Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spike Milligan

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
1918 Today is Burmese New Year, a day of jokes and foolery, like the Western April Fools' Day and the Indian Holi festival. So it's appropriate that April 16 is also the birthday (1889) of British comedian Sir Charles Chaplin, and another Knight of the Realm, Indian-born Spike Milligan (Terrance Allan Milligan, d. February 26, 2002), Irish comedian and poet.

Milligan almost single-handedly wrote all the scripts for The Goon Show, which, remarkably, is still broadcast, and listened to by millions nearly fifty years since it ended. He also wrote 83 books.

Although a knight, he is not correctly referred to by the title 'Sir', because, like those of Bob Geldof and Ronald Reagan, the knighthood awarded Milligan by Queen Elizabeth II was honorary, as he was not a British citizen. He was not allowed a British passport, despite his having served seven years in active service in the British army, because he refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

When one of his biggest fans, Prince Charles, urged him to think again and pointed out that even he, the prince, had to swear the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty, Milligan replied "Yes, but it's your mother isn't it? You don't get board and lodging at Buckingham Palace if you don't swear an oath."

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