Jack Rosenthal had always resisted writing an autobiography,
until he hit on an original way of writing it: it would be
as a screenplay, with himself as the central character, the
storyline that of his own life, the supporting cast drawn
from the many wonderful and sometimes eccentric people who
touched, shaped and shared that life.
Rosenthal's Last Act was originally broadcast as four
thirty-minute transmissions on Radio 4, and is an adaptation
of the screenplay published by Robson Books. It also features
Rosenthal's wife, Maureen Lipman, playing herself.
Rosenthal was the author of Bar Mitzvah Boy, The
Evacuees, London's Burning, The Knowledge
and P'tang Yang, Kipperbang, a writer who uniquely
won three successive BAFTA Awards. In this 2-dics CD collection,
the story moves from Manchester in the '30s - via school,
evacuation, university, the navy, the early days of Granada
TV (he wrote 129 pioneering episodes of Coronation Street),
the Busby Boys, marriage and life with Lipman, fatherhood,
writing the famous plays, working with Barbra Streisand -
to Muswell Hill in the '90s.
are so many important things that shaped his life and career.
These include the Munich air disaster of February 1958 that
claimed the lives of the Manchester United football team -
nicknamed the Busby Boys - along with a number of supporters
also examines the fact that Tony Warren, Coronation Street's
creator, was Rosenthal's replacement at Granada. Rosenthal
makes a decision that changes his career, when he rings Warren
the day after the first episode of Coronation Street
is broadcast. Warren has only written 13 episodes and Granada
think it may run beyond this. Warren asks Rosenthal if he
fancies writing some episodes.
also get a glimpse of his first marriage disastrous marriage
to Maxine. In a great comedy twist, Rosenthal doesn't really
concentrate much on her, and so simply describes her as out
of focus and blurry, like a not very important character in
a book. He never did get to the bottom of whether Maxine had
a quick affair with an old army friend of his.
are also great comedy moments, including his meeting with
Michael Winner, where he is embarrassed to be pitching a movie
off the top of his head and his
first meeting with Lipman. There is a great story that Lipman
tells where she played a practical joke with Rosenthal's crossword
while he slept on a plane journey.
explains how he was, for six months, Coronation Street's
reluctant producer in late '60s. And, how he was responsible
for ensuring that the wedding of Elsie Tanner and her US master
sergeant went ahead. Apparently Pat Phoenix didn't want to
go through with it at the last minute.
is also a great story about how he ended up accidentally sneaking
into bed with Lipman's father and, thinking it was Lipman,
giving him a quick cuddle and a kiss. There's also the nightmare
with Barbra Streisand, and his ABC meeting where he has enough
of the bullsh*t and tells them he only "does elbows"
in a bid to quickly get out of the meeting. This nonsensical
phrase is picked up by the TV executive who goes crazy and
offers Rosenthal's agent any fee if he will "do elbows"
in a project with them.
start to finish, this is an entertaining collection. Whether
you knew of Rosenthal before, or have never heard his name
before (I'm sure there are some people out there) you'll love
this touching tale as told in his, and Lipman's, own inimitable
wraps things up on a high - and no doubt in the way Rosenthal
would have wanted to be remembered. With a great joke, that
Rosenthal told her when he was close to death, they leave