'He had nothing to commend him as an actor, really. He had a face like a delinquent lizard, a voice like a corncrake and a body like a broken penknife.' James Grout, fellow actor and friend.

Whether he was playing seedy landlord Rupert Rigsby in Rising Damp or frustrated suburban dreamer Reggie Perrin, Leonard Rossiter gave us performances so iconic, so utterly memorable, that they have achieved timelessness. Like the comic creations of Peter Sellers or Ronnie Barker, his characters seem more real to us than the actor who played them, who for many years has remained a mystery. There has never been a biography or autobiography, and the fragments we have heard about him - such as his supposed ruthlessness and disdain for other actors - are partial and offer no real insights into his undoubtedly complex character. This book redresses the balance, offering for the first time an in-depth account of Rossiter's life and work. Through extensive interviews with those who knew and worked with him, author Guy Adams brings to life the man behind the threadbare cardigan and manic grimace and reveals how he was able to produce such epoch-defining performances. As well as Reggie Perrin and Rigsby, Rossiter played a host of other parts in a career spanning thirty years: in the theatre, from The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui to Joe Orton's Loot; on television, from Steptoe and Son to Z-Cars; in films including Oliver! and Barry Lyndon; and last but not least, in the much-loved Cinzano adverts co-starring Joan Collins. The book explores all of Rossiter's roles, revealing a man whose single-mindedness and belief in his own abilities not only resulted in brilliant performances, but could rub people up the wrong way too. We also meet Rossiter the private man - an accomplished sportsman, a devoted father and a loyal friend, yet someone who was alleged to have been rather less than perfect in matters of the heart. Affectionate, fascinating, and long overdue, this book finally gives a personality to the man behind some of the greatest comic performances of the twentieth century.




Leonard Rossiter: Character Driven: The untold story of a comic genius