Spike (Terence Alan Milligan) was born on 16 April 1918 to parents Florence and Captain Leo Milligan. His father was serving in the British Indian Army so Florence gave birth to Spike while living in Ahmednagar, India. Spike grew up as an ‘British army brat’ in Pune and Rangoon, and was educated at various Roman Catholic schools where he learned to play the cornet, cultivating his love for jazz.
During a stint in the services in the 1930s and 40s, Milligan allegedly entertained the troops with his humour and playful nature, and reflected on his times there in his memoirs, Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, Rommel, Gunner Who?, Monty: My Part in his Victory, among others.
He is perhaps best known for his part in The Goon Show, an irreverent radio comedy full of nonsense and jollity, but many of us know his nonsense rhyme and poetry we were entertained with as children.
One of his most famous short poems, On The Ning Nang Nong, was voted the ultimate favourite comic poem in 1998 in a UK wide poll. It was streets ahead of other nonsense poets such as Lear or Carroll. When set to music it became a favourite on Australia’s children’s show Playschool. The Office for Standards in Education (UK) reported that the poem is one of the most commonly taught poems in British primary schools.
Take a look at the man himself reading the famous rhyme below and see why…