Book programmes on TV and radio

An officer and a spyRobert Harris, author and chair of the Costa Book Awards judging panel, has said that the BBC should show more programmes about books. What do you think?

He said. “In the 1970s, when this prize was launched, there were two books programmes on British television: The Book Programme with Robert Robertson and Read All About It with Melvyn Bragg. If I remember rightly, The Book Programme was on BBC Two and Melvyn Bragg was on BBC One. Imagine that: a books programme on BBC One! Both were running at the same time when we only had three channels. We now have 300 channels but we don’t have any dedicated books programmes. It’s a serious point. I do wish the BBC would fulfil that bit of its charter remit and give books what they used to, because there’s nowhere to go. Is it too much to ask?”

Robert Harris is a best-selling author himself, as well as being a former journalist with the BBC. His books include-Fatherland, Pompeii, The Ghost and Archangel which was adapted as a BBC drama starring Daniel Craig.

 

He also made a joke about rival Man Booker Prize, saying that the Costa was “not a prize for books that people think they ought to read, but for books that people want to read. Some winners of other literary prizes are books that “the public don’t quite get…This is a book that I think everyone will like. The judges’ brief is to select a well-written, enjoyable book that they would strongly recommend anyone to read. It’s not the Booker Prize, it has its own particular stamp. It goes for good quality writing.”

The BBC say they have programmes like Radio 4’s ‘A Good Read’ and BBC Four’s The Secret Life of Books, run the BBC National Short Story Award, and introduce millions to new books through adaptations like Wolf Hall, the Casual Vacancy and Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime.

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3 thoughts on “Book programmes on TV and radio

  1. But many of those programmes are just adaptations and it’s usually better to read the book first…

    Granted, a programme about books is likely to be more static than, for example, one about movies, where you can intersperse the Talking Heads with a video clip or two…

    But if the BBC is going to claim showing adaptations is introducing us to books, could we not, at least, have ‘Jackanory’ back and revive the art of storytelling?

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