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Spike Milligan Q Volume 2 DVD

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 00:00 Written by 

Spike Milligan - Q Volume 2 out nowWhat are we going to do now? When it came to 1979, Spike Milligan moved on to giving the BBC a series called Q8, and the play on the fact it sounded like Kuwait. Indeed, the following year, the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation was formed, and decided to adopt the moniker ‘Q8’ for its petrol stations! This series of six episodes, along with 1980’s Q9 half-dozen, are released on an unsuspecting public for the first time by Simply Media. The Kenny Everett Video Show had made its debut in 1978, and 1979 saw the debut of Not the Nine O’ Clock News, so this was very much a climate of testing the limits of TV comedy, which veteran Spike had done for his entire career.

As recent releases of Spike’s radio trailblazer The Goon Show state on sleeve notes: “Some of the humour reflects the era in which the episodes were broadcast.” Today we have the likes of Family Guy and American Dad really testing the boundaries of good taste, with sharp intakes of breath as you wonder how on Earth they manage to get away with some of the barbs laced throughout those shows. As with the release last year of Q5 – Q7 on DVD, this follow-up pair of Milligan series takes aim at everyone - no religion, race or public figure is safe – be it royalty, politicians, or celebrities. Words now off limits are used regularly, but it’s never with malice or aggression. Cultural Studies students will no doubt find plenty of material to pontificate over in this run of episodes.

Cult TV reviewed the first release of earlier Q episodes back in November 2016. CLICK HERE TO READ THAT REVIEW.

In terms of the format for Q8 and Q9, if you can delve to find such, you’ll think the news items have come from the more left-field side of material for The Two Ronnies. Nothing is traditional in approach. A sketch will be ended without a punchline with joyful abandon. Spike will talk directly to the audience, breaking out of the sketch and his characterisation at any time. If lines are fluffed, they all carry on regardless. If a fit of the giggles strikes Spike, it’s made part of proceedings.

Bob Todd is added to the series regulars for Q8 and Q9, having been dropped from Benny Hill’s troupe a couple of years earlier in 1976. That allegedly followed an alcohol-related incident which made news headlines, with Todd not appearing for a show at the London Palladium, and waking up five days later in a Dublin hospital. Following his two series on Q, he was brought back into the Benny Hill fold for the rest of that show’s run up to its conclusion in 1989.

Making guest appearances in these dozen episodes of Q are the likes of David Rappaport, Katie Boyle, Peter Cook, Michael Parkinson, Raymond Baxter, Rita Webb, and tennis star Mark Cox.

For these series, all the musical interludes feature pianist Ed Welch, sometimes with Spike singing, and occasional guest artists. It’s a respite from the machine-gun-esque attacks of the comedy sketches themselves – and again, I use the term ‘sketch’ advisedly, as very much the concept of such is stretched to its limits.

Taking charge of directing the proceedings is double BAFTA-winner Ray Butt, who had directed episodes of The Liver Birds, One-Upmanship, Are You Being Served? and Citizen Smith, before getting the Q gig. He would go on to the likes of Only Fools and Horse, Just Good Friends (the two shows which gained him the BAFTA awards) and Dear John.

For Q9, Susan Belbin was listed in the end credits as a member of the Production Team. She would progress to become a Production Manager on Are You Being Served?, ‘Allo ‘Allo and Hi-De-Hi!, and then a producer on The River, One Foot in the Grave and Jonathan Creek. She’d also take the director’s chair on many of these, as well as the likes of Only Fools and Horses, Bread, and No Place Like Home.

All this does beg the question of how much Spike-related we might see come out of the archives now that Q has surfaced, with the proviso of what still actually exists in the vaults.

In 1956 Associated Rediffusion produced The Idiot Weekly, Price 2d which also starred Eric Sykes, Kenneth Connor, Graham Stark and June Whitfield, with Peter Sellers as the editor of a Victorian magazine,

This quickly metamorphosed into A Show Called Fred, and then Son Of Fred. All three productions were produced by Richard Lester, who would go on to direct the likes of “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Superman II”, “Superman III”, and various movies with “The Three Musketeers”.

Next up for Spike was the 1964 series Milligan's Wake, where he was the solo star. It was an ITV show, with writing duties shared with Ray Galton and Alan Simpson of Steptoe and Son fame, as well as the legendary John Bird (Bremner, Bird and Fortune), and Reuben Ship (The Life of Riley, Frankie Howerd, Albert and Victoria).

