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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Milligan gets last laugh on grave
The gravestone
Spike Milligan decided on his epitaph before he died in 2002
Comedy legend Spike Milligan has finally got the last laugh, more than two years after his death.

It follows an agreement with the local diocese over the wording on the headstone of his grave at St Thomas's Church in Winchelsea, East Sussex.

Relatives of the former Goon have now decided that it can bear the star's epitaph: "I told you I was ill."

However, the inscription had to be written in Gaelic in order for it to be approved by the Chichester Diocese.

Milligan, who was an Irish passport holder, was buried close to his home in Udimore after he died, aged 83, from liver failure in February 2002.

But fans visiting his grave found it was only marked by some plants and a small statue because his family had been unable to agree on the headstone.

We're very pleased it's been resolved and with such a classic Spike line
Bill Horsman, of the Goon Show Preservation Society

It now bears the words "Duirt me leat go raibh me breoite", or "I told you I was ill", and the English words "Love, light, peace". Bill Horsman, chairman of the Goon Show Preservation Society, said: "News of the headstone going up on Spike's grave is marvellous.

"We had been very concerned for some time about the situation.

"It was very sad that the grave was in such a state, but it was down to very sensitive family problems and we simply could not get involved.

"We're very pleased it's been resolved and with such a classic Spike line.

"We all fell about laughing when we heard it."

Milligan formed the Goons with Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine and was widely regarded as one of the greatest influences on British comedy.

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