Saturday, August 29, 2009


This morning Shane will read his 100th book of the summer. He has plans to read 5 more each day until school starts next week...

Big Plans Bob Shea
Are You Ready to Play Outside? Mo Willems
Watch Me Throw the Ball! Mo Willems
Elephants Cannot Dance! Mo Willems
I Am Invited to a Party! Mo Willems
Today I Will Fly! Mo Willems
I Will Surprise My Friend! Mo Willems
My Friend is Sad Mo Willems
There is a Bird on Your Head! Mo Willems
I Love My New Toy! Mo Willems
It's Not Easy Being Big Stephanie St. Pierre
Six Sticks Molly Coxe
Arthur's Reading Race Marc Brown
It's Not Easy Being a Bunny Marilyn Sadler
In a People House Theo. LeSieg
The 1st of Octember Theo. LeSieg
Fox in Sox Dr. Seuss
Monster Munchies Laura Numeroff
Danny and the Dinosaur Syd Hoff
Oliver Syd Hoff
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Mo Willems
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late Mo Willems
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog Mo Willems
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy Mo Willems
Go, Dog. Go! P.D. Eastman
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb Al Perkins
Ten Apples Up On Top Theo. LeSieg
A Fish Out of Water Helen Palmer
Hop On Pop Dr. Seuss
Otto Has a Birthday Todd Parr
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Dr. Seuss
Sammy the Seal Syd Hoff
The Early Bird Richard Scarry
Put Me In the Zoo Robert Lopshire
The Gas We Pass Shinta Cho
Walt Disney's Pinocchio Campbell Grant
Walt Disney's Seven Dwarves Find a House Anne North Bedford
Sesame Street's Mother Goose Rhymes Constance Allen
Disneyland Parade Walt Disney Productions
Mickey Mouse's Picnic Jane Werner
Underwear Do's and Don’ts Todd Parr
From Trash to Treasure Lisa Alexander
Mr. Fancypants Geof Smith
I Want To Be a Police Officer Liza Alexander
I Want To Be a Doctor Liza Alexander
Say Boo Lynda Graham-Barber
Batman: From Alfred to Zowie Ruthanna Thomas
Bears on Wheels Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Diggingest Dog Al Perkins
The Berenstains' A Book Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Berenstains' B Book Stan and Jan Berenstain
Happy Birthday, Thomas Rev. W. Awdry
Everyone Poops Taro Gomi
If You Give a Moose a Muffin Laura Joffe Numeroff
The Cat in the Hat Dr. Seuss
Otto Has a Party Todd Parr
Sam and the Firefly P.D. Eastman
Are You My Mother? P.D. Eastman
One Fish, Two Fish; Red Fish, Blue Fish Dr. Seuss
Arthur Tricks the Tooth Fairy Marc Brown
The Tooth Book Theo. LeSieg
Amelia Bedelia Peggy Parish
Polly Hopper's Pouch Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud
Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street? Eleanor Hudson
Oh, the Thinks You Can Think Dr. Seuss
Glasses for D.W. Marc Brown
The Eye Book Dr. Seuss
The Old Man Who Loved Cheese Garrison Keillor
Ferdinand Munro Leaf
The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone Stan and Jan Berenstain
Green Eggs and Ham Dr. Seuss
The Foot Book Dr. Seuss
Up Lisa Marsoli
My Name is Dug Kiki Thorpe
Rolie Polie Olie William Joyce
A Day With Wilber Robinson William Joyce
Gerald McBoing Boing Dr. Seuss
Olivia Saves the Circus Ian Falconer
Olivia and the Missing Toy Ian Falconer
George Shrinks William Joyce
The Three Bears F. Rojankovsky
The Monster at the End of The Book Jon Stone
Gossie Olivier Dunrea
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Judi Barrett
Curious George Margaret and H.A. Rey
Curious George Takes a Job Margaret and H.A. Rey
Curious George Rides a Bike Margaret and H.A. Rey
Curious George Gets a Medal Margaret and H.A. Rey
Curious George Flies a Kite Margaret and H.A. Rey
Knuffle Bunny Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny Too Mo Willems
Llama Llama Red Pajama Anna Dewdney
Leonardo the Terrible Monster Mo Willems
Walter the Farting Dog William Kotzwinkle
Pickles to Pittsburgh Judi Barrett
Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride J. Otto Seibold
Dinosaur Bob William Joyce
Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

THE KONYOTS: Cirque Medrano (2009)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Alexei Sayle

From Wikipedia...

Alexei David Sayle (born 7 August 1952) is an English stand-up comedian, actor and author. In a poll for Channel 4, Sayle, a central part of the alternative comedy circuit in the early 1980s, was voted 18th on a list of the 100 Greatest Stand Ups.

Much of Sayle's humour is in the tradition of Spike Milligan and Monty Python, with riffs based on an absurd and surreal premise. His act is notable for cynicism, intelligence and political awareness, as well as physical comedy. Sayle's trademark appearance is a shaved head, five o'clock shadow, and a suit that is a size or two too small.

Personal life

Sayle was born and raised in Anfield, Liverpool, the son of an English railway worker and a Lithuanian pools clerk, both of whom were members of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

In his stand-up comedy work, Sayle describes himself as being of Lithuanian Jewish extraction. In the aftermath of the May 1968 French uprising, he joined the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). He went to The Alsop High School in Walton. After leaving school, Sayle took a foundation course in art at Southport, before attending Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. He has been married to Linda Rawsthorn since 1974.

On 3 January 2009, Sayle took part in a protest in London along with thousands of others in opposition to Israel's ground attack on Gaza.


When the Comedy Store opened in London in 1979, Sayle responded to an advert for "would-be comedians" and became its first master of ceremonies. In 1980, he was seen performing at the Edinburgh Festival by comedy producer Martin Lewis (producer of The Secret Policeman's Balls), who became his manager. Sayle became the leading performer at the new club The Comic Strip. He also secured a radio series for London's Capital Radio, Alexei Sayle And The Fish People (1981), for which he won a Sony Radio Award. Sayle later released an album based on the show - The Fish People Tapes. He appeared on The Comic Strip Album (1981) and recorded Cak! (1982). He also appeared in the stage show, film and comedy album of The Secret Policeman's Other Ball (1981-82). In 1982, Sayle joined Central Television's late-night alternative cabaret show O.T.T. He left nine weeks into the show's run, in order to tour Australia with The Comic Strip. He was replaced by Bernard Manning.

The height of his early fame was with the single 'Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?, produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (who also produced for Madness and Elvis Costello). The 12-inch version of the single achieved notoriety due to its extensive use of profanity. The record's success changed Sayle's comedy career from cult status into the mainstream. He went on to star in many television series and films and also became one of the UK's highest paid voice-over talents. He released two more singles: Didn't You Kill My Brother?, which was accompanied by a popular music video, and Meanwhile, both from the album Panic, the cover of which parodies the cover of the Michael Jackson album Off The Wall.

Sayle was a cast member of the situation comedy The Young Ones, in which he was credited with providing "additional material". He often portrayed the students' landlord Mr. Balowski, but also played the roles of other Balowski family members. In the episode titled Oil, he sings and performs a song called Doctor Martens Boots. In 1985, he appeared in the Doctor Who serial Revelation of the Daleks. In a column for a British tabloid newspaper around the same time, he indicated that he wanted to become the "first Socialist Doctor." In 1988, Sayle played the role of Trinculo in Shakespeare's The Tempest, directed by Jonathan Miller at The Old Vic theatre in London.

