Advanced Television

Yeti wins Sky Arts commission for Spike Milligan doc

November 11, 2022

By Nik Roseveare

Welsh indie Yeti Television has announced its commission from Sky Arts, for Spike Milligan: The Unseen Archive (1×90’), a feature length film that provides an insight into the life and career of Spike Milligan.

Spike Milligan: The Unseen Archive is an intimate and in-depth look at the newly discovered personal archive of Spike Milligan’s work, which his family shared with a select group of the legendary comedian’s fans and friends in the summer of 2022.

The archive includes film reels of previously lost sketches from the ground-breaking Q5 series, as well as The Gladys Half-Hour, a long-forgotten 1958 comedy special many believed wiped,  and unheard compositions recorded by Milligan for his friend (and The Beatles’ producer) George Martin.

Through the use of the new archival material, which contains letters, scripts, cassette tapes and home movies, audiences gain a closer look into Milligan’s marriage and family life, as well as his struggles during his time at a psychiatric hospital in 1953. Context and depth are given to the material discovered through a whole raft of family, friends, and celebrated comedians. Family members who feature in the film include his daughters Jane and Silé Milligan and grandson Hastie Harrower.

Sebastian Barfield is producer director on the film, which sees comedian Al Murray unearth a collection of photographs that reveal the lifelong impact of the Second World War on Milligan’s life and career. Material discovered also includes an unproduced script revealing how Milligan fought to get back on TV in the early 1990s.

Additional contributors include comedian Eddie Izzard, actress and friend of Milligan Joanna Lumley, and broadcaster, Editor of Private Eye and co-writer of Spike Ian Hislop as they explore a treasure trove of unseen material.

Viewers also hear from Milligan’s friend and co-writer John who co-wrote episodes of The Goon Show and play The Bedsitting Room, BFI Television Historian Dick Fiddy, writer David Quantick and writer Sarfraz Manzoor.

Spike Milligan: The Unseen Archive will air on Sky Arts in December, with a preview screening and Q&A taking place at the Southbank’s NFT1 on December 3rd. The screening will be part of the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped series, presenting a range of recent TV rediscoveries.

Sian Price, Creative Director at Yeti, said: “It has been a privilege to secure unprecedented access to the Milligan family archive – and for them to trust Yeti in piecing it together. The result is an eye-opening, sensitive, yet revealing new portrait of the many sides to Spike Milligan. A man who not just revolutionised British comedy but was also a playwright, poet, musician, soldier, product of Empire and father. It has been a pleasure to work with Sky Arts and the Milligan family on this unique film.”

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director at Sky Arts, added: “Spike’s work has been pivotal in shaping British comedy and now we have the opportunity to showcase these brilliant, unearthed works on Sky Arts. Through letters, home videos and those who knew him well, we’ve gained a new insight into who this comedy legend was. We’re thrilled to be working alongside Yeti Television to bring this previously untold story to life.”

Categories: Press Releases

Tags: , , ,