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Last Updated: Monday, 27 October, 2003, 11:34 GMT
Author O'Hagan attacks Big Read
Big Read
Clive Anderson is hosting The Big Read on BBC Two
Author Andrew O'Hagan has attacked the BBC show The Big Read, accusing it of being "anti-literary".

O'Hagan, who was shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize with his novel Our Fathers, expressed anger that the show is based upon public opinion.

"Somebody said that The Big Read was not just un-literary but anti-literary and I think that's right," he said.

"It is based on the assumption that the opinion of the public is always beyond reproach."

O'Hagan added that he "hated the opinion of the population".

"Their choice in books is bound to be emetic, and so it has proved to be."

Author, critic and broadcaster Adam Mars-Jones further fuelled the debate by calling the show "obscene".


However, show producer Hannah Beckerman has hit back at the criticisms.

"It's a public participation event," she said. "What I think is unique about the project is you're actually saying to the people who pay the licence fee, 'you tell us the books that you love most and we'll make a whole series about it'."

The programme sees viewers voting for their favourite books from a shortlist of 21, narrowed down from 100 by a public vote.

Over the next six weeks, various celebrities will put the case forward for their favourite book in the Top 21, before the winner is revealed on December 13.

According to figures, 2.3m people tuned in on Saturday 18 October, to see presenter Clive Anderson reveal the top 21, while 1.6m watched this Saturday's show in which Meera Syal, William Hague and Benedict Allen stated the case for their chosen books.

The list includes two books by the Bronte sisters, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice and Tolstoy's War And Peace.

JRR Tolkein's The Lord Of The Rings is currently 8/11 favourite to top the list, followed by Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, and Pride And Prejudice at 5/1.

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