Today, the BBC announced a year of book-related programming, and has a rather extensive website detailing what’s going to be included. Naturally, I’m very pleased to see this, as we really don’t get enough book-related television in this country; and there are some interesting programmes lined up, from Sebastian Faulks on the characters in British fiction to a series on books as artefacts. I’m sure I will find plenty to watch.
And yet… I have a nagging sense that “Books On The BBC” may not be all that it could be. On the basis of the website, it seems to me that there could have been more diversity in terms of the presenters and books covered in the documentaries, and the works chosen for dramatic adaptation.
It also feels that too much of the discussion about new books is being tucked away on the radio, or in late-night television strands like The Review Show, which won’t give it such a high profile. I’m pleased to see there’ll be a Culture Show special on “Britain’s Best New Novelists”, but the most prominent new programme in the schedules is likely to be My Life in Books, essentially a bookish version of Desert Island Discs (hosted by Anne Robinson, who was quoted yesterday as saying that contemporary fiction was not her reading material of choice), a format which will inevitably focus on older books.
Those are my initial reservations, then, though of course I recognise that I’m talking about a season of programmes that hasn’t even begun. I do look forward to that season, and I hope it heralds a prominent place for book-related programming in this country.