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David Mitchell: Back Story [Paperback]

David Mitchell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 May 2013

David Mitchell, who you may know for his inappropriate anger on every TV panel show except Never Mind the Buzzcocks, his look of permanent discomfort on C4 sex comedy Peep Show, his online commenter-baiting in The Observer or just for wearing a stick-on moustache in That Mitchell and Webb Look, has written a book about his life.

As well as giving a specific account of every single time he's scored some smack, this disgusting memoir also details:

• the singular, pitbull-infested charm of the FRP (‘Flat Roofed Pub’)

• the curious French habit of injecting everyone in the arse rather than the arm

• why, by the time he got to Cambridge, he really, really needed a drink

• the pain of being denied a childhood birthday party at McDonalds

• the satisfaction of writing jokes about suicide

• how doing quite a lot of walking around London helps with his sciatica

• trying to pretend he isn’t a total **** at Robert Webb’s wedding

• that he has fallen in love at LOT, but rarely done anything about it

• why it would be worse to bump into Michael Palin than Hitler on holiday

• that he’s not David Mitchell the novelist. Despite what David Miliband might think

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (23 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007351747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007351749
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘One of the best celebrity memoirs of last year…his outsider geek personality translates just as well on the page as it does on TV.’ Metro

‘It livened up about half way through with the appearance of me. But enough of David's life. The book is wonderful from beginning to end.’ Robert Webb

'David Mitchell is an extremely funny man on screen, in person, in print and very probably underwater.' Sam Bain, co-writer of Peep Show

‘He can write’ Evening Standard

‘Fluent, discursive, intelligent.’ Evening Standard

‘If you like Mitchell on television, you will like him in this book.’ Shortlist

About the Author

David Mitchell is a comedian, actor and writer. He stars in Peep Show, writes for the Observer, co-hosts 10 O'Clock Live, has appeared in every TV or radio panel show except Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Quote Unquote and A League Of Their Own and has been in two films neither of which made a profit. He is married, childless and the polysyllabic member of the double-act 'Mitchell and Webb'. Soon he will do more.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Somebody I'd Like to Know... 5 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've admired David Mitchell's TV work for a long time - much preferring his panel shows, with their lightning fast wit and theatre-sports improvisation to the scripted stuff like Peepshow or the sketch shows. "Would I Lie To You?" is, I think, one of the most delightful shows to screen on British TV in a long long time, just because of the its unpredictability. In fact, the only thing Mitchell's ever done that I wasn't impressed with was the big red Mitchell and Webb book, which I think tried just too hard.

So I was hoping that this would contain more of the naturally warm and funny Mitchell that I love on TV, and less of the over-written comedian - and I'm really delighted to say that I think it does. Mitchell shines through every page as an intelligent, caring, warm person with a really sly sense of fun coupled with a very real humility. His chapter on meeting and falling for Victoria Coren is genuinely touching (pity the other reviewers here who have sneered at this chapter) and overall he's re-confirmed himself as someone I'd really be pleased to call a friend. Sometimes, less really is more, and to have overdone this memoir would have been a shame.

God, but he was a dorky-looking teenager though....!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather disappointing - apart from... 22 Jan 2013
By Hodderz
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of David Mitchell, I like his work, his intelligence and his outlook on life, even though he twists himself in knots about it. So I purchased this in hardback straight after Christmas.

He struggles to explain his steady rise to success, but basically it's because he is a swotty, very intelligent man. A combination that eventually pays off. There's some funny anecdotes - cooking the lobster stands out - but overall it was rather disappointing. Apart from the penultimate chapter in which he matter-of-factly describes his adoration of Victoria Coren (me too). That one chapter is a beautiful love essay, completely out of style with the remaining chapters in the book. I could have done with a bit more detail, like how on earth he survived three years knowing she was with someone else. But to be honest, it just about makes the entire book worth buying. Or you could read the chapter standing in the bookshop I suppose.
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114 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Right David Mitchell 12 Oct 2012
By S.Jane
I don't usually leave reviews but I have made an exception in this case, partly due to how useless i found the only other review currently available.
Yes, it's David Mitchell the comedian. Hence his face on the cover....and in the amazon video explaining how he isn't the guy who wrote Cloud Atlas (another great book btw!)....and in the book jacket... etc.

