I have just finished reading Eastender's star , Patsy Palmer , also known as Bianca's autobiography , and what a great read it was. For those of you who don't know , Patsy Palmer is the red-head actress who plays Bianca , a well-known character known for her 'Rickaayyy' scream. I have always liked the character Bianca , as well as the actress herself , although I didn't really know that much about her , until I was rummaging in a charity shop the other week and found a copy of her 2007 autobiography selling for just £1.50.
In this book , Patsy tells us the story of her life. I was shocked at some of the things I had read. I remember reading an article in a newspaper years ago , which mentioned she had done drugs , although I was really shocked to learn , that she had taken drugs since she was eleven years old , right up until her thirties. I had originally thought that she had probably started taking drugs after 'fame had gone too much for her' , and after reading about all the terrible experiences she had had while on drugs , it is amazing to think how far she has come. I think that this is a celebration of how much she has achieved. I think it's great that at the end of this book , she says that she hopes other drug users will look up to her as an inspiration and see how well she has done and is now drug-free. One thing which I didn't like was that most of the book seemed to based on 'drugs' and I don't think there was one page without the words 'drugs' , 'cocaine' , 'ecstasty' , 'puff' or 'heroin. It would have been nice to hear some 'nice and positive' things about her life , not just the depressing stuff.
I felt as though I had really got to know Patsy , real name Julie after reading this book. She was so honest and open about everything , and I really felt for her. I especially enjoyed reading all the 'juicy stories' from the set of Eastenders , such as her massive row with Barbara Windsor and her friendships with Sid Owen (Rickaayyy) and Martine McCutcheon.
One thing which I liked about the layout of the book was how fast the book moved. Because the book moved from event to event so quickly it kept me interested unlike some ofther books from the same genre , which drag on and on , but this one was great , which meant I kept on reading it , and managed to finish all three hundred and six pages in a couple of hours.
If you love Eastenders , and autobiographies , then I would recommend this book to you ; it's very insipirational!
Thanks for reading!
May 28th 2010
xd-o-n-z-x (also posted on ciao under xdonzx)
I love reading autobiographies and was interested in discovering more about Patsy Palmer, so I borrowed All of Me from the library. Patsy is most known for her role as Bianca in EastEnders you remember, the one with really long red hair who was married to Ricky? Yes, thats the one.
The book is 310 pages long and tells Patsys story from childhood through to the end of 2006. She is now thirty-five years old, married with three children. Her daughter shares the same name as one of my daughters Emilia which is one reason I am interested in her. She is also close to my age.
Patsy Palmer isnt my favourite actress by any means, but I enjoyed her role in EastEnders and liked what I saw of her in the recent programmes of The Verdict, where she was a juror in a close-to-reality court case.
I read the book in just a few days, as it is written in an easy style and the pages fly by. I enjoyed the way it was written the chronological style, the details she included about her family and her childhood and how she got into acting. Her words come across as honest and frank most of the time and it is easy to hold your interest in reading it.
She discusses her unhappy time at school and how she much preferred the acting world to everyday school, enrolling in Anna Schers famous theatre as a child. Some of the most fascinating sections for me were about how her acting career developed, how the audition process worked and how she came to be offered the roles he did. With my eldest daughter embarking on an acting career herself, it is always useful to get some insider tips after all.
Patsy is a true East Ender and the furthest she has lived from her roots is in Brighton. The first shock I had was discovering her real name is Julie Anne Harris as I had never realised Patsy wasnt her real name. In fact, Patsy Palmer is her mothers name (like Jean Harlow took her mothers name too, after Harlean Carpenter was deemed unsuitable!). Whereas many celebrities seem to adopt the persona of their new name, Patsy refers to herself as Julie several times and seems to see patsy as very much a stage name only.
I enjoyed reading the anecdotes about other famous people she knows and has met. She went to Anna Schers with several household names, then her time on EastEnders brought more friendships and her general celebrity status has meant more encounters. But this didnt feel cheap or as though it was name-dropping too much.
She has had a long friendship with Sid Owen, long before their on-screen partnership as Bianca and Ricky and he comes across as being a lovely bloke which was just how he seemed on Im A Celebrity last time. (Incidentally, Patsy assures us she will never do Im A Celebrity or Big Brother, but did make an exception on her no reality TV pledge for Strictly Come Dancing.)
So the book has plenty of advantages. It comes across as being honest, you can hear her voice (although she does credit her ghost-writer and admit thats where the books structure comes from), and it is interesting and holds the readers attention.
But there are disadvantages too. One minor one is the books title. If you put All of Me into a search, you will find it has been used as the title for umpteen books, albums and films over the years. Even Patsys EastEnders co-star Barbara Windsor has an autobiography called All of Me! So it is rather clichéd and makes it a bit dull.
It is also a bit ridiculous, as there is no way a book could really tell everything! As with every autobiography, this is the edited highlights. There will be some things she has chosen to omit, some she has forgotten and others that couldnt be published for fear of legal suits. Maybe A Bit of Me would have worked as a better title?
But my main complaint is this she goes on and on and on ad nauseum about her addiction! She was only eleven when she first smoked cannabis and soon got into drinking alcohol, smoking and taking drugs beginning with dope, but following up with pretty much everything except heroin. (Her older brother was a heroin addict.) She continued taking large amounts of drugs throughout her twenties, particularly cannabis, Ecstasy and cocaine. It was only in 2004 that she finally managed to stop drinking and using drugs, with the help of a support centre called the Twelve Step Fellowship.
While this is obviously an integral part of her life and therefore of her autobiography I felt the issue was over-emphasised. Drugs seem to be mentioned on almost every page or it certainly felt like it and it was very repetitive. Looking back, the book felt like it went I did this and did that and got drunk and stoned. Then I did this and did that and got drunk and stoned. It just became boring! I found myself drifting off during the bits where the focus was on her addictions and concentrating much more on the other (rarer) bits, where she just got on with the story.
The book is subtitled life, love and addiction but I think it would be a fairer representation of she had just called it My Drugs Hell or something similarly tabloid-like. At least with Danniella Westbrooks autobiography (The Other Side of Nowhere), you knew it was about that side of her life from the outset.
So, that is my main criticism. An over-emphasis on her addiction spoiled the book for me somewhat. While I enjoyed it overall, I wouldnt bother buying it and I would recommend it, but only with a few buts in the answer.
When Patsy Palmer landed the part of Bianca on EastEnders at the age of 16, it was a dream come true for a girl who'd grown up in Bethnal Green longing for stardom. Money, fame and lots and lots of parties were soon part of daily life and it wasn't long before Patsy was addicted to hedonism and then drowning in sea of drugs and drink. She had her first baby when she was 19 but nothing really slowed down the self-destrutive spiral of substance abuse. It wasn't until much later, after near death encounters and relationship breakdown with the family she adored but who were also troubled with drug problems and mental health issues, that Patsy found her way to stop. These days she is happy and healthy but getting there was a struggle that nearly cost her her kids, her marriage and her life.