The Write Stuff

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The Write Stuff
Genreliterary panel game
Running time28 mins
Country of origin United Kingdom
Home stationBBC Radio 4
Hosted byJames Walton
StarringSebastian Faulks
John Walsh
Beth Chalmers
Produced bySam Michell
No. of series13

The Write Stuff, "Radio 4's game of literary correctness", is a lighthearted quiz about literature on BBC Radio 4, taking a humorous look at famous literary figures, which ran from 1998[1] to 2014. It is chaired and written by James Walton.[2] The two teams are captained by novelist Sebastian Faulks and journalist John Walsh, with Beth Chalmers reading literary extracts.


John Walsh and Sebastian Faulks have been team captains since the programme began. They are each joined by another journalist or novelist; frequent guests in later years included John O'Farrell, Mark Billingham and Lynn Truss. Truss stepped in as captain to replace Faulks for series 9 (2010).[3]

Each week, the programme has an "Author of the Week"; W. B. Yeats, E. M. Forster, D. H. Lawrence, Robert Burns, and J. K. Rowling all featured in the programme. The programme has, on occasion, featured a group of writers, rather than a single author, as its key study - for example, poets of the Beat Generation were the featured authors on 26 October 2010.[4] Each programme begins with the panellists reading favourite extracts from the author's writing, and the first round is a series of questions about the author's life and works.

The programme normally ends with panellists having to write a pastiche (or parody; the programme uses the terms interchangeably) based on that week's author of the week. Walton describes these as 'the most popular bit of the programme'.[5] Walton sets a topic that would be so out of style of the author in question that a pastiche would be humorous. For example, when Robert Burns was the author of the week, contestants were asked to write a poem, in the style of Burns, celebrating something typically English; when Philip Roth was the author of the week, contestants were asked how he might have written a children's story. Faulks has published a collection of his parodies as a book, Pistache.[6]

The intervening rounds do not focus on the author of the week. Rounds commonly included are: connections; odd one out; literary mistakes; the archive round; and a music round.

The programme has normally been broadcast at 18:30 on a weekday, one of the Radio 4 comedy slots.



Series 1998[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
1998-1 1998-07-31 Jane Austen Victoria Glendinning, Tracey MacLeod
1998-2 1998-08-07 Raymond Chandler Louise Doughty, Victoria Coren
1998-3 1998-08-14 T. S. Eliot Kate Saunders, Nigel Williams
1998-4 1998-08-21 Martin Amis Victoria Glendinning, Tracey MacLeod
1998-5 1998-08-28 D. H. Lawrence Louise Doughty, Victoria Coren
1998-6 1998-09-04 Charles Dickens Jonathan Myerson, Nigel Williams

Series 1999[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
1999-1 1999-07-07 William Shakespeare Nigel Williams, Lynne Truss
1999-2 1999-07-14 Arthur Conan Doyle Tracey MacLeod, Philippa Gregory
1999-3 1999-07-21 The Brontë Sisters Frank Delaney, Harry Ritchie
1999-4 1999-07-28 James Joyce Lynne Truss, Nigel Williams
1999-5 1999-08-04 Ernest Hemingway Tracey MacLeod, Philippa Gregory
1999-6 1999-08-11 Oscar Wilde Frank Delaney, Harry Ritchie

Series 2000[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
2000-1 2000-05-10 Thomas Hardy Lynne Truss, Sue Limb
2000-2 2000-05-17 Agatha Christie Jane Thynne, Harry Ritchie
2000-3 2000-05-24 Geoffrey Chaucer Imogen Stubbs, Louise Doughty
2000-4 2000-05-31 Kingsley Amis Lynne Truss, Sue Limb
2000-5 2000-06-07 Samuel Beckett Jane Thynne, Harry Ritchie
2000-6 2000-06-14 Evelyn Waugh Imogen Stubbs, Louise Doughty

