Shark Infested Waters: Tales of an Actors’ Agent

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#10 Amazon best-seller: Theatrical biography

In Shark Infested Waters, Michael Whitehall contrasts the glamorous image of theatrical life with the mundane realities of the business, while passing on some startling trade secrets along the way. A laconic raconteur of refreshingly unstar-struck theatrical anecdotes, Whitehall deftly sketches the social comedy of his eccentric background: growing up in suburban London in the 1950s, his schooldays at Ampleforth and his subsequent adventures as a prep schoolmaster – worthy of Evelyn Waugh himself – before becoming an actors’ agent.

Whitehall represented some of the most famous names in British film, theatre and television, though he writes about them not as ‘celebrity icons’ but as idiosyncratic human beings, rejoicing in their foibles with a deliriously dry wit. Whitehall has an acute eye for the vanities and absurdities of show business.

Shark Infested Waters is a charming, funny and piquant view of a world that continues to fascinate.



Around the time Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering were discussing on which British cathedral towns to launch their retaliatory Baedeker raids, Jack and Nora Whitehall were making up their minds where they might rent a house to get away from the London bombs. Unfortunately, Jack and Nora had the same idea as Adolf and Hermann: Exeter.



“The funniest show-business memoir I’ve read since David Niven’s The Moon’s a Balloon.” - Nigel Havers

“I adored this achingly funny book. So will you.” – Roger Lewis, Mail on Sunday

“One of the year’s funniest memoirs.” – Simon Edge, Daily Express

“He spills the beans on the stars and their pampered prima-donna ways. A hilarious memoir.” – Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail

“The most important test of show-business memoirs is whether the author’s anecdotes are any good. Michael Whitehall passes.” – Nicholas Clee, The Guardian

“This is a treasure trove of entertaining anecdotes… a stylish and extremely amusing memoir.” – Hugh Massingberd, The Oldie

“Ostensibly about actors and acting – with lots of good stories -Whitehall’s name dropping book is stingingly sharp on the post-war English social classes. I hope he writes more.” – Peter McKay, Daily Mail

“It’s a portrait of an era – and a world – and a unique individual – executed con brio. I couldn’t have liked it more.” - Gyles Brandreth

“Whitehall’s wonderfully written memoir is more star studded than the Milky Way.” – Nick Smurthwaite, The Stage



Bought the book for my daughter after we saw the Jack Whitehall and His Dad at the Riverside Studios which was great fun. The book has the same appeal as his Dad, not bad at all!” 5★

Michael Whitehall’s memoir is quite a delicious read whether or not you have any interest in the theatre or show business. Although actors such as Nigel Havers and Judi Dench do occasionally wander through its pages, the real treat is Whitehall’s enormous storytelling ability, and his apparent lifelong propensity for being caught in the company of eccentrics. His drily comedic telling of his bizarre childhood, through his very checkered pre-agent career, through his tales of agent life and beyond, leave the reader yearning for more of this deliciously absurd yet very personable writer.” 5★

The author was for a large part of his life a thestrical agent and he has some hilarious tales about the vain egotistical and insecure people that he represents. It is thus a trifle frustrating that he spends so much time describing his pre agent life. It is only when we get to page 98 that he starts on this career. Whilst the first part is amusing the remaining 170 pages are a sheer delight. I think that he is getting his own back at a few rather pompous and over indulged clients. Well worth a read.” 5★





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