3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2014
This is a compelling book, a real labour of love by the ghost writer Anthony Teague and a poignant trip down memory lane in the company of the wonderful Freddie Davies. 'Parrotface' may not have quite made it to the stellar level of a Ken Dodd or a Benny Hill but he is a survivor who presents to the reader an unnervingly detailed record of sixty years in show business spanning the end of variety and the television age. He reminds us of that wonderful but disappearing world of pantos, working men's clubs, the variety circuits and despairing attempts to break through into the big time. We are presented with a cast of crooked agents, dodgy theatre managers, sad comics, wannabee crooners, failed ventriloquists and above all, funny men who in their private lives are often anything but. This is a world of individualists driven on by the search for the next killer gag or the next 'knock em dead in the stalls' routine. It is also a story of survival with the ever adaptable Freddie game for any challenge in show business from four chaotic and very funny years on the cruise ships to a standout performance as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Freddie Davies presents a history of British light entertainment over the past half century where there is always time to remember the small acts of kindness from fellow artists who helped him along the way. Funny Bones also answers profound questions such as why southern comics found it so difficult in the northern clubs, why he fell out with Mike Yarwood (whose name should be higher up the bill) and the grim details of just how Russ Conway was so appallingly difficult to work with. Unlike many books of this genre, it is beautifully written and contains a wealth of photographs that are in themselves a history of post- war light entertainment. Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2014
Funny Bones by Freddie Davies is a serious piece of work. Not in the sense it is unfunny, as there is of course a lot of humour throughout, but it is a far more studied and well put together autobiography than I had expected. At 340 pages it covers Freddie's life and career in great detail, and also that of his grandfather, the comedian Jack Herbert, who proved an enormous inspiration for Freddie in his formative years. The research here is impeccable.
Freddie's career is here, warts an all, and in the glossy an apparently privileged world of show-business you really get the vulnerable and precarious side of maintaining an act and career too - and how hard it really is. He had his fair share of dealing with sharks over the years - strange venues, strange audiences, amazing audiences - extreme highs and money trouble lows. His dealings as a manager and promoter of many name acts is very interesting (having to work with strange divas like pianist Russ Conway is very revealing for one). And I would suggest this would be a good book for anyone looking to make a career on the stage - whether it be straight acting or comedic work. Davies's lifetime experiences of different stage crafts comes through well, and how using that knowledge can not only aid your own performance but equally enable you to adjust to that of others - particularly when say a comedian (non-actor background but differently schooled) rehearses and performs with trained actors (non-comedic and differently schooled). I found that fascinating and I'm neither a stand-up or actor.
I loved Parrot Face when I was a kid - I had his album and single (Sentimental Songs) and remember his act well from TV, so was fascinated to know what had happened since - though I had seen him occasionally on TV (Harbour Lights, Casualty, Heartbeat etc) and of course as a grumpy oil painting that comes to life in a Harry Potter film, but often wondered what else kept him busy, or if he had semi-retired? (The answer to that is 'no' by the way - he has never stopped working, and he is now 77.) Anyway, everything is here to answer all of those questions, and much more, and I loved every page. Thank you Freddie for making me laugh and for such an entertaining and well written book. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2014
Freddie Davies is a thorough showbusiness professional and after reading this well written book, you will realise why. It's a fascinating look at a career which has spanned many genres. It is a very honest autobiography in which Freddie has detailed his failures as well as his successes. Having met the man, I can confirm he is a lovely bloke and greatly deserving of his fame. As a lover of show business biographies, I eagerly devoured this fascinating book and thoroughly enjoyed it.
on 4 November 2014
In an age when being a so-called celebrity means having appeared on some vacuous reality show or getting on to the X Factor and sounding just like every other electronically-enhanced singer , how lovely to read a book by someone who has actually served a proper apprenticeship in the entertainment industry.
Freddie Davies has done it all........tough Working Men's Clubs , Butlins Holiday Camp, the Royal Shakespeare Company , T.V. shows including his own show, variety ,and series like Harbour Lights and Last Of The Summer Wine , and films like the classic "Funny Bones" (much of which was based on Freddie's own experiences and in which he demonstrates some fine and touching acting) and Harry Potter.
He writes of it all in an entertaining manner , is not afraid to chronicle his failures as well as his successes , and is still performing in his own live show at the age of 77.
This is a vastly entertaining and well written book , and the author ain't finished yet !
on 3 March 2015
With the exception of the really big stars (Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan, Peter Cook), British comedians of the pre-alternative era haven't been very well served by the publishing industry. The best that most can hope for is to have their memoirs written up by a showbiz hack from a local paper.
So congratulations to Freddie 'Parrot-Face' Davies for having enlisted the services of Anthony Teague to create this magnificent book. Beautifully written and endlessly enthusiastic about its subject, it's a marvellous portrait of a working comedian, complete with all the proper ingredients: the years of struggle, the overnight sensation, the slow decline, the career revivals.
Even if you've never thought of yourself as much of a fan, you're still going to love one of the few great biographies of British comedy.
on 26 December 2014
What a delightful surprise to read Freddie Davies' back-story. Full of anecdotes and with some commentary about show business colleagues, this is both a tribute to Freddie's grandfather Jack Herbert and a homage to the craft of comedy. Nostalgic and honest, this is a book that reveals much more about Freddie than you might expect.
on 1 January 2015
Brilliant, received as a Christmas gift and found it a fascinating record of British comedy. I wanted the book because Mr Davies starred in Funny Bones, my favourite film, but there is so much more in this book. Laugh out loud funny. Highly recommended.
on 22 September 2014
Unputdownable read.really interesting read.i know Freddie and Vanessa beautiful human beings and nice people.also our business is full of imposters who have no business in show business !!!!!!!!!!!!!
on 5 February 2015
Honest, engaging and utterly absorbing. If you are fascinated by showbiz stories, the history of Variety or the craft (and hard graft!) of comedy as I am, then this is for you. Thoroughly recommended!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2014
An excellent book very well written