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Anne Robinson, My Life in Books – Disappointing

22/02/2011 38 comments

Anne Robinson hosts My Life in Books. Ten episodes on BBC Two in the run-up to World Book Day.

There is an episode each weekday evening this week at 6.30. I got myself organised for the first of these last evening, with author PD James and (55 years her junior)  radio presenter Richard Bacon. This programme was a disappointment.

The visual backdrop of blown-up texts seemed to me fussy and distracting. Anne Robinson wore her stern, detached, journalistic air – despite advance notice that she would adopt a different persona – when this viewer was looking for some spark of enthusiasm for the books discussed.

The programme seemed unsure and jittery in its format. At first I thought it was intended to be an intimate chat about favourite books between Robinson and her two guests. Then we realized there was an audience from whom we heard an occasional muted laugh and got one shot of the back of their heads. And the use of the occasional video and audio clip was clumsy.

There was little obvious rapport between the two guests and their host. For me, the programme only came to life when PD James spoke of her number one book Pride & Prejudice. ‘Jane Austen’, she said, ‘was the strongest influence on my writing.’

I did come away with two reads that I will follow up: Cyril Hare’s Tragedy at Law which, according to James, shows it’s possible to write well and produce a classic detective story; Richard Bacon persuaded me that David Nicholls’ One Day would be a good Book Club selection.

But I won’t be back in front of the telly this evening.

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