Amiability can take you a long way in British public life. James Corden is no fool: he co-wrote and co-starred in three series of Gavin and Stacey, and wowed the National Theatre this summer with a barnstorming performance in One Man, Two Guvnors. But there’s no doubt that his Fat Lad Made Good persona, and his almost puppyish desire to please, have contributed to a popularity that other, more guarded performers can only envy.
His memoir, May I Have Your Attention, Please? (Century, £18.99), has barrelled straight into the top ten bestsellers list. It has loads of energy and some good stories. But Corden is only 33. He simply hasn’t lived enough life to fill 300 pages. What amounts to a whole chapter about his GCSE options tends to suggest that the available material is being stretched a bit thin. Nor does the gushy tone help — everyone he has worked with has been fantastic, his girlfriend is the love of his life, fatherhood is marvellous and so on.
You very nearly forgive him, though, because of his extraordinary propensity for shooting himself in the foot. He has been doing it all his life, from early childhood to Lesbian Vampire Killers, one of the worst films ever made. He doesn’t think things through, he won’t be told, he makes catastrophic errors and everyone loves him for it. He is, in short, the showbiz Boris Johnson. He has come a long way already, and will go much, much further.