James Hogg is a ghostwriter, biographer and collaborator specialising in sport and entertainment.
Born in the Yorkshire Dales, he began his writing career whilst working at the Yorkshire County Cricket Club where he spent several years masquerading as the club’s commercial manager.
In between failed attempts at securing sponsors James wrote two acclaimed biographies whilst at Headingley. The first, What’s the Bleeding Time? disclosed the life and times of the actor and naturalist James Robertson Justice and featured a foreword by H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh. The second, Little Ern: The authorised biography of Ernie Wise (Pan Mac, 2011), was a collaboration with the writer of Hellraisers, Robert Sellers, as was James’s next book, Hello Darlings! The authorised biography of Kenny Everett (Bantam Press, 2013). James left Headingley in 2012, after which the club began to flourish.
James’ first project as a ghostwriter was the Torvill & Dean bestseller, Our Life on Ice (Simon & Schuster, Oct 2014), which he wrote after approaching the pair at the start of 2013. In 2015 James contacted the actor and explorer, Brian Blessed, about the possibility of collaborating on a memoir bringing to the fore Brian’s unique personality and skills as a raconteur. The result, Absolute Pandemonium (Pan Mac, Oct 2015), was an immediate bestseller and recently spawned a sequel called The Panther In My Kitchen (Pan Mac, Nov 2017).
James’ most recent collaborations as a ghostwriter include the Johnny Herbert memoir, What Doesn’t Kill You (Transworld, Nov 2016), which was long-listed at the Cross British Sports Book Awards, and Strongman, the autobiography of the World’s Strongest Man, Eddie Hall (Ebury, Oct 2017). In 2018 he will have three books published: Stable Lass, a memoir by the renowned horsewoman and racehorse trainer, Gemma Hogg (Pan Mac, April 2018), Trials & Error, the autobiography of the twelve-time world motorcycle trials champion, Dougie Lampkin (Simon & Schuster, May 2018), and More Than Just a Good Life, the authorised biography of the well-loved late actor, Richard Briers.
James lives in Yorkshire with his wife and two children.
The term ‘national treasure’ has seldom been more appropriate. Richard Briers was not only the nation’s favourite next-door neighbour thanks to his work in the iconic BBC sitcom The Good Life, he was an actor you felt like you really knew, despite having only seen him on stage or screen.
While his role as Tom Good might be considered the pinnacle of Richard’s sixty-year career, it sits atop a mountain of roles that combined represent one of the most productive and varied careers in British entertainment history. Indeed, Richard’s television work alone make up a not insignificant portion of our country’s best endeavours on the small screen: from The Good Life to Dr Who, from Miss Marple to Midsomer Murders and Minder, the list is as long as it is impressive.
Anecdote-rich, this revealing but celebratory book will also lift the lid on the stories behind the shows, films and plays that made up this extraordinarily prolific career, not to mention Richard’s working and personal relationships with many of his best-known collaborators and co-stars.
Former trial biking world champion Dougie Lampkin’s superb autobiography gives a unique insight into one of motorsport’s most famous dynasties as well as revealing the inspiration that led him to become an online sensation thanks to his extraordinary Red Bull stunts.
When Dougie Lampkin was born, his father had placed a motorcycle next to his cot before he returned from hospital – if anyone can say that they were destined for a career in motorbiking it was him. So far, nine members of the Lampkin family have competed at a high level of the sport, but it was Dougie who set new standards, winning seven consecutive outdoor world titles and five indoor world titles, earning him the MBE at the age of 25.
Off-road motorcycling continues to grow in popularity, with more than 100,000 people taking part in the UK alone, and millions more following online or on television. In this superb memoir, Lampkin brings the excitement of his sport vividly to life. He also shares the behind-the-scenes drama behind some of his most famous Red Bull challenges – such as the day he took his trials bike for a ride through Red Bull’s Formula One factory, with Christian Horner looking on in sheer amazement as he rode his bike over a multi-million-pound F1 car, leaving it without a scratch. To date, almost 12 million people have watched this episode on YouTube.
For anyone who enjoyed the books of Guy Martin or Michael Dunlop, Trials and Error is a compelling read and one ride you won’t want to miss.
Stable Lass: Riding out and mucking in – tales from a Yorkshire racing yard
Being a stable lass is probably one of the hardest jobs in the country, and yet for Gemma Hogg it is the most rewarding. She works in the beautiful Yorkshire market town of Middleham and if her colleagues are occasionally challenging, then the horses are downright astonishing. Now, in Stable Lass, she takes us into the closed world of a top racing yard, from the elation of having several winners in one day to the almost indescribable grief of losing a horse.
