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on 15 September 2008
I've been reading show business biographies for decades, and this effort by Andy Merriman is one of the best I've come across. Jacques was a much-loved figure and the author goes to some lengths to explain why. He doesn't shy away from her frustration with the work she got, or her unconventional approach to life. Among revelations (to this reader, at least) is the assertion that all was not as rosy between Hattie and Eric Sykes as one might have imagined. Kudos to the writer and the publishers for not padding the book with out a hundred or so pages of filmographies, etc., a worrying trend, especially when forking out large amounts for hardbacks.
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on 14 January 2008
Hattie Jacques is one of those people whom everyone thinks they know. She has been a constant presence on TV, and her films are endlessly repeated. It's easy to imagine Hattie being warm and generous, kind and big-hearted, but this book brings plenty of surprises and adds a lot of complexity to a woman who is very special to a lot of people.

Hattie was totally generous. Over-generous, in fact. The book is full of of her smothering and spoiling her friends and family, even installing an intercom in her home so that her children's friends could order meals from her whenever they liked.

Hattie needed to be loved, surrounding herself with friends, and embarking on a series of ill-advised love affairs. I could only agree with Joan Sims, calling Hattie "a goer"! Details of Hattie's affairs and the break-up of her marriage are utterly gripping, and the story of the younger man for whom she left husband John Le Mesurier is shocking. Hattie's life was filled with love and laughter, but the loneliness and sadnesses that affected her left me feeling quite moved.

Towards the end of the book, with her health failing, Hattie was able to predict her imminent death. Her declining health, crumbling working relationship with Eric Sykes, family problems, and the impact of her death on poor Joan Sims, all add darkness to the story of a much-loved comedy heroine.

Thoroughly recommended, this book is a real insight into a woman who was taken for granted personally just as she was professionally.
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on 28 September 2007
I couldn't put in down, fantastic, I never realised she was so unhappy, and having children that were off the rails, or the fact that eric sykes wasn't allowed to go to her funeral. I highly reccomend this book. Read or you really will miss a fantastic insight in to one our best underated comedy actresses of the 20th century.
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on 3 October 2007
This book was fantastic!

As soon as this book arrived, I started reading it. I read it in two sessions and would have read it in one go if it wasn't for other things getting in the way, such as eating and sleeping.

The book pulls no punches and is pretty warts and all, but you feel as though you get to learn so much about Hattie and her character really shines through.

A defnite must if you are a Carry On/Hancock/Sykes fan, but worth it anyway even if you aren't.

A sympathetic, engrossing read with loads of photos and definetly highly recommended!
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on 8 October 2007
This was a fascinating and surprising read. I couldn't put it down! It was both touching and funny, giving real insight into personality, beyond the glamorous world of celebrity. It reveals a hugely likeable, witty, warm, generous, strong character, who was also riddled with insecurities. A very human tale, that will bring about a new level of understanding and appreciation of the Carry On era. Highly recommended!
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on 4 March 2011
I remember seeing Hattie and Eric when I was a child. I even remember the Hattie - 'This is Your Life'. I loved Hattie and Eric and was delighted with the 'This is Your Life' . I remember also the divorce when John Le Mesurier was potrayed as 'the guilty party' . Saw the BBC production a few weeks ago and found my admiration of Hattie reduced but I resolved to read the book. I enjoyed the book but more importantly having read it I appreciated Hattie more than ever before. There was more to her than Hattie and Eric - she was an established comedienne and actress in her own right and those who were close to her - including Le Mesurier - treasured and appreciated her warmth and generosity so much that her frailties were not counted but were dismissed. What a wonderful person she must have been and this book sets out the frailties as facts but it also captures and highlights all of the positives of her life and personality so that once again she is restored as one of our national heroines. Loved the book and the revelation that we should all be counted by our positives and quickly forgiven our weaknesses.
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on 15 April 2011
As a reader who specialises in biographies, I can honestly say that this book on Hattie Jacques is without doubt, one of the most entertaining that I have ever read. It is quite succinct in comparison with what I am accustomed to, but the author provides a true insight into the life of this unforgettable comedienne. All aspects of Hattie's life are discussed in some detail, and by the end of my read, I felt that Hattie had personally told me about her life. Merriman uses contemporary sources and mainly interviews that Hattie gave throughout her career, or accounts from people who knew her very well, such as her son Robin, or her close friend, Joan Sims, which allows for a thorough insight into her life.

