Russell Brand's 'booky' makes golden reading list of Richard and Judy

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The Independent Culture

A memoir of drugs and debauchery by a television presenter who was sacked for dressing as Osama bin Laden the day after 9/11, a book of recipes gleaned from an East End allotment and a tome of glossy magazine covers can look forward to turbo-charged Christmas sales after winning a seasonal endorsement from the most powerful duo in British publishing.

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan, the golden couple of daytime TV who, last month, announced their retirement from Channel 4's afternoon schedule, will reveal their choices for a Christmas books programme to be screened later this month, thus virtually guaranteeing a significant sales boost for the chosen 19 texts.

Among the works included are the autobiography of Russell Brand, the comedian and former Big Brother presenter, and the latest cookbook by the owners of the Moro restaurant, Sam and Sam Clark, who have gathered recipes from fellow tenants on an area of allotments in London's Hackney, which has since been swallowed by the site for the 2012 Olympics.

The list of 19 books also includes a retrospective of Vogue front covers and six entrants from the "stocking filler" trivia and comedy genre, which has emerged in recent years as a must-have money spinner for publishers after the unexpected success of best-selling novelty books such as Schott's Miscellany.

Inclusion on a list for the "Richard and Judy Book Club" is considered a financial blessing by authors. Since it was set up in 2004, the husband and wife team have become the British equivalents of Oprah Winfrey, whose book club single-handedly turns authors into millionaires, by lending their imprimatur to titles, often by lesser-known writers.

Amanda Ross, the executive producer for the couple's daytime show, is widely seen as one of the most powerful people in British publishing by heading the small team that sifts through the six nominations each publisher is allowed to submit for the latest list.

Between January 2004 and the end of May last year, consumers have bought some 10 million copies of the 30 books appearing on the book club list, generating 58m in sales. The top two places in annual bookselling chart last year were taken by Richard and Judy choices and their list accounted for 26 per cent of all the books that were sold in 2006.

The power of recommendation was shown shortly after the Book Club was set up when one title, Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea, which had previously sold just 3,500 copies, went on to sell more than a million copies after being compared by Bob Geldof to Charles Dickens.

The Christmas list is broken into four sections celebrity autobiography, cookery books, stocking fillers and "coffee table" tomes. But contrary to previous selections, most of those involved are already household names and, in the case of Brand, who was famously sacked from MTV after he went on air dressed as Bin Laden following the attacks on America, already feature in the top 10 best sellers.

The comedian, whose singularly entitled My Booky Wook has been well received by critics for its eye-watering honesty about his drug-addled personal life, is joined by Helen Mirren and Sharon Osborne in the memoir selection while the cookbooks include the latest offerings from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein.

The combined wisdom of Sir Terence Conran and television gardener Diarmuid Gavin on garden design will vie with Mario Testino's collection of candid shots of "off-duty" celebrities and book of aerial shots of the British Isles for sales in the large format sector.

Richard and Judy have already announced their intention to present a spin-off Book Club series once their tenure on the daytime sofas ends next year. The Christmas special will be broadcast on Channel 4 on 15 December.

The titles on the list

* Celebrity Autobiography

Russell Brand - My Booky Wook

Sharon Osbourne - Survivor: My Story - The Next Chapter

Ronnie Wood - Ronnie

Helen Mirren - In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures

* Cookery Books

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher - The River Cottage Fish Book

Jamie Oliver - Jamie At Home

Bill Granger - Holiday

Rick Stein - Mediterranean Escapes

Sam and Sam Clark - Moro East

* Coffee Table

Diarmuid Gavin and Terence Conran - Outdoors

Robin Derrek and Robin Muir - Vogue Covers

Jason Hawkes - Hawkes' Eye View: British Isles

Mario Testino - Let Me In

Rough Guides - Make The Most of Your Time on Earth 1,000 Ultimate Travel Experiences

* Stocking Filler

Lucia Van Der Post - Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me Lessons in Grace and Elegance

Ian Harrison - Earth: A Visitor's Guide Weird, Strange, Bizarre and True

Al Murray - The Pub Landlord's Book of British Common Sense

David Hancock - Room At The Inn

Dave Skinner and Henry Paker - Don't Arm-Wrestle A Pirate

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