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

Suzie Eisfelder
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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.


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