Books on TV

If I had to pick one thing about TV programs about books that annoy me, it's their relentless middle-classness. I just checked out a UK show called TV Book Club and it's just ... irritating in a way that's hard to pin down. Don't get me wrong, I'm  all for books being reviewed on television, and more of it, I say; but does it all have to be so irredeemably cosy?

The one show that doesn't necessarily piss me off in this way - at least in the UK, and at least not all the time - is Late Review. It's not just about books, but they get a reasonably interesting range of people on to talk about film, music,writing and so on. And even when I wildly disagreed with him - which was pretty much all the time - the author Will Self (when they used to have him on) was at least entertaining, giving off the aura of a man trapped at an interminably awful  dinner party and desperate to find some excuse to leap up, grab his coat and escape at the first available opportunity.  And TV Book Club was like having a window into precisely that kind of stiff and awkward dinner party, but populated by people with their best showbiz faces on.

We live in the age of online video, and yet there seems to be a dearth of quality literary discussion that takes advantage of that technology, particularly when it comes to the sf and fantasy genres. And I'm talking about something with balls, with the kind of rancourous debate and excited opinion-chucking to be found at the best con panels. It's not like we're lacking in opinions - far from it. Yes, there are a couple of interesting podcasts out there, but I live in hope that someone out there with the requisite skill and ambition might just decide to create an online video show about writing and about the genre*. It would be nice.

*I believe there was a Canadian TV show along these lines called Prisoners of Gravity,  except what little I've been able to force myself to watch is so astoundingly, toe-curlingly condescending and cheesy, that whatever idiot came up with the idea in the first place should be dispatched without mercy.


Anonymous said...

Irredeemably cosy and middle class though it may be, the Book Show on Sky Arts is presented by Mariella Frostrup who does for me and other middle class males what would otherwise take a factory full of Pfizers finest


Anonymous said...

What I`d give for the chance at some rancourous debate...in fact, the book I`m reading right now, ostensibly for an IZ review, would if critiqued publically in the way that it should would ignite some flamey words, I can tell you. This is a weighty doorstop fantasy whose author has clearly never heard of said-bookism; worse, his UK editor, a man of no mean standing, clearly thinks that this plonking approach to dialogue just isn't a problem. This is a 600pager, I`m at roughly page 210 and the action is still taking place at the same location as it did at the start. Add to this a coterie of characters who will stop in the middle of a fight scene to sneer at each other...dear god, what is a ranty boy to do?

The Antihippy said...

Going to have to disagree with you about Latenight review. While they do cover interesting topics; frequently they also get the wrong people on the panel. It often has the air of an elitist middle-class club where it's not so much the quality of what's being reviewed but whether it carries the requisite cachet of the panel.
I'm surprised you like it so much given that Germaine Greer is a staple on the show.