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4.1 out of 5 stars
David Mitchell: Back Story
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 30 December 2012
I've had this book for quite a few months now, when I saw it in a supermarket's book isle, I realised I'd like to read more about David Mitchell, Peep Show star, and game show panellist who seems to get on everything. I suspected he was like Mark Corrigan from Peep Show, and in some ways, you might well think he is.

Dave's writing this for his thesis for his Masters in History, and it makes good reading. I especially enjoyed his walks around London, as someone who does this, but not for back reasons, I found it interesting it wasn't just me who went out for walks when things got too dull, or just needed a change of air. Dave wanders around London talking about what reminds him of what, and of course his favourite passtime, finding FRPs - which I found really funny as he was right about them!

There's a brief childhood history lesson of Mitchell, how he came from Oxford and made his way to Kilburn in London; from first meeting Robert Webb right though to when he first met Victoria his wife (or is that to be?). Everything from his first Edinburgh fringe is discussed here, and how Peep Show came to be commissioned by C4.

I really enjoyed this book, although I did not read it in one full week (or two). I did leave it on the sofa arm for a while, and that's mainly because I was busy doing other things, but where ever I went I took it with me. David's stories are fascinating and amusing - especially when he let stereotypes of Liverpool cloud his judgements. I like the way he discusses his friendship with Webb and how they became friends, and the last two chapters are probably the most revealing about David than any others.

This hardback edition is a good way to read it too, nice typeface and easy to hold. Sometimes books can be too large, heavy or just cumbersome to hold, yes I know "get a Kindle" and I'd love on, but I still like the feel of books. The jacket picture is cool too, and the picture of Mitchell in a Panama hat on the dust jacket is funny too.

Excellent read, I'd highly recommend reading it.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2012
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 25 November 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
David Mitchell is one of my absolute favourite modern comedians so, whilst I do not normally indulge in "celebrity memoirs", I took the plunge with this one. And polished it off over the space of less than five days.

It is brilliantly written and easy to read. There is nothing earth shattering within the covers of the book, just a very genuine, heartfelt and funny account of his life. You can really "hear" Mitchell's voice as you are reading and, when he can't help himself "going off on one" it is hard not to smile. As a fan of peep show from series one, it is interesting to read what a slow burner this series was - I still find it hard to read or listen to Mitchell without a little part of me hearing "Mark Corrigen" and/or his soapbox rants so it is fascinating to read his account of how his own personality is entangled with that of his now most famous character.

As I say there is nothing momentous about the book (unless you count the fact that he has never been offered cocaine and is a bit peeved about it like a vegetarian booking a Christmas meal who isn't offered the turkey option).

Each chapter starts with a couple of paragraphs following him on an imaginary walk across London which, whilst it allows for some funny observations, doesn't really add much to the overall story and it also feels as if he was keener to get a pun into the title of the book than to actually discuss any back troubles which he has. Unless I missed a chapter there really was very little mention of any sciatica.

I was one year below Victoria (then known as "Vicky" before she rebranded) Coren at college and so have vaguely followed her career since. I remember my feeling of surprise when I heard they were "going out", which is bad of me reading about Mitchell's surprise that ladies on the internet now "fancy him". Having said that, knowing how that particular thread of his life turns out it is one of the nicest parts of the book and, reading about his interactions (or lack of) with opposite sex until he finally meets and marries Victoria, it is impossible not to feel happy on his behalf.

David Mitchell is one of those people you feel you know even if you haven't met and, like his awkward encounter with Michael Palin, is one of the few celebrities I would go out off my way to talk to should I ever see him in a pub and, no doubt, make as big a tit of myself as he did with Palin with little likelihood of redeeming myself by co-starring on Radio 4 panel games at a future date. But I'd still do it.

If you are a fan and you feel the same, you'll love this book.
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121 of 130 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2012
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2012
I really admire David Mitchell's work, but I never expected to be able to empathise so much with him. A delight to find out he's not just a posh rich boy - let's face it, anyone who places himself lower on the so-called social scale than Lee Mack, but has also scaled his heights, is worth a read.
There is some meandering blather in this book - the reason I dropped one star- but ultimately it is a fascinating insight into a normal person's difficulties in finding out where he fits in the world and trying to get a longed-for career off the ground. Ultimately it is surprisingly touching. It left me with a much deeper understanding of an undoubtedly talented man, and an even warmer affection for him.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2012
As with all celebrity autobiographies, if you're a fan of the celebrity, there's a high probability that you'll enjoy the book. If not, you're unlikely to read it anyway. That's a point that's made often, but that probably bears repeating.

The structure of this book is slightly novel, in that it follows Mitchell on a walk around London, with reminisces and comic riffs inspired by things he sees along the way. I think it's fair to say that little of the content is deeply insightful: it's mildly embarrassing to buy underwear; membership of Footlights provides a firm footing for launching one's career in comedy; and most ideas pitched to television companies don't get commissioned.

That said, I like David Mitchell, so I enjoyed the book. The content isn't groundbreaking, but it is at least communicated with warmth and a degree of endearing self-deprecation. And I found the last chapter, in which Mitchell discusses his relationship with Victoria Coren, genuinely heartwarming. Others have described it as overly syrupy, but I disagree - I thought it was lovely.

It's hard to know what else to say, really. Mitchell comes across as a thoroughly likeable guy, and this is a highly readable but equally forgettable walk through a life that has been lived without all that much trauma, distress or heartache. It's a light read that, as a fan of Mitchell, I find it hard not to recommend. But it's hardly life-changing stuff.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2013
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 January 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I like David Mitchell and you get the impression that he is a nice, decent bloke but even though this book is well-written and at times quite funny I didn't really find it a particularly good read. I enjoyed the autobiographical bits, the details about his childhood but I just found much of it a bit 'trivial' in that nothing really dramatic happens. I'm sure that the pains in his back and his subsequent long walks around London were quite significant for him but to a non-Londoner I found the descriptions of them a bit dull.

David is very honest about his likes and dislikes, even when they don't necessarily show him in a good light - he isn't quite the finicky nerd that Lee Mack likes to portray him as but you can see that there is an element of this in his personality. However, he uses this same honesty to describe his relationship and love for Victoria Coren and I did find that part of the book very moving.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2012
The structure of this book is a surprise and a delight; David Mitchell has clearly thought seriously about how to present his (relatively short) life in as satisfying a way as possible. He addresses the reader occasionally, but doesn't overdo this, meaning that the book feels pleasantly inclusive rather than fake-matey. It did make me laugh out loud at points, but I also really liked his self-knowledge and self-castigation. As for the penultimate chapter.....it made me cry. There won't be a better celebrity memoir this year.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine 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. Cuts are being made in the wrong areas.

For me one of the best parts of the book comes towards the end with a beautifully written revelation from David's personal life that made me cry, it was so touching. (He also made me laugh out loud many times. Especially with the industrialist meets Hitler joke, ironically not one he wrote, bur one line that he definitely delivered.)

As with Stephen Fry's acclaimed biography, I finished the book wanting to give David a great big hug - and to thank him for such an enjoyable read.

David Mitchell opens the book by asking himself the question 'Surely it'll sell?' I really hope it does. Very highly recommended, not just as an insight into a truly interesting person, but in the way that TV programmes make it on to the screen. Five stars, no question.
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