He never said that...

Film, stage, music, books and so on...
Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

He never said that...

Post by Brock »

This is probably the most rambling post I've ever made to this forum, and it's hopelessly off-topic, but nonetheless I feel it may be of interest...

The owner of my local launderette is a bit of a character. A little while ago, he decided to stencil a selection of famous quotations on the washing-machines and dryers. I was sitting there this morning, and I suddenly noticed this:

"I'm not afraid of death. I just don't want to be there when it happens" - Spike Milligan

Surely not, I thought. It's a Woody Allen quote, isn't it? I pointed this out to him and he insisted it was Spike Milligan - "I got it off the internet" (which is always 100% accurate, of course). I checked and it appears to be from a 1975 Woody Allen play called Death. He said "Don't tell anyone"!

How this got attributed to Spike Milligan is a bit of a mystery. There's an article about the misattribution by the late Miles Kington here. But the culprit may well be this obituary from the Irish Times, the day after Milligan's death, which uses the quote as a headline (though it doesn't explicitly attribute the quote to him).

SInce then, I now discover, it has routinely appeared in lists of Spike Milligan quotes - e.g. here.

How on earth did this happen? It doesn't even sound like Milligan.

User avatar
stearn
Committee
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:48 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by stearn »

Few research properly even when they really need to, and the requirement of at least two independent citations for something to be accurate goes out the window. When someone posts it incorrectly to Wikipedia and everyone else takes it as fact (even if it is later amended/corrected). Bob Holness was credited with playing the sax on Baker Street, and Ronnie Hazelhurst was a writer for S-Club 7.

Even the BBC had misquotes on expensive glass partitions in Television Centre. Don't tell him your name, Pike, being one.

User avatar
Ian Wegg
625 lines
Posts: 336
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:10 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by Ian Wegg »

I have just seen this on another forum:
My grandfather bought down 3 Messerschmitts and 2 Heinkels in the Battle of Britain ....
....... He was undoubtedly the worst mechanic in the Luftwaffe

- Spike Milligan
Not a bad joke but an obvious misattribution.

It happens all the time, Tommy Cooper regularly gets the credit for other comedian's jokes, usually Tim Vine.

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:44 pm
Few research properly even when they really need to, and the requirement of at least two independent citations for something to be accurate goes out the window.
The problem is that it's almost impossible to know what "independent citations" are nowadays, because it's so easy for two different people to get their information from the same incorrect source.

User avatar
Ian Wegg
625 lines
Posts: 336
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:10 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by Ian Wegg »

stearn wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:44 pm
Even the BBC had misquotes on expensive glass partitions in Television Centre. Don't tell him your name, Pike, being one.
I have seen "the world is your lobster" attributed to Del Trotter twice in BBC programmes.

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

Ian Wegg wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:50 pm
I have just seen this on another forum:
My grandfather bought down 3 Messerschmitts and 2 Heinkels in the Battle of Britain ....
....... He was undoubtedly the worst mechanic in the Luftwaffe

- Spike Milligan
Not a bad joke but an obvious misattribution.
But who did say it? I'm guessing Ken Dodd.

User avatar
Richard Charles Skryngestone
625 lines
Posts: 446
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:53 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Richard Charles Skryngestone »

stearn wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:44 pm
Few research properly even when they really need to, and the requirement of at least two independent citations for something to be accurate goes out the window. When someone posts it incorrectly to Wikipedia and everyone else takes it as fact (even if it is later amended/corrected). Bob Holness was credited with playing the sax on Baker Street, and Ronnie Hazelhurst was a writer for S-Club 7.

Even the BBC had misquotes on expensive glass partitions in Television Centre. Don't tell him your name, Pike, being one.
Someone merely has to post something on a blog. That makes it a 'valid source' for Wikipedia. And thus, it is a "fact".
Anyone can post anything on the internet, and it must therefore be true.
Worse, pretty much any nonsense can be published, and that makes it 'reliable' for many.
Great News Inside, Chums!

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:44 pm
Bob Holness was credited with playing the sax on Baker Street
This is such a well-known urban myth that there are even urban myths about the urban myth!

I was about to make a post stating confidently that the said urban myth was invented by Stuart Maconie in the New Musical Express - but, according to this BBC article, that may not be the case. Authorship has also been claimed by Tommy Boyd (ex-LBC), and by Raphael Ravenscroft - the man who actually did play sax on Baker Street. So goodness knows where it came from originally.
Even the BBC had misquotes on expensive glass partitions in Television Centre. Don't tell him your name, Pike, being one.
It's kind of ironic that we've had two quotes misattributed to Spike Milligan so far, and yet that one really ought to be attributed to him (or his co-writer Eric Sykes). The idea originally came from the Goon Show episode "The Man Who Won the War" (series 6, episode 1):

SEAGOON:
Thank you. Now which one of you two is Mister Crun?

