For the first time ever in print, the complete life story of a television and style icon
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REVIEWS AND FURTHER INFORMATION
Peter Wyngarde: the name elicits memories of an actor with worldwide renown and instantly adhesive star quality. During a more leisurely time, so far from internet gossip as to be barely recognisable, this is a biography that glued two people together for several decades to create a journal of the rise and relaxation of a household name and the adoration they enjoyed.
The author has not placed their subject on a pedestal to unwittingly create an epic story of fame, fortune, the price of both and the cost of each other. With a wealth of stories to fascinate and appal in equal measure, and given it’s subject’s continuing fascination for a more worldly generation who would barely have heard of the power of the Lord Chamberlain, there is plenty to consume a worldwide readership for the story of someone whose fame hid fragility but whose status was the stuff of legend.
“Good luck with the book, Tina. I’m really looking forward to reading it.
With all my best wishes,
“Tina’s life story of Peter is a must read from the one who knew him best.”
Sam J. Jones – Actor
“Elegantly crafted, intensively researched and presented with the utmost honour, it is highly commended.”
“A fascinating, wonderfully written book.”
“I have rarely read a biography that gives such a complete sense of its subject, both as an artist and as a real human being.”
Tania Donald – Author and Artist
“Peter Wyngarde: A Life Amongst Strangers” is phenomenal book, and is most certainly the most detailed and intimate biography I’ve ever read. You can almost see Peter nonchalantly walking out of the pages!”
Peter Stadlera – Munich
“Exhaustively researched. In anyone’s book, this has to be the most honest, ‘warts and all’ biography out there!”
Andrew Calverley – Actor and film-maker
Firstly, the is not a conventional biography, as it’s in two parts, the first half of which tells Peter’s story from his birth until the late 1980s, which was when I first met him. It then becomes more of a memoir, covering both his career and our time together.
There are contributions to the book from many well-known personalities, who were Peter’s friends and colleagues.
Much of what’s contained in the book is in Peter’s own words, which has been taken from his own writing, and both letters to and from him – including the 2,000 letters, texts and emails he sent to me.
Since Peter gave few interviews to the press and little is known about his private life, many myths have inevitably sprung up about him. This book dispels many of those rumours and tackles the misconceptions born out of media misrepresentation with reasoned argument and genuine evidence.
The book is extremely detailed and honest. Although many of the fallacies about Peter are dispelled within its pages, there has been no attempt to whitewash over the bad moments in his. I have been 100% truthful throughout, and provides evidence to back any argument I make.
I have relied on my vast collection of private papers, original scripts, legal documents, court transcripts, personal diaries and private audio tapes etc., collected by myself over a 30-year period.
The book will also include some rare and never-before-seen photographs of Peter from his childhood, and throughout his seventy-year career.
The nature of the relationship I shared with Peter is laid bare in HIS words, and corroborated by mutual friends and show business acquaintances. This, I hope, will finally put to bed the vicious and cruel accusations levelled against me in the wake of Peter’s death in January, 2018.
The project is backed by Peter’s agent, Thomas Bowington (Bowington Management), and the Forewords have been written by actors, Steven Berkoff and Sam J. Jones.
It will be some time yet before the book is published but the publisher, Austin-Macaulay, are now readying a marketing campaign that will countdown to the date of publication. This campaign will, of course, be shared with this group, and you will be be the first to know when the release date has been set.
The book will be available to buy from the following outlets: Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith, Gardners Books, Barnes & Nobel, Bertrams, Nielsen, Ingram, Bam! and Indiebound. You will also be able to purchase directly from Austin-Macaulay themselves.
It will be available in hardback, paperback and eBook formats.
The author of this book does not wish to make any money from Peter Wyngarde’s name. Any royalties earned from the sale of the biography will be donated directly to charity.