Series 2001[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
2001-1 2001-04-11 William Wordsworth Tracey MacLeod, Gary Younge
2001-2 2001-04-18 Graham Greene Jonathan Myerson, Jane Thynne
2001-3 2001-04-25 Enid Blyton Sue Limb, Victoria Coren
2001-4 2001-05-02 John Updike Tracey MacLeod, Gary Younge
2001-5 2001-05-09 Harold Pinter Jonathan Myerson, Jane Thynne
2001-6 2001-05-16 John Betjeman Sue Limb, Victoria Coren

Series 1[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
1-1 2002-04-03 Ian Fleming Nigel Williams, Harry Ritchie
1-2 2002-04-10 Samuel Taylor Coleridge Stephen Fry, Lynne Truss
1-3 2002-04-17 Virginia Woolf Wendy Holden, Joseph Connolly
1-4 2002-04-24 J. R. R. Tolkien Nigel Williams, Harry Ritchie
1-5 2002-05-01 Philip Larkin Stephen Fry, Lynne Truss
1-6 2002-05-08 P. G. Wodehouse Wendy Holden, Joseph Connolly

Christmas Special 2002[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
1 2002-12-25 Parodies Regained Stephen Fry, Sue Limb, Lynne Truss et al.

Series 2[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
2-1 2003-04-02 George Orwell John O'Farrell, Louise Doughty
2-2 2003-04-09 (no programme due to coverage of The Budget)
2-3 2003-04-16 Samuel Johnson Sue Limb, Joanne Harris
2-4 2003-04-23 Lewis Carroll John O'Farrell, Louise Doughty
2-5 2003-04-30 Franz Kafka Tracey MacLeod, Jonathan Myerson
2-6 2003-05-07 Jane Austen Sue Limb, Joanne Harris

Series 3[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
3-1 2004-04-21 George Orwell John O'Farrell, Louise Doughty
3-2 2004-04-28 Beatrix Potter Tracey MacLeod, Jonathan Myerson
3-3 2004-05-05 Samuel Johnson Sue Limb, Joanne Harris
3-4 2004-05-12 Dylan Thomas John Sutherland, Sabrina Broadbent
3-5 2004-05-19 Richmal Crompton Miles Kington, Harry Ritchie
3-6 2004-05-26 Rudyard Kipling Nicholas Lezard, Nigel Williams
3-7 2004-06-02 Catherine Cookson John Sutherland, Sabrina Broadbent
3-8 2004-06-09 Alexander Pope Miles Kington, Harry Ritchie
3-9 2004-06-16 Samuel Pepys Nicholas Lezard, Nigel Williams

Christmas Special 2004[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
1 2004-12-29 Christmas Miles Kington, Sabrina Broadbent

Series 4[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests [8]
4-1 2005-05-25 Lord Byron Simon Brett, Peter Kemp
4-2 2005-06-01 Noël Coward Wendy Holden, Louise Doughty
4-3 2005-06-08 Iris Murdoch Nigel Williams, Jonathan Myerson
4-4 2005-06-15 Roald Dahl Simon Brett, Peter Kemp
4-5 2005-06-22 John Milton Wendy Holden, Louise Doughty
4-6 2005-06-29 Charles Dickens Nigel Williams, Kate Saunders

Series 5[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests [9]
5-1 2006-06-12 Alan Bennett Michèle Roberts, Harry Ritchie
5-2 2006-06-19 Henry James Peter Kemp, Miles Kington
5-3 2006-06-26 A. A. Milne Sue Limb, John O'Farrell
5-4 2006-07-03 Sylvia Plath Michèle Roberts, Harry Ritchie
5-5 2006-07-10 W. B. Yeats Peter Kemp, Miles Kington
5-6 2006-07-17 Thomas Hardy Sue Limb, John O'Farrell

Series 6[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests [10]
6-1 2007-03-12 William Shakespeare Sabrina Broadbent, Mark Billingham
6-2 2007-03-19 John le Carré Jane Thynne, Wendy Holden
6-3 2007-03-26 Tom Stoppard Peter Kemp, Sue Limb
6-4 2007-04-02 Stephen King Sabrina Broadbent, Mark Billingham
6-5 2007-04-09 F. Scott Fitzgerald Jane Thynne, Wendy Holden
6-6 2007-04-16 John Keats Peter Kemp, Sue Limb

