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The Great McGonagall (1975)

William Topaz McGonagall, the world's greateset poet. Unfortunately the whole of the rest of the world disagreed. His talent made him a sort of Victorian Chris Evans but without the cash.


Joseph McGrath




Credited cast:
Spike Milligan ... William McGonagall
Peter Sellers ... Queen Victoria
Julia Foster ... Mrs. McGonagall
John Bluthal ... Mr. Giles / MacDuff / Hercules Paint / British Soldier / Policeman / McLain / Sheriff / Judge
Victor Spinetti ... Mr. Stewart / Second-Lieutenant Rotlo / Supposed John Brown / Gentleman / Revolutionary / Cardinal / Policeman
Valentine Dyall ... Army Sergeant / Lord Tennyson / Doctor / Native Messenger / Policeman / Fop
Julian Chagrin ... Prince Albert / Rev. Gilfillan / Publican / Balmoral Policeman / Stagehand / Ruffian / Mr Stewart's Assistant / British Soldier / Fop
Clifton Jones ... King Theebaw / Policeman / Clerk of the Court / Mr Stewart's Assistant / Zulu Chief / Ruffian / Fop
Charlie Young Atom Charlie Young Atom ... Postman / Policeman / Sleeper in the Snow / Theatre Announcer / Drinker (as Charlie Atom)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Luie Caballero Luie Caballero ... Man with parrot


The tale of an unemployed Scotsman, William McGonagall whose ambition was to become England's Poet Laureate. One minor drawback is that his poetry is terrible. Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Comedy


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The title is a reference to the character played by W.C. Fields in The Old Fashioned Way (1934). See more »


William McGonagall: Is anything worn under the kilt?
John Brown: No, everything is in working order.
See more »


O Tannenbaum
Traditional tune, lyrics by Ernst Anschütz
See more »

User Reviews

The Insane Genius of Spike Milligan
14 December 2008 | by sonoftrevSee all my reviews

Sadly neglected and forgotten gem of a movie showcasing the incredible and anarchic humour of legend Spike Milligan. Spike plays the eponymous hero of the movie, the Great Mcgonagall, the worlds worst poet who "gave up his job as an unemployed weaver to follow the muse." The gloriously inventive non-structure of the movie eschews any sense of order and usurps all accepted movie conventions. The action taking place, for the most part, in a rambling old theatre. Indeed, the whole production has a stagey feel and the viewer almost feels as if they are part of an insane scatter gun rehearsal filled with ad libbing and uncorrected mistakes. In one scene Spike and the wonderful Victor Spinetti, who appears in numerous roles, do several takes much to the annoyance of very real director Joseph McGrath.

There's awful poetry, a cross dressing Peter Sellers as Queen Victoria (favourite quote, "shit, we are not amused!"), Prince Albert replete with Nazi uniform and Hitler Moustache, and gags galore. Spike's comedic genius was sadly neglected in cinema which is a travesty when one considers the hilarious calibre of original jokes here, delivered with a malicious and surreal glee. For further proof of Spike's incredible talent hunt down a copy of The Bed-sitting Room.

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Release Date:

1 June 1978 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

El gran McGonagall See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)
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