Max Miller Statue

“Have you heard about the girl of eighteen who swallowed a pin, but didn’t feel the prick until she was twenty-one?” is the sort of joke that led to Max Miller becoming Britain’s top comedian in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

A statue of ‘cheeky chappie’ Max Miller was unveiled in his beloved Brighton on 1st May 2005 by the Mayor Pat Drake, Sir Norman Wisdom OBE, June Whitfield CBE and Roy Hudd OBE, who is President of the Max Miller Appreciation Society. The £30,000 bronze statue is on the grounds of the Royal Pavilion behind the Dome Theatre and opposite the Theatre Royal. It depicts Miller in his trademark Homburg hat, kipper tie and suit. It was created by local sculptor Peter Webster who is also responsible for the life-sized statue of Olympic athlete Steve Ovett in Preston Park.

The Pavilion as we know it today was built in 1811 by London architect John Nash for the Prince Regent (later King George IV). The statue of Max Miller is not the first addition to the Pavilion’s grounds. The North Gate, South Gate and statue of King George IV were all added after it was built. Interestingly the Dome Theatre was built in the grounds in 1804 as stables for the original Pavilion (the Marine Pavilion).

Miller maintained his connection with Brighton throughout his career and enjoyed performing at the Hippodrome on Middle Street. Unsurprisingly, the statue isn’t the only memorial to Miller in Brighton. There is a plaque dedicated to his memory at No. 25 Burlington Street, off the Kemp Town seafront, where he lived from 1948 until his death there in 1963. There is also a memorial tablet at the Downs Crematorium.

Max Miller was born in 1894 at 43 Hereford Street as Thomas Henry Sargent. He left school at the tender age of twelve and went on to fight in the army during the First World War. It was during this period that he began developing the skills that made him famous with shows in front of fellow soldiers. As a stand-up, he excelled, playing in large variety theatres where he told audiences off for laughing at his suggestive jokes. He appeared in fourteen feature films between 1933 and 1942. The cheeky chappie also wrote and sang many of his own songs which were often banned from being broadcast on the radio due to being too blue!