Magazine article The Spectator

BOOKENDS - Inspiration for a Cult Hero

Magazine article The Spectator

BOOKENDS - Inspiration for a Cult Hero

Article excerpt

This is an odd book: the exhaustive biography of a complete nobody.

Vivian Mackerrell was the primary inspiration for the cult that is Withnail. In that, at least, he doesn't disappoint. Mackerrell emerges from Colin Bacon's eulogy, Vivian and I (Quartet, £12), as a rakish Charles Pooter, sunk by alcoholic degeneracy at the age of 24, though he staggered on gamely for another 30 years.

The paucity of Mackerrell's life leaves Bacon to indulge in bawdy nostalgia about the Sixties. Turns out it was just like The Rachel Pape rs : lots of jives, more dope and endless fumbling, which is hardly surprising, given the participants' unsteady condition.

Mackerrell's dissipated life was defined by the talent of others.

He lived with Bruce Robinson, writer and director of Withnail and I. …

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