10 things you need to know about the late Spike Milligan as award-winning production comes to Blackpool Grand Theatre

The critically acclaimed Watermill Theatre production of SPIKE by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman is at Blackpool Grand Theatre this November.

The latest exciting project from talented co-writers Ian Hislop (BBC’s Have I Got News For You team captain and editor of Private Eye) and Nick Newman (writer and satirical cartoonist), is all about the life and career of the inimitable comedy genius Spike Milligan.

It’s the booming fifties, and Britain is in the clutches of Goon mania as men, women and children across the country scramble to get their ear to a wireless for another hilarious and madcap instalment of The Goon Show. While Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers get down to the serious business of becoming overnight celebrities, fellow Goon and chief writer Spike Milligan finds himself pushing the boundaries of comedy and testing the patience of the BBC.

Will Spike’s dogged obsession with finding the funny elevate The Goons to soaring new heights, or will the whole thing come crashing down with the stroke of a potato peeler?

Spike! is coming to the Grand Theatre

SPIKE follows the recent successes of Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s smash-hit plays A Bunch of Amateurs, The Wipers Times and Trial by Laughter. Extracts from The Goons used with the kind permission of Spike Milligan Productions.

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“I’m not acting crazy. I’m the genuine article” – Spike Milligan

Here’s 10 things you need to know about the creator of The Goon Show:

1. His real name was Terence Alan Milligan. He started calling himself “Spike” after hearing the US band Spike Jones And His City Slickers.

2. Milligan was born in British India to an Irish father and English mother. His father Leo Alphonso Milligan served in the British Indian Army.

3. He launched The Goon Show in 1951 with Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine.

4. In its first season the show was called “The Junior Crazy Gang featuring those Crazy People, the Goons!” or “Crazy People” for short.

5. In 1968 he appeared on TV as Beachcomber of the Daily Express in The World of Beachcomber.

6. Milligan and Peter Sellers, along with others made a television comedy show based on ‘The Goon Show’. This show was called ‘The Idiot Weekly, Price 2d’ and debuted in 1956. It was followed by ‘A Show Called Fred’ and ‘Son of Fred’ later the same year.

7. He was badly wounded in the Battle of Monte Cassino and was hospitalised for a long period. After being demobilised from the army, he became a fulltime entertainer.

8. His gravestone in Winchelsea bears the epitaph, “I told you I was ill” written in Gaelic.

9. Although known basically for his comic work, he also wrote serious literature. He published seven volumes of war memoirs over a period of 21 years (1971-1992), describing his war time experiences from 1939 to 1950.

10. Known as the Comedy Genius, Spike Milligan was made an honorary Commander of the British Empire in 1992 and was given an honorary knighthood in 2000

SPIKE is at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Tuesday November 15 to Saturday November 19.

Tickets starting from £17.50, concessions and member discounts available

It contains strong language, references to suicide, loud bangs, strobe lighting and the use of prop cigarettes and guns on stage so is recommended for 10 -year-old upwards.