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Wednesday, 1 September, 1999, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Spike Milligan voted the funniest
Spike Milligan is popular with both adults and children
Spike Milligan is popular with both adults and children
Comic writer Spike Milligan has been voted the funniest person of the millennium by readers of BBC News Online.

The acclaimed comedian topped August's vote, pushing John Cleese into second place and Billy Connolly into third place.

The top 10 was dominated by twentieth century comics including Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. Writers William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens were pushed out of the top 10.

The vote was eighth in BBC News Online's monthly Your Millennium series. In September you can vote for the greatest thinker of the last thousand years.

To inspire you, writer and philosopher Roger Scruton and lateral thinker Edward de Bono have contributed their personal Top-10 lists.

Taking part in last month's Your Millennium contest for funniest person were double act French and Saunders, who put Lucille Ball at number one, and comic writer Richard Curtis who chose Shakespeare.

Royal approval

Spike Milligan is one of the UK's most popular comic writers, with numerous books, television and radio scripts to his name.

Last year his nonsense verse On The Ning Nang Nong was voted the nation's favourite poem and he is also the favourite comic of Prince Charles, whose 50th birthday party he attended last year. This was despite once accusing the prince of grovelling at an awards ceremony.

Spike Milligan became a BBC radio star in the 1950s with the Goon Show. He wrote the scripts and starred with fellow goons Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe. The show became a national institution.

More than 240 episodes were broadcast, including a special performance in 1972 to mark the 50th anniversary of the BBC.

His books include Silly Verse for Kids, the novel Puckoon and best-selling World War II biography Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall.

In later life - Spike Milligan is 81 - he has taken up causes including animal rights, the environment and population control. Last year he joined protesters supporting animal rights activist Barry Horne, who went on hunger strike to pressure the Home office to set up a Royal Commission into the use of animals in experiments.

BBC News Online readers from across the globe took part in the millennium poll. Peter Taylor voted for Spike Milligan because he "has been brilliant and original for over 40 years"

And John Binley from Canada described him as "a truly human treasure".

His email said: "I find Spike Milligan's sense of humour is only surpassed by his skill in being able to communicate it by print and sound alone."

Other emails credited Spike Milligan with paving the way for future generations of comedians.

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