Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A Grand Day Out

Thanks to the lovely people at Specsavers, and the media company they use (MEC) really does provide some charming folk, I spent yesterday travelling up to London and watching two episodes of The TV Book Club being recorded. I'd seen one recorded in the last series, which was great fun and involved meeting Jo Brand, whom I love - this time we didn't get to chat to the presenters, because other people had priority, but I'll get onto them in a moment.

So, I arrived at Kennington tube station and whipped out my (not-so)smart phone... but Google Maps wasn't working, for some reason... and I had to try to remember the route I'd taken last time. In my family, Mum and Dad seem to have navigation as their sixth sense, and look pityingly upon me and my brother... who very much don't. We're both pretty good at getting lost (one day I'll tell you about East Chinnock's Circular Path of Ineluctability, but not today) - however, today I managed to find my way, all by myself! True, this involved turning left, walking, turning right, walking... and I'm there. But think how many times I chose not to turn left or turn right? Several, that's how many.

I arrived, and immediately spotted Keith, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last time. It was also lovely to meet Martin and Lyndsay. Clicking on their names should take you to their blogs...

But we weren't the only special guests. The lovely ladies of Elm Park Reading Group had won a competition to come and see the episodes being recorded, and it was very nice to have a quick chat with them. Here are five of their group, with lovely smiles...

I'm especially hoping that Irene (second from left) will find her way here, as we turned out to have nearly identical reading tastes - bonding over Elizabeth von Arnim, Katherine Mansfield, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Barbara Pym, Diary of a Nobody... but Irene likes Catcher in the Rye, and I don't(!) Irene - you will love E.M. Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady, promise. Now I want to go and pay a visit to the Elm Park Reading Group! Are men allowed?

Onto the episodes. The first featured a discussion about The Radleys by Matt Haig - a suburban family with secret vampiric urges. The panel (Jo Brand, Meera Syal, Stephen Tompkinson, Rory McGrath and impressively intellectual celeb guest Andrea Corr from The Corrs) all loved it, as did Nicola (one of the wonderful crew) so I will probably give it a go sometime... but me and blood aren't a great combination.

The second episode being recorded was the same panel, but with Andrea Corr ushered off and National Treasure Celia Imrie taking her place on the sofa - and they chatted about Emma Henderson's Grace Williams Says it Loud, which I have started and sidelined... again, probably not my cuppa, but an interesting discussion nonetheless. Sorry to be quite brief about them, but (a) I haven't read the books yet, and (b) you should watch the episodes yourself!

I love that the presenters - and often, although not always, the guests - are really passionate readers, and excited to talk about books. It's refreshing, for a medium that often thinks the only way people will interact with books is costume drama. We love costume drama - of course we do - but there is definitely plenty of room for book discussion programmes too. I would LOVE to see more of BBC's My Life in Books too, or (even better?) The TV Book Club could pick a year from the past (1930 would be fun) and imagine which eight books they might have chosen from that year - and do a series on them. I'd love it, anyway...

All in all, a great day out. Thanks for letting me come back!

Oh, and I did pop by the wondeful Slightly Foxed bookshop on Gloucester Road first (mostly secondhand; some new books, including their own publications) and bought a couple of books I'm pleased with. More on that soon, probably. And a neat link into tomorrow's post... and the day after's (day's after?)



  1. Sounds like you had a lovely day out. Plus you met someone with similar reading tastes! I thought for a second you were going to say you saw the episode with Jason Isaacs and I was ready to faint... A friend of mine has lent me Grace Williams which I really want to read after hearing Henderson speak and I'm all for The Radleys:) May have to nip out and get a copy!

  2. Thank you for sharing your day with us- it sounded wonderful and I'm much more likely to watch the programme now. With the last series I gave up after that awful discussion on The Little Stranger. I was even more appalled after I read the book, loved it and realised how much more it deserved!

    On another note, is Andrea Corr really ever so intellectual as well as being beautiful? That seems a bit unfair on the rest of us!

  3. Sounds great! It's good that the presenters are passionate readers as well, so that they can engage in the discussion and ask pertinent questions rather than just pre-prepared ones. I like the sound of Slightly Foxed as well - I know the quarterly review, but didn't realise they had a bookshop as well! Will have to check it out.

  4. It was great to meet you too!
    I've added your blog to my blogroll and hope our paths will cross again before long.

  5. To all you fans of 'The TV Book Club! out there. We would welcome you to the 'The TV Book Club Facebook site!
    The TV Book Clubbers spin-off site:

    rgds David:

  6. Sakura - I was pretty star struck by Celia Imrie! I'm not sure I'd recognise Jason Isaacs, though...

    Dee - I must confess I very rarely watch the programme, precisely because of the discussion of The Little Stranger, but it has got much better. Still too little emphasis on the book for my liking, but better.

    Andrew - absolutely, I can't see the point in book shows not presented by bibliophiles. It would be like Alan Bennett presenting What Not To Wear.

    Martin - lovely to meet you :)

    readermoeba - thanks for that :)


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