Book club begins new chapter without Richard and Judy

The TV Book Club, More4

After a miserable Christmas that saw the MD of Waterstone's lose his job, there has been a glimmer of new year cheer for high street booksellers – the return of that great engine of sales (for the lucky featured authors, at least), Richard and Judy's Book Club. Except it's no longer Richard and Judy's, but Jo, Gok, Laila, Dave and Nathaniel's Book Club. Actually, it was more like Jo and Dave's Book Club, as comedians Jo Brand and Dave Spikey seemed to be in charge of fellow "members", Laila Rouass, Gok Wan and Nathaniel Parker. And frankly Rouass struggled to get a word in edgeways; the former Footballers' Wives star needs to sharpen her elbows if she wants to contribute more than: "Did you really?"

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan vanished from our screens last summer having made their lucrative but disastrous switch to UKTV channel Watch (which nobody did). But the sofa-bound couple were only ever the front for the book club; the real force behind it was Amanda Ross (Jonathan's sister-in-law), whose production company, Cactus TV, made Richard & Judy, and is now making The TV Book Club.

Three out of the five club members appeared wearing glasses but it wasn't clear whether this was because they wanted to look bookish or because the show was sponsored by Specsavers. They were joined by a fourth pair of specs in Chris Evans, in to promote his autobiography – a book that he said he researched by reading lots of other celebrity autobiographies. There was something rather fitting (or depressing) about the show opening with a bunch of celebrities discussing the art of the celebrity autobiography.

With Evans sitting in their midst, the club predictably "loved" his autobiography. Somewhat more surprisingly, the book of the week, Sarah Waters' ghost story, The Little Stranger, got less of an easy ride. Gok Wan said "the story didn't fascinate me", while an initially positive Nathaniel Parker agreed that it "floundered after a while", and the book's narrator was universally dismissed as a bore. Could this be a thumbs down for a novel that is currently riding high in the bestsellers chart? Could The TV Book Club actually have a negative impact on sales?

Jo Brand wrapped things up with: "Are we agreed it's a good read?" – manufacturing positive unanimity for what had actually been an equivocal discussion. This underlines an inherent problem with the Book Club format. If the selected tome is there simply to be puffed, what is the point of the critics? Couldn't they just phone in their approval from a beach somewhere?

On the other hand, if there is going to be genuine dissent, and the possibility that their top authors will be slagged off on primetime, will publishers continue to be so enamoured? That's unlikely to happen but on last night's showing, this book club may actually have teeth. It'll be interesting to see whether these teeth get pulled in weeks to come.

At the end of the day, any effect on sales will come from the size of the audience watching. More4 actually has a decent audience-share for a digital channel (twice as much as BBC4, for example), while the repeat on Channel 4 (today at 12.05pm) will also help. Ironically, this daytime repeat will see The TV Book Club up against This Morning, former long-term residence of, yes, Richard and Judy.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on