Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be

The Life Of Lionel Bart

by David and Caroline Stafford

BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, shortlisted for the Sheridan Morley Award, adapted as the BBC 4 TV documentary, Reviewing the Situation, produced by John Wyver and directed by Mick Conefrey.

 .. charts the extraordinary rise and fall of the man who wrote Rock With The Caveman for Tommy Steele, Living Doll for Cliff Richard, From Russia With Love for James Bond and, of course, Oliver!. He was mates with every taxi driver in London as well as the Beatles, Judy Garland, Alma Cogan, Noel Coward and Royalty. At one point his earnings were those of a small country, but one devastating flop and several personal crises plunged him into bankruptcy and alcoholism. He survived, just, and, thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous and the kindness of friends, enjoyed a modest bounce back in his last few years. Greek tragedy, then, but with tighter trousers.

“... tells it rivetingly ..." The Jewish Chronicle"... like being taken by the hand and led through his life in a Viennese waltz ..." Victor Spinetti


Cupid Stunts

The Life and Radio Times of Kenny Everett

by David and Caroline Stafford

Kenny Everett was a wireless wizard.   His genius for making magic happen in the speaker of a transistor has never been equalled.   He was in at the birth of no less than four major radio stations, three of which fired him.   Then he reinvented television and became one of the nation’s best-loved entertainers and the scourge of the wholesome.   Happily and heterosexually married for eleven years, he eventually came out and had the best of times in the best of clubs - heartbreakingly at the exact moment that HIV/AIDS came to stay.   David and Caroline Stafford’s hugely entertaining book is an exuberant celebration of radio and passion.


Halfway To Paradise - 

The Life of Billy Fury

by David and Caroline Stafford

"There's only ever been two English rock 'n' roll singers," Ian Dury said, "Johnny Rotten and Billy Fury." 

Billy's combination of beauty, sex, innocence, talent, charisma and vulnerability has never been matched. The Sound of Fury, his first LP, is still widely revered as the best British rock'n'roll record ever made.

When he first appeared on TV, a generation of teenagers found true love, and his post-rock'n'roll heartbreak ballads were the essential soundtrack to adolescent angst. In 1973, he was brought out of semi-retirement to play Stormy Tempest - to some extent a parody of himself - in the movie That'll Be The Day. The magic rose above the parody. He never knew how not to be magnificent.

Billy Fury was a key figure on that watershed between post-war privations and sixties excess. He knew everybody, auditioned the Beatles to be his backing band, met and outhandsomed Elvis, partied with Keith Moon and hosted acid parties. Yet, throughout the mayhem, he always remained true to himself- diffident and amused.


Maybe I’m Doing It Wrong

The Life and Music of Randy Newman

by David and Caroline Stafford

A delightful saunter through the life and works, with tasting notes, facts, figures, diversions, anecdotes, asides and initially baffling but ultimately rewarding irrelevancies.

“‘Lucinda’ is a death song, sung by the qirl’s bereaved boyfriend. The doomed Lucinda, having celebrated her graduation perhaps a little too much, lies down on the beach and gets, literally, swept away by the beach-cleaning machine.

‘It actually happened,’ Randy said, ‘A girl got run over by a beach cleaning truck at the beach I used to go to.’

The song is one of Bob Dylan’s favourites. Bob showed up at one of Randy’s early live shows and came backstage afterwards. The two exchanged compliments. Bob mentioned he was thinking of relocating. ‘I’m thinking of moving out to California,’ he said. ‘That song about the beach cleaning ... do you think I could write a song like that?’”


Big Time - The Life of Adam Faith

by David and Caroline Stafford

Though his vocal talents were limited, he enjoyed an unprecedented run of seven top five hits. His chiselled features were a gift to TV (then a new medium). Fans swooned each time he smiled, heavyweight journalists saw him as the 'Spokesman for British Youth' and his sexual adventures were the stuff of legend.

When The Beatles rendered his style of pop obsolete, Adam turned TV actor. As Budgie, the hapless Soho chancer, he played the character he might have become in life had it not been for his steely ambition and boundless energy.

Then he reinvented himself again as a manager, famously guiding Leo Sayer to international stardom before becoming a financial guru who made and lost several fortunes - not always his own.

Terry Nelhams never quite got used to being Adam Faith and saw his alter ego as having something of an independent existence.

“Being Adam is like playing a part in a film,” he said. “On the whole I prefer being Adam.”


Alexei Sayle's Great Bus

Journeys of the World

by Alexei Sayle and David Stafford

A 1983 classic. At one level it’s a collection of the columns they wrote for Time Out magazine, at another level it’s a kind of eel. It features talking bears, frightening dream-wolves, an eel who is afraid of gas, a man who hides in a lasagne, the misprint library’s edition of the Dairy Of Anne Frank, great tips for wannabe comedy writers and wannabe Mark Knopflers and a nice song about Doris Lessing. There’s also some stuff about buses and some other stuff about eels. Time Out eventually fired Alexei and David for writing too much stuff about eels.

Gratifyingly, it's still in print.

... enough with the stuff about eels all the time ...” Time Out
Alexei's surreal style meets Dave's utterly out-of-the-box insanity to produce something which will leave you with buckets of tears pooling around your shoes.” Amazon
... all of it is good and some near genius ...” Miles Kington