|You are in: Talking Point|
Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 09:49 GMT
Spike Milligan: Your tributes
Actor and comic Spike Milligan has died at his home in Sussex aged 83 years old.
With his sharp wit, he was regarded as one of Britain's most respected performers, known to millions as one of the founding members of The Goons.
Together with Peter Sellers, Michael Bentine and Harry Secombe, the quartet helped redefine comedy programmes for a generation.
He was also a respected comic author.
Send us your tributes for Spike Milligan. What are your favourite comic memories?
This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
Hammy, West Yorkshire, UK
I once appeared on stage with Spike and we made up poems about everything we could think of. Remember one from the time (someone wrote it down!)
"For Spike-Goon-rhyme-poem" (Made in Tawain)
Now Mr Balloon
Peter Palm, Cape Town, South Africa
Spike always described himself as a coward. I wish I had met him if only to tell him he's a brave man. To write all those scripts, make a fool of himself in front of millions and actually get on a troop ship in the first place takes courage. Spike Milligan: a brave man who showed us how to laugh at and with the world. Thank-you Spike.
It was back in 1980 Canada the first time I spoke with Spike. I was working for the International Fund for Animal Welfare .. of which he was one of our supporters. Since that time and wherever I was in the world working for animals, he was always there for me .. donating things for auction for animals and exchanging notes! He was to me, such a kind and compassionate man, with his fantastic sense of humour at all the right times ... his love and dedication for animals is what I knew best and it is this I will personally miss most.
Tom Gamblin, Canada (formerly UK)
Like so many of his generation my father (an ex- guardsman) would never talk to us, his children, about his wartime experiences. One day he saw me reading 'Adolf Hitler my Part in His Downfall'. Dad picked it up and read it at a sitting. He shed tears of laughter. Later he read 'Rommel' and shed tears of a different kind. All dad would say was 'that¿s exactly what it was like, son'. Spike was not only a comic genius & great man of letters, he was also honest. I always felt that the only thing that he respected was the truth. Thanks, Spike.
I saw spike a couple of years ago at a (by then, rare) concert at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. As he shuffled on to the stage, walking with a stoop and slurring his words slightly, I wondered if he would still be able to "do it" at the age of eighty. He kept the audience spellbound with respect and helpless with laughter for an hour and a half. At the end, he took questions from the audience, and his answers, completely off the cuff, were funnier than I could have come up with if I had been given a week to think about it. The funniest man who ever lived, and a national treasure the likes of which we will never see again.
Back in my misspent youth, he was the only one to reply promptly when our English teacher told us to write a letter to a famous person. Although he did tell me off for not dating it...
Christopher Ramsay, Northern Ireland
In "Son of Oblomov" on the London stage years ago, Spike Milligan and Bill Owen were a few minutes into the opening dialogue when Spike noticed some late-comers being shown to their seats. "Hold it Bill, hold it," he said to Owen. Then, moving to stage front, he addressed the hapless newcomers who by now had the spotlights on them. "Where the hell have you been?" he berated mockingly. Then, without waiting for an answer, he said to Owen: "OK, Bill. Start again!" And they did, with all the dialogue now sounding like a 33 played at 78. No doubt an old trick, but as fresh and funny as any of his wonderful irreverent material for those of us lucky enough to have seen it live.
Thanks for the memories, Spike!
Spike and Douglas Adams in less than a year. Heaven must be in need of generous, zany, thoughtful geniuses at the moment.
Spike was a creative tornado who's serious poetry is often criminally overlooked. Ultimately though he was just very very funny and he will live on through his work because it has a timeless childlike quality. Let's hope the BBC, in tribute, show all they have left of the brilliant Q series. It's the least they can do. RIP
In May 1983, Spike was in Cairns (North Queensland, Australia)for a "farewell Australia" concert. At the time, I was the Announcer and Manager of the ABC's Regional Radio Station there. When I rang his agent, I was told that "Spike did not do interviews" yet a hour later Spike was in the studio taping an hour program covering topics from comedy to "the bloody bomb". He paid me the greatest compliment in my 40 year media career when he sent co-performer Gerard Kenny to the studio the next day while the interview was playing to congratulate me and ask for a copy of the tape.
