Review: Danny Dyer: East End Boy: The Unauthorized Biography by Joe Allan

Thursday, 20 August 2015
Title: Danny Dyer: East End Boy
Author: Joe Allan
Publisher: Michael O'Mara
Publication Date: 25th September 2014
Pages: 224
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Danny Dyer is one of the most recognizable names in British film and television. Best known for hard-man roles in Mean Machine and The Football Factory, Danny is now making headlines as Mick Carter, the landlord of the iconic Queen Victoria pub in EastEnders.

Yet, as his new soap role shows, there is a softer side to the stereotype many have of him. These days a committed family man and hard-working chairman of Greenwich Borough Football Club, Danny had to overcome a lot of obstacles on his way - some provided by growing up in the tough environment of East London in the eighties, some he put in his own way as early successes went to his head. Drink, drugs and scandal were never far away, but such fast-living had its price. With his career flagging and his relationships with his family in jeopardy, it was time for him to turn himself around.

Danny Dyer: The Unauthorized Biography tells the full up-to-date story of TV's tough guy. From his early years in London's Canning Town to his first breaks as a teen actor to his fascinating new role on EastEnders, this book will examine the real man under the hard-man mask, going behind the scenes of his film, television and theatre work, not to mention the bar of the Queen Vic.

Ordinarily I am not a huge fan of biographies. Autobiographies, yes, but normally biographies are just somebody cashing in on the success of a celebrity. Sometimes though you can get a biography written by someone with a real passion for the person they are writing about. For example Sean Smith's biographies of Britney Spears and Jennifer Aniston are two of the best I've read. I'm not sure if Joe Allan is a huge Danny Dyer fan or not, but he's done a great job of building a balanced picture of his life and career in Danny Dyer: East End Boy.

Danny Dyer has his own autobiography, Straight Up, which is a great read. But it was published a few years ago and a lot can happen in that time and so I was interested to read his life story from somebody else's point of view, and to read the stories that occurred after Straight Up was published. For example, Danny joining EastEnders. For the most part biographies tend to be built-up of stories taken from newspapers or interviews, and that's very much what East End Boy is a lot of the time. There was a lot of repetition for me where sections would be lifted either from Danny's books, or The Films of Danny Dyer (reviewed here). But, there were also sections taken from various interviews that Danny has given over the years to magazines and on TV and other books I haven't read. For hardcore fans of Danny Dyer it might be old news in the beginning, but for those reading his story for the first time, it'll be a little bit more insightful.

Danny has garnered quite a reputation over the years, and a certain stigma has been attached to him regarding the roles that he's played but the beginning of East End Boy really highlights the struggles Danny has had over the years to become a successful actor, succeeding only because of a serious determination to provide for his family and newborn daughter. He lost his way quite a bit in the middle with drinking and drugs, but all of that is discussed here along with how it had a negative effect on his career. Including him losing out on roles to, at the time, unknown actors who are now world famous. Danny pretty much fell into acting, but soon discovered a real love for it and he actually made his name in plays and in the theatre which I imagine might surprise a few people. People look upon him as being a one trick pony who constantly plays the same role but look at films like The Business, Human Traffic and Borstal Boy and you'll see Danny is a very diverse and talented actor who very rarely gets the recognition I feel he deserves.

What shocked me was reading about those people who take advantage of you just because you are famous. One in particular being the film companies that package some of Danny's films. The end cover and taglines often bearing no resemblance to the movie itself, and because Danny is that particular film's biggest name, his fans have often turned on him for things that are beyond his control. Anyone who follows him on Twitter will know he isn't adverse to speaking back to some of those critics, and he also admits to having starred in more than a couple of bad movies in his time. One in particular had a main character who had paid for his role in the film with some of his lottery winnings! Absolute madness, yet the story of a man just trying to provide for his family. As the book progresses and we read about a more mature Danny, I particularly enjoyed reading about how he (eventually!) managed to secure a role on EastEnders. The Carter family completely revitalised the show for me, and Danny now has a completely new legion of fans (and some of his more hardcore perhaps aren't keen on his Mick Carter image, but I love it)!

Danny Dyer: East End Boy is a solid read and compared to most biographies, is well worth a read for fans old and new. Those that have read Straight Up or followed Danny's career over the years might find themselves skipping past certain chapters but on the whole I really enjoyed the book.

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