Like most stable lads and lasses, Gemma arrived in her yard as a teenager fresh out of racing college and had to cope with living away from home for the first time, as well as adapt to the brutal long hours, backbreaking work and often treacherous weather. She describes falling in love with Polo Venture, the first racehorse in her care, the pure exhilaration of riding him on Middleham Gallops for the first time and what happens when a horse takes against you, from the growling gelding Valiant Warrior to the potentially lethal Broadway Boy. She brings to life the characters around the yard, from straight-talking boss Micky Hammond to the jockeys starving themselves to make weight, the wealthy owners and the other stable lads and lasses who come from a range of different places and backgrounds.
Stable Lass is a unique look into the world of horse racing filled with heart-warming stories and amazing thoroughbreds – some loveable, some cantankerous, all impressive.
Brian Blessed has a lifelong love of animals and over the years has rescued cats and dogs, horses and ponies, and even a very ungrateful fighting cock. All were characters in their own right, such as Jessie, a dog left languishing for a year at the local RSPCA, who ruled the entire household with a rod of iron, when she wasn’t out harassing the local vicar. Then there was Bodger, an abused terrier cross breed, who was nursed back to health by Brian and his wife, and Peppone, a stray cat and notorious thief, who was responsible for a crime epidemic in the Bagshot area. Most of all there was Misty, a soul mate and the first Jack Russell Brian met who didn’t take an instant dislike to him.
Over the years Brian has encountered more exotic animals too, from Kali the black panther who had free run of his kitchen and the gentle boa constrictor Bo Bo who went for walks with him in Richmond Park to the female gorillas who found him incredibly attractive. Written with all of Brian’s ebullience, The Panther in My Kitchen is a laugh-out-loud, life-affirming book about the joy animals bring and why we should care for them.
Meet the Beast that beat the Mountain.
Eddie ‘The Beast’ Hall is the biggest name and talent in one of the fastest growing sports. In 2017 he was the first Brit in 24 years to win the World’s Strongest Man competition, beating The Mountain from Game of Thrones. He is the biggest superstar you haven’t heard of.
Everything about Eddie is huge. Standing at 6’3 he weighs almost 30 stone, and to make it through his hellish four-hour gym sessions he needs to eat a minimum of 10,000 calories a day. He eats a raw steak during weight sessions. His right eyeball once burst out of its socket under the strain. He put it back in.
The size of Eddie’s fan base now matches his immense frame, with over 1 million followers on social media. He is the subject of a major Netflix documentary, Eddie: Strongman, and he draws crowds of thousands at the strongman arena tour Giants Live.
In his remarkable autobiography, Eddie takes you inside the world of the professional strongman – the nutrition, the training and competitions themselves. This is a visceral story of sporting achievement, an athlete pushing himself to the limits, and the personal journey of a man on the path to becoming being the best of the best.
What Doesn’t Kill You…: My Life in Motor Racing – BUY HERE
Johnny Herbert was one of the most brilliant natural talents to emerge in motor racing, but for all his bravery and prowess, he’s lucky to be alive. After becoming British Junior Karting Champion (losing part of a finger in the process), then the Formula 3 title for Eddie Jordan in 1987, he was all set for a glittering debut season in Formula 1 when he was caught in a mass pile-up at Brands Hatch. That horrific crash threatened to end his career, but Herbert made a miraculous recovery, was a hugely popular winner of the British Grand Prix in 1995, and enjoyed 25 years of competitive motorsport, becoming the only British driver to win the 24 hours of Le Mans followed by a Grand Prix. And all that despite driving every pace in extreme pain; in fact, as the first and only disabled driver in F1 history.
While chronicling an extraordinary life behind the wheel with cheer and his trademark cheeky humour,What Doesn’t Kill You… contains a wealth of stories from the hard end of Formula 1: on Johnny’s team-mate Michael Schumacher, legends like Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, his fellow British adversaries Damon Hill, Martin Brundle and Nigel Mansell, and of course all those gruesome accidents. With an encyclopaedic knowledge and love of the sport, Johnny Herbert’s memoir, much like the man himself, delivers brilliance from the back of the grid.
PUBLISHER: Bantam Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 3 Nov. 2016
THE PEOPLE’S GARDENER — Buy it here
With an introduction by Alan Titchmarsh, The People’s Gardener is an inspiring memoir by top gardening judge Jim Buttress, that will amuse and enthral gardeners everywhere.
As a judge at the RHS, Jim Buttress presides over the country’s favourite flower shows, including Chelsea and Hampton Court. He also judged the Britain in Bloom competition for over twenty-five years, and was watched by millions on the BBC’sThe Big Allotment Challenge. But how did this practical gardener from Purley go on to have one of the most impressive careers in British horticulture?
