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BBC documentary on 50 years of the Man Booker Prize to air on eve of 2018 ceremony

BBC documentary on 50 years of the Man Booker Prize to air on eve of 2018 ceremony



BBC documentary on 50 years of the Man Booker Prize to air on eve of 2018 ceremony

@ManBookerPrize | #ManBooker50 | #FinestFiction


  • ‘Barneys, Books and Bust Ups: 50 Years of the Booker Prize’ will be broadcast on BBC Four at 9pm on Monday 15 October, the eve of the 50th Man Booker Prize winner ceremony


  • Features interviews with Man Booker insiders, including: founder Tom Maschler; winners John Banville, Eleanor Catton, Anne Enright, Penelope Lively and Ben Okri; and 2018 chair of judges Kwame Anthony Appiah


  • ‘[The prize is] all scuffed up with gossip and personality and rumour and subterfuge and sometimes even conspiracy,’ reveals former judge DJ Taylor


  • ‘To have a prize that will lift a book that might have sold 5,000 copies and make it sell 500k copies … that is an extraordinary achievement and long may it last,’ says John Banville, 2005 winner


To mark the Man Booker Prize’s 50th anniversary the BBC has produced a documentary to help commemorate the world’s most distinguished literary award for fiction written in English. The hour-long film, ‘Barneys, Books and Bust Ups: 50 Years of the Booker Prize’, will air at 9pm on Monday 15 October on BBC Four.

Narrated by Kirsty Wark, the programme explores ‘how from humble beginnings in the late 1960s, this prize revolutionised the sleepy world of literary fiction … and its impact today is beyond the wildest dreams of its founders’.

Alongside the BBC’s archive footage, it features a range of interviews including with Jonathan Taylor, President of the Booker Prize Foundation; Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation; James Daunt, member of Booker Prize Foundation advisory committee and Managing Director of Waterstones; Dotti Irving, PR consultant for the Man Booker Prize; judges past and present including John Carey, Alex Clark, Hermione Lee, Robert McCrum, Val McDermid and Jacqueline Rose; literary agent Peter Straus; and publisher of 2002 winner Life of Pi, Jamie Byng.

Documentary highlights:

  • ‘It is without doubt one of the greatest prizes in the English language’, comments Ben Okri, 1991 winner and Booker Prize Foundation trustee
  • ‘It’s understood now that what turned it around was scandal, controversy’, says Professor James English, University of Pennsylvania, on the early years of the prize
  • ‘[Martyn Goff] would express amazement and horror when leakages happened about meetings and the prize and it was quite clear to me that he was responsible for the leak … he was a brilliant publicist,’ John Carey, chair of judges (1982 and 2003), says of the former administrator for the prize (1970-2006)
  • ‘This is a rather small parochial prize suitable for small parochial novels,’ according to shortlisted author Anthony Burgess in 1980, when he refused to attend the winner ceremony and lost to William Golding
  • ‘I remember reading Midnight’s Children and thinking this is absolutely extraordinary, I’ve never heard a voice like this’, says Hermione Lee, judge in 1981 when Salman Rushdie won, when commenting on the prize’s role in discovering new writers
  • ‘You’ve been given a big prize and my first thought was, just imagine how many people hate me at this moment,’ says John Banville, recalling the announcement of his win in 2005
  • ‘She did all her judging from the carpet speaking upwards towards the other judges,’ former administrator Martyn Goff said about Beryl Bainbridge’s judging style in 1977
  • ‘It’s like being in a very high-powered book club … an ordinary sane person, who’s got a life, doesn’t normally read a novel a day for months and months,’ says 2018 chair of the judges Kwame Anthony Appiah
  • ‘If you are going to have the world’s number one English-language prize and you don’t include the world’s number one English market place, America, it’s slightly ludicrous,’ comments Robert McCrum, Golden Man Booker Prize judge


Jon Morrice, producer and director of the documentary, says:

Whenever interviewing former winners I was always struck by how major and immediate an impact winning the prize had on both their personal lives and subsequent writing careers. I am thrilled that ‘Barneys, Books and Bust Ups: 50 Years of the Booker Prize’ on BBC Four will help mark the anniversary of this unique literary prize. The film looks back over the five decades of the prize, exploring how from humble beginnings the Booker quickly went on to revolutionise the sleepy world of literary fiction and become a central part of British cultural life. Along the way it uncovers a fascinating behind-the-scenes tale of bruised egos, bickering judges, and most importantly of all of — countless brilliant books.’


