85 Authors Protest At The BBC’s Treatment Of Genre Fiction
85 authors have signed a joint letter if protest sent to BBC Director General Mark Thompson, complaining about the Beeb’s shabby treatment of genre fiction during last month’s World Book Night coverage
Sue Perkins in a publicity pic for The Books We Really Read, ironically reading exactly the kind of book that was under-represented on the programme.
The signatories to this letter range from Gold Dagger-nominated crime authors such as SJ Bolton, writers of children’s fiction such as Debi Gliori, as well as many fantasy, science fiction and horror authors – from Iain Banks to Michael Moorcock.
The BBC programming which has raised their complaint was the state-sponsored television channel’s coverage of fiction during World Book Night, with programmes including The Books We Really Read: A Culture Show Special and New Novelists: 12 Of The Best which went out on BBC2 on the 5 March 2011.
Fantasy author Stephen Hunt, who organised the protest, commented, “The sneering tone that was levelled towards commercial fiction during The Books We Really Read was deeply counterproductive to the night’s aims of actually encouraging people to read novels. The weight that was given to the single sub-genre of literary fiction in the remaining programmes was unbalanced and unrepresentative of all but a small fraction of the country’s reading tastes. And closest to my own heart, the failure to feature a single work from the three genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction was a disgrace. The official World Book Night list included Philip Pullman’s fantasy novel, Northern Lights. It is a shame the BBC could not.”
Hunt went on to say, “There have been weeks when one in three books sold in the UK were Harry Potter novels, or more recently, Twilight novels. The sweeping under the carpet of the very genres of the imagination which engage and fire readers’ minds shows a lot more about the BBC production team’s taste in fiction than it does about what the general public is actually reading. If the BBC really wishes to support reading in this country, then they should produce a literary version of The Film Programme, or commission a modern updating of the Bookworm show that had Griff Rhys Jones as its lead presenter in the ’90s. A series with a mainstream slot. Then perhaps the BBC can do what it said on the tin the first time around: cover the books we really read.”
The list of writers supporting the petition…
Kevin J Anderson
Iain M Banks
S J Bolton
Michael S. Brotherton
Mark Charan Newton
Steven Lundin (writing as Steve Erikson)
Russell B. Farr
M. D. Lachlan
Juliet E McKenna
L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Theresa M. Moore
Phyllis Irene Radford (writing as P.R. Frost/C.F. Bentley)
Robert V.S. Redick
Robert J. Sawyer
Michael Marshall Smith
Robert E. Vardeman
Walter Jon Williams
And SFX supports the campaign 100%. We still remember the sneering attitude of the presenters and the talking head guests towards The Lord Of The Rings during the BBC’s coverage of The Big Read a few years back, even though it won a public vote to find Britain’s Favourite Book. Oh, and five other books in the Top 10 were SF or fantasy too. So, what books are we really reading?