This book has taken on new significance for me since recent revelations about British news organizations allegedly using phone hacking and other legally questionable means to dig up private information about politicians, celebrities and crime victims in order to manipulate, exploit and intimidate them--what the comedian Steve Coogan called a "protection racket." Although this book delivers on its title's promise of a VIP backstage pass to Matt Lucas and David Walliams' "Little Britain Live" stage tour, there's a darker undercurrent to the narrative that I believe has to do with the purported racket that, if it was after Steve Coogan, would certainly have targeted Lucas and Walliams at the height of their "Little Britain" driven popularity in 2005-6, the time period documented in this book.
The wary relationship between Lucas and Walliams and the media is constantly at the forefront. Matt and David are continually checking the papers (particularly the tabloids) to see what's being said about them. A press reception is a treacherous swim through shark-infested waters, while an upcoming unauthorized TV documentary about them is an occasion for dread, particularly for David. The first time I read the book I was shocked at how much personal information David allowed to be included in it, particularly about his sex life and psychological issues--was he naive or just given bad advice by his PR people? I now realize that, finding himself suddenly under a viciously prurient level of scrutiny as an A-list celebrity, it was probably very sensible for him to preempt the scandalmongers by telling it all himself. As for Matt, the depiction here of his contented domestic life on the road with his partner seems sad and perhaps questionable now, given the tragedy that ensued.
Like the targets of the Leveson inquiry, we tend to be cynical about people in the public eye, believing that free publicity more than makes up for being allowed no privacy. I think the inhumanity of that attitude is illustrated by the level of misery that was endured by these two harmless clowns who were just trying to put on a good show.