one of Britain's most respected performers and known to millions as a founding member of The Goons.

Milligan died from suspected liver failure at his home on 27 February. He had been battling ill health for some months.

Spike Milligan
Milligan: Had been ill for some time

Traditional hymns were sung at his funeral service, after which the coffin was taken to a Church of England cemetery at Winchelsea for burial.

The coffin was draped in the Irish flag, reflecting Milligan's roots, and covered with floral tributes.

A spokeswoman for St Anthony's Church said: "It was a wonderful service. They had their own choir .

"Quite a few people gathered outside the church. There was quite a crowd."

Knighthood

Milligan was widely regarded as one of the greatest influences on British comedy, taking music hall ideas and weaving into them his own sketches.

His fascination with language and the surreal qualities of everyday life broke new ground in humour and was reflected in both his sketches and popular children's books.

Spike Milligan (left), Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe
The Goons redefined British comedy

He was credited with writing the majority of the Goon scripts but during series three he suffered a breakdown and had to miss 12 episodes.

He received an honorary knighthood from Prince Charles last year - Milligan held an Irish passport - despite making fun of him during a live television show in 1994 by calling him "grovelling".

Plagued with mental illness and manic depression during his life, he suffered no fewer than 10 breakdowns, linked to shellshock he endured during the war.

He went on to star in the Q series of television shows and also wrote several books, including Adolf Hitler, My Part In His Downfall.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Actor Stephen Fry
"There was no-one like him"
Actor and comedian Michael Palin
"He had a very good awareness of the absurdity of human life"


Fans pay respects

His comic art

AUDIO/VIDEO

LOCAL MEMORIES

TALKING POINT

Picture gallery
Spike's life in pictures

See also:

26 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Secombe the 'clown' remembered
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