The TV Book Club… Thoughts

I did have another post planned for this morning, which will be up this afternoon, I just couldn’t not write about this. I don’t normally write about things I am not impressed by but I couldn’t really let the last 25 minutes of TV I have endured slip by with out comment. Despite the fact that it’s been one of the most hyped shows in a while I missed ‘The TV Book Show’ last night (because I am a Dancing on Ice addict) but have just watched it first thing this morning with my cup of coffee and toast and have come away in a rather bad mood.

For those of you who have no clue what I have started rambling about we have had a big book club on the television for a few years now called The Richard and Judy Book Club. It’s been a huge hit here in the UK and has seen all the books become best sellers and has made a lot more people get into reading. It was only a ten minute segment on their channel 4 chat show but it was a blissful bookish ten minutes perfectly pitched with the author talking, two celebrities debating the book with R&J and then a book groups opinions on the book. Delightful!

Richard and Judy left Channel 4 taking their book group and a whole heap of money with them and so now Channel 4 have produced a similar show only now we get 25 minutes and five presenters which to me sounded like a dream, until I just watched it.

I am going to forgive the fact that all the presenters seemed a bit too smiley, nodding and talked over one another trying to be the star or the funniest because it was the first show, mind you surely they had rehearsal time. I don’t think we needed a discussion about how David Spikey says ‘book’ for a minute or another minute long chat about how posh Chris Evans thinks Jo Brand has gotten whilst Laila Rouass and Gok Wan pout obliviously the later livening up for the occasional flirting moment aimed at Nathaniel Parker. Cringe worthy but still forgivable for a first show.

What I cant forgive is the fact that Chris Evans (we all know autobiography sales have dropped so clearly the marketing people on the book show haven’t their fingers on the bookish pulse) got a whacking great ten minutes to talk about himself his book, followed by a segment on unused words The One Show did last week and the actual book choice got a minute of Sarah Waters talking (which was ace) before the book got a quick three minute chat which was summed up by the line ‘it’s worth a read really’.

What really made me frustrated was that for the money the public will have spent on the book (unless its from a library) it is just not right that they are repaid with such a limp small discussion, well chat. What bothers me more is that a book like Sarah Waters ‘The Little Stranger’ takes a long time to read and when you are aiming a book group at parents and people who don’t read as much because they are busy with children, work etc as well as discerned readers its just a disgrace when people invest so much time in a book to be treated to that. (I might even send a strongly worded email its riled me so, for the people in control are sure not to read book blogs if the show was anything to go by.) I might wait a week and see how things go in the next programme. I am really quite annoyed about it though can you tell?

I mean, if I was making the book show I would get rid of the ‘hilarious aren’t we’ or ‘pouting’ panel and get in some book addicts who would happily be paid less (hint, hint, me) and who would enthuse about all things bookish (and not need to have written questions and notes in their copy – yes Mr Spikey I mean you) rather than spend four minutes discussing a book they had to read, and didn’t seem to like without giving any good reasons as to why, to earn the channel and themselves some cash. I would also bring back the Book Groups and their wonderful thoughts on the books. There am done… I feel better now. Sorry about the rant a lovely Bloomsbury Group post will be up later.

 I know Jackie from Farmlanebooks saw this last night and you can see her thoughts here, as did Dovegreyreader here. Who else watched this and what did you think?


Filed under Book Thoughts

51 responses to “The TV Book Club… Thoughts

  1. I completely forgot it was on! Probably a good thing it seems. I will try to watch next week though – it’ll be interesting to see if it develops at all!

  2. It is good to see that you were annoyed as I was. I’m pleased that I read The Little Stranger a long time ago, as if I’d read it especially for the show I’d have been very annoyed, as you say it is a big investment of time and to be rewarded with such a confused, unorganised few minutes is an insult. Terrible.

    • Its the fact that the producers arent thinking of the public other than how much money they will spend, what about the time thats what annoys me. Bringing out a book show about people who love books with a great weekly read shouldnt be that complex and can work. Makes me cross thinking about it again hahaha.

  3. I didn’t watch it actually birthday cocktails was far more alluring looks like I made the right decision. I used to love Richard and Judy’s Book Club, not sure if I want to watch this new one, part of me needs to see how bad it was though!

  4. I am *completely* with you. It seemed obsessed with celebrity (Gok Wan and Laila Rouass??) and the pitiful amount of time given to Sarah Waters was laughable. They’ve cocked it up, in short. A good books programme is desperately needed on British TV, and this just felt like a missed chance.

    • We do need a great books TV show on a mainstream channel (I am actually shocked more 4 allowed this show at all they are normally so good) and realistically it shouldnt be that hard. Maybe a few of us should offer to do it instead?

      • Yes let’s! I reckon that between us we could rustle up something pretty amazing. Who do we write to?

      • I think either one of the commisioners at Channel 4, or go for the rivals BBC4 and BBC2 hahaha. I am wondering if there is someway to do a The book Blogging Show on blogs… have my thinking cap on!

  5. I only watched the last half and thought it was rubbish.

    There’s a good summary on the Bookseller site today:

  6. I haven’t seen it yet – will post my thoughts on it afterwards …

  7. I’ve never watched any TV book clubs (unless some snippets of Oprah count?), but this format sounds like it would’ve driven me crazy. Multiply that by the fact that The Little Stranger was reviewed and discussed by almost every book blogger in the country – so I’ve had plenty of access to insightful commentary about it.

    • Some of Oprah counts as have heard hers were sporadic but very, very good. I hadnt thought about that aspect of it actually. We do all know rather a lot about Sarah Waters book, they should have phoned us all instead.

