Please refresh the page and retry. Many comedians have written novels, and nearly all of them are as disposable as Christmas cracker jokes. This short, sharp, freewheeling novel took Milligan several years to write, during a period when he went through a difficult divorce and then endured a period of no contact with his girlfriend Paddy while she made up her mind whether or not to marry him. But he was right. Few books before or since have been funnier.
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Please refresh the page and retry. Many comedians have written novels, and nearly all of them are as disposable as Christmas cracker jokes. This short, sharp, freewheeling novel took Milligan several years to write, during a period when he went through a difficult divorce and then endured a period of no contact with his girlfriend Paddy while she made up her mind whether or not to marry him.
But he was right. Few books before or since have been funnier. We laughed the day away, we really did. There are sound effects Dad would have been proud of. He has been a fan of Puckoon since he was 14, and had a copy signed by Milligan at a book signing in the Eighties. Coming out of the war [Milligan served with the Royal Artillery and was wounded at the Battle of Monte Cassino], he had that sense of demob-happiness that really infused his work.
There is dissent, naughtiness. And a willingness to challenge the laws and structures of comedy as it was perceived in the Forties. J ane Milligan thinks that with Puckoon her father was determined to show he could expand his range beyond radio comedy. He never went to uni — he was self-educated. I wanted to make sure that we balanced the wild, hilarious comedy with his beautiful descriptive writing.
The adaptation does have something of an Under Milk Wood-on-acid vibe. As in the book, the layabout hero Dan Milligan played by Ed Byrne gets into arguments with the author about the direction of the plot or begs him for help when stuck in tricky situations. Perhaps the most resonant scene in Puckoon nowadays is the meeting of the ill-assorted members of the Irish Boundary Commission, who agree after much bickering to hold the official red pencil between them and push it along the map of Ireland to determine the exact location of the new border.
The border cuts through the middle of Puckoon, with wonderfully absurd consequences: corpses need passports to cross from the church to the graveyard at their funerals; one corner of the pub is on the Ulster side of the border, and is rammed with customers because the drinks are 30 per cent cheaper. He was buried with the Tricolor on his coffin.
Born in India, Milligan lived in England from the age of 12, but as he was writing Puckoon his automatic right to a British passport ended with the passing of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of She hopes that the radio play will put Spike back in the spotlight. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future.
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Spike Milligan's Puckoon: the greatest comic novel you've never heard of
An Irish town falls victim to bureaucratic stupidity when divided by a new border. Adapted from Spike Milligan's classic comic novel by Ian Billings. Published in , Puckoon became a publishing phenomenon, has never been out of print and has sold more than 6million copies. In , the Boundary Commission is tasked with creating the new official division between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
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Running out of binge-worthy content? Fear not—Hulu just re-upped their streaming offerings with great new shows and movies. See the full list. In , as part of an effort to remain strictly neutral, the Dublin government made a deal with both Berlin and London whereby any soldier, sailor or pilot captured on Irish soil, whether