Graham McCann - Author

About the Author

Graham McCann is the most trusted and admired entertainment writer working in the UK today. He is the critically acclaimed and best-selling author of books on Dad's Army, Fawlty Towers, Frankie Howerd, Cary Grant, Spike Milligan, Terry-Thomas, Woody Allen, John Le Mesurier, Morecambe and Wise, and Marilyn Monroe. He also writes regularly on politics and culture for a wide range of publications.

Featured books by Graham McCann

Other books by Graham McCann

A Very Courageous Decision The Inside Story of Yes Minister

A Very Courageous Decision The Inside Story of Yes Minister

Author: Graham McCann Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/01/2015

The behind - the - scenes story of one of the most successful and admired sitcoms of the 1980s In 1977 the BBC commissioned a new satirical sitcom set in Whitehall. Production of its first series was stalled, however, by the death throes of Jim Callaghan's Labour government and the 'Winter of Discontent'; Auntie being unwilling to broadcast such an overtly political comedy until after the general election of 1979. That Yes Minister should have been delayed by the very events that helped bring Margaret Thatcher to power is, perhaps, fitting. Over three series from 1980 - and two more as Yes, Prime Minister until 1988 - the show mercilessly lampooned the vanity, self - interest and incompetence of our so - called public servants, making its hapless minister Jim Hacker and his scheming Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey two of the most memorable characters British comedy has ever produced. The new prime minister professed it her favourite television programme - a 'textbook' on the State in inaction - and millions of British viewers agreed. In the years since Yes Minister has become a national treasure: Sir Humphrey's slippery circumlocutions have entered the lexicon, regularly quoted by political commentators, and the series' cynical vision of government seems as credible now as it did thirty years ago. Much of this success can be credited to its writers, Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, who drew on their contacts in Westminster to rework genuine political folly as situation comedy. Storylines that seemed absurd to the public were often rooted in actual events - so much so that they occasionally attracted the scrutiny of Whitehall mandarins. In A Very Courageous Decision acclaimed entertainment historian Graham McCann goes in search of the real political fiascos that inspired Yes Minister. Drawing on fresh interviews with cast, crew, politicians and admirers, he reveals how a subversive satire captured the mood of its time to become one of the most cherished sitcoms of Thatcher's Britain.

Still Open All Hours The Story of a Classic Comedy

Still Open All Hours The Story of a Classic Comedy

Author: Graham McCann Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/10/2014

From its first episode in 1973, Open All Hours was an instant hit. Audiences around Britain loved its familiar setting, good natured humour, and the hilarious partnership of Ronnie Barker and David Jason. Whilst it only ran for 26 episodes, it firmly cemented itself as a British comedy classic. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the show in 2014, the BBC revived it for a one-off Christmas Special. Still Open All Hours was swamped by a tsunami of audience affection and the BBC promptly commissioned a full series. The first episode of the fifth series is expected to air in late 2014. With recollections from David Jason, his fellow cast members, and from the scriptwriter Roy Clarke, plus never before seen BBC archive material, acclaimed popular TV historian Graham McCann tells the inside story of this very British sitcom, with wit, insight and affection.

Do You Think That's Wise...? The Life of John Le Mesurier

Do You Think That's Wise...? The Life of John Le Mesurier

Author: Graham McCann Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/05/2012

Best known for Dad's Army, in which his Sergeant Wilson played the languid, rakish foil to Arthur Lowe's pompous, chippy Captain Mainwaring, John Le Mesurier was one of Britain's favourite and most recognisable character actors. The epitome of insouciance and languor on screen, in real life this charming, quietly-spoken bon viveur was plagued by private turmoil and heartbreak. Married three times, he saw his first wife succumb to alcoholism, his second - the comedy diva Hattie Jacques - move her lover into the family home, and his third enjoy a passionate dalliance with troubled comic Tony Hancock. As Graham McCann reveals in this fully authorised and moving biography, as an actor John Le Mesurier was a key ingredient in the success of Britain's greatest sitcom, but as a man he was far more courageous than Sergeant Wilson was ever meant to be.

Cary Grant

Cary Grant

Author: Graham McCann Format: eBook Release Date: 28/03/2012

For two moviegoing generations, Cary Grant was class-an effortless embodiment of gentlemanly grace and humor. But Cary Grant's greatest achievement was in creating himself and the irresistible character he became. In this savvy, fascinating portrait, McCann tracks the transformation of a life and looks closely at the sources of Cary Grant's charms, which did not come easily. Generously filled with anecdotes about fellow actors and directors, a realistic portrait of a complicated man emerges. And although Grant was criticized for remaining in Hollywood during World War II, it now seems that he may have worked as a special agent for British Intelligence: in 1947, Grant was awarded the King's Medal for Service in the Cause for Freedom, an honor that was not made public at the time. One of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men, Cary Grant was named one of the greatest male stars of all time by the American Film Institute. This biography yields a new appreciation of his work and his persona, which was at once familiar, yet always enigmatic, even to those who knew him best.

