Week 4/21 – week ending 22 January

Elizabeth Day, Johny Pitts take over at Open Book

Elizabeth Day and Johny Pitts are the new presenters of Radio 4’s Open Book, fronted for 18 years by Mariella Frostrup.

Day, author of bestsellers The Party and How To Fail, presented Open Book yesterday (17 January), and Pitts, author of Afropean, will present his first show on 31 January.

Penguin Classics unveils first podcast

The first season of On The Road with Penguin Classics starts on 28 January and features six episodes released fortnightly; season two is due to air later in the year.

In one episode, Eliot takes a train to the Cumbrian coastline with actress Olivia Vinall and discusses the issues of women’s rights and mental health raised in The Woman in White; Vinall describes reading the Wilkie Collins classic for the first time when auditioning for the BBC adaptation.

While exploring the sights of Nuneaton featured in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, Louis de Bernières – author of the bestselling Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – admits many of his novels’ female protagonists are versions of Maggie Tulliver.

In another episode, Eliot follows the characters arriving from Trinidad in The Lonely Londoners and takes the tube to Westbourne Grove, where critic Susheila Nasta reminisces on meeting Sam Selvon for the first time in 1976.

Full list of episodes:

The Mill on the Floss with the novelist Louis de Bernières: George Eliot in Nuneaton.
The Canterbury Tales with the poet Patience Agbabi: Geoffrey Chaucer in Kent.
Tristram Shandy with the screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce: Laurence Sterne in Coxwold.
The Woman in White with the actress Olivia Vinall: Wilkie Collins in Cumbria.
Mrs Dalloway with the biographer Alexandra Harris: Virginia Woolf in Westminster.
The Lonely Londoners with the editor Susheila Nasta: Sam Selvon in Bayswater.

Eliot is the author of The Penguin Classics Book, Follow This Thread, Curiocity: An Alternative A-Z of London and The Penguin Modern Classics Book, which is due to be published in autumn 2021. He has organised literary walks including a mass public pilgrimage for the National Trust (inspired by William Morris), a recreation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales that raised money for the National Literacy Trust, a Lake Poets tour of Cumbria and a quest for the Holy Grail based on Malory’s Morte D’Arthur.

The series is produced by Andrea Rangecroft, an award-winning radio producer whose work has been broadcast on the BBC, CBC, KALW, and Sveriges Radio. She is part of the production team on BBC Radio 4’s Short Cuts and regularly works as a producer on a range of BBC World Service programmes.