Yeti Television has secured acces to the newly discovered personal archive of Spike Milligan’s work for a feature length film, Spike Milligan: The Unseen Archive (1×90’), for Sky Arts.
The archive includes film reels of previously lost sketches from the ground-breaking Q5 series, as well as The Gladys Half-Hour, a long-forgotten 1958 comedy special many believed wiped, and unheard compositions recorded by Spike for his friend (and The Beatles’ producer) George Martin.
Milligan’s family shared the archive with a select group of the legendary comedian’s fans and friends in the summer of 2022.
Through the use of the new archival material, which contains letters, scripts, cassette tapes and home movies, audiences gain a closer look into Milligan’s marriage and family life, as well as his struggles during his time at a psychiatric hospital in 1953. Context and depth are given to the material discovered through contributions from family, friends, and celebrated comedians.
Family members who feature in the film include his daughters Jane and Silé Milligan and grandson Hastie Harrower.
Sebastian Barfield is producer director on the film, which sees comedian Al Murray unearth a collection of photographs that reveal the lifelong impact of the Second World War on Milligan’s life and career. Material discovered also includes a hilarious unproduced script revealing how Milligan fought to get back on TV in the early 1990s.
Additional contributors include comedian Eddie Izzard, actress and friend of Spike Joanna Lumley, and broadcaster, editor of Private Eye and co-writer of Spike Ian Hislop as they explore a treasure trove of unseen material.
Viewers also hear from Spike’s friend and co-writer John Antrobus who co-wrote episodes of The Goon Show and play The Bedsitting Room, BFI Television Historian Dick Fiddy, writer David Quantick and writer Sarfraz Manzoor.
Spike Milligan: The Unseen Archive will air on Sky Arts in December, with a preview screening and Q&A taking place at the Southbank’s NFT1 on Saturday 3rd December. The screening will be part of the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped series, presenting a range of recent TV rediscoveries.
Images are available here along with a full list of contributors below.
Sian Price, creative director at Yeti says: “It has been a privilege to secure unprecedented access to the Milligan family archive – and for them to trust Yeti in piecing it together. The result is an eye-opening, sensitive, yet revealing new portrait of the many sides to Spike Milligan. A man who not just revolutionised British comedy but was also a playwright, poet, musician, soldier, product of Empire and father. It has been a pleasure to work with Sky Arts and the Milligan family on this unique film.”
Phil Edgar-Jones, director, Sky Arts, commented: “Spike’s work has been pivotal in shaping British comedy and now we have the opportunity to showcase these brilliant, unearthed works on Sky Arts. Through letters, home videos and those who knew him well, we’ve gained a new insight into who this comedy legend was. We’re thrilled to be working alongside Yeti Television to bring this previously untold story to life.”
Al Murray (Comedian)
David Quantick (Writer)
Dick Fiddy (Television Historian, BFI)
Eddie Izzard (Actor, Comedian and political activist)
Hastie Harrower (Spike’s grandson)
Ian Hislop (Broadcaster & Editor of Private Eye)
Jane Milligan (Spike’s daughter)
Joanna Lumley (Actress, friend of Spike)
John Antrobus (friend and co-writer)
Sarfraz Manzoor (Journalist)
Silé Milligan (Spike’s daughter)
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