Nick Santa Maria, USA
Spike was not only a friend, but a Trustee of The Tree of Hope Children's Charity in the UK.
He cared so much for the children we help, because he knew that these children were being given Life Saving Medical Treatment, and a better quality of life.
If only there were more people like Spike. It would make a happier world.
Do we rejoice in the rich legacy left by Spike or grieve that it can be no more. I do not know but his humour, his passion for just causes and his gift for appealing to all ages will never ever be surpassed. A man of simple complexes I shall always miss for the laughter he brought to my childhood and the wisdom he provided in my later years. The Spike is dead. Long live the Spike.
It's a shame that Spike is not around to see how many fans and admirers he had. I think he'd have given one of those looks that only Spike could give and something like: "You're all lunatics...so there¿s a £3 entrance fee". If laughter is becoming a therapy for pain relief then he was the surgeon general who trained many students. Thanks for being here during our generation and you can be sure you work will never disappear. RIP
I first encountered Spike when my father's second wife brought a paperback copy of "The Goon Show Scripts" into our house. I read it and several months later discovered that the ABC was still regularly broadcasting Goon Shows even though they were by then, some 15 to 20 years old. They were still funny and I was hooked.
As I grew older I devoured his war biographies, poems and of course Puckoon (the loss of which, when I lent it to a friend who failed to return it, still rankles more than 20 years later).
In later years I learnt of his bouts with mental illness and the suffering he went through in making us all laugh. I admired him for his courage, the causes he worked for, his honesty and always, that wonderful sense of humour.
I loved you Spike, and I'll miss you very much.
There have been many times in my life when I have been in need of cheering up. One such time was my daughter, Emma, being born and diagnosed as having severe Spina Bifida. The prescription was simple, daily doses of the Goons. I have never grown tired of those lunatic half hour episodes, Spike and his numerous characters being my favourite from my introduction to them back in the seventies. I have listened to him, read his books and watched him on the TV my only regret is that I never saw him live, what a treat that would have been, I just had to see him on TV and the laughter would begin. My only hope is that now, maybe, this greatly misunderstood and underrated man will be recognised as the genius he really was. It's just a shame that he has to leave beforehand. Deaded but not forgotted. Cheers Spike, you were and always will be the best.
I guess heaven looks forward to certain folk arriving - Spike will undoubtedly be one of them. In the true sense of the word Spike was a genius, packed full of wonderful contradictions that occasionally left you squirmming - but always laughing. His books, particularly his wartime memoirs have me aching with laughter one minute and crying from sorrow the next as he took you on his special rollercoaster ride. I keep them by the loo for me and others to ponder from time to time. My cat (Milligan) and I will miss you. Thanks and have fun wherever you are.
In all Spike is more important to humour and satire than anyone that I can think of. And I do not believe that I am too bold to place him on the level of Dickens and Shakespeare.
Spike Milligan to you we take a bow
"..the nearest thing to a human being, without actually being one." I can think of no higher praise. Goodbye and thank you.
About fifteen years ago, I was part of a film crew working with Spike on a TV commercial. As a common courtesy one of us asked him how he would like to be called. Even then, he was very frail, but in a warm voice he looked intently at us and said 'Some people call me Mr. Milligan, some people call me Spike, but you......you can call me you!' Wonderful lovely man.
One of my earliest childhood memories
was that of the Q series. I remember this funny
little man jumping around with a funny nose.
Even today his work is as funny and as sharp as
it was all them years ago. Thank you Spike
for making our lives a tad brighter.
Dave Hawkes, England
In the early 1970's, I sang at Ronnie Scott's. One of my pieces was a vocal-ese on a familiar classical melody. One night, a wild-eyed man came speeding toward the stage, shouting "Have you sung the Bach yet?" I discovered Spike loved that rendition, and came in every night just to hear it. I have a cherished photo of us taken in Ronnie's office. How I loved him!
My 8 year old son told me, saying, ¿The man that writes my funny poems has died!" A far reaching talent, and for generations to come.
Andrew Warran, England
We admired him so much we named our daughter after him, Milligan Beaumont. He was one of those rare people who touched the heart and soul, leaving something everlasting. I think he was a wonderful person, I miss him already.
