George Orwell asserted that 'whatever is funny is subversive', and
this was never truer than in the case of Spike Milligan. His
absurdist vision was not unique, but with him it perhaps shone the
brightest and burnt him the worst, leaving him with a tender mind,
often on the cusp of madness, but always brimming with comic,
surreal ideas. He was the creative spark of the generation of
comics who survived the war and, along with Peter Sellers and Harry
Secombe, he created The Goon Show, a mould-breaking radio programme
quite unlike anything else austere Britain had heard before. It's
often taken as the precursor of Monty Python (and thereby much of
post-war British comedy), but a more convincing ancestor would be
Milligan's long-running Q TV series or his Running, Jumping,
Standing Still film, both of which took his highly skewed world
view to new realms of weirdly addictive comedy. As the years took
their toll on his mental stability, Milligan's output grew more and
more patchy - and elements of casual racism in his later comedies
do grate - but his memoirs and children's fiction became more
assured instead, and his autobiographies of his war years were
especially popular, being comic, poignant and revelatory, and
opening his world to a new audience. This marvellous collection is
an excellent smorgasbord of the man's prodigious output, with
selections and titbits from his prose, his poems and limericks and
his scripts. Skilfully gathered together, this is a marvellous
testament to a giant of comedy whose brilliance and influence
remain with us still. (Kirkus UK)
When Spike Milligan died in 2002, he left behind one of the most diverse legacies in British entertainment history - as well as a legion of devoted fans and admirers. Milligan's themes ranged from environmental issues to the war, from nostalgia to depression, and his prolific output covers some of the most evocative events of the twentieth century, in a style both twistedly comic and harrowingly honest.
From the pioneering lunacy of The Goon Show through his first novel Puckoon to the mould-breaking war memoirs that began with Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall, Milligan wrote with a passionate honesty that combined lyricism with all-out lunacy. His love of children also produced some of the most popular kids' verse ever written. This, the first posthumous anthology of his work, compiled with the co-operation of his closest circle, provides a comprehensive guide to Milligan's work, as well as shedding light on some less familiar areas, from pre-Goon Show days and Telegoons to his Q series for TV. An essential read for devotees of Spike, young and old, as well as the perfect introduction for those wishing to get to know him a little better.
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