Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment by Louis Barfe

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Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment by Louis Barfe

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Category: Entertainment
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A detailed and engaging history of light entertainment. It's an enjoyable read, ideal for any fan of the genre, and is packed with information. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Atlantic Books
ISBN: 978-1843543817

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Light entertainment is often looked down upon, as if it's a bit naff, tepid and ignorable. What's often forgotten is that it's hugely popular, enjoyable and much of it is of the highest quality. Louis Barfe's Turned Out Nice Again tells the complete story of British light entertainment.

It's an exhaustive but not exhausting history. It picks you up at the Canterbury Arms in Lambeth on 17 May 1852, and takes you through the music halls and the births of radio and television. It builds to the undeniable highpoint of Morecambe and Wise's 1977 Christmas show, then continues through to the present day, depositing you in front of the box on a Saturday night, as Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor reel in millions of viewers.

It's clearly written by a fan, who fully understands both his subject matter and his audience. It's certainly no hagiography, but the smiles and charm of light entertainment are on full show, rather than the modern sneering that would be all too easy. It's a warm and comforting retrospective - the sort of book you might get for a father, uncle or granddad as a Christmas present.

Turned Out Nice Again covers the careers of hundreds of entertainers and producers, but it never feels like a dry Who's Who. There's a real story to be told - that of light entertainment in general. Even though there are times when you wish you could hear a little more about some people, in retrospect, the level of detail is ideal. It's complete, but never gets bogged down. Everything flows beautifully, and as the decades roll past, you get a great feel for the progression of the industry. There's also an extensive bibliography with fine suggestions for further reading for those times when you really do want to find out even more.

And after all that, let's not forget that Turned Out Nice Again is great fun too. It's full of amusing stories and anecdotes, from both familiar and historically-significant names. They go a long way to setting the mood of the book: one might expect them to be a few luvvies recounting the good ol' days over a round of golf, but they're more elucidating and significant than that. Yes, aspects of luvviedom do (appropriately) creep in, but the tales are smartly chosen and the real focus is on telling the history of entertainment. That, in itself, is greatly entertaining. Recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

Bounder!: The Biography of Terry-Thomas by Graham McCann is also an enjoyable read. Telly addicts will love The Penguin TV Companion by Jeff Evans.

Buy Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment by Louis Barfe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment by Louis Barfe at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment by Louis Barfe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment by Louis Barfe at Amazon.com.

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