From The Guardian yesterday, Mark Lawson writes:
As TV Book Club (Channel 4/More4) ends its first series without Richard and Judy, it’s time to assess how a format that transformed British bookselling is doing without its original anchors and slot in the schedule.
Laila Rouass now nominally hosts the show, although she hands most of the air-time over to makoever maven Gok Wan, captain of a critics’ panel including actor Nathaniel Parker, Jo Brand and, usually, another comedian, Dave Spikey, although this week it was actor Denis Lawson.
“Are you a big reader?” Gok soft-lobbed Lawson. “No – I hardly read anything,” he admitted, an honest but dangerous gambit on a literary panel show. But, then, discussing the book of the week, Gok confessed: “I have to admit – I’m not really at the end yet.”
Other examples of critical gambits rarely heard on Newsnight Review included: “Hey, Gorgeous!” and: “You sexy beast! You beast!”, both of which Gok used as preludes to questions.
Audiences have averaged in the low 200,000, a fraction of the numbers achieved when it was part of Richard and Judy’s afternoon show on Channel 4. But it’s always a risk for a specialist slot to spin away from a general programme (BBC2’s The Review Show swims in colder ratings waters since separation from Newsnight): the show loses the potential custom of viewers who have tuned in for something else.
An advantage is that those who bother to watch the TV Book Show on its own are guaranteed to be interested in reading. Although show-runner Amanda Ross seems to have taken the precaution of choosing some writers with an already high profile – such as Nick Hornby and Sarah Waters – there does still seem to be a sales boost: Wedlock by Wendy Moore was at 65 in the Amazon charts after being picked this week, a high position for a low-profile, non-fiction title.
Gok may not have time to read all the books, but it seems many viewers still do, even without Richard & Judy to throw the book at us.