Sayle has co-written many programmes, including one episode of The Comic Strip Presents..., also entitled Didn't You Kill My Brother?, (which also starred Beryl Reid), three series of Alexei Sayle's Stuff (1988-91), two series of The All New Alexei Sayle Show (1994-95) and one series of Alexei Sayle's Merry-Go-Round (1998). In 1989, Sayle was awarded an International Emmy for Stuff. In conversation with Mark Thomas on BBC Radio 4's informal chat-show Chain Reaction, Sayle revealed that the first he knew of the award was when he watched Channel 4 News and saw, to his amazement, Benny Hill collecting the award on his behalf. [5] Sayle alternates his comedic work with performances as a character actor ranging from serious (Gorky Park) to humorous (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). He has also provided the voice-over for animations including the character Rubbish the Cat in the children's TV series Rubbish, King of the Jumble.

In 1994 he presented the miniseries Drive, which gave advice for safe driving through Alexei's signature form of humour interspersed with some serious pieces. Examples include ending a piece on the likelihood of certain behaviour causing fatal accidents with "...but it's not gonna be me, so it must be one of you", and on the subject of alertness; "You not only have to expect the unexpected, you also have to expect the utterly impossible", followed by jumping into a car with two lobsters. In 1995, he was awarded an honorary professorship at Thames Valley University.

Sayle has written two short story collections and five novels, including a graphic novel, as well as columns for various publications. His book Great Bus Journeys Of The World, co-written with David Stafford, is mostly a collection of his columns for Time Out and the Sunday Mirror. In 2004, Sayle was one of eight contributory authors to the BBC Three competition End Of Story, in which members of the public completed the second half of stories written by established authors. The winning entry to Sayle's story, Imitating Katherine Walker, was written by freelance writer Arthur Allan.

On 3 November 2006 he presented Chopwell Soviet, a 30-minute programme on BBC Radio 4 that reviewed the Chopwell miners 80 years after the village of Chopwell became known as Little Moscow.

In 2008, Sayle wrote and presented Alexei Sayle's Liverpool, a three-part television series in which he reconnected with his hometown. He stated in the programmes that on first hearing that Liverpool was to be awarded the European Capital of Culture, he received much criticism for describing the city as 'philistine'. He now feels that he doesn't know whether or not his original statement was true, but as a result of making the series he does now consider Liverpool to be his home, and he has vowed to go back there more often in the future.


From Variety...

Lasseter builds empire out of past failures

Using Pixar spirit, Disney creative chief succeeds

The key to John Lasseter's success? Failure.

You wouldn't know it by looking at Pixar's track record. Since "Toy Story's" debut as the first computer-animated feature in 1995, the Emeryville, Calif.-based studio has racked up four animated feature Oscars, multiple other prizes (including a Golden Lion at this year's Venice Film Fest for Lasseter and four of his directors for lifetime achievement) and more than $5 billion in worldwide box office. With this summer's "Up," Pixar achieves a perfect 10-for-10 winning streak -- a feat unheard of in Hollywood, where a 1-in-10 hit ratio keeps most companies in business.

Talk to Lasseter and his team, and you'll get the usual platitudes about how Pixar is a filmmaker-led studio where story comes first -- principles the "Toy Story" director has carried over to Walt Disney Animation, where he has served as chief creative officer since the Mouse House bought its CG-savvy partner for $7.4 billion from Steve Jobs in 2006. But press a little harder, and Lasseter admits the mantra that sets the studio apart: "It's safe to fail."

The trick is to make those mistakes as quickly as possible and move on, a philosophy Lasseter picked up from colleague and computer science pioneer Ed Catmull (the man who lured him to Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Group after Lasseter lost his job at Disney in 1983 -- the setback that has paid off best in Lasseter's career).

"When you think about science, it's about experimentation, and 99% of the experiments fail, but you learn from the failures and you move on," Lasseter says. "That's the great thing about Ed. He's always wanting people to keep pushing, keep experimenting, keep trying, and we always learn and keep moving forward."

For all the technical advances that have impressed audiences about Pixar, Lasseter's greatest innovation has been to extend a principle of positive risk-taking to the creative process. Lasseter's approach applies at both studios, where he has introduced virtual safety nets to protect small failures from compromising an entire project.

He is adamant that teams not be allowed to sequester themselves or work too long without sharing their progress with others. No matter what state a project is in, every three months, directors are required to put their film up on reels and test how it screens. That way, Lasseter and his fellow leaders can identify problems early.

Lasseter doesn't believe in mandatory notes, introducing instead what he calls the "creative brain trust" at Pixar, a peer-support strategy in which all the directors and key story people from around the company get together and selflessly help on one another's films. "It doesn't matter whose idea it is, the best idea gets used," he explains.

"Animation is the most collaborative art form there is in the whole world," continues Lasseter, who says his goal at both Pixar and Disney Animation has been "to build a studio where everyone's working for the same thing, to make the best movie you can, and then to be open enough to let people put their two cents into it. The next thing you know, you're seeing stuff you would never have thought of yourself."

No shortage of bad ideas emerge, of course, but the environment is designed to be supportive enough that people feel encouraged to speak up and take creative chances.

"We fail a lot," admits "Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich. "We just don't fail by the time the movie comes out. John would be the first to tell you that every movie we've made has been at one point the biggest piece of garbage we've ever worked on."

Unkrich got his first co-helming credit (which at Pixar is like playing Robin to the lead director's Batman) supporting Lasseter on "Toy Story 2."

The project "wasn't working at all," he says, until Lasseter stepped in at the 11th hour, tore up what was there and rebuilt the story to resonate with audiences, pulling off what many at the studio consider Pixar's best film. (And that was hardly an isolated case. "Ratatouille" was repaired much the same way, with "Incredibles" director Brad Bird overhauling the project late in the game. Lasseter even allowed director Andrew Stanton to "reshoot" a couple scenes on "Wall-E" -- a costly fix rare in animation.)

"Back when we were first taking over 'Toy Story 2' and trying to fix it, I had a conversation with Steve Jobs expressing our concerns," Unkrich says. "He reassured me by telling me that when he looked back on his career, all the work he was most proud of was done under circumstances just like that, where it seemed impossible, where there wasn't enough time, there wasn't enough money, and everyone had set the bar really high for themselves."

Lasseter also looks to Jobs for advice, remembering an early meeting in which he went in to pitch his idea for the short film "Tin Toy." "He turned to me, and the only thing he said was, 'John, make it great.' And that's the mantra I've been living with ever since, just do everything we can to make it great," says Lasseter, who found confidence in Jobs' relatively hands-off approach to Pixar over the years, trusting the creative talent to steer the studio in the right direction.

After being named chief creative officer of Disney Animation, one of the first changes Lasseter put into effect was dismissing the suits and shifting the focus from an executive-led operation back to an artist-driven enterprise, where the ideas for feature films "come from the heart" of individual filmmakers.

"The one aspect of Pixar that we imported is our simple philosophy that a studio is not the building, a studio is its people, so each studio is going to have a different culture," he says.

At Burbank-based Walt Disney Animation, where Lasseter spends two to three days each week, the heritage of classic stories and hand-drawn animation runs deep, which is one reason Lasseter was so excited to bring back the 2-D tradition for December's "The Princess and the Frog" (directed by "The Little Mermaid" duo Ron Clements and John Musker, the latter being a classmate from his days at CalArts, where Lasseter also studied alongside Tim Burton and Brad Bird).

