Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Spike Milligan
Q
Home
Poems
More Pictures of Spike
Drawings of Spike Milligan
Drawings by Spike
The Life and Times of Spike Milligan
Duirt me leat go raibh me breoite
Spike Tudor-Pole
Everything Goes Back To Spike
OK Again, After Spike Of Success
For One Week Only
Monkenhurst
The Ugliest House In The World
Comedian, Campaigner and Philosopher
Pythons' Tribute To Goon Legend Spike
Did You Hear The One About...
Comic Genius
Spike: An Intimate Memoir
Me and My Dad, Spike
Fry's Milligan memories
Parsons Toasts A 'Comic Icon'
The Prince And The Comic
Stars Pay Tribute...
Gospel According To St Matthew
Sonnet XXX
Here's That Rainy Day
Guide Me
A Truly Remarkable Interview
Simply Spike
Slan Leat, Lance Corporal Milligan
Goon But Not Forgotten
Goon But Not Forgotten...Take 2
In Memoriam
Ever The Old Flatterer!
Crystal Palace Bulletin Board Messages
Danny Bakers Message Board
Spike Milligan Messages
Rename The Thames...
Medics Win Spike Milligan Trophy
His Part In Our Lives
Compassionate Comic Genius
Australian Reviews - Three Books On Spike Milligan
The Spoof
London Statue
Woy Woy Peninsula
Draining The Mirror
Spike Milligans Great Grandfather?
The Ex Nanny
Q&A
The War
On The Stage
It's Behind You! Mother Goose
Mukkinese Battle Horn
Down Among The Z Men
Watch Your Stern
Invasion Quartet 1961
What A Whopper 1961
Postman's Knock
The Bed Sitting Room
The Magic Christian
The Three Musketeers
Ghost In The Noonday Sun
Great McGonagall
Beau Geste
Digby - The Biggest Dog In The World
Scene 17
Misc Spike Stuff
On Music
78 Not Out
Bill Hall Trio
The Goon Show
Goon Images
The Telegoons
Goonreel
Under The Influence...
The World Of Beachcomber
Curry And Chips
Q
An Apple A Day
The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine
Cure For The Common Cold
On The Muppet Show
An Evening With Spike Milligan
Multimedia And Downloads
My Brief Encounter With A Genius
Spike and Milligan
Poke A Penguin
Contact Us & Related Links
Spikefest UK 2004
Buy Limited Edition Prints
And Finally

What are we going to do now?

q_1.jpg

"When I look back, the fondest memory I have is not really of the Goons. It is of a girl called Julia with enormous breasts." - Spike Milligan

Classic TV anarchy from Milligan who, with writing partner Neil Shand, liked to present material that crossed lines of decency and taste in a quest to take comedy into unexplored territory.
 
With their surreal sketch ideas, costumes that still bore the BBC prop department tags, half constructed sets, often bizarre make-up and air of uncontrolled chaos, the Q shows were certainly groundbreaking and pipped Python to the post with their deliberate avoidance of punchlines, many of the sketches segueing into the next routine or simply being abandoned half way through.

Television scarcely seemed able to contain the sprawling scope of the Q shows, and the shows baffled and angered as many viewers as they entertained. Milligan's relationship with his BBC masters was fraught during much of the run: he always wanted to direct the shows himself, propelling them into ever weirder areas, but the executives thought that he needed a strong hand on the tiller.

Reputedly (but oddly), they refused to allow the final series to be titled Q10, thinking that the baffling Q prefix had been around for long enough, so Milligan - possibly with a nod towards such 'official' thinking - renamed it There's A Lot Of It About.

Although their importance within the development of the genre is recognised, the Q shows do not enjoy the same posthumous reverence among fans and critics that is reserved for Monty Python's Flying Circus.

There are, arguably, three main reasons for this. Firstly, the Q shows were comedically less consistent, with moments of genius squeezed in between bouts of charmless corn. (This was probably because Milligan himself, with Shand, did the bulk of the writing, and his own idiosyncratic flights of fancy could be hit and miss, whereas the Pythons all wrote, the members exercising a kind of quality control mechanism over the others' writing, ensuring that flimsy material was rejected.)

Secondly, there is the question of taste - Milligan's rather old-fashioned shock value usage of racial abuse (jokes about 'wogs' and 'Pakis') and sexual situations (the semi-clad, mammoth-breasted Julia Breck as sexual predator) were acceptable in the climate of the 1970s but don't age as well as the Pythons' shock material (homosexual brigadiers, cannibal undertakers) where authority figures bear the brunt of the humour.

Lastly, there is the construction of the programmes - whereas both Q and Python had almost limitless freedom to leave a sketch at any point and play with the reality of the show and the genre of television, Terry Gilliam's brilliant animations permitted Python to effect seamless transitions from one sketch to the next, which, when coupled with the Pythons' faultless sense of programme continuity, gave their shows a greater all-round balance.

Notwithstanding all of this, the Q shows provided Spike Milligan with his longest TV run and brought his humour firmly into the 1970s, delighting old and new fans alike.

-------------------------------------------------------------- As recalled by Bob Wingrove from bustation.net( A website dedicated to resources for bus-related links on the Web. The BUS STATION is now one of the biggest on the internet.)(Who said train spotters were the leading anoraks?) - a sketch in Spike Milligan's Q series featuring Milligan as a bus conductor with a false nose aboard an AEC RT. "I think at this time the BBC had a stock bus as a prop (this was probably the same RT) with most of the nearside lower saloon side panels removed so you could film people inside. (I think it was shown as such during the same programme." Also an RT (probably the same one) crashing through the wall in Milligan's version of the 'Chinese Restaurant' joke ('I'll have a number 19....!') Scot Fergie adds to Bob's comments: "Spike Milligan was playing Richard III in a sketch about the British public being unable to get theatre tickets and the 'London Passenger Transport Board"' (Milligan's fairly accurate quote) obliges by performing on the buses. He's dressed as a conductor with Richard III hair/hump and a coronet on top of his hat: Passenger - (Alan Clare) 'Two to the bit where Queen Anne gobs in your face..' Milligan - 'Spittalfields !' Mid way through an RM appears on film travelling down what looks like Oxford Street on a faked up blind on a 247A "RICHARD THE THIRD" - can't make the reg out from my poor video copy - but looks like a "WLT8xx" four bay machine. The sketch continues in the studio with the cut-away vehicle running up the back of a '6A Midsummers Night's Dream'. It then cuts to a shot of the upper deck stairwell of an open-topped rear-entrance vehicle whilst Milligan appears up the stairs dressed as Rudolph Valentino with an LT conductors hat and a banjo asking 'Where else would you get The Desert Song for fourpence on a 137?' This shot the vehicle has wood slatted seats and the interior panels and seating are all painted uniform dark blue (an ex BMMO D9 open top vehicle on the sightseeing tour?) The cut away vehicle - (astonishingly accurately remembered by Bob) appears in the background (showing the whole lower deck of the vehicle, but unfortunately not a wide enough shot to show whether it still retained a top deck) of the previous musical number with Alan Clare playing 'The Way We Were' on piano. What was this bus? The programme was Q7, episode 5, transmitted on 31 January 1978.

juliafade.jpg
Julia Breck and her enormous breasts!

mike@spikemilligan.co.uk