Giving thanks for Spike

Tribute service to a comic genius

Showbiz stars have paid tribute to Spike Milligan in a moving and funny thanksgiving service.

Stephen Fry, Eddie Izzard and Joanna Lumley were among those reading work by the former Goon in a service at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in London's Trafalgar Square.

Eric Sykes paid tribute to the friend he shared an office with for 50 years,Peter O'Toole recited a Shakespearean sonnet and Barbara Dickson performed Here's That Rainy Day, one of Spike's favourite songs.

O'Toole said: "Spike told me once he much preferred the sonnets. I asked him why and he said 'they're short'."

Other celebrities in the packed 700-strong congregation included Terry Wogan, Bill Wyman, June Whitfield, Paul Merton and Beatles producer George Martin.

Izzard, reading Milligan's poem Have A Nice Day!, introduced himself by saying: "Good morning. I am the Duke of Kent."

Wogan told the BBC: "There is sadness that he has passed on but he had a good long life and this is a joyous occasion. He will be up there having a damn good laugh."

The hymns included Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer, which was introduced by David Secombe, son of Harry. A recording of Harry Secombe singing the first verse was played, a reminder that Spike once joked that he did not want Harry singing at his funeral.

Spike died of liver failure at his home in East Sussex in February at the age of 83, he had been ill for several months.

Today's service is a chance for fans and celebrities to pay their respects, as Millgan's funeral in March was a quiet family affair, attended by around 100 mourners.

Published: 24 Jun 2002

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