20 January 2022, The Tablet

Speed reading: Marcus Tanner on laughter and life lessons


Whatever happened to the old-style comedians who laughed on stage – and only cried once off? Today’s comedians seem a more grounded lot. In And Away … The Autobiography (Gallery, £20; Tablet price £18), national treasure Bob Mortimer recalls a happy start to life in Middlesbrough, playing footie and hanging out with best mate Scagsy before transiting to university and a job in law. After a chance encounter with comic newbie Vic Reeves in a London pub, he gives stand-up a go. Before you know it, Michael Grade is in the audience and the rest is TV history. A near-death experience in 2015, from heart trouble, adds a frisson to an otherwise heart-warming tale.

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