BANNISTER:
I'm Miss Banister.

SEAGOON:
Never mind who you are. Which one is Henry Crun?

BANNISTER:
Don't tell him Henry.

http://www.thegoonshow.net/scripts_show ... on_the_war

User avatar
stearn
Committee
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:48 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by stearn »

But I bet that goes back even further into music hall comedy acts.

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 11:28 am
But I bet that goes back even further into music hall comedy acts.
I'm sure it does. I've been doing a bit of rummaging around on the internet and found an unverified claim that it was used in a 1947 Abbott and Costello film. Its origins are probably lost in the mists of time.

Should Perry and Croft really be credited with it, though? They came up with the version that's best remembered, but it can't be said to be truly original.

User avatar
stearn
Committee
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:48 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by stearn »

Are they actually credited with creating it, or is it just one of those phrases that is easily identifiable? I've always assumed the latter, and was rather surprised when it was misquoted on glass in TC, the home of BBC television.

Balham, Gateway to the South, is another that is identified with Sellers issued on disc, which sorts of skims over the fact that is was Muir and Norden who wrote it, and it wasn't the first time they had used it (Third Division, IIRC). Another of theirs was 'Infamy, Infamy, they've all got it infamy', but that is associated more with Kenneth Williams in Carry on Cleo (wr. Talbot Rothwell)

Of course, these are less about shoddy research. Shoddy research has always been out there, but it is so much easier now that the internet opens everything to all to misunderstand immediately. It used to take a dedicated researcher a lot of time in dusty archives to find out facts (which may have, even then been wrong, hence the two independent sources 'rule'). Now it is just a case of coming up with something, yesterday, so you get your copy in and paid for it before someone else does. Truth is always the casualty.

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:20 pm
Are they actually credited with creating it, or is it just one of those phrases that is easily identifiable?
Probably not, actually - as with most TV lines it would tend to be associated with the actor who delivered it, in this case Arthur Lowe.

Although, bizarrely, a lot of people seem to associate it with Ian Lavender. I was reading an interview with him where he mentioned that fans meeting him would ask him to repeat it, even though the character of Pike is quite clearly the only one in the entire show who would never say "Don't tell him, Pike"!
I've always assumed the latter, and was rather surprised when it was misquoted on glass in TC, the home of BBC television.
That amazed me as well - the rhythm is all wrong, apart from anything else. But it seems to be a commonly misquoted version. Ian Lavender also mentioned an occasion when someone shouted that version at him in a theatre and he shouted back "If you're going to quote, get it right!"
Balham, Gateway to the South, is another that is identified with Sellers issued on disc, which sorts of skims over the fact that is was Muir and Norden who wrote it, and it wasn't the first time they had used it (Third Division, IIRC). Another of theirs was 'Infamy, Infamy, they've all got it infamy', but that is associated more with Kenneth Williams in Carry on Cleo (wr. Talbot Rothwell)
Didn't we discuss this in another thread recently?

One of my favourite misattributions is "Ringo Starr isn't the best drummer in the world. He's not even the best drummer in the Beatles" - commonly attributed to John Lennon. Some people will knowingly tell you that it didn't come from John Lennon but from Jasper Carrott, but they're wrong as well. It actually originates in a 1981 episode of Radio Active written by Angus Deayton and Geoffrey Perkins. Jasper Carrott nicked it for a TV routine in 1983 - and got a much bigger laugh!

User avatar
Richard Charles Skryngestone
625 lines
Posts: 446
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:53 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Richard Charles Skryngestone »

Not a joke, but a style. I remember Monty Python having a 30th anniversary celebration in the USA in 1999. They outright lied, and said they were the first television comedy show to abandon conventional punchlines.

But that paled in comparison to the American host saying the Pythons were the first people ever to take a television show to the stage.
Great News Inside, Chums!

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

Richard Charles Skryngestone wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:25 pm
Not a joke, but a style. I remember Monty Python having a 30th anniversary celebration in the USA in 1999. They outright lied, and said they were the first television comedy show to abandon conventional punchlines.
So what was it then? I'll take a gamble on Q5 - funny how it always seems to come back to Spike Milligan!
But that paled in comparison to the American host saying the Pythons were the first people ever to take a television show to the stage.
Again, who was it? I get so frustrated by posts like this...

(I'm still waiting to find out the source of the "worst mechanic in the Luftwaffe" joke!)