"I've always felt that the studio that should still be doing hand-drawn animation is the studio that started it all," says Lasseter, who until now has been guiding projects that were already in development through the Disney Animation pipeline (he tweaked "Meet the Robinsons" and restarted "Bolt," but "Princess" is the first one he built from the ground up).

"We couldn't be more proud of 'The Princess and the Frog' and the way it's coming together," says Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook. Rather than simply replicating the Pixar model at Disney, "John and Ed Catmull are creating their own culture here, and they're allowing that culture to be developed by the artists at Disney."

Looking forward, Lasseter's Disney slate includes a mix of hand-drawn and computer-animated projects, and though both he and Cook are hopeful "Princess" will give them license to make more 2-D pics, they insist the fate of the format doesn't rely on the success or failure of that one film.

Lasseter is already planning other hand-drawn projects at Disney Animation. "Rapunzel," due out in 2010, will be CG, but the 2011 take on "Winnie the Pooh" could go either way.

"The thing I've prided myself in all the years of working at Pixar is picking the subject matters that really lend themselves to computer animation," says Lasseter, who directed toons about toys, bugs and cars himself. "Now, going to Disney, I get to think about what great subject matter lends itself to hand-drawn animation."

His new responsibilities leave Lasseter too busy to direct (one reason he tapped Unkrich to helm "Toy Story 3," a project rescued from a possible straight-to-DVD fate).

In his exec role, Lasseter can hardly ignore the business side, but creative concerns still take precedence -- and Cook has his back, stressing that the studio is once again making animation for the ages, not just opening weekend. Should "Princess" prove a frog at the box office, "Nothing's going to happen," Cook promises. "We will continue to look at all forms of animation, whether it be hand-drawn, computer or stop-motion."

Even if Pixar's incredible streak were to hit a speed bump down the road, the Disney honcho says he feels confident Lasseter's dedication to quality would carry them forward.

"I think every film is a giant risk," Cook continues. "Just take a look at the last few movies that have been giant successes for Pixar, from 'Ratatouille' to 'Wall-E' to 'Up' this year. Based on their face value, you would say those are going to be difficult sells, and yet all three of those have become huge worldwide events and successes. It comes back again to the quality of the movies. The movies prevail because the movies are great."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


From Wikipedia...

The Goodies are a trio of British comedians (Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie), who created, wrote, and starred in a surreal British television comedy series called The Goodies during the 1970s and early 1980s combining sketches and situation comedy.

The three actors in The Goodies met as students at the University of Cambridge, where Brooke-Taylor was studying law, Garden was studying medicine, and Oddie was studying English. It was as undergraduate students at the University that Brooke-Taylor, Garden and Oddie met John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle, who would later become founding members of Monty Python. This group of students became close friends and Brooke-Taylor and Cleese, who were both law students, but at different colleges within the university studied together, swapping lecture notes.They all became members of the Cambridge University Footlights Club, with Brooke-Taylor becoming president in 1963, and Garden succeeding him as president in 1964.

Garden was himself succeeded as the Footlights Club president in 1965 by Idle, who had initially become aware of the Footlights Club when he auditioned for a Pembroke College "smoker" for Brooke-Taylor and Oddie.

Career before The Goodies

Brooke-Taylor, Garden and Oddie were cast members of the highly successful 1960s BBC radio comedy show I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, which also featured Cleese, David Hatch and Jo Kendall, and lasted until 1973. I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again resulted from the successful 1963 Cambridge University Footlights Club revue A Clump of Plinths. After having its title changed to Cambridge Circus, the revue went on to play at West End in London, England, followed by a tour of New Zealand and Broadway in New York, United States of America (including an appearance on the top rated Ed Sullivan Show).

They also took part in various TV shows with other people, including Brooke-Taylor in At Last the 1948 Show (with Cleese, Chapman and Marty Feldman), and Brooke-Taylor taking part in Marty (with Marty Feldman, John Junkin and Roland MacLeod). Garden and Oddie took part in Twice a Fortnight (with Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Jonathan Lynn), before Brooke-Taylor, Oddie and Garden worked on the late 1960s TV show Broaden Your Mind (of which only about ten minutes survives).

The Goodies television series

The Goodies was created by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. The episodes for the series were originally co-written by all three Goodies (Tim, Graeme and Bill). Later, the episodes were co-written by Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. The music for the show was written by Bill Oddie, and The Goodies' theme music was co-written by Bill Oddie and Michael Gibbs. The show also benefited greatly from the input of director Bob Spiers.

The television series ran from November 1970 to February 1982 on BBC 2, with 70 episodes, mostly thirty minutes in length except for two forty-five minute Christmas specials (The Goodies and the Beanstalk and The Goodies Rule – O.K.?). The costume designer for this episode was BBC costume designer Dee Robson.

It was one of the first shows in the UK to use chroma key and one of the first to use stop-motion techniques in a live action format. Other effects include hand editing for repeated movement, mainly used to make animals "talk" or "sing", and play speed effects as used in the episode "Kitten Kong".

The threesome travelled around on, and frequently fell off, a three-seater bicycle called the trandem. One of these trandems was later cycled across Africa, a trip immortalised in the resultant book Three Men on a Bike.

Although The Goodies are well known for performing spectacular but comedic stunts, it was Tim Brooke-Taylor who performed most of them.

The Goodies never had a formal contract with the BBC, and when the BBC Light Entertainment budget for 1980 was exhausted by the production of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV series, they signed a contract with London Weekend Television for ITV. However, after one half-hour Christmas special ("Snow White 2") in 1981, and a six-part series in early 1982, the series was cancelled. In recent interviews the cast suggest the reasons were mainly economic — a typical Goodies sketch was more expensive than it appeared.

It may be argued that The Goodies' antics brought the surrealist adventure traditions of The Goon Show to the television screen without diverting into areas of coarseness or topical satire to the same extent as other British television series like Till Death Us Do Part, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Not Only But Also, Not the Nine O'Clock News or, much later, The Young Ones. There were satirical episodes of The Goodies including: "South Africa" (apartheid) — "Punky Business" (punk) — and "Gender Education" (satirising Mary Whitehouse's influence on television).

The Goodies appealed to adults on an intellectual level, and also had a level of appeal to children as a consequence of its visual humour and slapstick. Although there are similarities to the television series The Monkees, with the group members employing music, slapstick comedy, bad puns and camera tricks; and all living in the same house together and working together — a tradition also borne out of the films of The Beatles — The Goodies owes nothing to either. Instead, the comedy of The Goodies originated with the Cambridge University Footlights Club's revues.

Fatal effect

On 24 March 1975 Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from King's Lynn literally died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies. According to his wife, who was a witness, Mitchell was unable to stop laughing whilst watching a sketch in the episode "Kung Fu Kapers" in which Tim Brooke-Taylor, dressed as a kilted Scotsman, used a set of bagpipes to defend himself from a black pudding-wielding Bill Oddie (master of the ancient Lancastrian martial art "Ecky-Thump") in a demonstration of the Scottish martial art of "Hoots-Toot-ochaye." After twenty-five minutes of continuous laughter Mitchell finally slumped on the settee and died from heart failure. His widow later sent the Goodies a letter thanking them for making Mitchell's final moments so pleasant.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009



From Wikipedia...

Peter Edward Cook (17 November 1937 – 9 January 1995) was an English satirist, writer and comedian. He is widely regarded as the leading figure in the British satire boom of the 1960s. He has been described by Stephen Fry as 'the funniest man who ever drew breath'.

Cook is very closely associated with the anti-establishment style of comedy that first emerged in Britain and the US in the late 1950s.


