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Book review: Raising An Eyebrow: My Life With Sir Roger Moore

By: Brian Smith
Raising An Eyebrow Gareth Owen book review
By the time of Sir Roger Moore’s passing in May 2017, he had been entertaining us in films, television and on stage for eight decades. He was as dapper in real life as he was on screen. Whether playing Simon Templar or James Bond, he always had a glint in his eye, enabling the audience to share the fun. He was a more talented actor, and filmmaker, than he himself would ever admit to. Movies like The Man Who Haunted Himself and The Naked Face are testament to that. For those of us of a certain age he was our favourite hero, appearing in a slew of action films throughout the Seventies and Eighties such as Gold, Shout At The Devil, The Wild Geese, North Sea Hijack, The Sea Wolves and of course, as the spy we loved to see.

In recent years his film and television appearances became less frequent, but he kept busy as ever with what he considered his greatest role – that of UNICEF Ambassador. He published four books and An Evening with Sir Roger Moore toured UK theatres to great success. At his side for the last sixteen years was his PA, business manager, collaborator, co-star and friend – Gareth Owen. In Raising An Eyebrow, Owen looks back on his time working with Sir Roger Moore.

The story begins with Owen’s formative years. He explains how a 21-year-old physics student from Wales decided he wanted to enter the film industry. Instead of taking the normal career route Owen ‘jumped in at the deep end’ and opened an office at Pinewood Studios near London. One of his early credits as a film producer was on Edgar Wright’s first feature film. He also got to know Doris Spriggs, Moore’s PA at the time, who ran his office at the studio. Owen published his first book, The Pinewood Story, in 2000 (still the definitive history of the studio), followed later by a similar book on Shepperton Studios. He then collaborated with special effects maestro Bert Luxford on his autobiography in 2002. That same year he wrote (with Oliver Bayan) Roger Moore: His Films and Career. Although Moore was initially reluctant to be involved, Owen’s material gave him the confidence to give the project his blessing. When Doris Spriggs retired in 2002, Owen was her natural successor.

The second half of the book works on two levels, continuing Owen’s personal story but it also serves as the final chapter of Moore’s which began in My Word Is My Bond. His autobiography was written by Owen with continual input from Moore. When My Word Is My Bond was published it became an instant bestseller.

Owen provides a fascinating insight into working initially for, and then with, Moore - everything from organising his diary, personal appearances, UNICEF, their book projects, the development of the stage show (in which Owen would act as Moore’s interviewer), and the close bond that developed between the two. Owen explains that a PA is akin to being a family member, as he was a part of Moore’s daily routines. In her foreword, Britt Ekland observes that it was evident to anyone who saw them together that they were the best of friends. The book also contains 16 pages of colour photos, all from personal collections.

Owen writes with wit, affection and poignancy, especially in those difficult last chapters. But this is also a celebration of a life well lived. ‘I once dreamed of my own office at Pinewood,’ writes Owen. ‘That dream, and a whole lot more, really did come true.’ And therein lies this book’s heart and soul. Highly recommended.

Review by Brian James Smith. Copyright © 2020 From Sweden with Love. All rights reserved.

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