Book review: Little Me. My Life From A-Z. By Matt Lucas

aBook review: Little Me. My Life From A-Z. By Matt Lucas. Published by Canongate.

“He’s a baby! He’s a baby!” These words were sung by Shooting Stars co-host Bob Mortimer just as an unusual looking man dressed in a full-sized pink romper suit homed into view.

This is probably how most of us got our first glimpse of Matt Lucas, then known as “George Dawes” (as in “What are the scores, George Dawes?”) in the anarchic Nineties quiz show, Shooting Stars. He was not, of course, a baby, but it is surprising to reflect, just how young he was. Having started performing stand-up in his teens, Lucas was already a semi-experienced performer when he first appeared on the show in 1995. He was barely twenty-one. True stardom was to come with Little Britain alongside his comedy partner, David Walliams, some years’ later.

As Lucas admits, he does tend to polarise opinion somewhat. If the sight of his grinning bald face on the front cover already repels you, this book is unlikely to change your mind.

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But Lucas certainly has a story to tell: even before his entry into the comedy world, he had to cope with sudden childhood baldness, parental divorce and family scandal, fluctuating weight and the growing realisation that he was gay. Then, there was the decade-long climb to fame, initially playing the fictional aristocrat Sir Bernard Chumley, his first teenage meeting with Walliams (they bonded by comparing their stock of celebrity impressions), George Dawes, Rock Profiles, Little Britain, Come Fly With Me and ultimately Hollywood.

Fittingly for someone who was recently jumping around in time on Doctor Who, however, Lucas avoids a chronological approach. Each chapter is in alphabetical order by subject, a technique which works very well. The second chapter B, for example, is entitled Baldy! and discusses Lucas’s hair loss while the tenth J, Jewish, discusses his racial and religious heritage. It’s not always as obvious as that however and you’ll have to find our for yourself what the chapters ‘Frankie and Jimmy’ and ‘Accrington Stanley’ are about.

There is also, the tragic end to his relationship with Kevin McGee, his civil partner who committed suicide in 2009, some time after the failure of his relationship with Lucas. Lucas makes no apology for skirting around what clearly remains a very painful subject for him and nor should he have to. When he does occasionally refer to McGee, however, it is always with sensitivity and affection.

Like anyone, Lucas has a love/hate relationship with his own fame. He is perhaps more comfortable in the US where he is better known for his brief appearance in the huge comedy movie hit Bridesmaids opposite Rebel Wilson than for anything else. Indeed, as he himself admits, with the UK version of Little Britain a decade in the past now and the failure of his recent series Pompidou, he is less familiar to younger viewers now than he once was. Indeed, of the two Little Britain stars David Walliams is by far the better known member of the duo now.

Despite this, it is hard to imagine the man who created The Only Gay In The Village or George and Marjorie Dawes, ever disappearing quietly from our screens anytime soon.


BBC Three: RIP?

The news that the TV channel BBC Three will exist solely as an online entity as of autumn 2015, struck a damaging hammer blow to the nation’s psyche last week. “Will life be worth living if Snog, Marry Avoid?  is told to “POD off” forever?” many wondered. Others contemplated a world without Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. Would the living come to envy the dead?

Yet snootiness aside, many questions are raised by the imminent demise of the only specifically youth-orientated TV channel in the UK. For one thing: what will be BBC Four be called now? Will it now become the new BBC Three? The potential for confusion is endless.  Another question persists: How will British viewers get to watchFamily Guy now? And, more pertinently, how precisely does BBC Three save money by going online? Surely it is the production of TV programmes, not the fact that they are broadcast on TV, which incurs by far the greatest sum of the costs? How does switching all of the content online save serious money?

More seriously, this is a shame, simply because while it is all too easy to deride much of its content, BBC Three has built up a good record for launching new comedy in the last decade. Both Little Britain and Gavin & Stacey first appeared on BBC Three and became among the biggest British TV comedy hits of the last ten years. Both ultimately transferred to BBC One, where it must be said, their lustre rather faded over each of their three series. But their early freshest TV episodes appeared on BBC Three, (Little Britain, it should be said, technically first appearing on Radio 4).

Nor is it by any means clear that BBC Three’s best days, comedy or otherwise, is necessarily in the past. Him & HerCuckooBad EducationPramfaceUncle and Russell Howard’s Good News have all been typical of BBC Three’s recent comedy output.

In 2010, similar plans to close the BBC radio channel 6 Music were abandoned after a popular outcry. I hope something similar will occur with BBC Three. Leaving aside the issue of whether going online really suggests the “living death” that it initially appears to suggest, with Sky1 already yapping at the BBC’s heels in the comedy output stakes, can the Beeb really afford to do away with BBC Three? For if BBC Three is not there to “feed our funny,” viewers will surely someone else who will.