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Frankie Howerd: Stand-Up Comic Hardcover – Illustrated, 18 Oct 2004
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PRAISE FOR DAD’S ARMY:
'A hugely entertaining read.' Daily Telegraph
'A splendid new "biography" of the comedy.' Observer
'More than a showbiz yarn. McCann's engaging book pays homage to the great catchlines ("They don't like it up 'em") and the great punchlines ("Don't tell him, Pike!").' Jonathan Sale, Independent
PRAISE FOR MORECAMBE & WISE:
‘A gorgeous plum pudding of a biography.’ Daily Telegraph
‘Intensely moving.’ David Hare, Guardian
‘So funny that the reader laughs out loud.’ Sunday Independent
About the Author
Graham McCann is a lecturer in Social and Political Theory at Kings College, Cambridge. He writes regularly on politics and culture for a wide range of publications. Previous books include, Cary Grant: A Class Apart, Morecambe & Wise and Dad’s Army also published by Fourth Estate.
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One thing to note is that this is a book very much about Howerd's work - it sadly doesn't focus much on his personal life, and frustratingly only touches on his thoughts about politics and philosphy, as well as his experiences with depression. The other main fault with the book is that the author generalises about the success of Howerd's career - some years are total triumphs, others are dismal flops. A look at Howerd's CV doesn't really bare this out. Sure, people have ups and downs but not in the extremes that McCann describes.
Overall, a decent read but more research, and interviews with those who were close to him, would have made it a much better one.
What I would say is that whilst it covers his career up until the 1960s in really good detail, it starts to feel like it's rushing the part of his life up until his death in 1992 - as if the author has enjoyed Frankie building his career, losing his top slot and making a comeback, but then has not felt entirely comfortable with dealing with Frankie grabbing at work as he got older and less marketable.
Still, if you like Frankie Howerd (and all his famous contemporaries, for they are in here in their vast numbers) and want a balanced view of his life - and it is balanced giving the difficult points as much as the good - then this is the book for you. But be warned it might leave you feeling sad for the loss of such a powerful, magical talent.
P. S. Watch out for the bit at the Establishment (p. 195) - this event is available on CD featuring Kenneth Williams laughing out loud.
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