A little while ago I was asked, along with four other bloggers, to see the TV Book Club being recorded in London – and to meet the presenters. Naturally I was beside myself with excitement, and sent off a ‘yes’ to charming Richard who invited me. Before long I was meeting Claire (aka Paperback Reader) at Paddington for sushi, and then heading out to Cactus Studios. We didn’t even get lost, so that’s something to celebrate.The other bloggers there were David of Follow the Thread (whom I had met a couple of times before), Keith from Books and Writers , and Cherry of Cherry Mischevious. Clicking on those three links will take you to their thoughts about the day – because they’ve been a bit more organised than me. I’ll pop in a link to Claire’s post later today. EDIT: here it is!
I have seen a few programmes being recorded before, including My Life in Books earlier in February, but this one doesn’t actually have a studio audience. We felt very privileged – sitting on chairs, leaning against the counter of Saturday Kitchen (which, in turns out, is filmed in the same studio), and watching the presenters discussing Bleed For Me by Michael Robotham. It’s a gory thriller set in a small Somerset village. A bit close to home. I’ve got to say, despite the presenters and VT book group raving about it, nothing about the novel appeals to this squeamish reader. Although, having said that, Jo Brand assured me afterwards that she loved it despite being squeamish.
That’s right – Jo Brand spoke to me! We were invited to the Green Room for tea and cake aftewards (it was Charlotte’s birthday and she kindly shared her delicious birthday cake – I was pleased to see that the stick-thin, uber-glamorous TV types still ate cake. I was worried it would just be me cramming it into my mouth in the corner.) Jo Brand, Meera Syal, and Dave Spikey came and had a nice, friendly chat with us. Jo Brand is my favourite comedienne, and I was *so* excited to meet her – I tried to keep my cool and be nonchalant, but I don’t think I’ve ever really successfully grasped nonchalance… at least I didn’t break down in tears, sobbing about how much I love her.
As for the show – I love that the presenters (who also include Ade Edmondson and Laila Rouass) are passionate about books, and that this programme is shown. TV Channels seem to be waking up to the fact that a lot of people love books. I just wish the TV Book Club, in many ways admirable, would have the courage to avoid dumbing down at all. Not in their choice of books – they seem great in general – but in the format of the programme. Nigel Havers was great on the episode I saw, and the pre-recordered VTs etc. are usually fun and interesting, but please let’s cut some of the celebrities coming on to shift their biographies. Case in point – Ken Barlow from Coronation Street flogging his book; the first thing he said was “I’ve never been much of a reader.” BUT this is a small niggle with the show, which overall I think is great.
Oh, and then we were given a bunch of books to take home, and a goody bag from Specsavers (who sponsor the show, and were responsible for us being there – so I’m going to shamefully advertise them. I wear Specsavers’ glasses myself, and they’re pretty fab.) Thanks Richard and Candace who arranged it; Amanda Ross (most powerful person in the book industry!) for showing us around the technical bits; Charlotte for giving us cake, and Jo Brand for making a little dream of mine come true.