Entertainment & Arts

BBC owes books more coverage, says author Robert Harris

Robert Harris Image copyright PA
Image caption Harris said there was "nowhere to go" for dedicated books coverage on the BBC

Novelist Robert Harris has called on the BBC to give books more coverage "at a time when they're really fighting like crazy for a bit of space".

The best-selling author of Fatherland and Archangel said the corporation "owes it to books to do what it used to do, which is to give something back".

The former BBC journalist was speaking at the presentation of the 2014 Costa Book Prize, whose jury he chaired.

A BBC spokesman said books and authors were "at the heart" of the corporation.

"From dedicated strands like Meet The Author and Talking Books on the News Channel, to Radio 4's Open Book and Radio 2's Simon Mayo's Book Club," he said.

"We show documentaries throughout the year like Imagine: Colm Toibin (BBC One) and BBC Four Secret Life of Books and have recently launched our new online service, Books at the BBC.

"We also run the BBC National Short Story Award and children's writing competition 500 Words on Radio 2 and cover major literary prizes such as Costa, Man Booker and the Samuel Johnson Prize."

Harris, though, told reporters the BBC should have "a dedicated books programme".

"I do wish the BBC in particular would fulfil that bit of its charter remit," he said.

Helen Macdonald's memoir H is for Hawk was named Costa Book of the Year on Tuesday, beating four other finalists.

Previously called the Whitbread award, the £30,000 prize aims to honour outstanding books by authors based in the UK and Ireland.

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