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Audio Book Review

Book Cover

Anneke Wills: Self Portrait


Author: Anneke Wills
Read by: Anneke Wills
BBC Audio
RRP: £13.99
ISBN: 978 1 4056 8881 9
Available 12 June 2008

Anneke Wills was born on 20th October 1941, blessed and cursed with an extraordinary life; she lived at the hub of sixties swinging London, meeting, dating and marrying. She is best known for portraying the roles of Polly in Doctor Who (acting opposite William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton) and Evelyn McLean in The Strange Report. Wills has published the first volume of her autobiography, Self Portrait, which is now released as an abridged audio version, read by the author herself...

Anneke Wills: Self Portrait is a two CD set which covers Wills life from birth to the end of the sixties and what a life she has had. She dated Daphne du Maurier’s son Kits, as well as Edward Fox and Anthony Newly, a relationship which only ended after his affair with Joan Collins. She eventually married Michael Gough, a well respected actor who would appear in Doctor Who as the Celestial Toymaker opposite Patrick Troughton. Along the way she seems to have met and made friends with pretty much everyone who was anyone in the sixties.

One of the things which came across in her autobiography is the brutal honesty with which she describes her experiences - from her abortion, her hatred of her stepfather and her relationships in which she has been, at times, the betrayed and the betrayer.  For this reason her story  is much more than a Who cash in, in fact out of the whole two hours and twenty minutes her involvement on Who takes up little of the time.  

There are a few times when the narration feels like a list of famous people, but not often, but I’d guess that this is a problem of the abridged version which is unlikely to exist in her book. That said, in this fascinating story her acting career is often less interesting than what was happening in her personal life, much of which was at the heart of the wave of freedom and hedonism which swept London in the sixties. Her personal recollections do more to give you an idea of what it was like to be a woman at that time - including the contradictions of a supposedly liberal culture which would still ruin the career of an unmarried mother - all fascinating stuff from a historical perspective.

In the end both the book, and the audio book, are well worth investigating in, not because of her connection with Who or the various famous people she knew, but to hear an honest account of her life read with humour, pathos and more importantly heart. I will defiantly be looking forward to the second volume when it is published.


Charles Packer

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