It is probable that few will ever realise the influence Spike had upon the creative climate of the UK in the 1970's and 80's. We need his genius, his compassion and his anarchic disrespect for everything that deserves no respect. Many have tried to follow his vision, none have managed to sustain it for as long as Spike did. Spike was no "shooting star", he never sold out and he never gave up being funny.
Neil Baxter, USA (ex-UK)
Spike Milligan was one of my all-time heroes who managed to persuade me to read novels and poetry and rhymes when schooling failed to do so. He was a genius and I owe him a lot for the pleasure he has brought me and will bring my children as they grow older.
My daughter, Danielle who is six had Spike's poetry book for Christmas and through her love of his manic humour now listens to the Goons. She is very sad and upset tonight, she feels she has lost another very silly grandpa! Luv ya Spike! Very sad for your family who were very lucky to have known you.
This is far from the first time that he has me in tears. We shouldn't waste time comparing him to anyone - he was incomparable and irreplaceable. In his own words - farewell to Spike Maligna, the well-known typing error!
When I was 8 years old (17 years ago) I wrote a letter to Spike Milligan, via the publisher of one of his books. To my amazement, he replied to me. I shall always love that man dearly, I didn't watch The Goons, but his children¿s books were second to none.
God bless Spike.
I vividly recall being on the train to the City back in the 70's and being virtually unable to breathe whilst attempting to suppress hysterical laughter at reading "Adolf Hitler My Part in His Downfall" surrounded by a carriage full of newspaper reading straight faced suits. Spike Milligan was a genius and I think his life and work should be celebrated and enjoyed with our highest honours and deepest feelings
Milligan was a pure genius. I am just 14 but I knew all of his best works. One quote that sticks in my mind is the fabulous sketch: "Legs are hereditary and run in most families." He will be very sorely missed. Spike Milligan: God rest his soul.
I think the one thing about Spike that we love was that he never seemed to appreciate the esteem in which he was held. It's a rare thing when you find yourself crying with laughter again at a sketch or a phrase written decades ago that you've heard a million times before. Spike we hope you feel more at ease with yourself where you are now than you seemed to here with us mortals - you take the love and respect of millions of us with you.
Malcolm Hepplewhite, South Africa
To quote his end-of-sketch dialogue from his brilliant Q series "What are we going to do now?....what are we going to do now?...what are...."
To many young aspiring comics, Spike has been and forever will be the guru. No-one can repeat his style or his jokes, yet he has taught so many people how to laugh at serious things and cry at comedy. Like millions of others all over the world, I can enjoy listening to him whenever I want with my vast Goon collection, but tapes, LP's and Cds can never replace the real thing. There'll certainly never be another one like Spike.
No more heroes!
His war memoirs showed us a man of passions and desires, a man with feet of clay but with a head in the clouds. He showed us all that you must be what you must be - flaws and all.
I suspect that, Spike being Spike, tonight God will be getting complaints about the noise - but will be reluctant to do anything in case Spike gives him the length of his tongue (Six and a half Inches...).
The funniest man there ever was. My sides ached with laughter now my heart aches instead. You will be missed. They will be laughing and loving it where ever you are now. This was not the way to reunite the Goons!!
I moved to Toronto from England 10 years ago. I drive around here in an old Jeep and the only tapes I own are a full set of The Goon Show my parents have sent me over those years, which I play at full volume with the roof off of the truck. Apart from Spike Milligan and the crew giving me the best laughs still, it's staggeringly confused looks on the faces of North Americans when they hear it that makes it so worthwhile. The loss of such an innovative and brave humour, along with the clear reminder of the simplicity that is brilliant comedy, is so sadly missed...but I'll still grin from ear-to-ear when I hear "Whant is it Enccles?"...
Spike was funny, yes but more than that he was a man of deep humanity. His real voice comes out in his poetry. The world is poorer today! RIP
JH, New Jersey, USA
Laurence Elijah, France
When I was but a shaver, my dad (who served with Spike in the artillery) and my uncle (who did not) would set up a scratchy pirate tape of the Goon Show on a sadly decrepit tape machine and sit writhing in helpless laughter for hours while I sat dumbstruck. Years later I sat in a similar state watching Monty Python, and finally realized the debt owed to the Goons, and the King of the Goons in particular. RIP, Spike, you'll never be forgotten.