COMMENTS AND REVIEWS
“Tina Wyngarde-Hopkins’ has written a most remarkable biography of Peter Wyngarde; he really couldn’t have had a more devoted biographer, whose book is full of fascinating stories and anecdotes from his life and career. She has delved, researched, discovered, analysed, and championed a great actor, who was once recognised as one of the most exciting stage performers on the planet. Well done! This is an essential book for anyone who values this extraordinary man and his work. It’s a large book that needs patience to get through, but his was a long, intense and brilliant life.”
Steven Berkoff – Actor, Writer, Director
“I was told sometime back that a book would be written about the life of Peter Wyngarde. For those of you who are too young, he was a character actor known for playing Jason King in ‘Department S’.
Peter was an incredible actor with a huge array films and TV shows under his belt, playing with some of the theatre’s greatest stars. He had a charismatic life both laced with sadness and scandal; the latter of which is known by those who really knew him to be filled with falsehoods. One of those people is the author, Tina Wyngarde-Hopkins, who has written this book, and has done so lovingly and with the respect he deserves.
She has diligently captured his life; the final 30-years of which she spent with him as his long term friend and partner. The book is due out soon from all outlets – both shops and online.
Me? Well I was a friend of Peter’s, who worked with him for many years on projects, details of which are in the book, so you’ll have to buy it to find out.
For fans of 70s TV, this is a must-have.”
Tim V – Lead Singer of legendary Punk band, Sham 69
The author sent me a review copy of her massive biography for an honest review. I’m really glad to have found so many facts and interesting background on one of the heroes of my youth, starring in Department S as Jason King. Peter Wyngarde was always loud in his clothes, he was so quick-witted and larger than life in that TV series. But what about the person behind this role?
Tina Wyngarde-Hopkins describes in the first part of the book his home, his parents, WW2 days and his relationship to women like Rosameurde and Dorinda. We then switch to London and his work for TV and the theatre. There are many fine testimonials from the press to underline how well perceived his appearances were. You’ll also find many letters written by Peter himself to give an insightful view into his personality and thinking.
Chapter by Chapter Peter is brought back to life by his astute biographer. You’ll also hear about his ‘relationship’ with Alan Bates and his roles in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and ‘The Adventures of Ben Gunn’ – two adaptions of classic novels.
Peter was a man with a very long career, so here you get an excellent view on the 20th century from his sphere of influence. The film sets are described in a very detailed way and you will find yourself looking for many a lost DVD gems.
I loved the way the 70s are presented here; so lively, with Peter meeting the Gibb brothers from the Bee Gees in Carnaby Street. You can really see the scene inside your head with Stayin’ Alive playing aloud forming the soundtrack of that age.
Peter also was also an international advertising icon. He did ads for German men’s cosmetic company Tabac: ‘Peter Wyngarde smells… Great! For the man of action (I’m glad that I use those products myself on a daily basis since I was a youth).
After so many heights we read about the downfall of our hero due to a ridiculous episode (no spoilers here, but unimaginable why such a career came into decline after such a petty thing). Tina then describes him playing General Klytus in the ‘Flash Gordon’ movie (another unforgettable role).
She tells us many personal anecdotes about her and Peter. The episode with the DocMartens boots is extremely well done and remains forever saved on my mental hard-disc.
In the second part of this unique biography we get very personal insight into the life and further career of the icon. We see his decline of health, depression, dying family and friends, feuds with neighbours… every chapter starts with a letter from Peter to the author.
The chapters in the second part are very moving and show how deep Tina was in love with her Peter and what an admirable relationship they had over so many years; one is by their side when reading the pages of the book. We accompany Tina until’s Peter’s last day on earth and also come to know how the situation was for Tina after his death. At the end, we have a list of books referenced and recommended for further readings, although I can’t imagine you’d find a more detailed book on Peter than in book ‘A Life Amongst Strangers’.
