Review: ‘May I Have Your Attention, Please?’ by James Corden

Yes, James, you’ve got our attention. You’ve released your autobiography and, as a huge ‘Gavin and Stacey’ fan, I was so excited to read it. Not only is he the man responsible for one of the – if not the – biggest British comedies in the last decade, he’s also well-known for his roles in ITV’s ‘Fat Friends’ and both the stage and movie productions of Alan Bennett’s ‘The History Boys’.

Basically, this book is a three-hundred and-odd page apology to everyone James Corden has ever pissed off. And, let’s face it, that’s a lot of people. Teachers, family, agents, crew, friends, journos and the public. From being the fat loveable kid in ‘Fat Friends’, his ego got the better of him and he became tabloid fodder, believing his own hype. Fair enough, the guy has been big enough to apologise for being a dick once his career took off but I wanted so much more from this book. I wanted to hear loads more about ‘The History Boys’ and ‘G&S’. I wanted to hear about his relationship with Sheridan Smith. Yes, I am nosy. Can anyone who reads celebrity biographies / autobiographies really claim to be anything else?

OK, he does mention Sheridan but doesn’t go into detail – perhaps I should give him a bit more credit for being respectful. Perhaps it’s just Corden’s dramatic background but every woman he’s ever had a relationship has been incredibly dramatic and important to him. I fear that his use of superlatives only leaves the reader with no sense of who or what actually was truly important to him.

In between the apologies, you do get a few tidbits to sustain you. A few anecdotes about his time at school and college – yes, he was that irritating kid at school who had no interest and therefore messed about. Early in the book, Corden describes a typical day where he played truant from school then proceeded to ring into ‘This Morning’ and pretend to have a problem just to speak to agony aunt Denise Robertson. This story was funny. It made me want to continue reading the book, expecting every other page to be littered with silly, naughty stories – like Peter Kay’s books. I was well and truly disappointed.

He does tell the reader about taking ‘The History Boys’ on a worldwide stage tour and some things that happened during it but none of them were that great, to be honest. Corden and Dominic Cooper end up sounding like arrogant pricks – so the book did nothing to dispel earlier rumours.

He tells you where the inspiration for ‘Gavin and Stacey’ came from and how he and Ruth Jones had to make near-impossible trips across land and sea to get scripts written but the magic I had expected just never appeared. I wanted more Alison Steadman, more Larry Lamb et al. I wanted stories from the shooting of the shows.

Although Corden talks you through his career, the things he did and who he worked with, it all sounds so fake and sycophantic. It is as if everyone he has ever worked with has been “the best”, “an inspiration” or “a dream come true”. The fact that he uses it for legends like Ken Loach and Alan Bennett but then uses similar pronouncements for runners just removes any meaning from what’s written.

I was a fan of Corden before reading this but now I fear the release of the book is part of his rehabilitation into popular circles now he has realised his arrogance lost him a lot of respect both from the industry and the public. I honestly could not take what he was saying seriously.

Vic x

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