Max Miller was the ‘bad boy’ of entertainment in World War Two. Max Miller was very much the “Cheeky Chappie” and unlike Tommy Trinder, took his comedy to the limits – bringing him the occasional ban on BBC radio.
Max Miller was born in Brighton in 1894. As a seaside town, Brighton would have had its fair share of theatres and other entertainment venues. It was in these that a young Miller saw his future. Max Miller left school at 12 and rifted from job to job. He served in the Army in World War One. It was during his stint in the army, that Miller entertained the troops he was with – he realised that he had a talent for cheering up people and after the war he got into show business. He went between London and Brighton theatres as a song and dance man. Miller developed his own routine and wrote his own songs and his fame quickly spread. However, his real fame was as a result of pushing the accepted standards of comedy to the very limit. He achieved fame for his double entendres. To many he was an extremely funny comedian – to others (primarily in the establishment) he went too far.
Max Miller’s appearance even pushed accepted standards. He dressed in a flower-patterned suit with similar shoes. To a degree, the theatre had rarely seen anything like it. But to others he did push the boundaries of acceptability and he was occasionally banned from BBC radio – one ban lasted five years! For some in the hierarchy of the BBC, his double entendres were too much and the only way they could combat this was to ban Miller.
Miller’s recording career lasted from 1932 to 1963. For many people, Miller epitomised what became known as “seaside humour”. For all his fame, Miller rarely left Brighton for the high-life of London. He preferred to be with what he considered to be his people. Miller once said that, “I much prefer a retired bus driver to anybody in show business.”
Max Miller died in 1963.