Bounder! The Biography of Terry-Thomas

Bounder! The Biography of Terry-Thomas

Author: Graham McCann Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/09/2009

With his sly little moustache, broad gap-toothed grin, garish waistcoats and ostentatious cigarette holder, Terry-Thomas was known as an absolute bounder, both onscreen and off. Graham McCann's hugely entertaining biography celebrates the life and career of a very English rascal. Born in 1911 into an ordinary suburban family, Thomas Terry Hoar-Stevens set about transforming himself at a very early age into a dandy and a gadabout. But he did not put the finishing touches to his persona until the mid-1950s with his groundbreaking TV comedy series How Do You View?, a forerunner of The Goon Show and Monty Python. Terry-Thomas went on to carve out a long and lucrative career in America, appearing on TV alongside Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Lucille Ball, and in Hollywood movies with Jack Lemmon, Rock Hudson and Doris Day. He became every American's idea of a mischievous English gent. After a long battle with Parkinson's disease, he died in 1990 in comparative obscurity, but his influence lives on. Basil Brush was a polyester tribute to Terry-Thomas, and comedians including Vic Reeves and Paul Whitehouse hail T-T as a role model. 'Dandyism is the product of a bored society,' D'Aurevilly observed. Terry-Thomas cocked a snook at the dull sobriety of post-war Britain with his sly humour. As he would say himself: 'Good show!'

Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers

Author: Graham McCann Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/08/2008

Fawlty Towers was only on our screens for 12 half-hour episodes, but it has stayed in our lives ever since. The Major; 'Don't mention the war!'; 'He's from Barcelona'; Basil the Rat - everyone has a favourite line, moment or character. In this, the first biography of the show, Graham McCann holds up to the light each of the unpredictable elements - the demented brilliance of John Cleese, his creative partnership with Connie Booth - that added up to an immortal sitcom, beloved all over the world, even in Barcelona.

Spike & Co

Spike & Co

Author: Graham McCann Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/08/2007

This is the story of how four people, grouped together inside a set of offices five floors above a greengrocer's shop on Shepherd's Bush Green in West London, launched a golden age of British comedy. On any weekday morning, if you dared to clamber over the crates of fruit and veg outside on the pavement, and climb the five flights of stairs to Associated London Scripts, you would find Milligan, Sykes, Galton & Simpson, shaping the latest shows, swapping the odd story and searching for a funnier line. Together, this eclectic bunch, and their bizarre office block, were responsible for a golden age in British comedy, which included The Goons, Hancock's Half Hour, Sykes, Steptoe and Son, Comedy Playhouse, The Frankie Howerd Show, Beyond Our Ken, Round the Horn, The Arthur Haynes Show, The Army Game, Bootsie and Snudge, That Was The Week That Was, and Till Death Us Do Part. SPIKE & CO is their incredible story.

The Essential Dave Allen

The Essential Dave Allen

Author: Graham McCann Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/07/2006

When Dave Allen passed away in March 2005, we lost a true comedy great. Sitting cross-legged on a high stool, whiskey in one hand, cigarette in the other, Dave Allen's exasperated commentaries on the absurdities of modern life struck a chord with millions of fans in Britain, Ireland and Australia for over four decades. He was a compelling storyteller - able to spin shaggy dog stories out of the almost any subject, including the missing tip of his fourth finger of his left hand, for which he provided various unlikely explanations. But his gentle, laconic wit could also give way to ferocious attacks on the media, the state and, most famously, the Catholic Church. He was a unique talent - a comic who could make his audiences laugh, cry, and be shocked, all in one. This official celebration of Dave Allen's comedy has been drawn together by Graham McCann - Britain's best-loved entertainment writer. It is a treasure trove of stories, stand-up routines, sketches, interviews and photos, which takes us on a journey from the cradle to the grave. It will delight Dave Allen's million of fans, old and new alike. 'Dave Allen was our greatest storyteller and nobody ever came close to his ability to spin a yarn. He was unique, right up there with the greats.' Jack Dee

Dad's Army The Story of a Very British Comedy

Dad's Army The Story of a Very British Comedy

Author: Graham McCann Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2002

The story of the greatest British sit-com and its enduring appeal. When we laugh at Dad's Army we laugh at ourselves, and nearly fifty years after it was first broadcast, millions of us are still laughing - whenever and wherever it is repeated. With contributions from the people who planned, produced and performed the programme, and material drawn from the BBC archives, acclaimed author Graham McCann has written the definitive story of a very British comedy.

Cary Grant A Class Apart

Cary Grant A Class Apart

Author: Graham McCann Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/1998

Woody Allen New Yorker

Woody Allen New Yorker

Author: Graham McCann Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/11/1990

This book is the first detailed study of Woody Allena s life and work, and an original attempt to locate Allena s work in the great tradition of American popular culture. It explores that inimitable New York Jewish voice in the themes, dreams, hopes and hidden meanings of Allena s urban humour, with countless examples of Allena s own hilarious comic lines.

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http://grahammccann.co.uk

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