Sunshine on Putty: The Golden Age of British Comedy from The Big Night Out to The Office

Ben Thompson

IF LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A WHOLE COUNTRY TAKES AN OVERDOSE ?

In the 1990s, British comedy underwent a renaissance – shows like The Fast Show, The Day Today, Shooting Stars, The League of Gentlemen, The Royle Family and The Office were hugely popular with critics and audiences alike. Just as politics, sport, art, literature and religion seemed to move towards light entertainment, the comedy on the nation’s televisions not only offered a home to ideas and ideals of community which could no longer find one elsewhere, it also gave us a clearer picture of what was happening to our nation than any other form of artistic endeavour.

From Ricky Gervais’ self-destructive love affair with dairy products to Steve Coogan’s suicidal overtaking technique; from the secrets of Vic Reeves’ woodshed, to the stains on Caroline Aherne’s sofa; from Victor Meldrew’s prophetic dream to Spike Milligan’s final resting place, Ben Thompson clears away the soil to reveal the true twisted beauty of British comedy’s psychic root system.

Sunshine On Putty is based on hundreds of interviews with the leading comedians of the era, as well as managers, agents, producers, directors, executives and TV personalities. It is the definitive history of a golden age in British show-business.

Includes full chapters on: VIC & BOB; EDDIE IZZARD; FRANK SKINNER; THE FAST SHOW; HARRY HILL; FATHER TED; ALAN PARTRIDGE; THE ROYLE FAMILY; BEN ELTON; ALI G; THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN; JOHNNY VEGAS; and THE OFFICE.

Reviews of Sunshine on Putty: The Golden Age of British Comedy from The Big Night Out to The Office

    • Seven Years Of Plenty (Victor Gollancz, 1998):’Wonderful…bursts with lucid and intelligent enthusiasm…I think we can say that Ben Thompson has produced the most exciting, illuminating and funny book about pop music since…Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces’ Guardian
    • Ways Of Hearing: A User’s Guide To The Pop Psyche, From Elvis To Eminem (Orion 2001):’It is wit, in its 18th-century sense: an acuity of judgement that makes you laugh’ Guardian