Spike and the Goons will forever have a place in my heart. Sometimes they were the only thing that could guarantee a smile on my face. I met Spike at a book signing a few years ago and was sorry to see how frail he looked. As I met him I said, "Hello Spike, how're you doing, mate?" His reply was "How am I doing what, mate?" That was Spike all right. I'll treasure the memories and recordings, and the books that now bear Spike's very own signature. Thanks for all you've given us buddy, we're in your debt forever. Demand that second opinion!
I've held Spike up as a role model for years. I was diagnosed with Manic Depression when I was 21 and ever since I've worked on the premise that if Spike can be as funny, as brilliant and as unique as he is, then so can I! An inspiration through good times and bad - I'll miss him.
I had the great fortune to interview Spike many years ago when I was a young reporter on the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin in Australia. I was only supposed to spend half an hour with him, but he asked me if I knew where he could get a good cup of tea and a lamington, so I took him down to a place on the banks of the Fitzroy and we sat for hours talking about God, whales and how much he hated people who only thought of him as a Goon. After he had complained at length about autograph hunters, I said: "So you won't mind signing my copy of Small Dreams of a Scorpion, then?" And he did! My favourite memory of his time in Rockhampton - apart from a very funny stage show - was when he met the mayor, who began: "Mr Milligan, I've always been a great fan of the British.." To which Spike replied: "Well, I'm Irish, and we blow the buggers up!" Lux aerternum, Spike.
Our fondest memory is seeing Spike live in Bristol - he did one scene all on his own and the only words he uttered were "Oh dear" over and over again - the whole theatre were rocking in the aisles. God bless you Spike and sleep well old soldier.
Brings a lump to the throat this news. The man is responsible for many side-splitting, tears streaming, stomach aching bouts of laughter. An incredibly funny man, who will never be forgotten.
I once met Spike briefly at a book signing... he had a presence that was amazing... he signed my book... looked up at me and said...
"I wish my name wasn't so bloody long!". Milligan has been an inspiration and a hero and I am sad to hear of his passing. All there is to say is:
"He was the Famous Eccles!"
Trevor Armstrong, Canada
I was one of the 1950s generation that grew up listening to The Goon Show on a very crackly and hissy wireless. The zany humour was the highlight of the week and for the following week school lessons were punctuated by our imitations of Eccles, Bluebottle, Neddy etc. Spike Milligan had the genius to present fantasy comedy to the world in a way that appealed to children and grown ups alike. Spike's genius lives on in the shows and he will never be forgotten by those his humour touched.
Proof of his talent lies in the fact that Spike's wit resonates as much with younger people as it does with the generation who grew up listening to the original broadcasts of the Goon Show. My granddad, my dad and myself will miss all miss him very much.
Nick Roberts, UK
I have 5 teenagers in my home who have all been raised on tapes and CDs of the Goon Show. Often there are hilarious moments when one or other or all of them will go into some part of inverse logic from a script. As long as that keeps happening in homes all over the world Spikes legacy will never die. For me the funniest moment was when Milligoon was being interviewed with Jerry Lewis on an E. Andrews talk Show. Not to be outdone Lewis was telling a funny story of his own. At the end of his story he said that he "had never been so insulted". Whereupon Spike quick as a flash said "Oh come now sir you must have been - with a face like that!".......Keep giving them hell Spike wherever you are!!
If it wasn't for the number of days in between, Spike and I would have shared the same birthday. I saw him perform for two and a half hours in the Lyric theatre three years ago. At the end he asked for questions: I asked "What was the best day of your life?" and he replied "The day I was born". I also quite liked his animal rights attitude. Sometimes Milligan took his crusades to almost unbelievable lengths. In 1986, he was thrown out of Harrods when he tried to stuff 28lb of spaghetti down the mouth of the food hall manager.
"I told him it might give him some idea of how a goose feels being force-fed maize to make pate de fois gras. Everyone looked stunned and their faces fell." RIP Spike - at least Harry doesn't have to sing at your funeral - I know this was worrying you....