Cook was born at "Shearbridge", Middle Warberry Road, Torquay, Devon, the only son and eldest of the three children of Alexander Edward (Alec) Cook (d. 1984), a colonial civil servant, and his wife (Ethel Catherine) Margaret, née Mayo (d. 1994). He was educated at Radley College and later Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read French and German. Cook meant to become a career diplomat, but unfortunately Britain "had run out of colonies", as he put it. It was at Pembroke that he performed and wrote comedy sketches as a member of the prestigious Cambridge Footlights Club, of which he became President in 1960.

While still at university, Cook wrote professionally for Kenneth Williams, for whom he created a successful West End revue show called One Over the Eight, before finding prominence in his own right as a star of the satirical stage show, Beyond the Fringe, together with Jonathan Miller, Alan Bennett and Dudley Moore.

The show included Cook impersonating the then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan: this was one of the first occasions that satirical political mimicry had been attempted in live theatre, and caused some considerable shock amongst audiences. During one performance, Macmillan himself was in the theatre, and having spotted him Cook departed from his script and directly attacked him verbally.

With his star in the ascendant, he opened the The Establishment Club at 18 Greek Street in Soho which gave him the opportunity to present fellow comedians in a nightclub setting, including the highly controversial American Lenny Bruce. Cook befriended and supported Australian comedian and actor Barry Humphries, who began his British solo career at the club. Humphries would comment in his autobiography My Life As Me that he found Cook's lack of interest in art and literature rather off-putting. Cook's chiselled looks and languid manner led Humphries to observe that whereas most people take after their father or mother, Cook reminded one of one's auntie. Dudley Moore's jazz trio (which included Australian-born drummer Chris Karan) played at the club regularly for many years during the early 1960s.


In 1962, the BBC commissioned a pilot for a television series of satirical sketches based on The Establishment Club, but it was not picked up straightaway and Cook and the other regulars went to New York for a year. When he returned, Cook discovered that the pilot had been refashioned in his absence as That Was The Week That Was and had made a star out of David Frost, something that Cook later admitted resenting. The 1960s satire boom was coming to a close and Cook quipped that Britain would "sink into the sea under the weight of its own giggling". He later complained that David Frost's success was largely based on copying Cook's stage persona and remarked that his only regret in life had been once saving Frost from drowning (an actual event). He married the socially well-connected Wendy Snowden in 1963, with whom he had two daughters, Lucy and Daisy (now working as an abstract painter) The marriage ended in divorce in 1970, due in part to Cook having various affairs.

Cook expanded the scope of television comedy with associates such as Eleanor Bron, John Bird, and John Fortune, and pushed the previously restricted boundaries of the BBC. Cook's first regular television spot was on Granada Television's Braden Beat with Bernard Braden, where he featured his most enduring comic character: the static, dour, and monotonal E.L. Wisty, whom Cook had originally conceived for Radley College's Marionette Society.

His comedy partnership with Dudley Moore led to the popular and critically feted television show Not Only... But Also. This was initially intended by the BBC as a vehicle for Dudley Moore's musical talents, but when Moore invited Cook to write sketches and appear with him, the show suddenly became hugely popular. Using few props, they created a unique style of dry and absurd television which was immediately successful and found a place in the mainstream, ultimately lasting for three seasons. Here Cook showcased his characters, such as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling and the pair's Pete and Dud. Other memorable sketches include "Superthunderstingcar", a send-up of the Gerry Anderson marionette TV shows and Cook's pastiche of 1960s trendy arts documentaries — satirised in a parodic TV segment on Greta Garbo.

Despite the show's cult status, by the early 1970s the BBC had decided to erase most of the master videotapes of the series, with a view to reusing the tapes due to the expense of the format. This was common UK television practice at the time, when agreements with actors' and musicians' unions limited the number of repeats. (The policy of wiping recordings ceased in 1978.) When Cook learned the series was to be destroyed, he offered to buy the tapes from the BBC but was refused due to copyright issues. He then suggested that he purchase new tapes, so that the BBC would have no need to erase the originals, but inexplicably this was also turned down.

Of the original programmes, only eight of the twenty-two complete episodes survive complete. These comprise the entire first series with the exception of the fifth and seventh episodes, the first and last episodes of the second series, and the Christmas special. Of the 1970 third series, only the various film inserts (usually of outdoor scenes) still survive. The BBC later recovered some of the shows by approaching overseas television networks and buying back copies that had not yet been destroyed. A compilation of six half-hour programmes, The Best of What's Left of Not Only...But Also was shown on television in 1990, and was released on VHS and DVD.

In 1968, Cook and Moore briefly switched to the commercial channel ATV to produce a series of four one-hour programmes entitled Goodbye Again, based on the "Pete and Dud" characters. The duo knew they were the rationale for the series and as a result, ignored suggestions from the director and other cast. Sketches were therefore often drawn out to fill the running time. With no real interest in the show and a developing problem with alcohol, Cook would also rely on cue cards and ended up garbling parts of the script, forcing Moore to ad-lib. Nonetheless, the series does contain some notable items, including a reprise of the Pete and Dud 'Greta Garbo' routine and a sketch in which the pair mostly play themselves, discussing the breakdowns of their respective marriages. The show was not a popular success due in part to the publication of the ITV listings magazine, TV Times, being suspended due to a strike. John Cleese was a supporting cast member and elements of the series can be seen in the early Monty Python programmes of the following year.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore acted in films together, beginning with The Wrong Box in 1966. Their best work in the medium was the cult comedy Bedazzled (1967), now widely regarded as a comedy classic but which was not financially successful at the time. Directed by Stanley Donen, the film's story is credited to Cook and Moore jointly, and its screenplay to Cook alone. A comic parody of the Faust story, it starred Cook as George Spigott (The Devil) who tempts a frustrated, short-order chef called Stanley Moon (Moore) with the promise of gaining his heart's desire — the love of the unattainable beauty Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron) — in exchange for his soul, but repeatedly tricks him in a variety of ways. The film features cameo appearances by Barry Humphries ('Envy') and Raquel Welch ('Lust'). Moore's jazz trio backed Cook on the theme, a parodic anti-love song, which Cook delivers in a monotonous, deadpan voice, and which includes his now classic put-down, "You fill me with inertia". Moore's Hollywood stardom in the 1970s and 1980s prompted occasional barbed comments from his former comedy partner.


In 1970, Cook took over a project initiated by David Frost for a satirical film about an opinion pollster who rises to become President of Great Britain. Under Cook's guidance, the character became modelled on Frost himself. The resulting film, The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer, was not a great commercial success, although the cast contained many notable names of the period.

Though he was eventually to become a favourite on the British chat show circuit, his own effort at hosting one in 1971, entitled Where Do I Sit? was generally agreed by the critics to have been a huge disappointment. The BBC seem to have agreed: he was replaced after only two episodes by Michael Parkinson (for the next series the show bore Parkinson's name, and was the beginning of his career as a chat show host). Cook would take sweet revenge when Parkinson asked him what his ambitions were (schoolboyishly inquiring whether he had any "large ones") by replying "[...] in fact, my ambition is to shut you up altogether".

Cook provided financial backing for the satirical magazine Private Eye, supporting the publication through a number of difficult periods, particularly when the magazine was punished financially in the wake of a number of high-profile libel trials. Cook both invested his own money and solicited for investment from his showbusiness friends and colleagues. For a time, the magazine was produced from the premises of The Establishment Club. Towards the end of the 1960s, Cook's developing alcoholism placed a strain on his personal and professional relationships. He and Moore fashioned sketches from Not Only....But Also and Goodbye Again with new material into the stage revue Behind the Fridge. This toured Australia in 1972 before transferring to New York in 1973 as Good Evening. In front of audiences during the extended stage runs, Cook frequently appeared drunk and incapable, to the consternation of Dudley Moore. However, Good Evening won the pair Tony and Grammy Awards. When its run finished, Moore announced he was staying in the U.S. to pursue a solo career. In 1973, Cook married the actress Judy Huxtable.