To bring this long review to a conclusion. You get, in my opinion, one of the most detailed biographies on an actor ever written. No detail is left out- even very personal and some sexual points are spoken about. This is the very big picture. It hits you like Peter himself with his incredible performances and stylish accents.
After this comprehensive book, Peter comes back and lives again since legends never die. Highly recommended!
This is very much a game of two halves, to use a well worn analogy. Ms Wyngarde-Hopkins has been nothing but conscientious in detailing the factual, chronology of Peter’s early life and career; at times perhaps too much detail to absorb. However, every ‘I’ is dotted, every ‘t’ crossed.
For this reader, being a close friend of Ms Wyngarde-Hopkins, the story comes truly alive in the second act. Tina truly bares all in her memoirs of the 30 years she spent with Peter. At times outrageous and painfully funny, this reviewer knows first hand what it was to be embroiled in Peter’s exploits, when he had a bee in his bonnet over one thing or another. “Please, for love the life of Christ, can you find a mobile repair shop in Kensington High St., Can you find and download a specific BT phone manual?” Peter truly had a knack of recruiting a posse of backroom staff to manage his daily pecadillos.
Ultimately, there is sadness and poignancy that such a talent was allowed to fade – no, that is not true – a talent was shunned when there was obviously so much still to offer. Tina shared much of the final weeks with me; I believe I was the first person she called when the end came. There can be no disputing how that moment changed everything.
Although, it can never lay to rest the loss, I hope the writing of this tome is at least cathartic for its author. A Life Amongst Strangers can open the doorway to many more friends.
Andrew Calverley – Actor, Voice Artist and Writer
A Life Amongst Strangers documents the long life of the quintessentially English actor who, for the Baby Boomers’ generation – those born between 1946 and 1964 – was synonymous with late Sixties/early Seventies cool and style. Peter Wyngarde would have made an ideal James Bond, as he was just as menacing (and considerably more nuanced) than Sean Connery – and frankly more talented than Roger Moore, whose archness he could have finessed; hence one could imagine him portraying Bond with more interest – and intellect – than any of the contemporaneous 007s.
However, the nearest Wyngarde came to a numeric role was guesting as Number Two in the iconic Prisoner series, in the episode “Checkmate” – just one of innumerable characters he played on television and film during a four-decade long professional career that included The Crossfire; The Avengers; The Siege Of Sidney Street; Burn, Witch, Burn; The King and I, and many others.
Wyngarde, of course, hit his professional and iconic zenith as the Sixties gave way to the Seventies via his starring roles in the smash hit Department S and its spin-off – even more successfully – Jason King. His already burgeoning profile catapulted to superstar status, and at the time he was receiving thousands of fan letters a week. He brought tremendous chutzpah and tongue-in-cheek aplomb to the creation Jason King and played it with enthusiasm and a knowing wink; something Mike Myers took to a comic post-modern extreme in the Austin Powers franchise three decades later.
This imperial phase in Peter Wyngarde’s career took a downturn following an arrest for something that would now not even be considered criminal, yet in 1975 was career-threatening; such was society’s outlook at the time. Yet he stoically dusted himself off to return to his theatre hinterland, enjoying continuing success until a late period revival came with the role of General Klytus in the 1980 blockbuster Flash Gordon. This part would rehabilitate his standing and cemented his reputation with cult audiences for the next forty years.
Ordinarily, this book would end there. The fact that it doesn’t shows an unusual dichotomy in that it almost splits Wyngarde’s life into two, almost equal, phases. Primarily it examines with care and respect his successful public career from the mid-Fifties to the mid-Eighties; and then secondarily – and more interestingly – the far more reclusive, private life he pursued from then to the end of his life, but obviously no life can be segmented so neatly – and so it is the case here.
From the mid-Eighties, the Author came into his orbit as the long-yearned-for missing piece of Wyngarde’s jigsaw, namely a solid, dependable sounding board, and increasingly his soul mate and companion as time progressed. Hence the Author brings a unique perspective to the icon’s day-to-day world for the final third of his life, showing an insight that only someone with the ‘inside track’ could garner.
