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Charming read from a charming luvvie
on 18 March 2014
To be honest I've always enjoyed Chris Evans as a TV presenter; his presence on Big Breakfast, Don't Forget your Toothbrush, TFI Friday coincided with my teen years and energy and fun of those shows, and him in particular is infectious. So I was looking forward to learning more about his route to fame and how he helped shape some pioneering formats.
Unsurprisingly for an autobiography it's a fairly linear story from boy to man. He adds a few twists to spice up the format picking the main theme for a particular part of life being presented and then starts with a "top 10 ..." about that theme. There's an appendix which contains letters from key people in Chris's life who are discussed in the book; it looks like a batch of job references but a nice insight nonetheless.
There are enough anecdotes to keep you turning the pages and there's plenty of his trademark optimism to carry you through the book and the writing itself is decent. It's a good reminder at how "overnight successes" like Chris actually required years and years of hard work, low pay - if any, and a dedication to the medium of radio.
That said he's still a bit too "luvvie" for my liking. You'd be forgiven for thinking the media world contains a vast majority of lovely, happy people. He's cautious not to rock the boat by anonymising a few people despite the stories not being too incriminating. He's so successful and likeable that he can deliver and justify mea culpa after mea culpa; it was difficult to sense the sincerity though. I came away feeling that I discovered very little about Toothbrush and TFI (although the Concorde story was brilliant), and to some extent Big Breakfast too. The emphasis on radio came through loud and clear. The top 10s were a gimmick that wears thin after the first three or four chapters.
The biggest gripe however is the fact that this is simply part one of two yet I can't think of any justifiable reason to split them given that they were published so close together. Must have been purely to generate more money - this is probably a decision made by the publishers though. A single volume would have made more sense and been a better experience for readers.
A star had to be lost for HarperCollins not doing a great job on their ebook despite this being a big title for them. There are supposed to be photographs - as is common in autobiographies - and some are even referenced yet they are completely absent. There were also a few formatting issues. Such flaws would never be tolerated in print editions and I think it shows a surprising attitude to customers buying electronic copies that it's not worth even proof reading before general release.
Overall a fun read and makes you want to get out there, take on the world and achieve things you are passionate about. Stay happy and upbeat and the karma police will look after you. Despite my gripe about the two volumes I do intend on purchasing part two.