The Bookworm, BBC1, Sundays, 5.10pm,, beginning October 30. Far from the boffins of front-line literary criticism one often associates with book programmes, this new BBC series is named after its intended audience, The Bookworm. This is the person who loves to read and wants to know what is worth checking out at the local bookshop.
The first episode of the series draws a sketch of this typical reader, publishing a Mori poll of the country's literary habits. So we discover that half the population reads at least one book a month, with women more enthusiastic readers than men. More non-fiction is read than fiction (particularly biographies) and romance and crime are the favourite themes of novels. A third of those questioned wanted to write a book themselves, while a quarter hadn't read any books at all in the past year.
Presenting the series is Griff Rhys Jones, and in the first programme he visits the Bront s' home in Haworth, looking for the secret behind the popularity of Wuthering Heights. War reporter, Kate Adie, investigates Andy McNab's blockbuster Gulf War story, Bravo Two Zero and also featured is Bob Swindell's prize-winning children's thriller, Stone Cold.
Whoever decided to liberate this programme from the suffocating cosiness of a London studio should be feeling very smug. Effortlessly moving from location to location, from subject to subject, the programme gains much from its flexibility. It also brilliantly exploits a freely available resource, the "person in the street".
Forthcoming highlights in the series include what is billed as a final television interview with Catherine Cookson, who is publishing her 88th novel at the age of 88. A special in February will be devoted to children's books, though they will be covered throughout the series. There are lots more celebrities, such as Victoria Wood on the plight of our libraries, while Jackie Collins, John Grisham and Barbara Taylor-Bradford offer tips on writing a best seller.