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The Best Of Spike Milligan

featuring: Spike Milligan, Bruce Hammal, Bob Todd, Michael Parkinson, and David Rappaport

producer and director: Alan J.W. Bell

80 minutes (12) 2003
BBC DVD Regions 2 + 4 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Rob Marshall
British poet, singer, actor, author, radio and television comedian, Spike Milligan (1918 - 2002), was a pioneer of wacky anarchic comedy style that predated Monty Python's Flying Circus. From the 1950s' Goon Show, with Peter Sellers, Milligan almost single-handedly revolutionised homegrown comedy with bizarre juxtapositions and quirky surreal asides. This feature-length compilation of material from Millligan's long running TV series Q (1968-80) and There's A Lot Of It About (1982) give us a worthwhile, though, unfortunately quite dated nowadays, reminder of the man's off-kilter and sometimes off-colour genius.
   Included here are the gramophone disco roadshow, the faux silent docudrama about the first Irish astronauts, clowning idiot or royal scout troops, send-ups of quizmaster Hughie Green and Melvyn Bragg, Spike as a Viking maiden blowing raspberries with trad jazz accompaniment, the Eurovision joke contest, auditions of insects for David Attenborough, the silly Irish O'Lympics, and a bevy of topless ladies. If Spike's spontaneous mugging, fluffed lines and hilarious performances failed to provoke laughter, he wasn't averse to good old-fashioned slapstick with custard pies. Effrontery and delirium are his trademarks. We can hardly see that knowing leer or the perpetually amused twinkle in his eye without breaking into a chuckle. He's one of those instantly engaging funny men who hardly need say or do anything when his presence is usually enough to incite guffaws and sniggers.
   Featuring guests like Katie Boyle, David Lodge, Rita Webb, and Linzi Drew, this entertaining collection of juvenile and jaundiced humour is introduced and presented by Bruce Hammal who, somewhat weakly, I'm sorry to say, attempts to interview Milligan about his work and career. Sheer nonsense, at times, but then again, this is also profoundly amusing - especially with its brevity, lunacy, and the sheer richness of comic timing and talent displayed.
   DVD extras limited to 36 chapters stops and optional English subtitles.

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