My Week: Daisy Goodwin

The poetry champion steps up up her campaign to encourage school children to learn verses off by heart
  • @gillian_orr


This morning I go to my daughter's carol service. There are lots of parents there with every conceivable electrical device recording all the girls. Then I meet someone from Blue Peter to talk about my latest project, Off By Heart, which encourages primary school children to learn poems. Each school enters its poetry reciting champion and they go through to heats round the country until the final next April in Oxford. Jenni Murray says the reason she's so good at writing is because she learnt a lot of poetry when she was a child.


I see a preview of the film Frost/Nixon which I think is brilliant. I was told that the girl who plays Caroline Cushing is a dead ringer for me, so I am gripped by that. It turns out to be a compliment. I also take a look at the Westfields shopping mall which seems to be defying the recession. I want to hate the place, but I can't. In the evening I see Oedipus at the National Theatre with my daughter. It is incredible: very long and intense and there's no interval. I studied classics and I always wondered what an updated version would be like. It felt curiously contemporary. Ralph Fiennes is fantastic.


I begin to lose my voice which is a shame as I've got back-to-back meetings at the BBC and Channel 4. I go to the Christmas drinks for the BBC Trust at Broadcasting House in the evening. When I turn up everyone is very formal, with all the men in suits, which is quite odd in the television world.


I go on Woman's Hour to talk about Off By Heart. My feeling now is that most children aren't going to get into poetry but if you can get them to capture part of it at an early age, they might have a chance of growing to love it in later life. Lots of people text me telling me I sound like a cross between Mariella Frostrup and a Dalek. In the evening I go and see Burn After Reading. Brad Pitt is brilliant but really the film is awful.


I go to a viewing of a new programme we've done with Sue Perkins and Giles Coren in which they go back to Versailles before the revolution. Sue wears a three-foot wig over her head. Apparently they used to go to bed with cardboard boxes over their heads so that the wigs wouldn't get disturbed. We want to make a film about the world marmalade-making championship so I then meet the founder of the festival.

I also do a lot of online shopping for my ethical teenage daughter. She's getting a lot of recycled green things for Christmas. In the afternoon I go through a bunch of poems to go in the anthology that will accompany the Off By Heart competition. We'll send it to all the schools taking part – try to inspire the children a bit.

To register for Off By Heart: schools/teachers/offbyheart by Friday