My review of John's book
- ANYTHING GOES by JOHN BARROWMAN - My Review
(as published on www.dooyoo.co.uk and soon to be on www.ciao.co.uk)
John Barrowman has been around longer than you think. His first role in a West End musical was almost twenty years ago and he presented Live and Kicking back in 1993. But the huge popularity he has these days probably began with his role in the first series of the new Doctor Who in 2005, when he played Captain Jack, the dashing time travelling hero who assisted the Doctor. The character was so successful, he got his own programme - Torchwood - now into its second series.
John recently published his autobiography Anything Goes, chronicling his first forty years. His sister, Carole E. Barrowman helped him write it and between the two of them, the tone is perfect and you can easily hear John's voice coming through the text.
The hardback version has a cover price of £18.99, but you can buy it for about half that if you look online. I got mine from Amazon UK for £9.49. It is around 250 pages, split into nineteen chapters. There are three sections of photos too, which are lovely!
My particular favourite is one of John watching the first televised episode of Torchwood along with three of his fellow cast members and the current Doctor David Tennant. That's one sitting room I would have loved to have been in then! There's also a beautiful photo of John and Scott on the day of their civil partnership ceremony, surrounded by their three dogs.
The book doesn't follow a strictly chronological order, which can occasionally be slightly confusing, but it does avoid the problem of many autobiographies - one of a fairly boring start to their story and all the action towards the end of the book. Anything Goes never becomes dull and each chapter has something interesting and shows the reader more about John's life, career, family and friends.
He comes across just as he seems on television appearances - warm, friendly, caring, energetic, and full of life, frank, cheeky, confident and endearing. He isn't afraid of writing it how it is and is happy to laugh at his own actions. Although a couple of incidents he recalls did have me thinking 'T.M.I.' (Too Much Information), they also made me smile!
My eldest daughter would like a career in musical theatre and whilst reading Anything Goes, I discovered there were plenty of good tips and advice for the aspiring actor or singer too. I was also fascinated reading about theatrical superstitions and their origins, as well as John's own personal collection of idiosyncratic 'must do's! Do you know why actors should be told to 'break a leg' instead of wished Good Luck? Or why whistling in a theatre is unlucky? No, I didn't either, but I do now, after reading this. (No, I'm not telling you. Read the book!)
John's fans often worry about his workload. The poor bloke seems to work long hours every day, whether it's television acting, singing on stage, presenting, personal appearances or his upcoming concert tour. Reading this book proved to me that he has pretty much always been the same. He loves working and works hard in all areas of his career. He gives it his all and I think that's why Captain Jack was such a success - he genuinely loves the part and his enthusiasm for it spills out of the TV screen.
He doesn't concentrate solely on his career though. As well as obviously loving his partner, he adores his parents, siblings, nieces and nephews and this book is full of anecdotes where you can really see how important they are to him. He has a lot of good friends too and I think he says a lot that most people he works with seem to socialize with him too. (I couldn't understand why Suranne Jones is called Sara though?)
Like me, he loves dogs and the book mentions several of his current and former pets. He works for the Dogs' Trust charity and has adopted from there. He takes his dogs with him a lot and I'm sure they have the best possible life.
For Doctor Who and Torchwood fans, there are plenty of mentions of both series and anecdotes about filming, as well as his co-stars. One thing to note here though is that recent press stories came out about how John prefers working with David Tennant, referring to Christopher Eccleston as 'angry'. The correct quote from the book is actually 'angsty' - which is much less critical than the misquote!
I would personally have liked even more to have been written about this time, but then I've have liked another couple of hundred pages - not to mention a dinner date with the great man himself - so we can't all have everything we want!
It is hard to fault this autobiography otherwise. Like the man himself, it's interesting, entertaining, charming and affectionate. I also love all the little footnotes, where John's sense of humour comes through really well.
Even if you're not a fan, I would recommend the book to you - and if you are a JB fan, what are you waiting for? Buy it! You'll love it! I know I do.
38 year old British mum to 4 children, 2 dogs & a cat :-)
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