Saturday 12 July 2014

Spike's Great War

This was entirely new to me - Spike Milligan's take on the Great War long before Blackadder. Spike got there first (in this, Episode 1 of the series 'Q9') and he did it better:  he locates the pulse of madness, rather than rely on the forced splenetic ironies of the over-rated Rowan Atkinson vehicle.

Spike's 'Q' series (of which many episodes are now appearing on the internet) was chaotic, deliberately under-reharsed, wildly self-indulgent and sometimes - sometimes - not funny at all. The rest of the time it was the funniest thing to be seen. It's presumably unbroadcastable now, and for the usual reasons - casual sexism, old actors blacked up, Irish jokes and (they hate this, the commissioning editors and policy wonks) there's something unstable and subversive and dangerous. It's not classifiable. It's not safe.

I fondly remember the cohort of corpsing stooges employed in these sketches - many of them borderline unemployable by the look and sound of them - Bob Todd! John Bluthal! Johnny Vyvyan! David Lodge! Alan Clare! And the extravagantly proportioned Julia Breck. Julia Breck!!!

Watch it here  (the WW1 stuff starts at 4:20) and enjoy a guest appearance by the great Raymond  Baxter of Tomorrow's World fame.

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