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Television: Readers Writers Roadshow

"I'm going to ask him why he switched from fiction to history." "That's my question." The head of history and the head of sixth form almost come to blows during the warm-up as Peter Ackroyd, the celebrated novelist and biographer, heads for the set of the first weekly year-round books discussion programme.

To find out who wins, watch Readers amp; Writers Roadshow (BBC Four, March 8, 8.30pm).
Presenter Kate Mosse is deeply committed to building links between authors and passionate readers: she's just launched Labyrinth, an interactive multimedia project based on her own novels in progress in which readers can look over her shoulder, dip into her research and be inspired to write themselves.

Before and after filming, the Roadshow audience (around 30-strong) chat informally to Kate and the guest authors (tonight, in Colchester, Ackroyd is joined by historical novelist Tracy Chevalier and Renaissance historian Gerry Brotton for a discussion on fact and fiction in historical narrative). "It's like a cocktail party," says Chevalier, author of Falling Angels and The Girl With the Pearl Earring (the "backstory" of the Vermeer painting she has had on her bedroom wall since she was 19).

The production team eavesdrops during the ice-breaker gatherings, spotting good questions and asking individuals to reveal the contents of their bedside tables. In Colchester, the hanging about that is unavoidable at TV recordings passes happily with so much to talk about.

As a chair of governors (of Chichester high school for girls), the daughter of an A-level law and business studies teacher, married to a former head of modern languages, she loves to see teachers in the audience: "They're readers, they're confident and they ask good questions."

The next Roadshow recording is on storytelling with Philip Pullman, Beryl Bainbridge and John Carey, in Oxford on March 17. The next two recordings will be in Cheltenham on April 4. Tel 0141 331 0450 or email nbsp;to request free tickets. For schedules, and of how to get BBC Four, the BBC's free-to-air digital channel, see
Kate Mosse's Labyrinth project is at

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