User avatar
Richard Charles Skryngestone
625 lines
Posts: 446
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:53 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Richard Charles Skryngestone »

Brock wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:30 pm
Richard Charles Skryngestone wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:25 pm
Not a joke, but a style. I remember Monty Python having a 30th anniversary celebration in the USA in 1999. They outright lied, and said they were the first television comedy show to abandon conventional punchlines.
So what was it then? I'll take a gamble on Q5 - funny how it always seems to come back to Spike Milligan!
I would have thought Cook and Moore. But I may be wrong. I just know it wasn't Python.
But that paled in comparison to the American host saying the Pythons were the first people ever to take a television show to the stage.
Again, who was it? I get so frustrated by posts like this...
I couldn't tell you. Only that it wasn't Python.
(I'm still waiting to find out the source of the "worst mechanic in the Luftwaffe" joke!)
It couldn't be earlier than the 40's. Unless it's recycled from an old WWI joke...
Great News Inside, Chums!

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

Richard Charles Skryngestone wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:36 pm
Brock wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:30 pm
Richard Charles Skryngestone wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:25 pm
Not a joke, but a style. I remember Monty Python having a 30th anniversary celebration in the USA in 1999. They outright lied, and said they were the first television comedy show to abandon conventional punchlines.
So what was it then? I'll take a gamble on Q5 - funny how it always seems to come back to Spike Milligan!
I would have thought Cook and Moore. But I may be wrong. I just know it wasn't Python.
Did Cook and Moore abandon punchlines? I don't recall sketches in Not Only...But Also without punchlines.

The reason why I suggested Q5 was this (taken from Wikipedia):
Wikipedia wrote:Scudamore (1985, p. 170) cites one interview with the Pythons in which John Cleese said: "Shows prepare the way for other shows, and sometimes shows that make genuine breakthroughs are missed. Spike Milligan's Q5 was missed...when we first saw Q5 we were very depressed because we thought it was what we wanted to do and Milligan was doing it brilliantly. But nobody really noticed Q5". Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam concurred. Jones noted that "watching Q5, we almost felt as if our guns had been Spiked! We had been writing quickies or sketches for some three years and they always had a beginning, a middle and a tag line. Suddenly, watching Spike Milligan, we realized that they didn't have to be like that".
So many questions unanswered!

User avatar
Richard Charles Skryngestone
625 lines
Posts: 446
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:53 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Richard Charles Skryngestone »

The 1966 NOBA Christmas Special featured a lengthy sequence like that.

While Goodbye Again, which clearly predates both Q5 and MPFC did the same thing.

There's an old interview with Eric Idle where he gives the credit to Cook and Moore. I'll try and dig it up.

Meanwhile, I am also now interested as to which show went from television to stage adaptation first.
Great News Inside, Chums!

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

[first TV show to transfer to the stage]
Richard Charles Skryngestone wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:36 pm

I couldn't tell you. Only that it wasn't Python.
I'm going to go with The Black and White Minstrel Show, which transferred to the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1962. Any advance on that?

brigham
HD
Posts: 1061
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:59 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by brigham »

What year did Pinky and Perky move to the Palladium?

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

brigham wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:53 pm
What year did Pinky and Perky move to the Palladium?
They appeared on an episode of Sunday Night at the London Palladium in 1958. I don't think they moved there permanently though!

User avatar
stearn
Committee
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:48 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by stearn »

Brock wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:20 pm
[first TV show to transfer to the stage]
Richard Charles Skryngestone wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:36 pm

I couldn't tell you. Only that it wasn't Python.
I'm going to go with The Black and White Minstrel Show, which transferred to the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1962. Any advance on that?
Minstrel stage shows were nothing new though, the TV show name would have been used just like a named star to get bums on seats. Dad's Army transferred to the stage in 1975, but there was a Carry On stage show in 1973 after various TV specials over the few years before, so that does beat Python. Radio shows were almost interchangeable with stage shows in the way they were performed but, again off the top of my head, I can't remember any that were long run theatre productions. I have this nagging in the back of my head that suggests a well known title ended up on the stage with much of the original cast, much earlier than the two I *can* remember, but I can't catch on any detail to come up with a definite title.

brigham
HD
Posts: 1061
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:59 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by brigham »

On a similar note, didn't the television version of Double Your Money become a touring 'televised' stage show?
Or perhaps it started out that way?

User avatar
Ian Wegg
625 lines
Posts: 336
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:10 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by Ian Wegg »

Brock wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:38 pm
One of my favourite misattributions is "Ringo Starr isn't the best drummer in the world. He's not even the best drummer in the Beatles" - commonly attributed to John Lennon. Some people will knowingly tell you that it didn't come from John Lennon but from Jasper Carrott, but they're wrong as well. It actually originates in a 1981 episode of Radio Active written by Angus Deayton and Geoffrey Perkins.
My recollection is that it was Barry Took during a restaurant meal. Spotting Starr at another table one of his party made the "not the best drummer in the world" comment and Took gave the humorous response. I don't know where I read or heard it but I'm sure it was before 1981.

