Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: Spike Milligan wore a shirt that said “Hashish” on it when he was on the Muppet Show.
Spike Milligan (1918-2002) was one of England’s leading comedians from his days with The Goon Show in the 1950s (along with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe)
to his days with Q during the 1970s (and lots of projects in between over the many, many years he was a performer – he was performing and especially writing right up to his death in 2002).
In 1978, Milligan hosted the third season of The Muppet Show, for an episode about international good will, etc.
At one point during the show, Milligan is wearing a T-Shirt with Arabic lettering on it…
For years, it has been said that Milligan’s shirt translated to “hashish,” and this was a sly opportunity by Milligan to sneak a drug reference into the show (hashish is a preparation of cannabis). As the story goes, no one noticed what he was doing until the episode had already aired.
Is it true?
It is not true.
What Milligan’s shirt translates to is “Kuwait.”
Well, Milligan was, at the time, doing the TV series Q, which was a sketch comedy show that had a different number attached to it for each season it was on the air, beginning with Q5 in 1969. Because of the similar Monty Python’s Flying Circus program, which ran from 1969-1974 (it began a few months after Milligan’s series), it would not be until 1975 that Milligan was allowed a second season/series of Q, titled Q6. Q7 followed in 1977, and in 1978, as the time of the Muppet Show taping, Milligan was doing Q8.
Q8 was, appropriately enough, nicknamed “Kuwait” because of the fact that, well, you know, Q8 sounds like Kuwait!
So no, no sneaky drug references for Spike Milligan!
The legend is…
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