Although I’ve really enjoyed a healthy amount of the work of Bob Mortimer over the years I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this best-selling autobiography if it had not been for his appearances on BBC TV’s “Would I Lie To You”. I came to this series quite late and have been watching catch-up earlier editions almost daily throughout this summer, and one thing I’ve learnt, is that if Bob Mortimer is a guest you are in for a treat. His anecdotes on incidents of his life (not always true as that is the nature of the game but usually so) made me want to find out more.
Some of these anecdotes make it to the book and are very representative of the life of Bob Mortimer. Born in Middlesbrough in 1959 we get a childhood shadowed by the early loss of his dad, his eventual decision to become a solicitor until an invitation to see a comedy show at a South London pub introduced him to Vic Reeves and in the fullness of time led him to being one half (although he wouldn’t credit himself with an equal fraction) of one of the best-loved comedy duos of our time.
I think those “WILTY” guest spots where Bob allows himself to shine through and his downbeat fishing shows with Paul Whitehouse were significant in the germination of this book but central to it is his 2015 quadruple heart-bypass and recovery. Alongside this narrative thread which continues for most of the book is the chronological tale of Bob’s life.
The latent hypochondriac in me found the health stuff unsettling and I might not have chosen to read this had I known it was so central but we know that this has a happy ending and the Bob who recovers is a person more at ease with himself. For much it is a tale of chronic shyness, of not fitting in, of undervaluing achievements (Who knew that his acting in the BBCTV reboot of “Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) caused him such anxieties?) and yet coming much closer to calm, even a wisdom in his present life (well a wisdom that gets him to share; “As you age do not fear the elasticated waistband; it can be a good friend”).
His acknowledgement of the importance of comedy partner Jim Moir (Vic Reeves) is also central and it is here that the laugh out loud moments (not as many as I was expecting) tended to come. There’s a good balance of the career and personal life which is something I always appreciate in a biography.
I really enjoyed spending time with Bob Mortimer and despite his self-effacing nature I felt he shared so well and I got a good understanding of him professionally and as a person. You don’t get that in many celebrity autobiographies. I’m delighted this book has been such a success.
And Away was published in 2021 by Simon & Schuster. The paperback edition is now available.