Spike Milligan’s surreal TV comedy sketch show ran for ten series, totaling thirty eight episodes. Each series was identified by a number from 1 – 9, the final series was entitled There’s a Lot of It About as it is believed the BBC felt the public might find Q10 too confusing.
‘Q’ received a bit of a mixed reaction on transmission. Some felt that it more “hit and miss” than Milligan’s earlier work, especially The Goon Show, whilst others considered it to be a landmark in British comedy.
Like many shows around the time much of Milligan’s TV work was wiped. Q5 series is incomplete. All of Q6 exists, as does Q7, Q8, Q9 and There’s A Lot of It About.
Q was a sketch show and gave Milligan a perfect showcase for his surreal wit. The sketches came thick and fast, running in to one another.
They would make outrageous leaps from one subject or location to another and often stop 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.
Shows would feature a musical interlude (this was quite common for this type of show), sometimes performed by Milligan himself, or his collaborators Ed Welch or Alan Clare at the piano. There were also appearances by jazz groups, ragtime bands, singer-songwriters and the Mike Sammes Singers, who received custard pies in their faces at the end of one performance.
Like many comedy shows of the day, Milligan was criticised for his tendency to make racially charged jokes, especially regarding Jews and Pakistanis, and the series as a whole was decidedly politically incorrect, even by the standards of the 1970s — almost every episode featured an appearance by the scantily-clad, huge-breasted “glamour stooge” Julia Breck.
Written By: Spike Milligan
Original Transmission Dates: 24th March 1969 – 25th October 1982