One of Them contains as many multitudes as its author: glorious nostalgia, wicked showbiz gossip, a stirring history of a civil rights movement, a sorrowfully clear-eyed exposition of Britain's standing in Europe, and an unforgettable love story. Told with warmth, wit and humanity, it is an account of a life lived both left-of-field and firmly embedded in the heart of all that makes Britain liberal and good.
Michael Cashman has lived many lives, all of them remarkable: as a beloved actor of stage and screen; as a campaigner for gay rights; as an MEP and as a life peer.
Born in the post-war East End of London, young Michael's life is changed when he is spotted in a school play, cast in Lionel Bart's Oliver! and is transported to the glittering West End. Acting on stage and screen into adulthood, he finds his most defining role as Colin in Eastenders, making television history as one half of the first gay kiss ever broadcast on a British soap. But it is a chance encounter in a Butlins resort that leads Michael to the great love of his life: Paul Cottingham, who would become his husband and partner of 31 years.
We follow Michael's second act, as with Ian McKellen he founds and chairs Stonewall, fighting tirelessly for civil liberties all over the world before entering the world of politics. His adventures and misadventures lead him and Paul as far and wide as high tea in LA with David Hockney to flirting with Joan Collins to flying the rainbow flag over the Albert Hall with Elton John. But Michael's greatest triumphs are seasoned with bitter loss – and he continues his ceaseless fight bearing a profound grief.
The Royal Society of Literature (RSL)
One of Them has been shortlisted for the RSL Christopher Bland prize in 2021.
In the same year it was also longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.
This is the most wonderful news – and to see my book associated and shortlisted for this wonderful literary prize makes me so proud. Thank you to all who have made it possible.
'Apart from its important contribution to British social history, this is a book to be savoured for its own sake as a wonderful piece of descriptive writing and a rollicking good read'
Alan Johnson, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom
'Michael Cashman's beautifully crafted memoir left me in tears and grateful that he had the courage to lay out his almost unimaginable life with such impressive honesty'
Armistead Maupin, American writer
'This book, unlike any other I've read, is a true portrait of a brave actor, politician and Lord. Michael Cashman shares his most private feelings in a memoir to cherish'
Ian McKellen, Actor
'A beautifully written, funny memoir'
Jo Brand, Comedian
'‘Michael Cashman describes his journey from a cruel Dickensian childhood to the dignity of the House of Lords with brutal honesty. I was shocked, amused, and deeply moved by this life of a brave, good, man.’
Sheila Hancock, English actress