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:53 pm
Brock wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:20 pm
[first TV show to transfer to the stage]
Richard Charles Skryngestone wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:36 pm

I couldn't tell you. Only that it wasn't Python.
I'm going to go with The Black and White Minstrel Show, which transferred to the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1962. Any advance on that?
Minstrel stage shows were nothing new though, the TV show name would have been used just like a named star to get bums on seats.
I don't think there's any doubt whatsoever that the stage show was based on the TV show. See, for instance, the Radio Times billing here: "'The Black and White Minstrel Show' is appearing at the Victoria Palace, London, and at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield".

Wikipedia (unsourced) says "In the spring of 1962 the BBC musical variety show, The Black and White Minstrel Show, was to open at the Victoria Palace Theatre. While the three lead singers, Tony Mercer, John Boulter and Dai Francis, would be in the theatrical version of the show and also in the BBC TV version, both the chorus singers and dancers would be different groups in the theatre and on BBC TV. Since George Mitchell was completely tied up with the television version, he hired Harry Currie to be the chorus master to prepare the Victoria Palace minstrel singers".

See also this obituary of Robert Luff, who produced the stage version. One thing I hadn't realized is that before going to the Victoria Palace it toured for two years, starting at the Bristol Hippodrome. So I'm now going to claim 1960 as the earliest known date for a TV-to-stage transfer!

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

Ian Wegg wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:19 am
Brock wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:38 pm
One of my favourite misattributions is "Ringo Starr isn't the best drummer in the world. He's not even the best drummer in the Beatles" - commonly attributed to John Lennon. Some people will knowingly tell you that it didn't come from John Lennon but from Jasper Carrott, but they're wrong as well. It actually originates in a 1981 episode of Radio Active written by Angus Deayton and Geoffrey Perkins.
My recollection is that it was Barry Took during a restaurant meal. Spotting Starr at another table one of his party made the "not the best drummer in the world" comment and Took gave the humorous response. I don't know where I read or heard it but I'm sure it was before 1981.
Oh well, that's opened up yet another can of worms. We may never know the true source.

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:53 pm
Radio shows were almost interchangeable with stage shows in the way they were performed but, again off the top of my head, I can't remember any that were long run theatre productions. I have this nagging in the back of my head that suggests a well known title ended up on the stage with much of the original cast, much earlier than the two I *can* remember, but I can't catch on any detail to come up with a definite title.
Band Waggon transferred to the stage in 1938:

https://laughterlog.com/2009/02/25/band-waggon/

User avatar
stearn
Committee
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:48 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by stearn »

Brock, I wasn't disputing the stage was based on, and cashed in on the name of, the TV series, but Minstrel shows had been around for some considerable time so my point was they were not anything new. Python was a TV show first, then a stage show afterwards, so I was trying to think of others in a same vein.

Ian Wegg, I'd be very surprised if Took was the source of the quip - it just doesn't sound like him. I'd be more inclined to believe it was someone who was used to coming back with very quick, witty and funny comments. You can imagine someone like Morecambe or Monkhouse doing it.

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 5:27 pm
Brock, I wasn't disputing the stage was based on, and cashed in on the name of, the TV series, but Minstrel shows had been around for some considerable time so my point was they were not anything new. Python was a TV show first, then a stage show afterwards, so I was trying to think of others in a same vein.
This is going to turn into one of those C.E.M. Joad issues! "It all depends on what you mean by…"

The issue is whether the Pythons were the first people ever to take a television show to the stage. They clearly weren't.

If the question is "who were the first people to take a television show to the stage when there hadn't been a stage show of a similar genre previously", then I honestly don't know.
Ian Wegg, I'd be very surprised if Took was the source of the quip - it just doesn't sound like him. I'd be more inclined to believe it was someone who was used to coming back with very quick, witty and funny comments.
Yes, like Barry Took. Surely you remember him on the News Quiz?

User avatar
stearn
Committee
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:48 pm

Re: He never said that...

Post by stearn »

No, I don't actually, but I found him to be fine when he had time to script something, or use someone else's scripts, but don't recall him being known for off-the-cuff stuff.

[corrections and clarifications: What I meant above was I never listened to The News Quiz until Simon Hoggart was in the chair. As such I have no way of remembering how Took contributed to the show.]

Brock
HD
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 am

Re: He never said that...

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:58 pm
No, I don't actually, but I found him to be fine when he had time to script something, or use someone else's scripts, but don't recall him being known for off-the-cuff stuff.
A lot of his material on The News Quiz was scripted, but believe me, he'd never have lasted as long as he did otherwise. Two stints, 1979–1981 and 1986–1995.

Post Reply