Grace Campbell has written a book about shame

Thursday 22nd October 2020, 12:06pm by Jay Richardson

Grace Campbell.

Comedian Grace Campbell has written her first book, in which she opens up about competing with Tony Blair for the attention of her spin doctor father, Alastair Campbell.

In Amazing Disgrace: A Book About Shame, published by Hodder Studio on the 29th October, the stand-up, whose mother is Fiona Millar, former adviser to Cherie Blair, reflects upon the scrutiny her family came under when her father served as Labour Prime Minister Blair's spokesperson and later Downing Street Director of Communications, in the period spanning 1994-2005.

Described as part-memoir, part-manifesto, the book focuses on the comic, a committed over-sharer, expanding on her relationship with shame and how her father's profile caused her to grow up with anxiety.

"My brothers got lots of pre-Tony Time because they're older than me," Campbell told guest presenter Christine Lampard on Lorraine this morning. "I got no pre-Tony time, my whole life has been Tony Time.

"So Tony Blair came into our world when I was a baby and stole my dad from me ... I was jealous. Of course I was jealous, because I was competing with the Prime Minister, how can that not make you incredibly insecure?"

The comic, who runs The Disgraceful Club, a stand-up night in Soho for female and LGBTQ+ comedians dedicated to people owning their shame, also spoke of how the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when she was nine-years-old and her father was involved in the preparation of the so-called "dodgy dossier", arguing the case for concerns over possible weapons of mass destruction held by Saddam Hussein, led to their house being surrounded by protesters calling him "a war criminal".

"My first 10 years of life, he was off doing really glamorous things" she told Lampard. "Hanging out with all of these cool celebrities like the Spice Girls, he met Nelson Mandela. And I was just like, 'I want him here, giving me that attention'. As a child I was jealous to be honest.

"And then I got a bit older as a teenager, I became hyper-aware of the way that people on the outside world see my dad and it made me incredibly protective of him and it formed a lot of my anxiety really, because I worry a lot about him and I have to always make sure that he's ok ... the pressure, when you're parent is in politics to act a certain way and make sure you're always behaving so that you don't embarrass them or shame them. That was a huge pressure that did affect me."

Campbell, whose UK tour, Grace Campbell: Why I'm Never Going Into Politics, was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, hosts the mental health podcast Football, Feminism + Everything In Between with her father and says her parents are fine with the book and her vocation.

"Nothing shocks my parents" she said. "I do stand-up comedy and when they're at my gigs. I never think 'oh, I can't say that because Mum and Dad are here. I'm like 'oh, I hope Mum and Dad think I'm really funny today'. But I never filter what I say and they've always been that way, ever since I was a child .. they weren't shocked or anything."

Campbell has also written The Future Of Men, due to be published on 12th November, which is part of a series of long-form journalism that also includes The Future Of British Politics from Frankie Boyle.

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Grace Campbell - Amazing Disgrace

Grace Campbell - Amazing Disgrace

A book about "shame".

For as long as she can remember, Grace Campbell has been told that she doesn't suit her name. But being graceful is no fun anyway.

Growing up in a world of privilege and politics, she had a lot to feel confident about. But she was also a record-breaker when it came to feeling shame. Shame about sex, shame about rejection, shame about mental health.

But over time, and with a 24 carat gold dose of female friendship, Grace has turned shame into a defiant sense of self. At only 26, Grace has got a lot to learn about being an adult, but she's already got a lot to share about being a disgrace, and how she came to be utterly, disgustingly, disgracefully proud of it.

It's the book every young woman should read, and every young man should worry about.

First published: Thursday 29th October 2020

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