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on 15 January 2007
If by 'definitive' Fisher and his publishers mean wordy, then it's certainly a fair description of this hefty tome.

Having said that, Cooper fans will enjoy this thoroughly researched and affectionate portrait of one of the greatest British entertainers of the last century. Some of the chapters on the ins and outs of Cooper's career, dealt with in extraordinary detail, might have benefited from some gentle editing. Equally, some may feel they would have liked more on Cooper the man. Fisher does eventually get round to delving into Cooper's personal life, his alcoholism, his other health problems and, of course, his infidelity, but only in any depth during the penultimate chapter.

It's an uneven book, but clearly a work of love by the author and he succeeds in reminding the reader what a great and fascinating man Cooper really was. Fisher retells countless jokes and routines to great effect, so much so that you can almost relive Cooper performing them. And that in itself makes this book a marvellously rewarding read. If Ken Dodd can still fill theatres up and down the land, imagine what Tommy Cooper could do if he were alive today. The mind boggles.
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on 25 April 2007
Nobody has a pedigree like John Fisher for writing about Tommy Cooper and, as expected, this is a superb book. Fisher, a TV producer who wrote Funny Way to be a Hero some time ago about variety comedians, worked with Cooper on the box and was responsible for the excellent Heroes of Comedy documentary series - but above all he's literate, takes his subject seriously and his transparent love for the man doesn't mean he conceals his failings although the emphasis is on the development of his craft.

Writing about comedy is difficult - at least I've often been disappointed by what I've read (the Eric Sykes book about his faves barely scratches the surface in most cases, and Simon Louvish - Laurel and Hardy - and Roger Lewis - Sellers - persist in imagining autobiographical pointers in every last scrap of their subjects' material) - but John Fisher's book does not disappoint and is a fitting tribute, especially as its author had access to the papers of Cooper's late agent and the comic's own jottings. The death, incidentally, is dealt with sensitively and movingly.
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on 31 July 2007
I had high hopes of this book. I wanted to find out more about one of the great comedians of the 20th Century. The hopes were not met. The book drags terribly; it attempts to gain an understanding of Tommy by reflecting on other comedians and magicians who could have influenced him. As I do not know many of the acts mentioned, I found it a read that quickly became impenetrable.

I notice from other reviews that folk either seem to love or loathe this book. SO, at the end of the day, I guess it is for other folk to make their minds up about this tome.
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on 16 March 2007
I love Tommy Cooper and I hate books like this. It seems to be written by someone who is intent on showing off his knowledge and his "inside information".

This book is clumsily written, it doesn't flow and it's very hard to read. The author is intent on showing off his knowledge of obscure (and not-so obscure) comedians and magicians and rambles on for page after page, sometimes without mentioning Tommy Cooper. The book could and should have been much shorter - and would then have been much better.

I loved the story about Tommy in the Casbah and the Fez seller - I just hope it's true.
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on 17 January 2007
To me, Tommy Cooper was one of the all time greatest comics, and this book really does his legacy justice, and is rich in detail of his personal life and his legendary work.

Although author John Fisher clearly has a great love and respect for Tommy, he's not afraid to detail his weaknesses and faults too - especially his love/hate relationship with his life-long agent - leading to a well balanced, very well researched and thorougly enjoyable book that occasionally made me laugh out loud.

If you are a fan of Tommy, or a fan of classic British comedy and comedians, I can't recommend this book highly enough.

A fitting tribute to a much missed legend of comedy.
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on 11 March 2008
I have enjoyed John Fisher's books in the past but he has mainly dealt with his subjects in an incisive, almost surgical, manner getting to the heart of the subject very quickly and concisely. Boy, was this a long read! I felt as if I had spent every day of Tommy Cooper's life with him such was the immense detail. How much better this book could have been if it had been shortened by about 40% omitting a great amount of the interaction between TC and his agent. Most of that detail got in the way of the story and I found myself skimming through to get back to the meat. Enjoyable on the whole? Yes, to a point so long as you have the stamina.
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on 12 January 2013
It is clearly a superb biography and meticulous but rather dull in places when he goes into minute detail about bookings and agents etc.
When he describes Tommy's early life and stage routines the book is brilliant.
Overall I still really enjoyed it very much.
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on 26 August 2014
Very interesting book. This is a proper biography by an accomplished author, John Fisher, who also includes his own occasional recollections of the Giant of Comedy. This book gives a compelling account of Tommy Coopers professional life, since the 1950s on TV & sometimes on radio, until his untimely death at just 62. This account pulls few punches & you get a warts & all canvas of the Man in the Fez. The relationship between Tommy Cooper & his managing agent Miff Ferrie, is a central theme throughout. If you enjoyed Tommy as a performer, you will be absorbed in this biography. Excellent reading.
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on 26 April 2015
The author has so many vignettes to pass on. (Being a fan both of TC and Dean Martin I loved the one about their meeting.) Why does he have to obsess about the fees paid to TC and the percentage his manager demanded? Remove all the financial tittle tattle and you would be left with a volume one quarter of its size, but far more interesting.
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on 3 January 2016
In the late 70s my family owned what is perhaps the most novelty item I have ever seen. It was a Tommy Cooper golf game. The aim of the game was to hit velcro balls onto an upright green cloth with a child size metal golf club. The cloth had a picture of Cooper on it and no doubt said just like that all over it.
While the other kids in the street had evil kenevil toys , action men , even bits of old newspaper turned into a hat ,some fluff . I had the most useless and second rate toy ever. A Tommy Cooper golf game. Fortunately growing up on a council estate , no one knew anything about Golf and I think most people assumed he was a champion golfer. I lost the balls and the cloth , I hope it never came with a fez . You might think that the social alienation that occurred during this time , why would anyone want to play with me ?, would leave me scarred or having confused feelings towards the big man. But I must confess. I have always been a big admirer of Tommy Cooper.

Firstly when he wasn't busily lending his name to novelty games he was funny. And you didn't really care what he did , but how he did it was masterful.
Secondly he had a highly developed style. It was more than the virtuous feedback circle of the magician who was really good , pretending he wasn't , and occasionally pulling it off. We knew , that's he knew, that we knew.
There was also he kinetic delivery style. He never stopped moving. The props table became a really important part of his act. He's Harry Hills comedy dad.

So I was excited to get hold of John Fishers biography of Cooper. However it was, like the golf game , a bit of a let down.
Fisher , it soon becomes clear, knew and worked with Cooper. So many of the themes in the book are actually about his experiences with/about Cooper. We learn more about Fisher than Cooper. Many issues are not dealt with properly , it is never clear how Coopers relationship with his Wife was affected by him being in a long term relationship with another women. What was that like , was it real ? Fisher seems to nudge and wink around it. He also leads us to assume Cooper hit his wife , but its not clear.
Much of the book seems to be taken up with analysis of where certain parts of his routine came from, or who had done similar things before. Bragging rights to Fisher , but it misses the fundamental. Its not what Cooper says or does that is funny , its how he does it.
Theres a dark side to Cooper thats also brought out but not fully explored. His at times cruelty to his wife, his disdain for the public. His golf game ..no sadly this is not mentioned in the book.
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