Friday, 26 February 2016

Book Review: It's Not A Rehearsal by Amanda Barrie

Born Shirley Broadbent, Amanda Barrie has been working since she was three. She has performed on stage countless times, from chorus girl to West End lead, appeared in a number of films and has been a familiar face on television from its earliest beginnings. In this autobiography, Amanda recounts anecdotes from her packed professional life, including her famous roles in "Carry On Cleo", as Alma in "Coronation Street" and conwoman Bev in "Bad Girls". She also reflects, with characteristic humour, on events in her personal life including her disrupted childhood, disastrous school life and her relationships with men and women including the remarkable threesome that she shared with her husband Robin Hunter.

My Review:
What a fascinating woman Amanda Barrie is! I've known her work from Carry On Cleo and Coronation Street and her own story has more shocks and scandals than a soap script!

I knew from the media that she was bisexual but I had no idea of the struggle she had through the years with her sexuality. It must have been tough for a lot of celebrities in the public eye to keep their private lives private for fear of destroying their careers. Amanda is blunt about her horrific eating disorders, her mental breakdowns, her dyslexia, her body image issues and her drug habit. How she managed to stay alive to make it into Coronation Street is a mystery to me.

She is more honest than most about who she liked and didn't like from her time on Corrie and she talks openly about the rising workload that the extra episodes brought, leaving many of the cast exhausted. I've always agreed that there are too many episodes a week because of the stupid ratings war. When you watch Corrie from the 1970's the quality is great because there were only two episodes a week. Once they started with four episodes I think many great characters vanished because there was too much stress on the actors. Amanda also talks about her exit from her show and her anger over the storyline. She gave the management notice so that they could construct a good exit but believes it was rushed and medically unrealistic. She also objected to trying to give Alma a romance as she fought cancer. It was interesting to get that insight into the clash between the actress and the producers and scriptwriters.

I also enjoyed a lot of things in the book like the tour of South Africa that she did with her husband in Cabaret. The numbers of ways that she annoyed the Apartheid Government amused me and the efforts she went to in order to do a secret show for a black only audience was great. I really admire a lot of what she has done in her life.

This was a fascinating book on so many levels.
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