Comedian and author Spike Milligan on being Irish, his eccentric family and how he met Harry Secombe.

The comedian and writer Spike Milligan was born Terence Alan Milligan in India, the son of an Irish born officer serving in the British Indian Army, and an English mother. He spent his childhood in Poona in India.

Spike Milligan is an Irish citizen and holds an Irish passport. He is convinced his real name is Ó Maolagáin. According to his father Captain Leo Alphonso Milligan, Ó Maolagáin means,

The small bald one.

Leo Milligan died in 1969 and his son describes him as

A very strange man, very, very Irish and he told lies all the time.

As a result of his father's tales, young Spike Milligan believed he was descended from the Kings of Ireland. At school he announced,

I'm the King of Ireland, had the Jesus beaten out of me, so I soon stopped being the King of Ireland.

His father suffered greatly with haemorrhoids and would lament,

Chopin could never have written the 'Nocturnes’ if he had piles.

Spike Milligan’s mother, Florence Winifred Kettleband is 92 years old and lives in Australia. Her brother, Hughie Kettleband was another colourful character,

He was a lunatic.

Spike Milligan met Harry Secombe while serving in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War. Along with Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine, they became members of the anarchic and surreal 1950s British radio comedy programme ‘The Goon Show’. Spike Milligan was the show's chief creator and main writer.

Harry Secombe moved away from performing comedy and since 1983, he has been known for presenting the religious programme ‘Highway’ broadcast on Sunday evenings. When visiting his mother in Australia Spike Milligan caught an episode of the show. He waited for the punch line only to realise,

It was a serious programme, I couldn’t believe it, I laughed all the way through it.

This episode of ‘The Late Late Show’ was broadcast on 4 October 1985. The presenter is Gay Byrne.