In focus

From Pointless to the bestseller list: How Richard Osman became the biggest author in Britain

Richard Osman was once best known for hosting ‘Pointless’, refereeing Twitter’s ‘World Cup of Crisps’ and being very tall. Now his ‘Thursday Murder Club’ series has made him a bestseller with Steven Spielberg competing for the screen rights. Katie Rosseinsky dives into Osman-mania

Saturday 09 September 2023 09:14 BST
<p>Osman’s ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ sold 45,000 copies in its first three days and has been the bestselling book in the UK since then</p>

Osman’s ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ sold 45,000 copies in its first three days and has been the bestselling book in the UK since then

In his former life in TV development, Richard Osman helped dream up the format for Pointless, the long-running BBC quiz programme that he would eventually co-host with Alexander Armstrong. The name of the game is to provide answers that are as obscure as possible: until he left the show earlier this year, Osman was on hand to regale contestants with bits of trivia that would qualify as a “pointless answer”, too niche to be mentioned by 100 members of the public in a quick-fire survey.

But if “crime writer” were to come up as a category on the show now, naming Osman would be a surefire route to elimination. Thanks to the staggering success of his mystery novels, which follow a group of crime-fighting pensioners based in an upmarket Kent retirement home, the genial, bespectacled presenter has become far too famous to serve as a useful answer on his own quiz show.

Osman-mania kicked off in September 2020 with the release of his debut The Thursday Murder Club, which introduced us to his central quartet of characters, residents of the fictional Coopers Chase. Elizabeth is a steely former MI5 agent who is always making allusions to various Cold War jaunts behind the Iron Curtain; Ibrahim is a fastidious and emotionally restrained ex-psychiatrist; Ron is a former trade union leader and rare left-wing presence in the small “c” conservative world of Coopers Chase retirement home; and Joyce is an unflappable retired nurse. 

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