First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize’s list of former winners features many of the literary giants of the last four decades: from Iris Murdoch to Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan to Hilary Mantel. This year, Michael Ondaatje was crowned the winner of a special award for the 50th anniversary, the Golden Man Booker Prize, for The English Patient.

The shortlist for the 2018 prize was announced last month by the judges — philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair); crime writer Val McDermid; cultural critic Leo Robson; feminist writer and critic Jacqueline Rose and artist and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton. The winner of the 50th prize will be announced on Tuesday 16 October at an award ceremony at the Guildhall.

The Man Booker Prize is sponsored by Man Group, the active investment management firm.




More information about the prize is available at:

 @ManBookerPrize | #FinestFiction |#ManBooker2018



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Notes to Editors


  • ‘Barneys, Books and Bust Ups: 50 Years Of The Booker Prize’ is a BBC Studios Production for BBC Four. It was filmed, produced and directed by Jon Morrice. The Executive Producer for BBC Studios is Tanya Hudson and the Commissioner for the BBC is Lamia Dabboussy.


  • A selection of photographs for the Man Booker Prize’s 50th anniversary is available here


  • Four Colman Getty handles PR and event management for the prize and provides all administrative back-up
  • The Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation is Gaby Wood. The Administrator of the Man Booker International Prize is Fiammetta Rocco – Culture Correspondent at The Economist and 1843
  • The Man Booker Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1969 and has been sponsored by Man Group since 2002. The title ‘Booker Prize’ therefore only applies to prize years 1969 – 2001, before Man Group’s sponsorship began, and since 2002 it has been called The Man Booker Prize for Fiction. It would be greatly appreciated if you could ensure that your editorial is factually correct by referring to the prize’s full title at least once, if not in the headline, then in your next subsequent mention.  For a full history of the prize including previous winners, shortlisted authors and judges visit the website:
  • The Man Booker International Prize is awarded annually in May for the best single work of fiction translated into English and published in the UK. The £50,000 prize is divided equally between the author and the translator. Each shortlisted author and translator receives £1,000. The 2018 winner was Flights written by Olga Tokarczuk and translated by Jennifer Croft. Chaired by author and cultural commentator Lisa Appignanesi OBE, the 2018 panel consisted of: translator Michael Hofmann; novelist and essayist Hari Kunzru; critic Tim Martin; and novelist and short story writer Helen Oyeyemi.


  • The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity (no 1090049) established in 2002. Since then it has been responsible for the award of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and for the Man Booker International Prize since its inauguration in 2005. The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are: Baroness Kennedy QC (Chair) – former Chair of the British Council and Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford; Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival; Bidisha – writer, critic and broadcaster; Carol Lake – Managing Director Philanthropy Executive at JPMorgan Chase; James Naughtie – broadcaster; Ben Okri OBE – writer and 1991 Booker Prize winner; Christopher Pearce – former Finance Director of Rentokil plc; Professor Louise Richardson – Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford; the Rt Hon. Lord David Willetts – writer, ex-minister, and advocate of fairness between the generations. Jonathan Taylor CBE is President of the Foundation and Sir Ronald Harwood, Baroness Neuberger and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne are Vice Presidents


  • The Booker Prize Foundation Advisory Committee, which advises on any changes to the rules and on the selection of the judges, reflects all aspects of the book world. Its members are: Mark Chilton – Company Secretary and General Counsel of Booker Group plc; Jonty Claypole – Head of Arts, BBC; James Daunt – Managing Director of Waterstones; Jonathan Douglas – Director of the National Literacy Trust; Maggie Fergusson – writer and Secretary of the Royal Society of Literature; Adam Freudenheim – publisher, Pushkin Press; Derek Johns – Author & Literary Agent; Peter Kemp – Chief Fiction Reviewer, The Sunday Times; Rosanna Konarzewski – Global Head of Communications and Marketing, Man Group; Nigel Newton – publisher, Bloomsbury; Fiammetta Rocco – Culture Correspondent at The Economist and 1843 and Man Booker International Prize Administrator; Michal Shavit – publishing director, Jonathan Cape; Eve Smith – Secretary, the Booker Prize Foundation; Boyd Tonkin – writer and critic. It is chaired by Gaby Wood, Literary Director, Booker Prize Foundation