It was back to the BBC in 1968 for a series called The World of Beachcomber based on JB Morton's Daily Express Beachcomber columns. These were claimed by Spike to have been a major influence on him. The shows were introduced by Spike as Doctor Strabismus, in a smoking jacket and with a pipe. Those who saw it are in no doubt this was the prototype for what would be coming along the following year in Q5.

A good website to trawl through for further information on the Q series as a whole can be found at www.theqseries.webfruits.net

What followed on from Q was a six episode series in 1982 called There’s A Lot of It About, so named as the BBC weren’t keen on calling it Q-10! John Bluthal, Keith Smith and Alan Clare would return for the whole of this series from the stalwarts of the last couple of Q seasons. David Lodge, Julia Breck and Jeanette Charles featured in a couple of episodes each, and David Rappaport for a single one. Suzanne Sinclair was new for all six, while David Adams and Mike O’Malley featured in five each, with Raymond Baxter returning again for a single episode cameo.  

Crossing over to comedy were radio host David Jacobs for five episodes and newsreader Peter Woods for three editions. The ‘female quotient’ was raised with the inclusion of Linzi Drew and Susan Jack for three episodes each. Other known faces dropping in for an episode were Cliff Michelmore, Burt Kwouk and boxer Alan Minter. Hopefully, we’ll see this series released by Simply Media in due course.

Certainly, there’s a lot more material in the archives which demands further examination, having seen these editions of Q being made available. And needless to say, the British Board of Film Classification, according to its BBFC Insight team said that Q has “outdated racial attitudes, discriminatory language, moderate sex references” – which proves that some people just won’t get this anarchic and free-form potpourri of madness and fun present herein.

Michael Palin of Monty Python fame provided a quote about the series for Spike's biography. “Terry Jones and I adored the Q shows. (Milligan) was the first writer to play with the conventions of television”. And that alone should be enough for you to delve into all things Q!

Q Volume 2: Series 4 and 5 (Q8 and Q9) is out now from Simply Media. The two-DVD set has a ‘15’ certificate, a running time of 335 minutes approx, and a RRP of £24.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com BY CLICKING HERE

 

Q8 and Q9 – Episode information

Starring

Spike Milligan

John Bluthal

Bob Todd

Keith Smith

Julia Breck (Q8 – 1-6; Q9 – 1, 3, 5-6)

Alan Clare (Q8 – 1-6; Q9 - 1, 3-5)

David Lodge (Q8 – 4-6; Q9 – 1-2, 4-6)

Stella Tanner (Q8 – 1-6)

John D Collins (Q8 – 1-3, 5)

Jeanette Charles (Q8 – 1-3; Q9 - 2, 6)

Doremy Vernon (Q9 – 2, 3, 4, 6)

Johnny Vyvyan (Q8 - 3, 4; Q9 – 1)

John Witty (Q9 – 1, 5, 6)

David Rappaport (Q9 – 2, 5, 6)

Katie Boyle (Q8 – 2, 4)

Raymond Baxter (Q8 – 2; Q9 - 1)

Rita Webb (Q8 – 3, 4)

Tony Gubba (Q8 – 1 [voice only])

Michael Parkinson (Q8 – 6)

Mark Ezra (Q9 – 1)

Peter Cook (Q9 – 2)

Valentine Dyall (Q9 – 4)

Mark Cox (Q9 - 6)

Parnell McGarry (Q9 – 6)

 

Writers – Spike Milligan and Neil Shand

Additional material by Terence Mazweke (Q8 – 6) and “No Fire” from an idea by Terence Mazweke (Q8 - 2)

Additional material by John Antrobus (Q9 – 6)

Musical items – Ed Welch except Q9 – 6 by Ed Welch and Anna Raven

Original Theme composed by Spike Milligan

Producer – Douglas Argent

Director – Ray Butt

 

Q8 Original Broadcast Dates

01. 4 April 1979

02. 11 April 1979

03. 18 April 1979

04. 25 April 1979

05. 2 May 1979

06. 9 May 1979

 

Q9 Original Broadcast Dates

01. 17 June 1980

02. 24 June 1980

03. 1 July 1980

04. 8 July 1980

05. 15 July 1980

06. 22 July 1980

Last modified on Friday, 03 March 2017 09:31