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Leonard Rossiter: Character Driven: The untold story of a comic genius [Hardcover]

Guy Adams
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Oct 2010

Whether he was playing seedy landlord Rupert Rigsby in Rising Damp or frustrated suburban dreamer Reggie Perrin, Leonard Rossiter gave us performances so iconic, so utterly memorable, that they achieve timelessness. Like Peter Sellers or Ronnie Barker, his characters are more real in our national consciousness than the actor who played them, who to this day remains a mystery. There has never been a biography or autobiography, and the fragments we hear about him – e.g. his rumoured ruthlessness and disdain for other actors – are partial and don’t offer any real insight into his undoubtedly complex character.

This book will redress the balance, offering for the first time an in-depth account of Rossiter’s life and work. Through interviews with his daughter, Camilla; widow, Gillian Raines; lover Sue MacGregor and friends and colleagues from Don Warrington to Geoffrey Palmer – it will bring to life the man behind the threadbare cardigan and manic grimace and reveal why he was able to produce such epoch-defining performances.

As well as examining the great TV roles for which he became famous, the book also explores Rossiter’s lesser-known work in theatre and his parts in classic films such as Lionel Bart’s Oliver!, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Lindsay Anderson’s Britannia Hospital. We’ll also learn what went on behind the scenes in the famous series of Cinzano adverts he made with Joan Collins in the mid 1970s.

Exhaustive, affectionate, honest – and long overdue, Character Driven will finally give a personality to the man behind some of the greatest comic performances of the twentieth century.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd; First Edition edition (25 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845135962
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845135966
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 525,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"Guy Adams is either barking mad or a genius, I haven't decided. His truly fantastic debut is like being caught in a theme park with a killer clown - fun, adventure, the odd cream pie - and a sharp knife when you're not looking." - Mark Chadbourn

Guy Adams is the author of the best-selling Rules of Modern Policing: 1973 Edition, a spoof police manual 'written by' DCI Gene Hunt of Life On Mars. Published by Transworld, it has sold over 120,000 copies and led to two sequels: The Future of Modern Policing: 1981 Edition and The Wit and Wisdom of Gene Hunt. Guy has also written a two-volume series companion to the show, published by Simon & Schuster; a Torchwood novel, The House That Jack Built, for BBC Books; and The Case Notes of Sherlock Holmes, a fictional facsimile of a scrapbook kept by Doctor John Watson. This was published in 2009 by Carlton Books in association with the Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the writer's birth. Guy is also the author of the fantasy novels The World House and its sequel Restoration, published by Angry Robot.

Product Description

About the Author

Guy Adams worked as an actor for twelve years before becoming a full-time writer, specialising in TV and entertainment. He is the author of several non-fiction titles including Leonard Rossiter: Character Driven, the official two-volume guide to the BBC drama series Life on Mars and of the bestselling humour book based on the series, The Rules of Modern Policing: 1973 Edition. An acclaimed novelist, he also wrote the fantasy novel The World House and the original Torchwood tie-in The House That Jack Built.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Great; Not super..... 1 April 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a fan of the late, great Leonard Rossiter, I was delighted to see someone tackle the task of writing a biography of this acting genius. Up to now nothing has been written apart from Robert Tanitsch's excellent photo collection with commentary not long after Rossiter's untimely death. However, Guy Adams has produced a disappointing book, which looks like a commission and reflects some of the difficulties of writing about an actor who was intensely private. There appear to be few sources- no secret diaries of a tortured genius (ala Kenneth Williams or Les Dawson) or self penned revelatory autobiographical fragments. Many of his contemporaries have either not commented like Josephine Tewson and Gillian Raine -his first and second wives respectively or have passed away like John Barron of CJ fame. If Adams had too few sources he could have chosen to write a very different book- perhaps one about the difficulty of writing this life. Instead he follows a conventional and safe trawl through the actors extensive stage and screen career with the expected dip into the clippings library of reviews and it all seems heavily reliant on the Tanitsch book. Adams- perhaps aware and restricted by the scarcity of sources is reduced to padding the book out with superfluous information.- for example we are told who David Frost was and that he interviewed Nixon and that a film was made about this story. A glance at what purports to be a bibliography hardly reflects any detailed research on Rossiter's life and times or the nature of the media he worked in.

It seems churlish to criticize Guy Adams for not writing the book I might have wanted to read but not only is his prose leaden and lumpen but the short chapters and large print hint of a project gone awry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goodnight Vienna 12 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
How super to read a book on an actor who achieved iconic success over and over which pays tribute to his work, appears honest and balanced about his personal ethos, and a little about the man whilst being neither sensationalist or intrusive.
The book is well written, well researched and a good solid read.

Plus I cannot believe that I paid so little for a book of this quality in perfect condition, and with speedy service. Amazing!
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5.0 out of 5 stars present for a friend 26 April 2013
By kml
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a birthday present, and very well received . . . . . . . . . . .
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1.0 out of 5 stars The Story Remains Untold 31 Mar 2013
By Wingate
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Leonard Rossiter was a fine actor and is still well remembered.He deseves a decent book written about him,which this is surely not.His private life is barely touched upon.hisfirst marriage is dealt with in one paragraph.So far as his professional life is concerned what we get is inteviews with colleagues and directors who say basically that he was a very good actor and it was a shame that they only acted with him once.Ony Annette Crosbie is frank saying that he intimidated her.
It is apparaent that Rossiter was a very competitive and driven man.In this he resembles Robert Shaw.Both acors who died very young.I would have liked to get some idea as to why he was so driven.However this book is so banal and boring that i gave up half way through.I paid 1p for it and reckon that i was overcharged!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Len, we hardly knew ye 21 Aug 2011
By DaMoopies - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Leonard Rossiter was one of the greatest comedic actors of the 20th century, although too few know this. Acclaimed for his roles in "Rising Damp" and "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin", Len was a perfectionist, demanding the best from himself and those around him. "Perrin" is, quite simply, my favorite comedy of all time. If you are able to avail yourself of the show, do so. The first few episodes may appear to be like watching a rat caught in a trap, but as you go on you will realize that is the point of the first few episodes. British humor at its best, this show takes AYBS into the alley and kicks its teeth down its throat. Can't link to the book itself (thanks Amazon), but this will get you started. The Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin: The Complete Series Reginald Perrin Omnibus
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