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Audio Book Review


Noël Coward
An Audio Biography


Written by: Sheridan Morley
Narrator: Sheridan Morley
BBC Audio
RRP: £15.99
ISBN: 978 1 4084 0074 6
Available 14 August 2008

Playwright, actor, singer, songwriter, poet and scriptwriter, Sir Noël Coward used his 'talent to amuse' to spectacular effect for almost sixty years. Sir Laurence Olivier, Lord Mountbatten and Joyce Carey are just some of the voices heard paying tribute to the elegant star in this audio biography which is linked by the broadcaster and critic Sheridan Morley. Extracts from interviews with Coward himself, several of his songs and moments from his plays come together to form a fascinating picture of one of the twentieth century's theatre greats...

Noël Coward: An Audio Biography was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 2 under the title The Life and Times of Sir Noël Coward between 29 June and 21 September 1975 - just two years after Coward's death.

Charting Coward's entire life story, Sheridan Morley (who sadly passed away himself in 2007) provides the linking narration between archive interviews with Coward and numerous people who worked with him. For the casual listener this will prove enlightening, as it's surprising how much of Coward's work you will be aware of even if you didn't know he was the force behind them. Also those who know Coward's life inside out will find much here of interest as there are numerous archive recordings of performances as well as Coward's thoughts on life.

His wit and satirical nature also got him into trouble forcing the BBC to ban his song "Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans" during World War II, after listeners complained about it.

The one aspect I wasn't impressed with was the awful linking music, which sounded like '80s demo music from a kid's electronic keyboard.

Those who are fans of Coward's work will be crazy not to add this to their collection.


Nick Smithson

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