That established I found it to be a thoroughly entertaining read, part life story and part general observations of life, all told with humour and humility. Several times I actually laughed out loud and I found the honesty very refreshing. There are no great tragedies in this book, it's not a hard luck story, but it's full of the little things that some of us find awkward or uncomfortable at times. Right down to buying pants in Marks & Sparks - well I'm not even famous and I don't really like it!

I haven't seen too much of his work on TV, but having watched a few episodes of 'Would I Lie To You', detailing some funny (if slightly odd!) truths from his past, I thought the book might be a good investment. In my opinion, it really is. And (spoiler alert) it has a happy ending. My kind of book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Anyone who has read David Mitchell's column in the Observer knows that he can write with humour and insight on a wide variety of topics. This book proves that one of those topics is himself.
It's no surprise that his book has been short listed for book awards, it's a tremendously enjoyable read.

As with many of the best of recent 'celebrity' memoirs, the construct is a clever one. Advised to walk more to strengthen his back, David did. He found he enjoyed it and in doing so gained a deep knowledge of London.

So the book is a walk across London from his flat in Kilburn, but the different points of interest en route serve as simple introductions to David's life story, from being the loved son of Oxford lecturer parents through school and student life, to his life as a TV actor-comedian, culminating in his symbolic arrival at the now closed BBC TV centre in Wood Lane.

What lifts this way above many similar memoirs of those in the entertainment industry is David's honesty, self-awareness and intelligence. His appearance on many TV panel shows, along with his sit-com Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look has made him a well-known face that we think we know. He speaks of his 'panel persona', so that person isn't quite the same as the real David Mitchell.

The real David Mitchell as revealed here comes across as being enormously likeable, even when revealing his less likeable side, by acknowledging professional jealousies, for example.

David gives massive insights into the way TV programmes are put together. His chapter 'The Magicians' should be read by all in the upper echelons of TV. As recent events have shown spending vast amounts of cash on PR rather than on ensuring programme quality can have far-reaching effects.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read.
I like listening to David Mitchell and can hear his voice as I'm reading this book. He writes the way he speaks and gives you a good tour of London and his life. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I read it for free a long way from home
I read a wonderfully tatty, dog-eared copy of 'Back Story' borrowed from a hotel lobby in Barbados, and I left it for somebody else to enjoy too...ie not a kindle version, David. Read more
Published 3 days ago by D. Wight
2.0 out of 5 stars too false.
im only on the first chapter, and im hoping it will get better but in attempting to be funny, he is making himself out to sound like a smug pompous idiot. Read more
Published 12 days ago by J Hawke
5.0 out of 5 stars Good job!
The item arrived as described and in remarkably good time. Making me one happy camper! I would buy from them again.
Published 17 days ago by But I hate tea
3.0 out of 5 stars Rambling
I enjoyed the first half but started to speed read as it just rambles on much like David's style of talking.
Published 18 days ago by Mrs Sylvia Blore
4.0 out of 5 stars It's like having David Mitchell actually in your head!
Really enjoyed it. Very enlightening and an easy read. He comes across as a thoroughly nice, intelligent guy who I'd love to meet.
Published 21 days ago by Louise Whittington
4.0 out of 5 stars Audio book review
I really enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong, I would rather listen to James Masters reading Jim Butcher but this was easy listening and I chuckled and related a great deal.
Published 22 days ago by mark adams
5.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining book
I enjoyed this book immensely. If like me, you're a fan of David Mitchell's TV work, then this book won't disappoint.
Published 29 days ago by Poots
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant story.
I'm a big fan of David Mitchell, and I found his story entertaining, honest and funny. I'd defiantly recommend this.
Published 1 month ago by Lucas Jeffreys
5.0 out of 5 stars Rant on!
Very entertaining reading. His take on life echoes my own. So glad he finally found love in Victoria Coren. Did not like the f word though but that's him. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Albert RN
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