The Write Stuff



James Walton


Team captains: John Walsh and Sebastian Faulks


BBC Radio 4, 31 July 1998 to 9 November 2014 (17 series)


Literary quiz with a healthy dollop of Creative Writing classes somewhere in the mix.

The format's changed a lot over the years, but at the moment it opens on the theme of an Author of the Week, and - a bit like Quote... Unquote - the four panellists are asked to name their favourite quote or passage from that author. There's then a round of questions about that person, which is a nice way of communicating a bit of biography.

The second round is a spot the link or odd one out, a kind of Round Britain Quiz Lite. The third round changes quite often and has included ideas such as spotting famous literary mistakes in books. The final round is an on-the-buzzers free for all.

Before the scores are revealed, the panellists then read out quite long pastiches of famous tales or news stories in the style of the Author of the Week. These can range from buttock-clenchingly smug to rather droll. Even if you can forgive the air of self-satisfaction, the pretence that these 1000-word essays have been knocked up by the panellists since the end of Round 1 beggars belief.

It could do with being a bit more "hip", but you can't argue with a format that lasted for 16 years.


James Walton

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