Later, the more risqué humour of the Pete and Dud characters was taken to its furthest extent on long-playing records under the names "Derek and Clive". The first such recording was initiated by Cook purely to alleviate the boredom of a long Broadway run of Good Evening, and used material that was conceived years before for the two characters but was then considered far too outrageous. One of these audio recordings was also filmed, and the long-running tensions between the duo are seen to rise to the surface. Originally intended for their own amusement, Chris Blackwell circulated bootleg copies to friends, and they soon gained a cult following. The popularity of the bootleg recording convinced Cook that it would be profitable to release it commercially, although Moore was initially reluctant to agree to this, fearing that his recently achieved fame as a Hollywood movie star would be undermined by the tape's outrageous content. Two further Derek and Clive albums were released, the last accompanied by a film.

In 1979, Cook recorded comedy-segments which were released as b-sides to the Sparks 12" singles "Number One In Heaven" and "Tryouts For The Human Race". The combination was not so surprising, for the latter's main songwriter Ron Mael would often start off with a banal situation in his lyrics, and then go off at surreal tangents à la Cook and the even zanier S.J. Perelman.

Performances for Amnesty International

Cook made noteworthy appearances at the first three of the fund-raising galas staged by humourists John Cleese and Martin Lewis on behalf of Amnesty International. The series of benefits were retrospectively dubbed The Secret Policeman's Balls though it wasn't until the third show in 1979 that the Secret Policeman's Ball title was used. He performed on all three nights of the first show in April 1976, A Poke in the Eye (with a Sharp Stick), both as an individual performer and as a member of the cast of Beyond The Fringe, which reunited for the first time since the 1960s. He also appeared in a Monty Python sketch taking the place of Eric Idle who did not take part in the performances. Cook was prominently featured on the cast album of the show (which carried the same title) and in the film of the event, which was titled Pleasure At Her Majesty's. He was similarly prominent in the second Amnesty gala held in May 1977, An Evening Without Sir Bernard Miles. (It was retitled The Mermaid Frolics for the cast album and TV special.) Cook performed monologues and skits with Terry Jones.

In June 1979, Cook performed on all four nights of The Secret Policeman's Ball - memorably teaming for a skit with John Cleese. Cleese was quoted as saying that he was thrilled to be working with someone he admired so much, and can be seen nearly "corpsing" at Cook during much of the "Interesting Facts" sketch, which opened both the stage show and the resulting film. Cook performed a couple of solo pieces and a skit with old friend Eleanor Bron. He also led the ensemble in the grand finale - the "End Of The World" sketch from Beyond The Fringe.

In response to a critical barb in The Daily Telegraph's review of the show's first night - complaining that the show consisted mostly of recycled material, Cook wrote a savage satire of the summing-up by the Judge (Mr Justice Cantley) in the just-concluded trial of former Liberal Party leader, Jeremy Thorpe — a summary that had attracted almost universal condemnation for its blatant bias in favour of Thorpe. Cook performed it for the first time that same night (Friday 29 June - the third of the four nights) and reprised it the following night. The nine-minute opus — "Entirely a Matter for You" — is considered by many fans and critics to be one of the finest works of Cook's career. Cook and show producer Martin Lewis rushed out a 12" mini-album on Virgin Records titled Here Comes the Judge: Live of the live performance together with three specially-recorded studio tracks that further lampooned the Thorpe trial.

Although unable to take part in the 1981 gala, Cook supplied the narration used over the animated opening title sequence of the 1982 film of the show. With Martin Lewis, he co-wrote and voiced a series of radio commercials used to advertise the film in the UK. He also hosted a spoof film awards ceremony that was part of the World Première of the film in London in March 1982.

Following Cook's successful 1987 stage reunion with Dudley Moore for the annual U.S. benefit for the homeless, Comic Relief (not related to the UK Comic Relief benefits), Cook repeated the reunion for a British audience by performing with Moore at the 1989 Amnesty benefit The Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball. The crowd's positive reaction to seeing Cook and Moore reunited was evident in each of their appearances together during the show.

Consequences album

There is a cult following among some Cook fans for a little-remembered project that he was involved with in the 1970s. This was his participation – playing multiple roles – on the 1977 concept album Consequences, written and produced by former 10cc members Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. A mixture of spoken-word comedy and progressive rock music with an environmental subtext, Consequences started out as a single that Godley and Creme planned to make to demonstrate their new invention, an electric guitar effect called The Gizmo. The project gradually grew into a triple LP boxed set. The comedy sections of the album were originally intended to be performed by an all-star cast including Spike Milligan and Peter Ustinov, but after meeting Peter Cook, Godley and Creme realised that he could perform most of the parts himself. The storyline centres on the impending divorce of ineffectual Englishman Walter Stapleton (Cook) and his French wife Lulu (Judy Huxtable). While meeting with their respective lawyers — the bibulous Mr Haig and overbearing Mr Pepperman (also both played by Cook) — the proceedings are interrupted by a series of bizarre and mysterious happenings that are somehow connected with Mr Blint (Cook), a musician and composer living in the apartment below Haig's office, both of which are connected by a large hole in the floor.

Released just as punk was sweeping the UK, the hugely ambitious concept album was a total commercial failure and was savaged by critics, but it gathered (and retains) a small but dedicated cult following. Interestingly, the script and storyline contain many elements that appear to be drawn from Cook's own life – his second wife, actress Judy Huxtable, plays Walter's wife, Lulu. Cook's own problems with alcohol are comically mirrored in Haig's constant drinking, and there is a clear parallel between the fictional divorce of Walter and Lulu and Cook's own messy divorce from his first wife, Wendy. The voice and accent Cook used for the character of Stapleton are remarkably similar to that of Cook's former Beyond the Fringe colleague, Alan Bennett and a recent book on Cook's comedy, How Very Interesting, speculates that the characters Cook plays in Consequences are broad caricatures of the four Beyond The Fringe cast members – the alcoholic Haig represents Cook, the tremulous Stapleton is Alan Bennett, the parodically Jewish Pepperman is Miller, and the pianist Blint represents Moore.[4]


In 1980, spurred by his former partner Dudley Moore's growing film star status, Cook moved briefly to Hollywood and appeared as an uptight English butler in a short-lived U.S. television sitcom The Two of Us, also making cameo appearances in a couple of undistinguished films. In 1980, Cook starred alongside a host of celebrities in the LWT special Peter Cook & Co.. The show included several comedy sketches, including a Tales of the Unexpected spoof "Tales Of The Much As We Expected". This involved Cook as Roald Dahl, explaining that his name had actually been Ronald before he dropped the "n". The cast included John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Beryl Reid, Paula Wilcox and Terry Jones. The show has never been repeated since its first airing.