In this warm and funny memoir, Jim takes us from his boyhood obsession with Percy Thrower to his ten-year stint as Superintendent of the Central Royal Parks. Here, his day-to-day duties could include anything from having a drink and a chat with the Queen Mother to working out how to water some elephants who’d taken up residence in Hyde Park.
Jim also reveals what it’s like to exhibit, and to win gold, at the Chelsea Flower Show, and shares his many adventures as a judge; from the joy of awarding medals to grateful winners to the shock of being threatened with a punch on the nose from the odd irate loser. Packed with brilliant characters, this book will delight everyone who shares Jim’s love of gardening.
PUBLISHER: Sidgwick & Jackson
PUBLICATION DATE: 19 May 2016
OUR LIFE ON ICE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY – Buy it here
When Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean collapsed to the ice at the climax of their routine to Boleroin the 1984 Winter Olympics, the judges could find no fault, awarding them 12 maximum scores of 6.0, while 24 million viewers watching at home in Britain simply looked on in amazement. Suddenly, we were all experts in figure skating, and we wanted to know more about the couple at the heart of it all.
Despite intense interest in them, Torvill & Dean kept their lives private, with many still wondering if the pair were really a couple. They turned professional and would eventually spend eight years working on ITV’s Dancing on Ice, but still much of their story remained unknown.
Now, in Our Life on Ice, Torvill & Dean finally open up about the challenges they have faced and the pressures of life in the public eye: Jayne speaks candidly about her struggle with husband Phil to start a family, while Chris reveals the heartache in his family story. And of course, there is the skating, and the stories about what inspired their famous routines, and what the pair hope to achieve in the future as the approach their fortieth anniversary working together. It is the book their millions of fans have been waiting to read.
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster UK
PUBLICATION DATE: 9th October 2014
James Robertson Justice: What’s the Bleeding-Time? – Buy it here
This biography of James Roberston Justice celebrates the secret life and glittering career of one of British cinema’s finest and most recognisable screen personalities. With his unforgettable presence and his trademark bulk, whiskers, and fierce bark, James Robertson Justice made a treasure chest of classic British movies. He is best remembered as the bombastic Sir Lancelot Spratt in Doctor in the House (1954), but also starred in many wonderful films, both comedies and drama, often portrayed as a domineering (if frequently soft-centred) ogre. His on-screen temper tantrums often resembled those of a gigantic, irate toddler. This book unravels for the first time, through detailed research and original interviews with those close to him, the myriad complexities of one of Britain s finest actors. The book is fully illustrated with many rare photos. A must buy for fans of classic British films. Throughout the fifties and sixties he built a career on scene stealing performances in comedies and action thrillers. A bittersweet fling with Hollywood even landed him the enigmatic role of Vashtar, architect of the Great Pyramid, in Howard Hawks historical epic Land of the Pharaohs (1955). However, for his many fans, Justice’s true metier remained farce. A pivotal role in the creation of his recognisable screen persona was the punctilious, ‘thrash happy’ Dr. Grimstone in Vice Versa (1948). It was from this seed of a condescending Victorian headmaster that a succession of characters flourished, epitomised by Lord Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). Woe betide anyone who attracted his beetle-browed displeasure. From Dirk Bogarde, through Stanley Baxter and Dick Van Dyke, JRJ was the towering authority figure par excellence, releasing a hilarious barrage of vitriolic slap downs and insults. His recurring role as fathers to beautiful ingénues, such as Sir Beverly Grant in Father Came Too! (1963) and Charles Chingford in Ken Annakin s The Fast Lady (1962), offered older cinema goers a reassuring bulwark against the (would be) excesses of the ‘permissive society’. James Robertson Justice was a “brilliant raconteur, indifferent to money” – part Walter Mitty, part Sir John Falstaff. There is no actor we can think of with a life story that screams so loudly for a biography. This is the definitive story of one of Britain’s greatest actors.
PUBLISHER: Tomahawk Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 1st Mar. 2008
Spontaneous, hilarious, irrepressible and, of course, trailblazing – Kenny Everett was revolutionary in television and radio comedy. Chris Evans, Chris Moyles, Rob Brydon and Steve Wright have all cited Kenny as a huge influence on their work – even the great Spike Milligan called him a genius. It was Kenny who developed the radio show format with which we are so familiar today: a mix of music, jingles, funny voices and sound effects. When he seamlessly made the move to television in the seventies, he created unforgettable characters such as Sid Snot, Cupid Stunt and Marcel Wave.
Rarely seen without a smile on his face in public, in reality, Kenny was a deeply insecure man who suffered severe bouts of depression. He also struggled with his sexuality, only coming out to the public in 1985. Diagnosed with HIV in 1987, Kenny died in 1995.
