This week’s TV Book Club was about The Rapture by Liz Jensen, which I reviewed last week (click here to see what I thought). The series got off to a shaky start, but has been improving week on week; so I was keen to see how it would go this time. In the end, it was better than some weeks, but not great.

One again, the panel was a member down, with Gok Wan away; once again, the format worked better with fewer people. This week’s guest celebrity was Martine McCutcheon; the interview with her contained the show’s first misstep. In previous weeks, this segment has been much better when the guest was interviewed about the books they like to read, rather than about their own book. The first question was about the former subject, but the conversation soon turned to the writing of McCutcheon’s novel — and the end result was indeed poorer than the interviews in the last few episodes.

I’ve always found the vox-pop non-fiction items unsatisfactory, but I think this week’s was the worst so far. It was about a book on regional dialects, called How to Talk Like a Local, by the Countdown lexicographer Susie Dent. This could have been such ain interesting item, particularly if the author had contributed — but, no. What we got instead was a comedian named Alun Cochrane travelling back and forth between the West and East Midlands, trying to find the point at which the local word for a bread roll changes from ‘batch’ to ‘cob’. That was it: no exploration of where those words come from, or how such differences arise — nothing. One could be forgiven for watching that item and not being able to name the book connected to it. Very disappointing.

After a weak first half, then, we headed out of the commercial break, and into the usual short filmed interview with an author who’d been chosen for the Book Club in previous years (this week it was David Mitchell, of Cloud Atlas fame — another book I should probably read, but haven’t). Then it was time to turn to The Rapture — and it wasn’t a bad discussion, actually. The panel had a lot to say about the novel (which they all liked); it was perhaps always going to be an impossible task to really get under the skin of the book in the time available, when it can be approached from so many angles — but the conversation brought across just how much there is in The Rapture. And McCutcheon, while not as insightful as some of the previous guests in the series, made a worthwhile contribution nevertheless.

Not one of the better TV Book Club episodes, I’d say, let down in particular by a poor first half — but quite a good discussion of the featured title, which is of course where it counts the most.