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My Word Paperback – 2 Apr 2008
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The Word - and Terry Christian in particular - tended to divide its audience. Its late-night mix of cutting-edge music and irreverent, what can best be described as 'student' humour won the hearts of millions while enraging an equal number, resulting in many calls to the Channel 4 Complaints line. There's no question though that the programme helped shape TV for years to follow. MY WORD is Terry Christian's take on life behind the scenes at Channel 4 in the nineties. He takes no prisoners in this hugely entertaining account of the journey from a working-class childhood in Manchester to the heart of London's television world. The picture that emerges is not of some leery Manc geezer chancing his arm on national television, but of a slightly leery Manc geezer who has a more sensitive side, is a grammar school boy, is a twice Sony-award winning radio presenter, who is soaked in music, and who has had to battle for all his working life against the prejudices of those who control broadcasting in the UK.
About the Author
A DJ, broadcaster and writer, Terry Christian got his break twenty-five years ago as the voice of unemployed, disaffected and misunderstood youth on a Gus Macdonald chat show called 'Devil's Advocate'. Since then he has been a twice Sony-Award winning DJ (Radio Derby), the host of a groundbreaking Manchester music show (Piccadilly Radio), presenter of Channel 4's The Word, and a guest on anything and everything from Richard & Judy and Fantasy Football, to Jonathan Ross and Have I Got News for You. He's the author of a bestselling Oasis biography and of 'Reds in the Hood', his account of growing up as a Manchester United fan.
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To those of us brought up in the North of England in the 80s and 90s this book will reinforce what many of us thought all along - that the London-centric media leached the Manchester music scene dry and hijacked the history of dance music. But forgive me, because I'm starting to rant here, and it's the ranting throughout this book that starts to drag it down a little.
Terry strongly believes that a media scene dominated by Southern, middle class, public school nepotism was the cause of all ills, both for himself and The Word. Unfortunately, like a great orator that overstays their welcome, he mentions this fact on virtually every page. This could be construed as either bitterness or laziness. Given some of the lows that his career took after The Word I'd suspect the former. The London media scene and The Word were the goose that lay the golden egg for Terry. It was also the goose that bit him on his backside and chased him out the farmyard once it grew bored of him, leaving our hero a little miffed to say the least.
Terry's class war aside, this is still a great read. It'll raise more than a few chuckles, prompt more than a few nods in agreement and bring back memories to many. A must read.
Whenever I'd seen him on the television, I always thought that Terry was very cocky, smug, and more than a little bit of a 'prick' to be honest. I have enjoyed the episodes I've seen of the youth show that made his name, Channel 4's 'The Word', which had some fine moments throughout it's lengthy run, including performances from top bands, and a 'bubbly' Lynne Perrie (who he shamelessly encouraged to 'act up' for the cameras knowing that she was going through personal problems), and did in fact think that it's personality and presence on the show, generally fitted the style of the programme quite well.
Although I still care relatively little for Terry, and my opinion of him hasn't really changed (though I can now appreciate now what a hard worker he is), his autobiography is worth a read. In 'My Word', he reveals some interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the show, as well as how he, a working class lad from Manchester, broke into the media, first as a local DJ, and then onto the heights London's TV studios. His childhood recollections of his humble beginnings in North of England are particularly good to read, and I did feel that he was being completely honest throughout. For young people who are keen to carve a career in the media, they should find the book very useful, and inspiring.
What let the book down for me, was the constant, almost obsessive ranting about the class system within TV land, which you'll find on most pages, yeah, he has a bee in his bonnet about things being run almost entirely by the middle classes, and the snobbery which goes with it, understandable I know, but let's move on. The spelling and grammatical errors which pepper the otherwise entertaining text are also a source of annoyance, a proof reader should have been on hand before the publication. At the back of 'My Word', there is a handy, comprehensive episode guide of 'The Word', complete with lists of which musicians played on each show.
The northern element,and feeling like the outsider, i think still exists now.
I watched the word at that time,and this book puts such a different view on it.
I also didnt know very much about Terry Christian himself,he has the ability to write in such an informative and logical way, which made this book so enjoyable to read.
This should be a compulsory read on any media studies course.
Keep on fighting Terry.
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