WHAT WE ARE READING: Going off Alarming by Danny Baker

Review published on December 21, 2015.

As a long-standing fan of Mr Baker’s approach to audience engagement on his radio shows I picked up volume 2 of his autobiography in my local library. This was entirely on impulse as I’d not even seen volume one, but no matter. My only trepidation was ‘what if his writing wasn’t as impressive as his command of language on the airwaves?’

For those who have yet to encounter his Radio 5 Live show on Saturday mornings, I can commend most highly his incredible memory, quick wit and ability to empathise with his listeners as he draws from them laugh out loud and often embarrassing admissions – theirs and his.

But he writes like he talks, with an honesty and understanding of human mores and fallibilities, including his own. For a middle-class reader brought up on the need for financial prudence it is sometimes difficult not to shudder at the care-free way he sails through a career not short of lows as well as highs. Family is all, and if there’s an opportunity to indulge them then it shall be and he’ll worry about the consequences on his return – but probably not then either.

I remember listening to him explain to Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs his belief that something will always turn up. Add to that a general moan about the way TV and radio has become more and more risk-averse plus the importance of his father in his youth and you have a true original. Peter Kay recently essayed the role of Fred/Spud in the televising of Cradle to the Grave, evidencing an ability to see financial self-improvement in virtually every encounter with other humans and, from what appears on the page, probably underplaying it.

They say you should never meet your heroes and I suspect if I did I would be poor company for such an effervescent character as Danny Baker but I’d give it a shot. Now, I wonder if the library’s got volume 1?

Guy Pringle, December 2015
Personal 5
Group 1

Going off Alarming by Danny Baker
Phoenix pbk Nov 2015

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