Spike Milligan Now if I said to you 'Ying tong ying tong, Ying tong ying tong, Ying tong iddle I po!'. Would you think that I was: (A) Having a fit. (B) Asking for my medication. (C) Singing a song. Or (D) Reciting the Flemish National Anthem in Chinese. What-what-what-what-what! You don't know? You fool you. You'd best watch this 60 minute documentary made in 2012 about Spike Milligan to find out more.

Spike Milligan : The Autobiography - The Goon - The Essential

Now John Sergeant may look like a middle-aged frog in a suit, but in real life he is a man who has had a somewhat varied existence. He worked with Alan Bennett on stage. He was a journalist on television. He danced like a git on a reality show. Plus he is a man who just adores comedic-legend, Spike Milligan.

In this documentary John charters Spikes comedy roots, aided and abetted with stock photography, archival footage, and personable one on one interviews with Michael Palin, Noel Fielding, Desmond Milligan, Esther Rantzen, Richard Lester, Eddie Izzard, and his Dad, John.   

What now follows are some of the questions and answers relating to this program:

  • Who is Spike Milligan? He is a comedic genius who loved animals and small children, but hated adults.
  • Where was he born? In India, in 1918, before moving to Catford in the 1930's.
  • Who were Spikes parents? Both his father and mother were stage performers of Irish decent, with strong ties to the army in India.
  • How does his brother, Desmond, feel about Spike? He loves him, although the feels that Spike lived in a world of his own.
  • What was Spikes relationship towards the war? Pretty one sided I'd say. He was stationed at Bexhill in 1942, and defended the nation with a scaffolding pole. And in 1944 he suffered a tremendous injury in the Battle of Monte Cristo. The place, not the sandwich or the count of Cassino.
  • What is the Goon Show? This was a half hour comedy radio program that Spike wrote, whilst also performing it with Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, and Michael Bentine.
  • Where and when did the Goon show first start? Above a pub belonging to Jimmy Grafton, just prior to moving to Camden Theatre care of the BBC. It lasted from 1951 to 1960.
  • Did Spike write all of the Goon show material on his own? Mostly. Though he did share offices with Eric Sykes, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.
  • Was Spike a mentally stable person? No. But he had a good imagination, and John Lennon liked him so, na-nah-na-nahh-naahhh.
  • Did Spike get married or have any children? Wives 3 - Children 4 - replay next Tuesday.
  • What did Spike do after the Goon show ended? Firstly, he, Peter Sellers, Richard Lester, and some other people that I cannot be bothered to list at the moment, devised a short piece called 'The Running, Jumping, and Standing Still Film', almost winning an Oscar for it by accident. Secondly, he took up shop in Elm Court, Baywater, and started to write for a living. And thirdly, he did stuff?
  • Stuff?  Yes. Stuff. Like annoying his manager, Norma Farnes. Devising sketches for his television show 'Q5'. Plus help save the Elfin Oak, in Hyde Park.
  • Do the children of today still find Spike funny? Yes they do - now they can have their monkey back.
  • How does John define Spike in his closing statements? Infectious.


Now before I give you my review on 'Perspectives - Sergeant on Spike', please allow me to tell you a little bit about how I first become enamoured with his erstwhile comedic nutter.


Spike Milligan next to wall

Many a year ago, before I learnt that the word 'c*nt' was in reference to a part of a woman's anatomy, I did not like the look of Spike Milligan at all. Maybe it was the beard? Maybe it was because he reminded me of a child-molester? Or maybe it was because he gave off a similar vibe to a satirist who also looked strange to me, Peter Cook? Well, whatever it was, all of these things just gave me the creeps whenever I saw Spike on his television series 'Q'.

But then, one day, my Dad did a very strange thing. No - he did not try to stick me in the washing machine due to my potty mouth. Instead, he introduced me to the wonderful world of Monty Python. Straight away I just loved this comedy troupe, to such an extent that I avidly researched, scavenged, and pilfered, anything that I could find out about them.

And do you know what? During my hunt, two names kept on coming up again and again and again, which really did surprise me I can tell you.

My enemies. Peter Cook and Spike Milligan.

Hail Spike Milligan

So out of pure curiosity, I picked up one of Spikes books with a book-voucher I won from school. 'A Bit of Book Or A Book Of Bits' this small ledger was called. It was really very funny throughout. It had limericks, silly verses, cartoonish captions, plus passages about the war, shopping, Chinese people, and my own home town of Catford as well.

Please note, as of writing this... errr... whatever it is, I like you to know that I live across the street to where Spike once lived with his parents in the thirties.

Anyway, as I was saying, as soon as I read this book, from then on it started me off down the road to comedic lunacy and obsessive compulsive behaviour. Turning me into one part Spike, and one part Cook, with a dash of Peter Sellers and Woody Allen thrown in for good measure. 

Oh! Wait a minute! I best tell you what I thought about 'Perspectives - Sergeant on Spike', huh? Blooming heck! My mind went off on a tangent for a moment there.

I'm turning into a Milligan me thinks. Like-poooo!

Sergeant ob Spike Milligan

Well, what can I say about it? Huh? I love documentaries such as this one. John Sergeant comes across as a really genuine presenter in this feature, and you can tell from the way he speaks that he is in ore of Spike. Moreover, I can also say the same thing about most of the other people on show too. Michael Palin always carries himself in a very holistic and charming way when he is interviewed. Spikes brother, Desmond, and the Izzard's had a very nice and personable view about Spike's physiology. Esther Rantzen and Noel Fielding were two turn up for the books who made me smile with their charming manner. And Norma Farnes brought tears to my eyes, just in the way that her honesty and integrity came shining through the screen.

Granted, to juxtapose my positive stance for a moment if I may, this program did not go into too much detail about Spikes home life, or his interpersonal relationships with his friends, family, and cohorts alike. Still, this is not that type of a show, huh? It is a personal journey presented by a personal man, John Sergeants, about a person who probably wasn't. Agreed Spike?

What a nutter. But he is my nutter. Just like those crazy cats at www.britishcomedy.org.uk. Bless them.


PERSPECTIVES - SERGEANT ON SPIKE PERSPECTIVES - SERGEANT ON SPIKE Reviewed by David Andrews on April 13, 2012 Rating: 5
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