Spike Milligan KBE (born Terence Alan Milligan; 16 April 1918 – 27 February 2002) was a comedian, writer, musician, poet, playwright, soldier and actor of Irish parentage dual English/Irish nationality. His early life was spent in British India, where he was born, but the majority of his working life was spent in the United Kingdom.
He was the co-creator, main writer and a principal cast member of The Goon Show, performing a range of roles including the popular Eccles, and Minnie Bannister characters.
Milligan wrote and edited many books, including Puckoon and his seven-volume autobiographical account of his time serving during the Second World War, beginning with Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall. He is also noted as a popular writer of comical verse; much of his poetry was written for children, including Silly Verse for Kids (1959).
Even late in life, Milligan’s black humour had not deserted him. After the death of 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 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 cemetery 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”