Spike Milligan

  1. Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, 1970.     Author Roald Dahl’s original choice to play his eccentric chocolatier was BBC radio Goon Spike Milligan. Next? Spike’s co-Goon Peter Sellers was too expensive. LA’s choice, Joel Grey, was “not physically imposing enough.”  Ron Moody would have frightened the horses – and the kids. UK comic Frankie Howerd was into two film farces. Jon Pertwee was wed to Doctor Who. Carry On stars Sidney James and Kenneth Williams were as keen as (a way too old) Fred Astaire. One by one, all six Monty Pythons (John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin) were judged not international enough (and Howerd, Milligan and Pertwee were?!) Cleese, Idle and Palin were offered the 2005 re-hash; Chapman had died, Gilliam and Jones had turned director. Wilder agreed to the film if he could do a somersault when he first meets the children. Gene, whatever, ya want, baby!
  2. Geoffrey Bayldon, Asylum, 1972.      Milligan spiked his role of Max Reynolds in the fourth, Mannikins of Horror, portion of Roy Ward Baker’s horror story collecion. Bayldon took over creating tiny robots with lifelike human heads. (Co-star Richard Todd regretted making this film).  I saw dear old Spike live in The Bed Sitting Room play at the Bournemouth Pavilion,  in May 1967.
  3. Rowan Atkinson, The Lion King, 1993.      Also in the loop to voice Zazu in the 32nd Disney toon – Bambi meets Hamlet in Africa! – were dear old Spike, Chris Barrie, Simon Callow, David Jason, Vic Reeves, Patrick Stewart. Plus various UK comedy giants: Peter Cook and Dudley Moore; The Two Ronnies: Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett; The Goodies: Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Bill Odie and the Monty Pythons: John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Michael Palin.


 Birth year: 1918Death year: 2002Other name: Casting Calls:  3