From Blackadder to Call the Midwife, from PG Tips to Harry Potter, this is (at last) Miriam Margolyes extraordinary life story, and it’s well worth the wait.
BAFTA award-winning actor Miriam Margolyes, OBE, is Britain’s favourite (and naughtiest) treasure. She has been the voice of everything, from Monkey to the Cadbury’s Caramel Rabbit, and has brought to life a myriad of unforgettable characters from Lady Whiteadder to Professor Sprout. Now, at the age of eighty, she has finally decided to tell her extraordinary life story.
Find out how being conceived in an air-raid gave her curly hair; what pranks led to her being known as the naughtiest girl Oxford High School ever had; how she ended up posing nude for Augustus John as a teenager; why Bob Monkhouse was the best (male) kiss she’s ever had; and what happened next after Warren Beatty asked ‘Do you fuck?’
With a cast list stretching from Scorsese to Streisand, a cross-dressing Leonardo di Caprio to Isaiah Berlin, This Much Is True is as warm and honest, as full of life and surprises, as its inimitable author.
I picked this up because I needed to read something different, and it’s certainly that. It’s also laugh-out-loud hilarious and will have you cheering on Margolyes for her absolute audacity. It’s written as though you’re sitting down for tea – or a few gins – with a masterful storyteller. Margolyes weaves a riveting tale into this or, more accurately, multiple tales, and as she points out, those the lawyers allowed her to retain.
From declaring her love to Vanessa Redgrave to being told to be quiet by the Queen, this book is packed with brilliant, hilarious stories. But it also has incredible heart and intelligence. It’s the story of a woman who has fought systems, and labels, and misogyny (oh the Monty Python crew) and homophobia her entire life, but with an old school attitude that in these politically correct times is incredibly refreshing. She doesn’t diminish the road bumps in life, but with the wisdom of age, sees them for the entertainment they are.
Another special layer to this book is her relationship with her long-term Australian partner Heather. Their relationship, while not secret, has remained private. Margolyes deep love for her partner of over fifty years shines through here.
The highlight for me was her theatre stories; the actors she worked with, the productions she worked on, the incredibly colourful vagabond life that these artists lead. From her days at Cambridge to Broadway and her life on the road with shows such as Fiddler on the Roof, these chapters are a gossip fest of famous actors, theatrical legends, and work anecdotes.
Stephen Fry says on the cover: ‘There is no one on earth quite so wonderful.’ I’d have to agree. I had the best time with this book – two nights of pure and utter entertainment. Margolyes writes: ‘From the very beginning, I always wanted to connect with people using language and humour and naughtiness. I hope people will like me, but if they don’t, I want them to notice me.’ It’s impossible to not like her. This Much is True is a rollicking read.