Message to Milligan

The following quote said to be taken from a volume of Letters of Note appeared recently in a Twitter post retweeted from 2015:

The comic Spike Milligan had great admiration for Evelyn Waugh. Whether this was reciprocated in any way must be in doubt. Once when passing Whites Club in St James, Milligan saw Waugh coming out and hastened to ask for his autograph, Waugh duly scribbled on a bit of paper and handed the result to Milligan who duly thanked him and went home. When he looked at what Waugh had written on the paper, it said, “Go away.”

Milligan (along with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe) made his name on the BBC’s Goon Show in the 1950s. While it is doubtful Waugh was a fan, he was mentioned in at least one episode (“The Mighty Wurlitzer”, Series 6, Episode 16. First broadcast on January 3 1956):

Moriarty (Milligan):
… Now Seagoon, tell us, what is that fifty-ton brass-bound contraption you’re driving?

Seagoon (Secombe):
It’s a Wurlitzer.

We thought it was a mirage.

A mirage? I’ve never heard of that make. Ha ha!

Grytpype (Sellers):
Gad, what wit. You’re not the famous Evelyn Waugh, are you?

Heavens no, I wasn’t born till 1918.

Waugh was keeping a diary at the time the episode was aired but doesn’t mention it. There may also be a Waugh reference in the episode “The Nasty Affair at the Burami Oasis” (Series 7, Episode 1. First broadcast on October 4, 1956).

Bloodnok (Sellers):
It’s a lie. It’s a lie! We’re just good friends I tell you! Get out the back way dear! Ohh! Mind the thunderbox will you? Oohhh!

Men at Arms appeared in 1952 and featured Apthorpe’s thunder box, but Milligan who wrote the series may well have known about those from his own army service. The Goon Show was a precursor to Monty Python which came a decade later but that was too late for Waugh.


This entry was posted in Evelyn Waugh, Humo(u)r, Men at Arms, Radio Programs, Twitter, World War II and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Message to Milligan

Comments are closed.