The Author recalls the frailties of the book’s subject without being melodramatic or self-pitying and for the most part the restraint is admirable. This makes the end chapters heartbreaking, as the Author takes the reader through Peter Wyngarde’s final illnesses, with the couple’s home life scrutinised in raw detail. Yet the recollection of his domestic needs during his final illness are all-too-familiar as it never fails to engage with its themes of challenge, vulnerability and the struggles of the human condition common to us all.
This is highly recommended on its own terms and a must-read for fans of Peter Wyngarde and for its study of that uniquely ‘English gentleman’ paradigm that was so prevalent during the third quarter of the 20th century, making it a great character study in its own right; not least that of its courageous and insightful author.
Pete Old – Freelance Journalist and Writer
“Peter Wyngarde – A Life Amongst Strangers” is both a meticulously researched showbiz biography and the story of the extraordinary thirty year relationship between Peter and the book’s author, Tina Wyngarde-Hopkins. What is so compelling about the book is that as well as documenting the course of Peter Wyngarde’s remarkable career, Tina takes the reader behind the stage curtain and allows us to see fully and in three dimensions the man loved by so many for the wonderful characters he created.
To people who have viewed Peter Wyngarde only as a figure on a screen, or as a name in a bit of showbiz gossip, this book will be nothing less than a revelation – and no doubt a startling one as it will certainly shatter many widely-held preconceptions and myths. But clearly we all need to be reminded that the public figures who are the subject of both adoration and malicious gossip are real people with real lives and real feelings: this, Tina achieves in the most compelling way.
She conjures for us the story of a man of great talent and personal charisma, who by the force of his gifts and determination, rises out of a difficult childhood to reach the summit of his profession. As a work examining the history of British theatre and television from the Fifties onward, and Peter’s journey through it, it is filled with colourful and fascinating detail. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of Peter’s story, however, is to fully grasp how, in the latter part of his career, this giant of the stage and screen – as eager as ever to work – finds his talents so sadly underused, due to forces both external and internal. Tina’s exploration of Peter’s life and career is as honest as it is eye-opening, and while she does not shy away from Peter’s more difficult characteristics and painful life experiences, the thread running through this book is a story of love and devotion that is deeply touching and ultimately heart-wrenching. Readers will certainly understand the author’s incorporation of “Wyngarde” into her name by the end of the book.
It is an intimate memoir in many ways – at times, painfully so. Tina conveys the ups and downs of a sometimes tempestuous relationship with uncommon frankness and openness.
Readers may be shocked by the candour of some of the disclosures in this book, but what emerges from the author’s account of Peter’s life is a portrait of Peter Wyngarde as a man as complex and filled with contradictions as any of us. And could we expect any less from the actor who brought the iconic Jason King – the ultimate maverick and non-conformist – to life so vividly? Indeed, Tina’s great achievement with this biography is in evoking for the reader the reality that behind the screen icon there was a real person, striving and struggling with the human frailties we all share – and as deserving of our empathy and our understanding as we would hope ourselves to be if similarly judged in the public spotlight. I have rarely read a biography that gives such a complete sense of its subject, both as an artist and as a real human being.”
Tania Donald – Author and Artist
“Few actors transcend their craft to be regarded as enigmas in their own right, but one such individual was the uniquely talented actor Peter Wyngarde, who whilst best remembered for his portrayal of crimebusting author Jason King in the ITC series’ ‘Department S’ and ‘Jason King’, will also be fondly recalled as Number Two in the ‘Prisoner’ episode ‘Checkmate’.
‘A Life Amongst Strangers’ is the first authorised biography of Peter. It is written by Peter’s friend, companion, and organiser of his official fan club, Tina Wyngarde-Hopkins (read the book to find out how she came to take his name). It’s an in-depth, fascinating, and touching portrayal of one of ITC’s best-loved personalities.
