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The Book Ramble
He did also once play a game of cricket in the garden, but had to retire after the second delivery hit him square in the particulars, out PBW for a duck. But that was literally it in terms of him and sport. However, his own physical deficiencies in no way prevented him from being my greatest critic when it came to me playing sport. He was a fiercely competitive touchline parent whom you did not want to let down in a hurry — imagine a slightly more effeminate Judy Murray. I was This was, if anything, worse than the abuse. Bad Education Christmas Special: too much toilet humour.
Jack Whitehall greets me with a warm smile, while his father offers a terse snort of welcome. Father and son could not be more different. Here's Jack with his skinny jeans halfway down his bottom, posh-lad observations and vaguely lefty leanings. There's Michael with his three-piece suit, louche establishment drawl and rantings about the state of the modern world. Yet the comedian and the former theatrical agent make a surprisingly good team.
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But then Michael Whitehall has found himself unexpectedly famous in his later life, thank to his son Jack dragging him into his comedy world though Backchat and now Travels With My Father. For shame! He shares how he got Haver to flirt with a potential buyer to try to shift his house, with the charmer telling the star-struck woman he was thinking of buying a place up the road; how Avengers star Patrick McNee used to send naked photos of himself Backing Into The Spotlight is one of those showbusiness memoirs that comes from a different era. For example, he tells of how, after he formed one of the first independent TV production companies, he managed to sell an action series on the flimsiest skeleton of idea: that the two lead characters would be called Guy, so the show could be called The Good Guys. That — in those days — was enough for a commission over a generous lunch at The Ivy, casting and a writer could be figured out later.
Written in two distinctive styles, it reflects the larger-than-life personalities of its authors, Jack and Michael Whitehall. It's given me an opportunity to share memories of him losing his temper with foreigners on holidays, being rude to my mother's family at Christmas and failing epically during the fathers' race at my prep school. He's also written some stories about me, but can I just say, before you read anything, that I recall being a calm, well-behaved and learned child, not the intellectually subnormal, mal-coordinated dipshit that he paints me as. Nor am I, as he suggests inside, a sex addict, a flasher or a Scientologist. People always tell me how young I look for my age. In this book, I have at last been able to recount the many occasions when I have been let down by my only son. He failed on the stage, the sports field and he even screwed up the interview for his first boarding school by pretending he had mental health issues.