Paperback, 352 Pages, Published 2000

ISBN 9780099406419
0099406411 | 0-09-940641-1 | 978-0099406419 | 978-0-09-940641-9

Michael Crawford is one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers, with roles as varied as the hapless accident-prone Frank Spencer in the 1970s sitcom Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em, and the menacing creature of the night in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1980s smash-hit musical The Phantom of the Opera. It’s hard to believe that the ever-youthful thespian has been in the profession for over 40 years, when a lead role in the school production led him swiftly to become a fully-fledged teenage actor. Parcel Arrived Safely: Tied With String (the unusual title refers to the telegram announcing his birth) is Crawford’s warm, engaging autobiography, from the early years with his mother and grandmother (“from the very beginning there didn’t seem to be a time when I wasn’t surrounded by women”), to the hard slog of stage work and film acclaim in the 1960s with A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, How I Won The War, and The Jokers to name but a few.But it is three very different roles that made Crawford’s name and for which he will be best remembered: the classic comedy of idiotic Frank Spencer, black beret set jauntily at an angle as he finds himself caught up in yet another hair-raising adventure (it comes as no surprise that Crawford, a true professional, did all his own stunts), the unicycling showman of Barnum (another gruelling physical schedule), and the masked misfit who just wants to be loved in the phenomenally successful stage version of The Phantom of the Opera, which revealed Crawford’s tireless energy as a performer and showcased his powerful singing voice. Parcel Arrived Safely is an unselfconscious, generous memoir, full of hilarious anecdotes and starstruck encounters. It provides an excellent overview of growing up in post-war suburbia and of British comedy in the 1960s and 70s, and above all Crawford shows that his stability and focus come from the support of his late mother and grandmother, his ex-wife and their two daughters. “My mother used to tell me I had St Vitus’s dance” he writes, “the truth is I was hyperactive, always running, always busy, taking things apart, putting them together; always imagining and inventing; endlessly competing, challenging, and questioning.” What better way to describe Michael Crawford. –Catherine Taylor

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