Series 7[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests [11]
7-1 2008-03-24 E. M. Forster Wendy Holden, John O'Farrell
7-2 2008-03-31 John Grisham Mark Billingham, Jane Thynne
7-3 2008-04-07 Jonathan Swift Peter Kemp, Andrew Davies
7-4 2008-04-14 Hans Christian Andersen Wendy Holden, John O'Farrell
7-5 2008-04-21 Ted Hughes Jane Thynne, Mark Billingham
7-6 2008-04-28 George Eliot Peter Kemp, Andrew Davies

Series 8[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests [12]
8-1 2008-10-06 Raymond Chandler Lynne Truss, Mark Billingham
8-2 2008-10-13 Seamus Heaney Sue Limb, Andrew Motion
8-3 2008-10-20 Philip Roth Harry Ritchie, Simon Brett
8-4 2008-10-27 J. K. Rowling Mark Billingham, Lynne Truss
8-5 2008-11-03 D. H. Lawrence Sue Limb, Andrew Motion
8-6 2008-11-10 Robert Burns Harry Ritchie, Simon Brett

Series 9[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests [13]
9-1 2010-01-27 Arthur Conan Doyle Mark Billingham, John O'Farrell
9-2 2010-02-03 Irvine Welsh Jane Thynne, Christopher Brookmyre
9-3 2010-02-10 Anton Chekhov Peter Kemp, Tibor Fischer
9-4 2010-02-17 Nancy Mitford Mark Billingham, John O'Farrell
9-5 2010-02-24 John Donne Jane Thynne, Christopher Brookmyre
9-6 2010-03-03 J. D. Salinger Peter Kemp, Tibor Fischer

Series 10[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests [14]
10-1 2010-10-05 P. G. Wodehouse Francis Wheen, Ian McMillan
10-2 2010-10-12 Tennessee Williams Francesca Simon, Mark Billingham
10-3 2010-10-19 Marcel Proust Philip Kerr, Sue Limb
10-4 2010-10-26 The Beats Francis Wheen, Ian McMillan
10-5 2010-11-02 Stephenie Meyer Francesca Simon, Mark Billingham
10-6 2010-11-09 Edgar Allan Poe Philip Kerr, Sue Limb

Cheltenham Literature Festival Special[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
1 2011-10-12 Enid Blyton Sue Limb, Rachel Johnson

Series 11[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests [15]
11-1 2012-01-20 John Betjeman Sue Limb, Andrew Motion
11-2 2012-01-27 Daniel Defoe Jane Thynne, Mark Billingham
11-3 2012-02-03 Gustave Flaubert John O'Farrell, Alex Clark
11-4 2012-02-10 Terence Rattigan Andrew Motion, Sue Limb
11-5 2012-02-17 Jackie Collins Jane Thynne, Mark Billingham
11-6 2012-02-24 H. G. Wells Alex Clark, John O'Farrell

Series 12[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
12-1 2013-05-12 The Brontës Sue Limb, Mark Watson
12-2 2013-05-19 Mark Twain John O'Farrell, Jane Thynne
12-3 2013-05-26 Greek tragedy Mark Billingham, Natalie Haynes
12-4 2013-06-02 Dorothy Parker Sue Limb, Mark Watson
12-5 2013-06-09 William Blake John O'Farrell, Jane Thynne
12-6 2013-06-16 Ian Fleming Mark Billingham, Natalie Haynes

Series 13[edit]

Episode Original airdate Author of the week Guests
13-1 2014-10-05 John Osborne Mark Billingham, Lynne Truss
13-2 2014-10-12 Jilly Cooper John O'Farrell, Jane Thynne
13-3 2014-10-19 Gerard Manley Hopkins Russell Davies, Sue Limb
13-4 2014-10-26 Jerome K Jerome Mark Billingham, Lynne Truss
13-5 2014-11-02 Henry Fielding Jane Thynne, John O'Farrell
13-6 2014-11-09 Virginia Woolf Russell Davies, Sue Limb


External links[edit]