Spike's book "Puckoon" is the only book I've ever read which made me laugh out loud so much and often my wife banned me from reading it in bed. The man was a genius and I shall sorely miss his immense talent.
Dave Barter, UK
Today is a sad day.
I read Spike's war memoirs when I was growing up (and have re-read them many times since), they are still the funniest books by far I have ever read, and very poignant in parts too...inspirational.
People often refer to genius, I believe in Spike's case it is truly warranted.
Peace Spike. And Thank You.
My life was changed forever when I read "Adolf Hitler..." aged 13. His war memoirs are, by turns, hilarious and utterly heart-rending. They convey in a way no other books do, the reality of war, the training, camaraderie, boredom, high-jinks, fear, loss and shattered minds and bodies left at the end. In my opinion the six (or seven) books in his "trilogy" are the finest war memoirs ever written.
My wife once asked Spike how long he had been in India.
He replied "five foot ten and a half inches"!
God Bless, you lovely man.
Colin Chyc, UK
We have lost a great man, who brought smiles to all our faces, one of the funniest men of comedy. He touched so many hearts and was loved to many. A man of great character, identity, charisma and knowledge. We will miss him so much. Peace be with you.
I am very sorry to hear that Spike Milligan has died. A brilliant mind, a kindly man, and very funny. Puckoon is the funniest book I have ever read. And for me he was the star in The Life of Brian. Do you remember the scene? May the peace of the Lord be always with you. And say hi to my mum.
Goodbye dear old King of gentle madness. There will be a huge black hole where you have been. Even your own epitaph raised a smile. "There, I told you I was ill!" RIP but not until you've had a corking reunion with the gang! xx
Great idiot and a great loss.
I saw Spike live on stage about 20 years ago. I have always maintained that his performance was the funniest thing I have ever seen. His fast delivery never gave you time to catch your breath. Tremendous. The best!
Spike appeared to me to be a man extremely in tune with the human race which he showed so clearly through his natural, crazy humour. He never lost touch with the childishness which people seem to forget they have. I only hope that there are many others like him. My thoughts are with his family who must miss him greatly & be so proud of him.
My dad introduced me to Spike's memoirs and the Goons in 1989. Spike has been a huge influence in my life and will continue to be so. Thank you Sir.
At a time when Britain was dull and strait-laced, the humour he invented for the Goons was refreshingly anarchic and inspirational. I am only one of millions fortunate enough to have grown up appreciating Spike's brilliance and watching it evolve. Utterly original and bravely pioneering, his work is even more astounding in the light of his dreadful inner torment. Yet Spike could even laugh at the devils which plagued him, as his series of war books prove. They are yet another example of his skill with words and concepts. Spike Milligan was surprising, sometimes inflammatory but consistently and infectiously funny.
To lose any of the following, the most original comedy writer, a great poet, or wonderful novelists is sad. To lose them all together in one man is a tragedy. The Goons reunion is complete. RIP Spine Milligram
Very sad to learn that Spike passed away. Pardon my English, it is not perfect, I still would like to express the joy and comfort Spike and his crazy ways of setting the Human Mind for Humour even abroad. For many, many years I adored the, at that time, tapes of the Goons. Loved his Limericks and also books like Hitler, and my part in his downfall. Q was regretfully never on Dutch TV. Now in modern days and thanks to your BBC shop, I obtained last year the complete collection of the Goons. My most famous scene ? Napolions Piano, finally found in Ze Louvre...but they had to saw the poles off, off the piano to get it through the door... The sound of sawing follows. 1,2,3,4, four poles? Isnt that strange for a piano? In the backgound Eccles remarks : Hey, I keep falling down. He'res to you Spike, for keeping me on my feet the last 40 years, Sane in an Insane World.
Certainly this is the death of a great British institution, but I must confess I never found him to be the least bit funny. But, like a lot of aging comedians - he could never live up to the reputation that had arisen around him.
My favourite Milligan story: Private Eye called him a dirty little Irish pervert. He sued for libel on the grounds that he wasn't Irish. I think he was awarded one halfpenny damages.
He never lost his appeal and never will. His beautiful absurdity transcends any generation gap. My whole family will miss you!
