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Simply put, Spike Milligan is the biggest figure in British comedy since World War II.
Born in India to an Irish-born father, Spike's outsider status gave him a skewed outlook ideal for comedy.
Comic skills honed by performing sketches for fellow troops during WWII service, back in Britain Spike worked as a trumpeter and jobbing scriptwriter, his breakthrough coming with The Goon Show, the surreal comedy that dominated the airwaves for nine years.
He wrote most of the 250-odd episodes single-handed, a task which contributed to a series of nervous breakdowns.
Spike's next triumph was his Q programmes for TV, which invented a whole new comic language, abandoning punchlines and allowing sketches to morph seamlessly into each other.
He also wrote many books, including a series of much-loved army memoirs.
Spike died in 2002. A comic genius to the last, his gravestone read simply, "I told you I was ill".
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