This in-depth and affectionate biography has been fully authorised by Kenny’s family and contains original interviews with Kenny’s sister, Kate and with his former wife, Lee, as well as entertainment figures such as Barry Cryer, Cliff Richard, Chris Tarrant and Paul Gambaccini. Packed with fabulous stories about the highs and lows of Kenny’s life, his great friendships with The Beatles and Freddie Mercury, this is a book that any fan of comedy and entertainment must read.
Publisher: Bantam Press
Publication date: 27 Feb. 2014
LITTLE ERN: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY OF ERNIE WISE – Buy it here.
Even though they are the most famous comedy double act Britain has ever seen, until now there has never been a biography of Ernie Wise. Seen by some as just the straight man in the partnership, in fact ‘Little Ern’ was regarded by his peers as a great comedian in his own right. It took no ordinary talent to be the perfect foil for the genius of Eric Morecambe, and to be his friend, business partner and co-performer for nearly forty years. Morecambe’s personality flared with ego and insecurity, and theirs was a personal relationship that had to be nurtured as carefully as were their on-screen personas. Nearly thirty years after their last appearances, the pair still dominate the landscape of British comedy, and are loved and revered as ever. With the cooperation of Ernie’s widow Doreen, and drawing on unpublished material from the family archive as well as interviews with friends, Robert Sellers and James Hogg have shifted the spotlight sideways to examine for the first time the true and patient genius of one of the greatest entertainers of his generation.
PUBLISHER: Sidgwick & Jackson; Unabridged edition
PUBLICATION DATE: 7 Oct. 2011
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT… – Buy it here
Robbie Savage is one of Britain’s most recognisable football pundits. Incisive, forthright and bold, Savage never holds back where the beautiful game is concerned.
No Premier League footballer has ever divided opinion quite like Robbie Savage. Mr Marmite, as he was often known (among other things), rampaged his way through almost 350 games in the Premier League and along the way picked up more yellow cards than Gary Lineker has crisps and more enemies than Joey Barton and Neil Warnock put together.
In his explosive new book, I’ll Tell You What…, Savage lifts the lid on all aspects of the modern game. Managers, players, the Premiership, the European game, the FA Cup, kids’ football, and pushy football parents are just a few of the topics that Savage takes on in his inimitable provocative style.
Robbie tells us why:
Ø Alex Ferguson is not Britain’s best ever manager
Ø The Messi v Ronaldo debate will go on forever, but I know who’s best
Ø The Class of ’92 could do a job for England
Ø On paper I was probably one of the world’s most versatile footballers
Ø You simply can’t knock on Mark Hughes’s door and invite him for a game of golf – even if he invites you
Ø Drinking wine does not win you football matches
Ø I could never become a manager. Or could I?
Ø Referees are human after all
Ø Zico is not as good as Ronaldo – despite what Brazilian waiters say
Ø Good manners should come before diamond earrings
Ø Roberto Mancini has a great singing voice
Robbie Savage’s straight-talking common sense is only the start of it. I’ll Tell You What is a modern-day guide to life, and should be read by anyone who has an interest in anything at all, especially football. Few may actually agree with him, but everyone listens.
PUBLICATION DATE: 8TH Oct. 2015
ABSOLUTE PANDEMONIUM: MY LOUDER THAN LIFE STORY – Buy it here.
There is no one quite like Brian Blessed. He’s an actor, film star, trained undertaker, unlikely diplomat, secret romantic, martial artist and mountaineer. He’s also a brilliant storyteller who will – and you must brace yourself – simply leap out of the pages at you.
Ready? Then open Absolute Pandemonium and you’ll be taken on a riotous journey from his childhood, growing up the son of a miner in Goldthorpe, to finding fame in Z-Cars. You’ll see Brian falling for Katharine Hepburn on the set of The Trojan Women, suffering wires strapped round his wotsits as he was hoisted into the heavens on Flash Gordon, almost causing an international incident when meeting the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and winning round George Lucas to get the role of Boss Nass onStar Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Along the way he takes secret revenge on headmistress Mrs Jarman and her very big bottom, punches Harold Pinter, loves and hates Peter O’Toole, woos his beautiful wife Hildegard Neil and braves the shocking death toll on cosy TV drama My Family and Other Animals. Crammed with anecdotes from his illustrious career, this is a funny, warm-hearted, life-affirming, LOUD and unique memoir from a much-loved figure.
Stuffed with riotous and hilarious tales . . . never less than entertaining and in some parts, as in his relationship with Peter O’Toole, even quietly revelatory. (Daily Express)
PUBLISHER: Sidgwick & Jackson
PUBLICATION DATE: 8 Oct. 2015