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BBC2 to launch TV Book Club ‘Between the Covers’


BBC2 is set to launch a Friday afternoon book club show, called Between the Covers.

Starting Friday 9th October, Sara Cox will present the 30-minute TV programme that is expected to run for 7 episodes. I’m presuming that this will be on during dinnertime, based on the people involved and the description. According to a BBC press release,

Between The Covers ‘will feature some of our best known personalities chatting about their favourite books in a funny and warm-hearted half hour – a book club just for BBC Two.’

When I first read this, my eyes rolled into the back of my head. I think my exact response in a now-deleted Tweet was simply ‘WTF’.

And whilst I am pretty disappointed by what I’ve heard so far, I’m not sure my initial response was entirely fair.

It was reductive at the very least.

Harmless Entertainment or a Wasted Opportunity?

I’ve mixed feelings about the show, based on what I’ve read in the press releases so far.

I’m looking forward to Between the Covers, but with a pinch of the largest grain of salt ever devised by mankind.

If Between the Covers is on during a dinnertime slot, it could draw a good audience and generate some brilliant book-related chatter. Sara Cox is a great broadcaster, so it has that going for it, and the faces on the show will be familiar to viewers (more on that later). As somebody who’s passionate about literacy and encouraging people to read, a healthy audience for a show centered on books is great.

And yet I can’t help finding another celebrity book club to be a desperately wasted opportunity.

It’s great that Richard Osman gets to talk about his debut novel but he’s already signed a 7-figure deal with Penguin’s Random House publishing division. And The Thursday Murder Club is already top of the bestsellers thanks to his huge platform – not for any literary merit, I’m (genuinely) sorry to add. It wasn’t for me.

It strikes me as an extension of the marketing plan for a few celebrity authors’ books.

I’m concerned, based on what I’ve read so far, that it’ll be a bit like Richard Osman’s House of Games – a decent enough dinnertime entertainment show. But essentially, it’s 30 minutes of a few mates who had a spare lunchtime free, larking about whilst the camera is rolling.

How many non-celebrity authors will be featured?

It’s easy to be cynical about yet another celebrity book club.

But these kinds of shows are designed primarily for light entertainment, and the individuals involved are entertaining.

Plus, if it gets people reading, then that’s great.

But it would be nice to have some guests who are seasoned, well-respected authors in their own right. Bernadine Evaristo, for example? Hilary Mantel anybody?

Graham Norton, Richard Osman, Will Young, Sophie Ellis-Bextor… all lovely people and entertaining to watch. But they’re so-called celebrities, who happen to have written books. Books that will sell in their shedloads irrespective of a (another) cozy BBC2 love-in.

I just hope that this show is about more than selling celebs’ latest books.

Either way, I’ll be definitely be tuning in to Between the Covers on 9th October, when the wonderful Matt Haig will be talking about his latest book, The Midnight Library!

Will you be tuning in? How do you feel about the show? Let me know in the comments below.

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