Spike Milligan (1918–2002) was a famous British comedian, poet, writer and musician. His wild imagination and madcap humour had a timeless appeal that continues to delight audiences of all ages to this day.
Spike (Terence Alan) was born to British parents in India, where his father, an army captain, was stationed in Poona (Pune). The family lived in India and Rangoon (Yangon) before returning to Britain when Spike was twelve.
When the Second World War (as Spike called it, the Adolf Hitler Show) began, he enlisted and served in the 56th Heavy Regiment as a signaller. During his time in the army he joined the Bill Hall Trio and performed for the troops.
He is perhaps best known for creating, writing and performing the popular 1950s BBC Radio show The Goon Show. He has written several story books and poetry for children. His novels include Puckoon, and he produced seven volumes of war memoirs.
Badjelly the Witch, which Spike wrote for his daughter Jane, was first published in 1973. It was performed on BBC radio in England, and later on Radio New Zealand’s Sunday morning children’s programme.
Spike was awarded an honorary knighthood and CBE for his services to entertainment, and also the British Comedy Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award. A BBC poll voted him as the ‘funniest person of the last 1000 years’. His poem ‘On the Ning Nang Nong’ was voted Britain’s funniest poem.
Spike died at the age of 83 and his tombstone inscription – ‘I told you I was ill’ – ensures that he will forever be remembered first and foremost as a comic genius.