Three wives, six children and a lifetime of infidelity
By Neil Tweedie
(Filed: 28/02/2002)

SPIKE MILLIGAN was not very good at monogamy. His married life was punctuated by affairs that resulted in two illegitimate children to add to the four from his three wives.

In his memoir The Family Album he admitted to having slept with all three of the leading ladies in one of his plays between 1964 and 1966. "The essence is that people can't remain faithful to one person for very long," he explained two years ago. "I'm faithful now because I can't do it anymore."

Milligan also suffered the pain of betrayal. His first wife, June Marlow, bore him three children, Laura, Sean and Sile, before running off with another man. He didn't blame her entirely. His manic depression was at its most pronounced then, and there was not much time left for June between scriptwriting and visits to psychiatric hospitals. Nevertheless, he sued for custody of the children and won. He later admitted to some guilt at parting them from their mother.

In 1962 he married Paddy Ridgeway after meeting her on a film set. She gave birth to a daughter, Jane. In 1976 Paddy died from cancer, when Jane was 11. Milligan said later that having to tell the child that her mother was gone was the most terrible time in his life. Milligan had been unfaithful to Paddy for much of the marriage.

One of his liaisons was with Margaret Maughan, an artist from Northumberland. She gave birth to a son, James, now 24. The second involved Roberta Watt, a Canadian journalist. Milligan's fling with her resulted in a daughter, Romany, now 28.

In 1983 Milligan married his third wife, Shelagh, who had worked for him as a temporary typist before Paddy's death. Twenty eight years his junior, she nursed him through depression, recovery from heart bypass surgery and his final illness.