The first half of the book is a straight-forward biography of his life and career and the second, a personal memoir of the Author as she describes the years she spent with Peter in an amazingly frank fashion. ‘The Prisoner’ is of course covered, and it’s lovely to read several quotes from Peter about working with the series and Patrick McGoohan. I couldn’t think of a notable appearance of Peter’s during this ‘golden age of TV’ not covered, and it all made for fascinating reading, with countless quotes from Peter, and others.
The research the author has put into the career aspects of the book is quite astonishing. I am by no means an expert on Peter’s life and/or career, so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of each and every statement, but every aspect of his life which is discussed (yes, even those moments are covered!) has obviously been meticulously researched, as there are countless sources and documentation referred to and referenced throughout. If you felt you knew ‘the truth’ about Peter, this will make you think again.
After the look at his early life and career, we move into more recent times, and Tina’s personal story. It was a sad day for fans of classic TV and film when, in January 2018, Peter passed away, far too soon, after a short illness. The news was announced by Peter’s agent, Thomas Bowington, who had been with both Peter and Tina when he drew his last breath, and this event, and the weeks leading up to it, are covered in-depth in the final chapters of the book. I found this last part of the book difficult to read, not because it was bad, but because it was so ‘heartbreaking’ and touching to read, so how it must have been to actually experience the events described I can’t begin to fathom.
The only criticism (although, this could also be seen as a positive, depending on your point of view) is that perhaps the book at times becomes a little too personal, and whilst I trust the author and their sources, perhaps some opinions about some of the folk and events would have been better off not said. But then again, the author did not want a whitewash, or any stone unturned, so in that respect, it is a case of ‘job done’.
As I mentioned above, the research with regards to his career really is phenomenal, and the author has overall done Peter proud and I would thoroughly recommend this book. Do I now have a deeper knowledge of Peter’s career, and greater understanding of how life had shaped how he was? Definitely. Do I feel, having read it, that I know Peter Wyngarde? Probably not, but that’s just the way he would have wanted it.”
“I had the pleasure of reading Tina Wyngarde-Hopkins’ biography of Peter Wyngarde entitled “A Life Amongst Strangers”. I could not put this book down!
There was so much more to Peter Wyngarde than Jason King and this book is a compelling, entertaining look at Peter’s life, rich in detail. Ms. Wyngarde-Hopkins uncovers the private Wyngarde with extensive revelations of his family history through to his final days. The book is well-written and the reader will find themselves laughing out loud at some of Wyngarde’s observations on life in the theatre and his numerous encounters with well-known actors and actresses both in Europe and the United States throughout his career.
This book is time well-spent, especially for those who are interested in reading a fascinating life story. For me, reaching the end of the book was like saying good-bye to an old friend. It was nice knowing you, Peter Wyngarde.”
Ann McNeill, Toronto, Canada
Writing from the rare viewpoint of having a long-standing personal relationship with her subject, this meticulously researched book opens the doors on Wyngarde’s world- from his early struggles as a child, through to a wide-ranging and successful career in theatre, film and television and beyond, providing an intimate personal memoir of living life with a pop culture icon.
In a life which swung from the highs of national and international fame to a time when the limelight faded, Wyngarde’s thoughts have, like the man himself, remained mostly private- until now; Wyngarde-Hopkins has not been afraid to tackle controversial issues in the actor’s life. As a result the book is a fascinating chronicle of a long life spent in the spotlight, and a candid look at the price of fame for such a public figure.”
Al Samujh – Wolverhampton
I was Peter’s neighbour in Earls Terrace many moons ago. What a funny sweet guy. A hoot in the Residents Association! Steven Gilchrist – Twitter
I need a copy of that in my life. Total legend. Rick Blackman – Twitter
(Replying to news of ‘A Life Amongst strangers). That sounds great. Morris Bright MBE – Twitter