Cook made an appearance as Richard III in 1983, both before and after death, in "The Foretelling", the first episode of Blackadder. In 1986 he appeared as a sidekick to Joan Rivers on her UK talk show. He appeared as Mr Jolly in 1987 in The Comic Strip Presents' Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, playing an assassin who covers the sound of his murders by playing Tom Jones records at full volume. Cook also appeared in The Princess Bride that year, as the "Impressive Clergyman". Also that year he spent time working with Martin Lewis on a political satire about the upcoming 1988 U.S. presidential elections for HBO, but the script went unproduced. During this production, Lewis suggested that Cook team up with Dudley Moore for the U.S. "Comic Relief" telethon for the homeless. The duo successfully reunited and performed their classic "One Leg Too Few" sketch. Moore attended Cook's memorial service in London in May 1995 and he and Lewis teamed up to present a two-night memorial for Cook in Los Angeles the following November, scheduled to mark Cook's birthday.

In 1988, Cook appeared as a contestant on the popular improvisation comedy show, Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Cook was declared the winner of the episode, his prize being to read the end credits in the style of the host's choosing, which was that of a New York cab driver - a character which he'd already portrayed in Peter Cook & Co.. He was an avid media follower, reading nearly all the British daily newspapers and following TV and radio programmes with vigour.

He was an occasional caller to Clive Bull's night-time phone-in show on LBC in London, where, using the pseudonym "Sven from Swiss Cottage" he would entertain listeners with his complaints and musings on love, loneliness and herrings, all delivered in a mock Norwegian accent. Running jokes through these conversations included Sven's attempts to find his estranged wife, which often saw him claim to telephone the show from all over the world, and his hatred of the Norweigan medias' obsession with fish (while remaining totally oblivious to his own apprarent obsession with fish). While Bull was clearly aware that Sven was fictional, he played along with the joke, and claimed he did not know Sven's true identity until much later.

Following Cook's death, some recordings were issued of him chatting with his Hampstead neighbour and fellow Clive Bull regular, the London eccentric Rainbow George Weiss, mostly about George's political plans for Peter within his Vote for Yourself Rainbow Dream Ticket party, which Cook tolerated with amused disdain. According to Cook's biographer Harry Thompson, Weiss tried repeatedly to persuade Cook to stand for parliament, but Cook always refused. In the last few years of his life, Cook had a lower public profile but maintained a robust social life. He was far more concerned with simply enjoying his life than in pursuing traditional career goals. He once famously said, "I ran out of ambition at the age of 27..."


In late 1989 Cook married the Malaysian-born property developer Chiew Lin Chong in Torbay, Devon. This marriage brought a beneficial change in the direction of his life, as he reduced his drinking and for a time was a teetotaler. He lived alone in an 18th-century house in Hampstead, once owned by H.G. Wells. His third wife lived in another house 100 yards (91 m) away.

Cook returned as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling for an appearance with Ludovic Kennedy in A Life in Pieces. The series of twelve five- to seven-minute interviews saw Sir Arthur recounting snippets of his life loosely based on the Twelve Days of Christmas. A set of unscripted interviews with Cook as Streeb-Greebling and satirist Chris Morris were recorded in autumn of 1993 and broadcast as Why Bother on BBC Radio 3, less than a year before Cook's death. In a later interview, Morris described them as follows:

“ It was a very different style of improvisation from what I'd been used to, working with people like Steve Coogan, Doon Mackichan and Rebecca Front, because those On the Hour and The Day Today things were about trying to establish a character within a situation, and Peter Cook was really doing 'knight's move' and 'double knight's move' thinking to construct jokes or ridiculous scenes flipping back on themselves, and it was amazing. I mean, I held out no great hopes that he wouldn't be a boozy old sack of lard with his hair falling out and scarcely able to get a sentence out, because he hadn't given much evidence that that wouldn't be the case. But, in fact, he stumbled in with a Safeways bag full of Kestrel lager and loads of fags and then proceeded to skip about mentally with the agility of a grasshopper. Really quite extraordinary. ”

On 17 December 1993, Cook appeared on Clive Anderson Talks Back showcasing four completely new characters, and the following day appeared on BBC2 performing links for Arena's "Radio Night". He also appeared, on 26 December, in the 1993 Christmas special of One Foot in the Grave ("One Foot in the Algarve"), playing a muckraking tabloid journalist. Many hoped these high-profile appearances marked the beginning of a revival for Cook, but before the end of the next year his mother died, and Cook returned to a life of heavy drinking. His own death, 13 months later at the age of 57 was officially reported as resulting from internal haemorrhaging. Eric Idle and Stephen Fry commented that Cook had not wasted his talent but rather that the newspapers had tried to waste him.


Cook's significance to modern British comedy is immense, and persists today: he is acknowledged as the main influence on a long stream of comedians who have followed him from the amateur dramatic clubs of British universities to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and thence to the radio and television studios of the BBC. Notable fans include all the members of Monty Python and The Goodies, and, more recently, the aforementioned Chris Morris. Some have seen Cook's life as tragic, insofar as the brilliance he exhibited in his youth did not fully lead to the recognition many thought he deserved. In his lifetime, Cook himself was constantly aware that some thought that he had not achieved or continued his early potential. He was disdainful of this view, and had no particular desire to achieve sustained career success as traditionally measured. Instead, Cook assessed his own happiness by the quality of his personal friendships and his overall enjoyment of life.

Several of his friends honored him with a dedication in the closing credits of Fierce Creatures, a 1997 comedic film written by John Cleese about a zoo in peril of being closed. It starred Cleese, Jaime Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, and Michael Palin. The dedication displays photos and the lifespan dates of Peter Cook and of British naturalist/humorist Gerald Durrell.

Ten years after his death, in January 2005, Peter Cook was ranked number one in a list entitled The Comedian's Comedian, a poll of more than 300 comics, comedy writers, producers, and directors throughout the English speaking world and shown on Channel 4 in the UK.[7] He finished ahead of other important, legendary comics such Groucho Marx, John Cleese, Eric Morecambe, Laurel and Hardy, Bill Hicks and Woody Allen. Coincidentally, the same week that programme was shown, Channel 4 broadcast Not Only But Always, a well-received television movie dramatising the relationship between Cook and Moore, with Welsh actor Rhys Ifans portraying Cook. At the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe a stage play, written by Chris Bartlett and Nick Awde and examining the relationship from Moore's point of view, Pete and Dud: Come Again, was a sellout hit at the Assembly Rooms, before transferring to The Venue in London's West End in March 2006. English actor Tom Goodman-Hill played Cook.

At the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Goodbye - the (after)life of Cook & Moore by Jonathan Hansler and Clive Greenwood was presented at the Gilded Balloon. The play imagined the newly dead Moore meeting the already deceased Cook in Limbo which was also inhabited by other comic actors with whom they had worked, including Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd, and Kenneth Williams. In May 2009 the play was seen again in London's West End at The Leicester Square Theatre (formerly "The Venue" and home to Pete and Dud: Come Again) with Jonathan Hansler as Cook, Adam Bampton Smith as Moore, and Clive Greenwood as everyone else.

A green plaque was unveiled jointly by Westminster City Council and The Heritage Foundation at the site of Cook's "The Establishment Club" in February 2009.

Monday, August 24, 2009

SPIKE MILLIGAN: The Fresh Fruit Song






Terence Alan Patrick Seán Milligan KBE (16 April 1918 – 27 February 2002), known as Spike Milligan, was an Anglo-Irish comedian, writer, musician, poet and playwright. Milligan was the co-creator and the principal writer of The Goon Show, in which he also performed. Aside from comedy, Milligan played the trumpet, saxophone, piano, guitar and bass drum.

