Sunday, April 06, 2003
The Big Read, the BBC's search for the UK's best-loved book, was launched last night. You've until 19 April to cast your vote. Then the results will be trimmed down to a Top Ten, and the Number One voted on later this year. Steps have been taken to prevent block or automated voting. Don't worry. We'll have solved that problem by tomorrow evening.
If the aim is to encourage reading, then hip-hip-hooray. But if it's to give us a nail-biting piece of must-watch telly, it's pretty pointless. We all know who's going to win, don't we? So, Messieurs, mesdames, place those sure-fire bets now! For in that Top Ten of the Nation's Best-Loved will be:
Lord of the Rings. Controversially, Waterstone's Best Novel of the Twentieth Century. Which it's not. Because there isn't one. Still, Peter Jackson's finest ever. Oops… er… oh, you mean, he didn't…?
That book based on that thing by Kate Bush.
Some cosy, rose-tinted bit of kids' lit, so excruciatingly twee in its Englishness that sergeant-majors have been known to break down and weep over their cluster-bombs. Ah. That'll be Wind in the Willows then.
Lucky Jim. New prime-time Telly adaptation of this one coming up next Friday. Could just make Number One, punters.
Something by That Woman. I will not even dignify her pusillanimous prose with a link. She's mentioned at least five times on the BBC website. That's twenty times too many.
Pride and Prejudice Or anything with nice frocks, dashing rogues, and Colin Firth.
There's bound to be a dark horse. Otherwise what's the point of coming up with a way of getting round that block votes thing? So, if they are to be treated as one volume, I'm placing all my Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blasters on Hitch-Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy.
My own favourite tends to change, according to mood. But forced to pick just one book, it would have to be Derek Marlowe's Do You Remember England?, a beautifully-crafted, bitter-sweet elegy for the lost dreams of youth. It's been out of print for years and years and years.
Course it has. Never been on the telly, has it?