Richard and Judy Book Club creator slams W H Smith deal

Richard and Judy Book Club creator slams W H Smith deal

TV producer Amanda Ross has criticised Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan for shifting their book club to W H Smith after their recommendation show ended on television.

Ross, who produced the celebrity couple’s 15-minute TV book club on Channel 4 when it began in 2004, said she found it “disappointing” that the pair had “used the integrity of the Book Club and went into a paid-for campaign for W H Smith” in 2010.

In an interview with the Radio Times, the co-founder of Cactus TV said: “It was a paid-for campaign. I think Richard and Judy found it hard to understand that lots of authors on the show were becoming millionaires, while we couldn’t make any money out of it because you can’t be paid for your recommendations.

“It’s slightly disappointing that afterwards they used the integrity of the Book Club and went into a paid-for campaign in W H Smith.

“People don’t realise that to be part of that sort of campaign publishers have to pay £25,000.”

Madely and Finnigan’s TV book club moved to digital online channel Watch before it was cancelled in 2009, but the promotion was continued in 2010 in collaboration with W H Smith.

Their recommendations are influential, with many hitting the book charts once released. In last spring’s tranche, for example, seven of eight titles they recommended hit the top 10.

At an event to celebrate the club in 2017 authors including Jilly Cooper, David Nicholls, Robert Harris and Rosamund Lupton turned out at HarperCollins’ headquarters in the News Building in London Bridge, along with Louise Doughty, Clare Mackintosh, Rick Stein and S J Watson. The retailer has since tried to replicate the success of the book club by launching one aimed at young adults with Zoella and one for children with Tom Fletcher.

Ross now curates the titles for the Zoe Ball Book Club, which began airing in June.

In a comment to the Guardian, Ross said: “My comments about Richard and Judy were made in a wider context. I would have loved to continue promoting literacy with Richard and Judy in a broader vein on TV, but as they were involved in a commercial campaign with one retailer it ruled that out.”

The current contract between Madeley and Finnigan and W H Smith is due to end in 2019.