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THE MOST GUSHING BOOK REVIEW YOU EVER DID SEE!
by Catherine Sumnall.
(from C&G #55 July 2000)
The villainous Robert Ross has developed yet another certain best seller, using the sure fire method of totally cornering the market. Never will there be a more definitive textbook for confirming dim memories steeped in television history that XXX did appear in YYY, or in my case, uncomfortably wondering whether I must have dreamt Bill Oddie on "The Really Wild Show".
However, grave questions must be asked. "Where has this veritable feast of information come from?" might be one. If anyone wants the full, remorseless review of "Follow that Bird" on stage, *I* can provide it. Look, I'm pleading with you here, do ask. After receiving by due share of royalties, I can now say what I really thought...
The most stomach-churningly difficult challenge with this is to peruse the pages from A-Z, without skipping to its climax: G. You need to allow the suspense to build, it seems. The Goodies episode guide alone constitutes
over a third of the hefty tome, but Ross' skills are not to be underestimated here. In contrast to the heavy factual content of the Monty Python Encyclopaedia, an intoxicating enthusiasm pervades his critique, perfectly balancing a mixture of analysis and copious story-telling. In particular, his valiant defence of the unjustly maligned "South Africa" episode almost reaches the heights of one infamous "quality of mercy" defence itself. I'm not sure but it's Shakespeare rather the Hancock's Half Hour isn't it?!
The rest of the volume donates a well-deserved chunk to the phenomenon of "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again", its equally amazing comrade "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue", and the sadly missed "At Last! The 1948 Show" & "Broaden Your Mind". "If I Ruled The World" featuring the adorable Jeremy Hardy too, is paid suitable homage, and the wondrous, incomparable feat that is "Bananaman" , is a joy to relive - for me at least. I never really had a chance to grow up normally!
Most impressively though, Ross manages to use that fantastic word "juxtaposed" an inordinate number of times; and another enjoyable pastime besides reading it, is to count the less than subtle references to a certain John, Paul, George and Ringo combo. I lost track after the prologue which featured a highly commendable yet bizarre link between two lots of genius, via the Lennon poem "Deaf Ted, Danoota (and Me)".
I suggest you procure this book by any means necessary - even buy it if you have to - but, if you must wait for the reprint, do give the redoubtable Robert Ross a contract in the meantime to expose the pleasures of the sublime Peter Cook (to whom he craftily devotes a section) or the ubiquitous, similarly timeless Beatles!