Early life

Milligan was born in Ahmednagar, India, on 16 April 1918, the son of an Irish-born father, Captain Leo Alphonso Milligan, MSM, RA, who was serving in the British Indian Army. His mother, Florence Mary Winifred Kettleband, was born in England. He spent his childhood in Poona (India) and later in Rangoon (Yangon), capital of Burma (Myanmar). He was educated at the Convent of Jesus and Mary, Poona, and St Paul's Christian Brothers, de la Salle, Rangoon.

He lived most of his life in England and served in the British Army, in the Royal Artillery during World War II.

Second World War

During most of the late 1930s and early 1940s Milligan performed as an amateur jazz vocalist and trumpeter before, during and after being called up for military service in the fight against Nazi Germany, but even then he wrote and performed comedy sketches as part of concerts to entertain troops. After his call-up, but before being sent abroad, he and fellow musician Harry Edgington (nicknamed Edge-ying-Tong which gave birth to one of Milligan's most memorable musical creations, and continued with The Goon Show the Ying Tong Song) would compose surreal stories, filled with puns and skewed logic, as a way of staving off the boredom of life in barracks.

During World War II he served as a signaller in the 56th Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery, D Battery, as Gunner Milligan, 954024 with the First Army in the North African campaign and then in the succeeding Italian campaign. He rose to the rank of Lance Bombardier and was about to be promoted to Bombardier when he was wounded in action in Italy. Subsequently hospitalised for a mortar wound to the right leg and shell shock, he was demoted by an unsympathetic commanding officer (identified in his war diaries as Major Evan 'Jumbo' Jenkins) back to Gunner. It was Milligan's opinion that Major Jenkins did not like him due to the fact that Milligan constantly kept the morale of his fellow soldiers up, whereas Major Jenkins' approach was to take an attitude towards the troops similar to that of Lord Kitchener. An incident also mentioned was when Major Jenkins had invited Gunners Milligan and Edgington to his bivouac to play some jazz with him, only to discover that the musicianship of the aforementioned gunners was far superior to his own ability to play the military tune 'Whistling Rufus' (badly).

After his hospitalisation, Milligan drifted through a number of rear-echelon military jobs in Italy, eventually becoming a full-time entertainer. He played the guitar with a jazz and comedy group called The Bill Hall Trio in concert parties for the troops. After being demobilised, Milligan remained in Italy playing with the Trio but returned to England soon after. While he was with the Central Pool of Artists (a group he described as composed "of bomb-happy squaddies") he began to write parodies of their mainstream plays, that displayed many of the key elements of what would later become The Goon Show (originally called Crazy People) with Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine.


Milligan returned to jazz in the late 1940s and made a precarious living with the Hall trio and other musical comedy acts. He was also trying to break into the world of radio, as either a performer or as a script writer. His first success in radio was as writer for comedian Derek Roy's show. Milligan soon became involved with a relatively radical comedy project, The Goon Show. Known during its first season as Crazy People, or in full, "The Junior Crazy Gang featuring those Crazy People, the Goons!", the name was an attempt to make the programme palatable to BBC officials by connecting it with the popular group of comedians known as The Crazy Gang.

Milligan was the primary author of The Goon Show scripts (though many were written jointly with Larry Stephens, Eric Sykes and others) as well as a star performer. Although it elevated him to international stardom, Milligan's work on The Goons took a heavy toll -- and he sufffered a major breakdown in late 1951 (just after the start of Series 3), spent two months in hospital recuperating and later blamed the pressure of writing and performing The Goon Show for both his breakdown and the failure of his first marriage.


Milligan made several forays into television as a writer-performer, in addition to his many guest appearances on interview, variety and sketch comedy series from the 1950s to the 2000s.

The Idiot Weekly, Price 2d (1954) starring Peter Sellers was the first attempt to translate Goon humour to TV; it was followed by A Show Called Fred and Son of Fred, both made during 1956 and directed by Richard Lester, who went on to work with The Beatles.

The 15-minute series The Telegoons (1963) was the next attempt to transplant The Goons to television, this time using puppet versions of the familiar characters. The initial intention was to 'visualise' original recordings of 1950s Goon Show episodes, but this proved difficult to achieve in practice due to the rapid-fire dialogue and was ultimately frustrated by the BBC's refusal to allow the original audio to be used. 15-minute adaptations of the original scripts by Maurice Wiltshire were used instead, with Milligan, Sellers and Seacombe reuniting to provide the voices; according to a contemporary press report, they received the highest fees the BBC had ever paid for 15-minute shows. Two series were made in 1963 and 1964 and (presumably because it was shot on 35mm film rather than video) the entire series has reportedly been preserved in the BBC archives.

Milligan's next major TV venture was the sketch comedy series The World of Beachcomber (BBC, 1968) but unfortunately the master tapes were later wiped by the BBC and it is thought that all 19 episodes are now lost (although the show was sold to other countries and it is possible that some episodes or fragments may still exist in the archives of these broadcasters). In 1961 Milligan co-wrote two episodes of the popular sitcom Sykes and A..., co-starring Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques.

In 1968 the three Goons reunited for a televised re-staging of a vintage Goon Show for Thames Television, with John Cleese substituting for the late Wallace Greenslade, but the pilot was not successful and no further programs were made.

In early 1969 Milligan starred in the ill-fated situation comedy Curry & Chips, created and written by Johnny Speight and featuring Milligan's old friend and colleague Eric Sykes. Curry & Chips set out to satirize racist attitudes in Britain in a similar vein to Speight's earlier creation, the hugely successful Till Death Us Do Part, with Milligan 'blacking up' to play Kevin O'Grady, a half-Pakistani/half-Irish factory worker. The series generated numerous complaints because of its frequent use of racist epithets and 'bad language' -- one viewer reportedly complained of counting 59 uses of the word "bloody" in one episode -- and it was cancelled on the orders of the Independent Broadcasting Authority after only six episodes.

Later that year, Milligan was commissioned by the BBC to write and star in Q5, the first in the innovative "Q" series, acknowledged as an important precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus, which premiered several months later. However there was a hiatus of several years before the BBC commissioned Q6 in 1975. Q7 appeared in 1977, Kuwait (Q8) in 1978, Q9 in 1980 and There's a Lot of It About in 1982. Milligan later complained of the BBC's cold attitude towards the series and stated that he would have made more programs had he been given the opportunity. A number of episodes of the earlier "Q" series are now missing, presumed wiped.


Milligan had a number of acting parts in theatre, film and television series; one of his last screen appearances was in the BBC dramatisation of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, and he was (almost inevitably) noted as an ad-libber. One of Milligan's most famous ad-lib incidents occurred during a visit to Australia in the late 1960s. He was interviewed live on air and remained in the studio for the news broadcast that followed (read by Rod McNeil), during which Milligan constantly interjected, adding his own name to news items. As a result, he was banned from making any further live appearances on the ABC. The ABC also changed its national policy so that talent had to leave the studio after interviews were complete. A tape of the bulletin survives and has been included in an ABC Radio audio compilation, also on the BBC tribute CD, Vivat Milligna.


Milligan also wrote verse, considered to be within the genre of literary nonsense. His poetry has been described by comedian Stephen Fry as "absolutely immortal - greatly in the tradition of Lear". His most famous poem, On the Ning Nang Nong, was voted the UK's favourite comic poem in 1998 in a nationwide poll, ahead of other nonsense poets including Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. This nonsense verse, set to music, became a favourite Australia-wide, performed week after week by the ABC children's programme Playschool. Milligan included it on his album No One's Gonna Change Our World in 1969 to aid the World Wildlife Fund. In December 2007 it was reported that, according to OFSTED, it is amongst the ten most commonly taught poems in primary schools in the UK.

