Down An Avenue Q of Surreal Comedy – Spike Milligan’s Q Vol 1: Series 1-3 (DVD Review)

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Finally on DVD from Simply Media comes comic genius Spike Milligan’s surreal sketch series Q co written with Neil Shand and ran from 1969 to 1982 on BBC2. The show said to be a major influence on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which began only 6 months after Q’s inception had a cast of recurring characters from the likes of Julia Breck, Peter Jones, Richard Ingrams, John Bluthal, Bob Todd and John Wells.

This series was the first time that Spike had been given centre stage for his freeform surreal with after being a part of the successful comedy group The Goons with Peter Sellers, Harry Seacombe and Michael Bentine. The sketches come at you so thick and fast, sometimes it’s hard to keep with Spike’s fire rate of his carefully thought wit, but it’s very funny and not everyday you see a Pakistani Dalek exterminate the family dog to suggest putting it in the curry; a classic Milligan routine.

Q, under the gaze of modern comedy, standards may be deemed as a racist, sexist and mysogonstic but if can get through this material there’s intellect to the shows writing. It could be possibly said that it was an influence Mrs Brown’s Boys in the breaking of the fourth wall that happens at least once in each episode.

Q gave centre stage to Milligan’s freeform surreal wit. The sketches came thick and fast, running into one another, making outrageous leaps from one subject or location to another and often stopping with no apparent conclusion. Even the costumes were madcap and contradictory — in some episodes each of them still bore its BBC Wardrobe Department tag — and Milligan seemed to have a fondness for large noses and hats.

However, Milligan was criticised for his tendency to make racially charged jokes, especially regarding Jews and Pakistanis, and the series as a whole was decidedly risqué even by the standards of the 1970s — almost every episode featured an appearance by the scantily-clad, huge-breasted “glamour stooge” Julia Breck

Dir: Ray Butt,John Kilby,Ian McNaughton

Cast: Spike Milligan, Julia Breck, Peter Jones, Richard Ingrams, John Bluthal, Bob Todd and John Wells

Prod: Ian McNaughton,Douglas Argent
Country: UK
Year: 1969 to 1980 (32 Episodes)
Run time: 97 minutes

Spike Milligan’s Q Vol 1: Series 1-3 available on DVD now