  8. Julie

    Quite frankly it was a dumbed-down waste of 30 minutes.
    Wouldn’t be be nice to have a slot about classics/older titles? Some of us *do* read books published before 2009, after all…

    • I agree about the classics Julie, I just think they arent marketing themselves like that which I can and can’t understand its a tricky one, they are trying to be current. I don’t actually mind the book titles they have chosen, I just feel slightly offended by the way they dealt with The Little Strnager yesterday.

  9. You know you’re in trouble when you copy The One Show. In fact, if Adrian Chiles turns up one week I’m turning off.

  10. m

    I do hope that it doesn’t put people off reading The Little Stranger, which is Sarah Waters at her finest, though why anyone would care about the opinions of a bunch of D-list celebs … Gok should stick to frocks, he didn’t seem to have even a glimmer of understanding of what the book was about.
    However, are we missing the point … ? Gok Wan wears silly spectacles. The Book Club is sponsored by Specsavers. Who also sponsor How to Look Good Naked. Presented by Gok Wan.
    How naive we are … and we thought it was all about books.

  11. We watched it too Simon and have posted our thoughts on the blog if you want to take a look interestingly we had a tweet from Richard Madeley this morning saying: ‘Our BK will be back later this year – it’s a big job to set it up and we dont want to rush it. Going well tho’ so it will be interesting to see how that one unfolds… 🙂

    • Good old Madeley you can rely on the R&J can’t you even if they are doing things sperately for a while or whatever the rumour was. Glad that their BG is coming back and that they are taking time over it. Let’s see what they come up with!

  12. I didn’t realise this was on yet, and having read three rather disappointed reactions from you, Jackie, and Lynne, I can’t say I’m desperate to catch up with it… (plus Chris Evans really annoys me)

    • I think its worth viewing now just to see what the fuss was about to be honest. Also just to watch some car crash TV. I think this hype will probably get it loads and loads of replays on the net!

  13. Yes – I’m with you on almost all of this – have just blogged about it myself, but will link to your post at the end of the blog! I think you’re absolutely right about including real book clubs – so much more insightful.

    • Thanks for popping by and commenting Kate I shall pop and have a look at your post shortly. I think it will be interesting to see what R&J come up with next after this, it could be interesting. Hopefully the people in charge of More 4 and the show will see what everyone is saying and sort it out.

  14. Unfortunately I don’t get to see it on this side of the Atlantic, but after seeing these mentions I am totally intrigued. I loved Sarah Waters book and it sounds as though the discussion wasn’t very positive towards it but maybe they didn’t give enough time to really talk about it. What are they reading next? Maybe this will end up on Youtube eventually and I can satisfy my curiosity…

    • I wonder if it will be on Youtube eventually. I imagine that it will eventually. The next book choice is Blacklands by Belinda Bauer which is a crime thriller so lets see how they do with that!

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  16. And to think that I complained just a week ago that we didn’t have a national show like this in the U.S. … it seems I spoke too soon. I can do without *this* sort of thing on! I guess I will wait until you folks sort out the matter and produce something a bit more intelligent and then I will lament our backwardness. I was premature. 😉

    • Hahaha we did have a marvellous show here but it only lasted ten minutes as a segment in another show. We also have the marvellous Mariella Frostrup doing The Book Show on Sky Arts but I dont have sky, most people here have freeview.

      I think if the producers read everyones thoughts and take all the feedback on board and change the show it could be very good. A book show is a simple premise I dont understand how they got it that wrong.

  17. mee

    I’m sorry that it was so bad. We have something similar here in Australia. It’s ABC show, once a month, called the First Tuesday Book Club. I really love that one. Everybody seems to really really love to read. Sometimes they go off on a tangent when reminded about other books, showing that they do read a lot. They discuss 2 books each time, one contemporary one classic. Each gets about 10 minutes discussion. The whole show is 30 minutes. (10 minutes in between to talk about what everyone in the panel has been reading recently.)

  18. adele geras

    I thought it was dreadful! The worst disappointment of all was Jo Brand because I did expect her to be both funny and perceptive. All she could muster was: “I don’t like ghost stories and I don’t like posh people.” Words fail me. Apparently though, the show is neither here nor there in terms of sales. The books are doing well, all of them. And that is the point I suppose. Hopeless for those of us who would like to watch an intelligent book show on the telly.

    • Wow I feel most thrilled you have popped by and commented Adele. It was awful wasnt it? It was the fact people paid and gave time to books with no reward that annoyed me most.

      Jo Brand was a big disappointment for me as actually I thought she would be much better, and weren’t her glasses distracting! I couldnt stand David Spikey I dont know why he just grated. I wonder how next week will go?

  19. I gave up watching after 10 mins I was so annoyed. Apart from Jo Brand who I find funny and so who’s opinion I would be vaguely intersted in I can’t see why any of the other panel members opinions would be worth having. So rubbish.

    • I think the producers are trying very hard to get celebrities in who supposidly love books, I wasnt sure they did and Gok and Jo made some rather silly bookish comments about not reading or not liking gothic books, just seemed unthought through other than how much money it with make the producers!

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  22. I just caught up on the programme but missed out on the first episode with Sarah Waters (which I really wanted to see) and frankly, I was stunned. I was expecting a programme where you could expect some sort of intelligent discussion about the book in question, but I didn’t really see that anywhere. I’m no longer surprised at the reactions on all the book blogs. I don’t understand why TV studios feel they need to dumb down programmes about books (and everything else). It makes me sad and angry to think that they don’t think the public are up to it.

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