What a reunion there will be in heaven tonight. I can picture it now - Sellars, Secombe, Bentine, all saying to Spike: "What kept you?"
He changed the way I see the world. He could make reality break into small pieces and come back together again, only funnier. I shall miss him.
Genius and legend are words that are almost always thrown into any tributes on days like these, but Spike is probably the only person truly fitting their real description. He will always be missed but never forgotten.
Vince Lee, UK
I'm saddened to hear of Spike's death but so grateful for all the wonderful things he has left behind. I was fortunate enough to meet him on a few occasions during my time at the BBC in the 80s. I had been a fan ever since the Goons, which I listened to during Sunday lunch as a child (thanks Mum!). He listened patiently to my "fan-babble" with a wry smile. Bon voyage Spike, and don't forget to write. You were truly one of a kind.
I never met Spike Milligan in person. But through reading, listening to and watching his various works, I have experienced much joy and laughter. I have found the inspiration of the things that make me laugh today. I have also developed a sense of the absurd. Farewell Milligan, your legacy still shines.
What can I say that has not already been said? Spike was a rare talent that can never be replaced. The younger generation will never know what they missed. When he was in his prime he was the best. Wherever he has gone now, I am sure he will already have them in hysterics.
One of the most original and funny men I have ever seen. Even in old age, he never lost his sharp wit and always seemed to have an answer that you didn't expect. Goodbye Spike. You will be missed.
I met Spike in the 1970s when I was working at Claude Gill Bookshop in London and he came for a book signing. While I was daydreaming on the cash register after the rush had gone, I heard this cackle of laughter behind me and felt something tickling my back. I turned round to see Spike signing my back where my jumper had ridden up and he was laughing with glee! A total loony, truly unique. There will never be anyone to take his place. Thanks for all the laughs Spike.
Dear Spike - you made us laugh, you made us cry, you made us think. Your three-fold legacy will run and run.
You also gave us the world's most impossible sound effect - man being hit over the head with a sock full of custard.
I still remember seeing Spike Milligan and Woody Allen together on the Eamon Andrews show. Woody was asked for an interesting story and began slowly, "I stubbed my toe once.." Like lightning Spike interjected with, "I never knew you smoked it!" The audience collapsed with laughter while Woody struggled to come to terms with the English idiom.
David White, Australia
I met Spike Milligan in 1973 when I was 11. We'd been to see him perform and after the show, my brother and I rushed to the stage door to get his autograph. He welcomed us into his dressing room, sat us down, and wrote and drew pictures on our programmes. I'll always remember his kindness to two little kids. What a great man he was!
I had the good fortune to see Spike perform live, during his 80th year celebrations. He had the audience hysterical with laughter and without exception they adored him. This is how I'll remember Spike. A very funny man, who will live in the memories of future generations. God bless you Spike.
I wrote to Spike when I was at university asking him whether he'd agree to be our music society's honorary patron - and he did. He had a fabulously agile mind and a tremendous ear for language. Thanks, Spike.
A sad loss of a great and talented man. I remember a story that my father told me when he was a bobby in London back in the 50´s. Walking the beat down one of the less known streets of the West End, he came across Spike sat on the roof of a parked car watching the world go by. When I asked my father what he did, he replied - for Spike was already a legend then - what can you do with a man like that, he was Spike Milligan, I just carried on by. Wonderful.
David Lee, UK
One of my favourite Spike Milligan moments was when he was being interviewed by Jonathan Ross and Spike looking very old and frail was rambling along about absolute nonsense, as he does, when Jonathan asked him,
"Spike...what are you on?"
He replied without even missing a beat, "About 40 words minute"
Maybe the phrase should read 'Sharp as a Spike'. Thank you for all the laughter you have given and will still give the world. You will be missed but never forgotten.
The best comment I heard about Spike was in an interview given by Harry Secombe about the Goons. At one stage Harry said, " Oh, we were all in the slipstream of Spike's genius really".
God bless my friend! They'll all be there fawning at your funeral so you'll have the last laugh!!
Spike's life in pictures
27 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Comedian Spike Milligan dies
27 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Milligan's comic genius
27 Feb 02 | Entertainment
Spike Milligan: More than just a Goon
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy