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Book Reviews

Behind the footage: a survey of a career in TV

By Jo Manby

Reggie Yates: Unseen – My Journey, by Reggie Yates. BBC Books and Penguin Random House, London: 2017

In this book, Reggie Yates provides those who have watched his BBC documentaries (‘Extreme Russia’, ‘Extreme South Africa’, among many others) with a behind-the-scenes look at their making, plus an understanding of his own career development.

If you haven’t seen his documentaries then this book gives a flavour of his presenting style on-screen, as he dissects the films in detail; but with the additional insights of a written narrative. The major landmarks, and all the highways and byways in between. His documentaries explore, broadly speaking, youth-centred issues – such as being young and gay in Russia, aspiring to supermodel status in Siberia, body modification in the UK.

Yates’ first official job as a working actor age nine was ‘a tiny role on Channel 4’s longest-running sitcom at the time’, Desmond’s. A black family with a successful barbershop in Peckham, South East London. Some years later he comes across Louis Theroux documentaries and immediately knows that ‘this was a lane I would kill to operate in.’

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