Perspectives (2011– )
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John Sergeant: Sergeant on Spike 

John Sergeant presents a personal film about his childhood hero - comedian and writer Spike Milligan.

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Episode credited cast:
John Sergeant ...
Himself - Presenter
...
Himself / Various (archive footage)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John Antrobus ...
Himself
Norma Farnes ...
Herself
...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
Esther Rantzen ...
Herself
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Storyline

John Sergeant presents a personal film about his childhood hero - comedian and writer Spike Milligan. John meets some of the people who knew him best to uncover the man behind The Goon Show and explore his influence on British comedy. With contributions by his former manager Norma Farnes and fellow comedians Michael Palin, Eddie Izzard and Noel Fielding, as well as director Richard Lester and author John Antrobus, who worked with Spike on 1969 film The Bed Sitting Room. Written by Christopher Bruce

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Documentary

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8 April 2012 (UK)  »

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I'd rather Sergeant on the spike.
27 January 2016 | by (Shanghai) – See all my reviews

This documentary seeks to append a narrative on a life, and so is in the end tiresome. (The middle and the beginning aren't too good either.) The " documentary", quotation marks alluding to the fact that it is actually an upmarket tabloid, starts from the assertion it will follow in the steps of a genius. I will turn this on its head. (Apparently that is all there is to comedy now that we are plagued by comic genius.) I will follow in the slow and methodical steps of John Sergeant. John ambles at a leisurely pace, daggers to hand, through the life of his comic hero. J.S. wears a nice shade of beige. John grew up in the beige decades, an era so called because of the characteristic popularity of the subtle color among progressive "artistic" types. (And Sergeant.) Waddling through it, he takes a mere 40 minutes to suck all of the retrospective joy out of Spike's life. Believe me, watching this will do the same to you.

Whining, and whining, and then whining some more was a medium size industry for the children of fellow Goon: nasty, but loaded, Peter Sellers. (Thankfully that whining was brought to a screeching halt by an abysmal biopic starring California's own Geoffrey Rush.) For this budget minded tripe, J.S. and his editors don't bother to corral the progeny instead they speak to people who were around Spike when he was working 100-hour weeks. Apparently when he was working those long hours he was difficult to get on with. At no point does the narrator take a compassionate look at Spike's mental health.

This program is a tribute only in the sense that it is taxing. It is edited to make even the most likable interviewees appear mean spirited. Historically, the hagiography was the biographical form that was most reviled; this needs to be rethought; by putting this sort of posthumous hatchet job where it belongs: behind a locked door. (With no supper.)

It's an appending of a narrative, and an upending of a life with out an "up" ending. Move that slack, shapeless bottom and scurry back to the corridors of power*, Mr Sergeant. *Ordinarily he is a political commentator.)


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