Is There Life Outside the Box?: An Actor Despairs – Peter Davison

Is There Life Outside the Box?: An Actor Despairs – Peter DavisonIs There Life Outside the Box: An Actor Despairs by Peter Davison
Published by John Blake on November 1st 2017
Pages: 288

His fans have spoken, but despite their requests, Peter Davison has gone ahead and written his autobiography anyway. It wasn’t the book they tried to stop – it was more like the book they didn’t want him to start. Despite displaying unspectacular scientific aptitude at school – he even managed to fail CSE woodwork, eliciting a lament from his astonished teacher ("All you have to do is recognise wood!") – Peter has secured his place in science fiction history, becoming the fifth Doctor Who, although he nearly turned down the role. The Time Lord connection continued with the marriage of his daughter Georgia to Dr Who number ten, David Tennant.The artist formerly known as Peter Malcolm Gordon Moffett has also starred in a number of television series including Love for Lydia, A Very Peculiar Practice, At Home with the Braithwaites and The Last Detective and became a national treasure for having his arm up a cow in his role as Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small. He was also in a Michael Winner movie…He made his first tentative steps on stage in true am-dram style, but the Byfleet Players’ loss was the West End’s gain, after appearing in Legally Blonde, Chicago, Spamalot and the record-breaking Gypsy, where he rubbed shoulders backstage with Dames Meryl Streep, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench – all asking for directions to Imelda Staunton’s dressing room. One thing is for sure: of all the British screen and stage actors of the last fifty years, Peter Davison is certainly one of them and, within these pages, intrepid readers will at last have the dubious honour of sharing in his life and times – as he despairs over whether there truly ever can be life outside the box.

My inner fangirl started screaming the moment I saw this book, I absolutely had to have it. I then promptly loaned it to my sister and forgot about it. Thank goodness she’s honest and gave it back…eventually.

I first remember seeing Peter Davison on All Creatures Great and Small, then again on a strange programme called A Very Peculiar Practice, and then again on At Home With the Braithwaites. At some stage he also played Doctor Who.

On All Creatures Great and Small he appeared with two lovely ladies who both played the same wife of James Herriot. Why did two people play the same person? I forget, I could ask the first actress as I’ve managed to friend her on Facebook, every so often I have another fangirl moment while reading her stuff or chatting with her. Carol Drinkwater is the same lovely Helen Herriot she played on All Creatures.

Davison came across the second lady who also played Helen Herriot while working on At Home With The Braithwaites. Lynda Bellingham played a very different Helen Herriot to Carol Drinkwater. In The Braithwaites she played a supporting role as an accountant. It’s an odd series, but I quite enjoyed it.

Another odd series was A Very Peculiar Practice. Davison was working opposite David Troughton, you might know him as the son of the second Doctor Who, Patrick Troughton. Both father and son are excellent actors, if you see either of them in anything I suggest you watch. But, also in A Very Peculiar Practice we see Graham Crowden. Who is Graham Crowden you ask? He was Mustrum Ridcully’s voice in Soul Music in 1997 as well as being in Doctor Who in 1979/1980.

This book is everything I wanted in a book by Peter Davison. It has colour, movement and namedropping. It has fabulous stories and times where I couldn’t put the book down i.e. most of the book. And with a Foreword by David Tennant what could go wrong? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

What you get in this book is lots of anecdotes of the past interspersed with little snippets of the present. At one stage Davison tells us how he’d written some songs and been offered a recording contract…twice. And with the suggestion that one of his songs would be offered to Frank Sinatra you might consider he had it made. He turned them down. Apparently his kids were apoplectic at the idea that they could have had been rich had he accepted. As Davison says ‘It’s nice to be appreciated by your children, even if they only appreciate what an idiot you are.’ And that gives you some idea of the writing style.

He got a job with Inland Revenue at one point. When applying for a temporary job he listed the GCE exams he’d taken rather than the ones he had actually passed. When Davison was considering applying for a permanent job there he found they wanted the actual certificates. And herein lies the problem, you can’t provide certificates for exams you haven’t passed. He didn’t apply for a permanent position.

In case you’re still interested, and want to actually read this book, which probably covers most of you by now here is a link to Booktopia where you can buy it. I thoroughly enjoyed the name dropping, the anecdotes about how he got this job or how he coped with another job and how he felt between jobs. This book highlights absolutely all the reasons why I don’t want to join the acting profession.