Hearing an autobiography read by its author adds an authenticity that’s difficult to achieve otherwise.
Paul Darrow regales us with stories of his life, both personal and professional. Here is a man who has spent more than 40 years in film, television and theatre, but whose entire career is defined by the 4 seasons he spent playing Kerr Avon on the TV series Blake’s 7 (1978 – 1981).
It is one thing to be typecast, which he is, but it is another, much rarer accolade to be defined by a single role. More so, because he’s performed in everything from Shakespeare to farce and was once considered for James Bond.
Paul Darrow’s autobiography acknowledges and relishes his typecasting, while elaborating on his early life and career. What’s most extraordinary about You’re Him, Aren’t You? is that he refuses to dish the goss. He remains respectful of everyone he mentions and, where he does have a bit of dirt to share, he tells it anecdotally, refusing to identity anyone in particular.
Like his defining role, Darrow is full of dry wit with a sharp delivery that’s highly amusing. He name-drops frequently, having spent many a time with people at the top of their field. He talks about his early influences, his school life, and his other roles, including as an Elvis Presley impersonator. Acknowledging that most listeners would be fans of Blake’s 7, he then proceeds to break down every episode with behind-the-scenes stories, absurd plot holes, character developments and casting decisions. He discusses the loss of the show’s title character after season 2 and muses about the lost opportunity for a television spin-off.
The revival of Blake’s 7 in a range of audio dramas and enhanced book readings by Big Finish Productions has allowed Darrow to return to playing Avon alongside other former cast members. His gratitude to these kinds of opportunities and to the loyalty of his fans is expressed throughout the audiobook, demonstrating a down-to-Earth sincerity that almost comes as a surprise given that Darrow is one of the defining science-fiction actors of our generation.
The audiobook of You’re Him, Aren’t You? was released in August this year, and is an update of the original 2006 printed book. The reading is directed by Lisa Bowerman and released as a 7 CD set or digital download.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 9
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
Release Date: August 2016
RRP: $26.14 CD, $12 digital download