Tributes to The Goon Show & Spike Milligan

Nicholas Parsons

Actor, radio and TV presenter

Spike Milligan was a genius and a comic icon. To use a corny phrase, he was a legend in his own lifetime. But he's gone and there will never be another Spike. He was unique. Spike broke the mould in comedy.

When he created The Goons - which the BBC didn't understand, they thought it was called the 'Go On Show' - it broke new ground. He took comedy into the world of fantasy. It was surreal, different and amazing and he created a whole new attitude towards humour.

I would compare him with the great nonsense man Edward Lear who, in the 18th century, broke the mould with his wonderful nonsense verse. In a way they've got a lot in common. I did a programme about Edward Lear and discovered that he was a very depressive character, like Spike.

They also had a great empathy with children and loved children. They both had a wonderful, surreal humour which was able to make nonsense sound like sense. Spike was a very quiet, shy withdrawn person and very unconfident. But he was also intellectually very secure and he knew he could stand his own ground with anybody.

Like a lot of people in showbusiness, he had a natural shyness which he could overcome and express by being incredibly extrovert and outrageous in performance. As a writer, he was terribly inventive and wonderful. People like Spike who could perform their own material are probably the most successful performers.

I worked with Spike when I guested on shows - I didn't meet him socially very much except at theatrical gatherings. He was very outspoken about what he felt about and believed in and would be prepared to crusade for those particular thoughts.
He was a complete individualist and there are not enough of them about. You could say he was a bit eccentric, but to me the eccentrics are the creators of this world - they are the icons. They are the people that we must treasure and cast to our bosom because without them we will not move things forward.

And Spike moved the world of comedy forward in huge leaps and bounds.

This article is sourced from BBC News