Friday, April 01, 2016

'Going Off Alarming' by Danny Baker

1 April 2016

I've just finished reading 'Going Off Alarming' – the second volume of autobiography by Danny Baker. In Quixotic style Danny Baker spends much of this book reflecting on the reaction to its predecessor, 'Going to Sea in a Sieve' (reviewed here in July 2013 and subsequently adapted to become the TV sitcom 'Cradle to Grave' starring Peter Kay). Many people, it seems, have been quick to point out to him what he missed out from his account of his childhood – and some of those marvellous missed stories now find a place in the new book, though this volume focusses mainly on his first few years on television and radio. Danny Baker was at the height of his fame in the early 1990s when, for a while, he became almost ubiquitous on TV. He describes the origins of his close friendships with Chris Evans, Paul Gascoigne and Jonathan Ross and meeting Spike Milligan, Mel Brooks, Frankie Howerd and many others. His witty, self-deprecating, descriptions of his encounters with the stars bears comparison with David Niven's great autobiographies ('The Moon's a Balloon' and 'Bring On the Empty Horses'). 'Going Off Alarming' is a deliberate antidote to the current vogue for 'misery memoir': horrible things have happened to Danny Baker but he makes it clear from the start that he has no interest in writing about them. This is an autobiography with the hat cocked on the side of the head and, as he reassures the reader early on “I don't get cancer until Book Three'.



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