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Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment [Paperback]

Louis Barfe
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2009
Hugely entertaining and packed with new stories, "Turned Out Nice Again" is the first single volume history of British light entertainment. "Turned Out Nice Again" celebrates the work of the performers and impresarios who, from the 1930s onwards, pushed the creative boundaries of radio and then television to bring ground-breaking variety shows to a new audience. He demonstrates how the performances of Britain's best-loved entertainers, including "The Crazy Gang", "Shirley Bassey", "Tommy Cooper" and "The Two Ronnies", were conceived, written and then filmed, often in front of a live audience and under extreme space and time restrictions. With a cast of thousands, including Peter Cook, Ken Dodd, Dusty Springfield, Spike Milligan, Rolf Harris, Bruce Forsyth and Reeves and Mortimer, "Turned Out Nice Again" reveals a world of comedians and cavorters, dancing girls and crooners. From the early days of vaudeville, via the golden age of radio, live television spectaculars, the rise of the chat show and alternative comedy, Louis Barfe pulls back the curtain of variety to reveal the world of light entertainment in all its glory.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843543818
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843543817
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 574,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"* 'Hugely enjoyable... Perhaps without realising it, we are now living through a light entertainment golden age. How nice to have a book that makes you ponder such an idea in the first place.' - Sinclair McKay, Daily Telegraph * 'It is... refreshing to read a book about popular entertainment by someone who genuinely loves it, without so much as a hint of that rather purist, Anglo-Saxon sneer we so often, as a nation, display about things we do simply for pleasure.' - Peter Bazalgette, Sunday Telegraph * 'A fine book... The top-billers are all here... [and] thoroughly researched facts are bolstered by rambling interviews with surviving producers... The achievement of this book is to give credit where it's overdue.' - Kit Hesketh Harvey, Guardian * 'All-encompassing: game shows, quiz shows, talent shows, sitcom spin-offs, magic acts and dancing sea lions.' - Roger Lewis, Mail on Sunday"


"It is...refreshing to read a book about popular entertainment by someone who genuinely loves it, without so much as a hint of that rather purist, Anglo-Saxon sneer we so often, as a nation, display about things we do simply for pleasure." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Out Of Focus 25 May 2013
By Wingate
The first 80 pages of this book are interesting as they focus on music hall.After that the author turns his attention to television and radio.The problem with that is that much of what he writes is not on the topic of light entertainment and is downright dull.he tends to focus on the politics of getting programmes made and the ITV franchise renewals.Who cares if TVS didnt get their franchise renewed.Who can be interested in the industrial disputes at GMTV?More to the point,how can a history of light entertainment be seriously considered when there is no mention of the creative team of Perry and Croft.David Croft gets a one sentance entry referring to his initial career as a script editor.The last 40 pages are the most boring and in the end i just raced through them to finish the book as quickly as possible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written in a very concise style packing maximum info into each line and based on extensive research, those interviewed are a solidly represenatative of TV light entertainment in the period from its inception. An easy read for those with just a general interest and a gold mine for serious students of this and related topics.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A whistle-stop tour through fifty years of British telly, this book chooses, perhaps unwisely, to be a history of the "dry" side of light entertainment, concentrating on the devising of quiz show formats and the ins and outs of ITV franchise applications rather than the talent in front of the camera. The great names are all here, of course- Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper and the rest- but they get short shrift in favour of "he said to me, then I said to him"-style anecdotes related by producers about other producers and doubtless polished in many a golf club bar and at many a Variety Club dinner over the years. I was left thinking I'd been subjected to an endless monologue by a thousand Ronnie Corbetts that never reached the point of being as fascinating as the teller assured me it was.

But this is a well-researched book and contains much that needed putting on the record, so to speak, even if the writing and the organisation of the information betray a certain dogged diligence rather than any real spark.

Definitely not a suitable Christmas gift for that uncle who likes Tony Hancock!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down 12 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this for my father in-law he couldn't put it down, it brought back many happy memories for him, his age range over 65.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive work on the genre 20 Feb 2009
It's fair to mention that I've been a friend of the author's for over 10 years, so I may well be biased. However, light entertainment (or LE) is a subject dear to my heart, and I certainly wouldn't hesitate to complain if it hadn't been given a good treatment. Louis' book plays a blinder, being a thoroughly well-researched 354 pages (there aren't 22 pages of notes for nothing), and follows the story of the LE industry from the birth of variety in the middle of the nineteenth century, to the more recent revival in entertainment television in the shape of The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and Saturday Night Takeaway, to mention but a few. In essence, this is the definitive work on the genre, weaving a direct link between those early pioneers of variety to today's stars. Where else would you discover the link between Top of the Pops and Billy Cotton's Band Show? It is essential for anyone with even a passing interest in British television, and proves beyond all doubt that there really isn't anything 'light' about guaranteeing quality entertainment for a mass audience.
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