There are just two things that permeate an otherwise thrilling read. When the author tells us about Hattie's relationship with her co-stars, he often describes in detail the lives of these people, and this seems to take some of the focus away from his leading lady. Secondly, and most interestingly, at the very end of the book, the author states that Hattie continued her affair with John Schofield, on and off, throughout the 1970's. Unfortunately, he does not explore this statement any further, nor makes any previous reference to it, and I was left in rather a quandary as to the reliability of it. Otherwise the book was a truly enjoyable read, and well worth the money.
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VINE VOICEon 8 December 2009
"No, no, matron. I was once a weak man," .... "Once a week's enough for any man,"

I first remember seeing Hattie Jacques as the medical officer in the first Carry on film Carry on sergeant. I was reminded that she was in my other favourite film of the time Square Peg with Norman Wisdom.

She was a well known actress well before my time as she was Sophie Tuckshop in ITMA and was Griselda Pugh being Hancock's secretary in Hancock's half hour which I do remember.

I knew something of her life as if had come out that when she was married to John Le Mesurier that she took a lover and moved him into the matrimonial home whilst John was still there. Before I read this book Hattie Jacques as a sex symbol was an unlikely thought as we of course became mesmerised by her size but she had a very glamorous face. She was sensitive about her weight and the writers accommodated that over the years. She always wanted to play straight parts not just large battle axes but she got typecast in the carry on films.

You can imagine le Mesurier taking it in his stride and pretending that it wasn't really happening. As one of his sons said he should have got a BAFTA for vagueness. It was a role he was very good at.

I like show biz memoirs that actually tell you something and I was interested to note that she did not like Norman Wisdom who always presents himself as a lovable chap , she found Wisdom difficult and self centred in Square Peg. Later sadly her sons would not allow Eric Sykes to come to her funeral as they felt he had treated her badly in her latter years.

She epitomised the Matron to the extent that when the public were asked for the most famous British nurses they came up with Florence Nightingale, Edith Cavell and Hattie Jacques.

I also liked the unlikely pairing of Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques as the matron when she was pursuing him and he came out with the immortal . I was once weak man. And she replied once a week in enough for any man.

She was only 58 when she died but she left a large body of work and it is always a joy to see her on the screen.

Classic carry on lines. If you enjoy British films and show biz stories this is the book for you. I have put in my order for Jobbing Actor by John LeMesurier.

A must read.
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on 12 March 2012
Even some 30 years or so after her death Hattie Jacques is still one of Britain's most recognisable and best loved actresses. Although it is fair to say she is remembered chiefly as a key member of the `Carry On', team she was a much more versatile actress than people perhaps gave her credit for. This book is an affectionate look at her life and is very easy to get into, giving a sympathetic insight into the private life of HJ. From her birth and early life in Kent (her mother was an actress), her early ambitions to be a ballerina, her nursing work during the Blitz, her work with the Players' Theatre, her radio work and right to the roles she is widely known for today.

She comes across as a beautiful, generous and warm people person. Her size is of course covered she is quoted as saying "over the years the years I've learned to build a sort of invisible wall around me..." Her marriage to fellow actor, John Le Mesurier naturally features and a blip on the horizon of her life was her affair with a chauffeur John Schofield who actually moved into the Le Mesurier marital home but then later abandoned her.

I've always admired both her and Joan Sims and this wonderful book just made me like her even more. I truthfully didn't know very much about her so this book was ideal and I hadn't realised that so much of her life was played out around the parts of London that are my own stomping grounds.

All in all an enjoyable read!
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on 4 January 2008
andy merriman's biography manages to entertain and inform whilst giving deep insight of a complex personality.
There is a great deal of detail, career history etc, which helps to put the subject in context.
Hattie's warmth and generosity are demonstrated, as well as her insecurities and shortcomings.
A facinating guide to the world of "Carry-On" and "Sykes",as well as the halycon days of radio comedy.
Incredibly well researched, and written in a highly readable style.
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