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Personally I was not a great fan of Richard Whiteley, but when he died in June 2005 he was mourned by lots of people who loved him and his show, Countdown.
Never having been a fan of Countdown either I couldn't really see what the fuss was about, although I know his show was watched regularly - mainly by retired people who had nothing better to do.
However, I have suddenly found myself possessing the book "Richard by Kathryn", supposedly a tribute to him and written by his live-in partner Kathryn Apanowicz. The reason I have got the book is because a friend had it bought as a gift and didn't really want it so she has passed it on to me.
I must admit I had dipped into the chapters before I got this copy, but only to see what was mentioned about the time when Richard started at Yorkshire Television. For a brief period I was there at the same time and bumped into him several times. My impression was of a somewhat bumbling character, with a very loud voice who seemed to be on the edge of the social scene rather than the star of it.
So what did Kathryn have to say about him and did she mention that she was a small time "child actress" there at the same time, trying to make a name for herself (by being very precocious, I must add). I remember her as being very loud and pushy, so it would be interesting to see what has been written in the book. Was it about Richard or really about her?
As I said, when the book was first published I dipped into it while browsing in a bookshop, but now I have my own copy I have read it more thoroughly.
My opinion remains the same however. As the pair had an on-off relationship from the time Kathryn was seventeen and had only been living together for eight years prior to his death, I am not sure she really knew much about him, certainly nothing of his early career.
At the beginning of the book is a foreward by Carol Vorderman, who really did know Richard very well, having worked with him on Countdown. She relates her own personal views on him and was obviously distressed about his death. I am not a fan of her either and remember sitting in on a recording of Countdown some years ago and their false smiles on camera were sickening, but there was no doubt a strong chemistry between the two sparking off humour in each other.
The rest of the book takes us through various aspects of Richard's life, but I really feel that most of the information has been gleaned from others. In every chapter Kathryn mentions the many people who knew him and the words are theirs, not hers. To my mind, she has merely padded out their comments with introductory words of her own.
Having said this, to anyone interested in Richard's life, the book is informative and at times somewhat humourous. There are lots of snippets of information and anecdotes about what he did and where they went, including the visit to Buckingham Palace to collect his OBE. There are mentions of Giggleswick School where he was educated and his time at university in Cambridge. As this was before he met Kathryn, once again she has relied on associates to write about these days.
My overall impression of this book is that it has not actually been "written" by Kathryn, but is more of tribute by her to the man she apparently loved.
It is worth reading if you are interested in this man, but it seems to include a lot of name dropping of more famous people, and too frequently refers to places which she thinks are somewhat upmarket. It appears to me that the author has come from a very ordinary background, but the fact that she then became the partner of a household name, went to her head somewhat. Why does she have to refer so much to the posh places they went to and the functions they attended? For a kid who first appeared in Junior Showtime she has certainly come up in the world, but more because she tagged onto Richard, than through her acting ability. The book reflects her character more than Richard's, I believe, seemingly trying to impress the reader by mentioning who they met and where they went. I am sure had Richard written his auto biography that it would not have included quite so much name dropping.
I would have been more impressed with this book if it had been written, from the heart, by someone who had known Richard Whiteley from his younger days. As it is, all the book seems to be is a collection of comments from people who have known him over the years, rather than a true story-telling of the man by someone who knew him inside out.
I am so glad I didn't waste 17.99 to buy this book, although I do believe it is available less than this now. I am sure it won't be long before you can pick it up in a charity shop - but then it will probably be priced up by some elderly lady who doted on him and thinks the book is worth at least a fiver!
When Richard Whiteley died on 26 June 2005, he was mourned by a nation. But there was more to this engaging and 'bumbling' character than met the eye. Kathryn Apanowicz first dated Richard Whiteley when she was seventeen, leading to a thirty year on-off relationship that saw them finally living together for seven years until his death. Kathryn knew the private side of Richard that he kept hidden; the women in his life; his anguish at the deaths of his mother, sister and niece within months of each other; his thoughts on the celebrities he met; his time as a political reporter and journalist (he interviewed every British Prime Minister since Harold Macmillan); his pride in Countdown; the moment he received his OBE and his unfailing charity work. In this affectionate and warn tribute to a self-effacing and charismatic man, Kathryn Apanowicz reveals the personality behind the television presenter - the successes, the tragedies and the laughter. For the first time, Kathryn shows us the real Richard, a man who everyone thought they knew but only a few ever really did.