  • Man Group has sponsored the Man Booker Prize since 2002 and the Man Booker International Prize since its inception in 2005. A global active investment management firm founded in 1783, Man Group was recognised as a partner that mirrored the quality, integrity and longevity of the Booker Prize. The prize underscores Man Group's charitable focus on literacy and education, as well as the firm’s commitment to excellence and creativity. Together with the wider charitable activities of the Booker Prize Foundation, the prizes play a very important role in promoting literary excellence on a global scale that the firm is honoured to support


Man Group is a global active investment management firm, which runs $114.1bn* of client capital in liquid and private markets, managed by investment specialists based around the world. Headquartered in London, the firm has 15 international offices and operates across multiple jurisdictions. Our business has five specialist investment engines, which represent the range of our capabilities: Man AHL, Man Numeric, Man GLG, Man FRM and Man GPM.


These engines house numerous investment teams, working collaboratively within the framework of Man Group, with a high degree of investment autonomy. Each team benefits from the strength and resources of the firm’s single operating platform, enabling their primary focus to be seeking to generate alpha for clients. The teams invest across a diverse range of strategies and asset classes with highly specialised approaches, with long only and alternative strategies run on a discretionary and quantitative basis in single and multi-manager formats. Our clients are at the heart of everything we do and we engage in close dialogue with our investors as strategic partners, to understand their particular needs and constraints. Man Group’s investment teams are empowered and supported by our institutional infrastructure and technology, which aims to facilitate the efficient exposure to markets and effective collaboration across the organisation.


Through the Man Charitable Trust and sponsorship of the Man Booker Prizes, Man Group is committed to promoting literacy and numeracy on a global scale, and to supporting charitable causes more broadly.


Man Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker EMG.LN and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. Further information can be found at


*As at 30 September 2018. All investment management and advisory services are offered through the investment “engines” of Man AHL, Man Numeric, Man GLG, Man FRM and Man Global Private Markets (GPM).


  • Booker is the UK's leading food wholesaler with 198 business centres and a national delivery network. It serves over 441,000 catering customers, 94,000 independent retailers and 641,000 small businesses. 

The Booker Prize Foundation has a longstanding partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) which in 2018 is marking its 150th anniversary. The Foundation funds the production of the shortlisted titles in braille, giant print and audio, which the sight loss charity produces by the date the winner is announced. The accessible versions are then made available to the tens of thousands of blind and partially sighted people who use RNIB's Library, enabling them to enjoy Man Booker shortlisted titles at the same time as their sighted peers. Often there is a limited choice of books in accessible formats and they are not available to people with sight loss on publication day, but the Foundation is working with RNIB to change this story. For further information, contact RNIB's PR team on 020 7391 2223 or



The Booker Prize Foundation has partnered with the National Literary Trust since 2012 to deliver Books Unlocked. The Foundation funds the programme, which has transformed the lives of prisoners and young offenders in the UK by helping them develop a love of reading. Prisoners are able to engage with high-quality writing as copies of Man Booker Prize shortlisted titles are sent out to prison reading groups. These same titles are also serialised as audiobooks on National Prison Radio, which is broadcast into c.80,000 cells, enabling still more prisoners to experience these exceptional stories. Authors go into prisons to discuss their writing directly with reading groups and many also record interviews on National Prison Radio. The shared vision for Books Unlocked is to bring about positive change in prisoners’ life chances. 2018 is the National Literacy Trust’s 25th anniversary. For 25 years the charity has led the campaign to transform the future of the UK’s most disadvantaged young people by improving their literacy levels:


  • The Booker Prize Archive was given on loan in 2003 to Oxford Brookes University where it now resides



Four Culture

October 2018