While depressed, Milligan wrote serious poetry. He also wrote a novel Puckoon, parodying the style of Dylan Thomas, and a very successful series of war memoirs, including Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall (1971), "Rommel?", "Gunner Who?": A Confrontation in the Desert (1974), Monty: His Part in My Victory (1976) and Mussolini: His Part in My Downfall (1978). Milligan's seven volumes of memoirs cover the years from 1939 to 1950 (his call-up, war service, first breakdown, time spent entertaining in Italy, and return to the UK).

He wrote comedy songs, including "Purple Aeroplane", which was a parody of The Beatles' song "Yellow Submarine". Glimpses of his bouts with depression, which led to the nervous breakdowns, can be found in his serious poetry, which is compiled in Open Heart University.


Spike Milligan also co-wrote the one-act play The Bed-Sitting Room, with John Antrobus. It premiered at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. It was adapted to a longer play, which made its debut at the Mermaid Theatre, London.


Milligan contributed occasional cartoons to the satirical magazine Private Eye. Most were visualizations of one-line jokes. For example, a young boy sees the Concorde and asks his father "What's that?". The reply is "That's a flying groundnut scheme, son."


In 1967, applying a satirical angle to a contemporary fashion for the inclusion of “superman” inspired characters in UK television commercials, Milligan dressed up in a “Bat-Goons” outfit to head up a series of television commercials for British Petroleum. A contemporary reporter found the TV commercials “funny and effective”.


After their retirement, Milligan's parents and his younger brother Desmond moved to Australia. His mother lived the rest of her long life in the coastal village of Woy Woy on the New South Wales Central Coast, just north of Sydney. As a result, Milligan became a regular visitor to Australia and made a number of radio and TV programmes there, including The Idiot Weekly with Bobby Limb. He also wrote several books including Puckoon during a visit to his mother's house in Woy Woy. In July 2007, it was proposed that the suspension bridge on the cyclepath from Woy Woy to Gosford be named after him.


He suffered from severe bipolar disorder for most of his life, having at least ten major mental breakdowns, several lasting over a year. He spoke candidly about his condition and its effect on his life:

I have got so low that I have asked to be hospitalised and for deep narcosis (sleep). I cannot stand being awake. The pain is too much... Something has happened to me, this vital spark has stopped burning - I go to a dinner table now and I don't say a word, just sit there like a dodo. Normally I am the centre of attention, keep the conversation going - so that is depressing in itself. It's like another person taking over, very strange. The most important thing I say is 'good evening' and then I go quiet.

Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales was a noted fan, and Milligan caused a stir by calling him a "little grovelling bastard" on live television in 1994. He later faxed the prince, saying "I suppose a knighthood is out of the question?" In reality he and the Prince were very close friends, and he was finally made a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) (honorary because of his Irish citizenship) in 2000. He had been made an Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1992.


He was a strident campaigner on environmental matters, particularly arguing against unnecessary noise, such as the use of muzak.

In 1971, Milligan caused controversy by attacking an art exhibition at the Hayward Gallery with a hammer. The exhibit consisted of catfish, oysters and shrimp that were to be electrocuted as part of the exhibition. He was a strong opponent of cruelty against animals and, during an appearance on Room 101, chose fox hunting as a pet hate, and succeeded in banishing it to the eponymous room.

In 1996, he successfully campaigned for the restoration of London's Elfin Oak.

He was also a public opponent of domestic violence, dedicating one of his books to Erin Pizzey.
The grave of Spike Milligan in the grounds of St Thomas, Winchelsea, East Sussex. The epitaph reads "Duirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite", Irish for "I told you I was ill."


Milligan had three children with his first wife June (Marchinie) Marlow: Laura, Seán and Síle. They were married in 1952 and divorced in 1960. He had one daughter with his second wife, Patricia Ridgeway (known as Paddy): the actress Jane Milligan (b. 1964). Milligan and Patricia were married in June 1962 with George Martin as best man. The marriage ended in 1978 with her death. In 1975 Milligan fathered a son, James, in an affair with Margaret Maughan. Another child, a daughter Romany, is suspected to have been born at the same time by a Canadian journalist named Roberta Watt. His last wife was Shelagh Sinclair, to whom he was married from 1983 to his death on 27 February 2002. Four of his children have recently collaborated with documentary makers on a new multi-platform programme called I Told You I Was Ill: The Life and Legacy of Spike Milligan (2005) and accompanying website.

In October 2008 an array of Milligan's personal effects were to be sold at auction by his third wife, Shelagh, who was moving into a smaller home. These included a grand piano salvaged from a demolition and apparently played every morning by Paul McCartney, a neighbour in Rye in East Sussex.


Even late in life, Milligan's black humour had not deserted him. After the death of friend Harry Secombe from cancer, he said, "I'm glad he died before me, because I didn't want him to sing at my funeral." A recording of Secombe singing was played at Milligan's memorial service. He also wrote his own obituary, in which he stated repeatedly that he "wrote the Goon show and died".

Milligan died from liver disease, at the age of 83, on 27 February 2002, at his home in Rye, East Sussex. On the day of his funeral, 8 March 2002, his coffin was carried to St Thomas's Church in Winchelsea, Sussex, and was draped in the flag of the Republic of Ireland. He had once quipped that he wanted his headstone to bear the words "I told you I was ill." He was buried at St Thomas's Church cemetery in Winchelsea, East Sussex, but the Chichester Diocese refused to allow this epitaph. A compromise was reached with the Irish translation, "Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite", and additionally in English, "Love, light, peace".


The Holden Road plaque

From the 1960s onwards Milligan was a regular correspondent with Robert Graves. Milligan's letters to Graves usually addressed a question to do with classical studies. The letters form part of Graves' bequest to St. John's College, Oxford.

The film of Puckoon, starring Sean Hughes and including Milligan's daughter, the actress Jane Milligan, was released after his death.

Milligan lived for several years in Holden Road, Woodside Park and at The Crescent, Barnet, and was a strong supporter of the Finchley Society. His old house in Woodside Park is now demolished, but there is a blue plaque in his memory on the new house on the site. The Finchley Society is trying to get a statue of him erected in Finchley. There is also a campaign to erect a statue in the London Borough of Lewisham where he grew up (see Honor Oak). After coming to the UK from India in the 1930s he lived at 50 Riseldine Road, Brockley and attended Brownhill Boys' school (later to become Catford Boys' School which was demolished in 1994). Lynsey De Paul is a patron of the Spike Milligan Statue Memorial Fund. There is a plaque and bench located at the Wadestown Library, Wellington New Zealand in an area called Spike Milligan corner.

In a BBC poll in August 1999, Spike Milligan was voted the "funniest person of the last 1000 years". Also, in a 2005 poll to find The Comedians' Comedian, he was voted among the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.

Milligan has been portrayed twice in films. In the adaptation of his novel Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, he was played by Jim Dale, while Milligan himself played his own father. He was also portrayed by Edward Tudor-Pole in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004). In a 2008 stage play, Surviving Spike, Milligan was played by the entertainer Michael Barrymore.

On 9 June 2006 it was reported that Professor Richard Wiseman had identified Milligan as the writer of the world's funniest joke as decided by the Laughlab project. Professor Wiseman said the joke contained all three elements of what makes a good gag: anxiety, a feeling of superiority, and an element of surprise.

Members of Monty Python greatly admired him, and gave Milligan a cameo role in their 1979 film, Monty Python's Life of Brian, when Milligan happened to be holidaying in Tunisia, near where the Pythons were filming. Graham Chapman gave him a minor part in Yellowbeard.