Out now in paperback
PINKOES AND TRAITORS by Jean Seaton (Profile £10.99) WHEN John le Carre was asked by BBC executives how best to replicate the atmosphere of MI5 for their adaptation of his novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he told them the answer was all around them. The BBC’s dusty offices, elderly office furniture, cranking lifts — even some of the people — exactly resembled those of MI5.
Jean Seaton is the official historian of the BBC and her account of the Corporation between 1974 and 1987 chronicles a turbulent passage in its history.
Treated with suspicion and hostility by James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher, the BBC battled to retain its impartiality when reporting such sensitive news stories as Northern Ireland and the Falklands War.
Whether you love the BBC or loathe it, this immaculately researched and compellingly readable narrative of its political struggles and creative highs (Life On Earth) and lows (It’s A Royal Knockout) is essential reading.
WHO STOLE MY SPEAR? by Tim Samuels (Arrow £8.99) IF WE know a lot about what goes on in women’s minds, and rather less about the internal lives of men, it is probably because sharing innermost thoughts is not most men’s favourite occupation.
Tim Samuels is an awardwinning journalist, filmmaker and host of Men’s Hour (‘the manly counterpart to Woman’s Hour’), and his funny, insightful and sometimes wince-inducing book is a bold attempt to demolish the taboo that still hovers around men and emotion.
Beginning with an account of how he was almost reduced to tears in the office during a row with his (female) boss, he navigates the minefield of modern male experience — dating, fatherhood, work, porn and the rest — with intelligence and empathy.
‘These are baffling times to be a man,’ he argues, in a book that both men and the women who love them will want to read.
THE WAY WE DIE NOW by Seamus O’Mahony (Head of Zeus £7.99) MOST of us, if we can bring ourselves to think about death at all, imagine we would like ‘a good death’ for ourselves and our loved ones, without knowing exactly what the elements of such a desirable end might be.
Dr Seamus O’Mahony, a consultant gastro-enterologist, has seen a great deal of death and has strong views on the way we approach the end of life.
As he points out in his trenchant but compassionate book, our attitude to death in the Western world is a queasy, and often unhelpful, mixture of squeamishness, fascination and denial.
Death, he observes, is a social activity, yet ‘ much of the behaviour of people around the dying is characterised by sentimentality and evasion’.
He includes the medical profession in his strictures, arguing: ‘Medicine, and our culture, would be healthier and happier if we . . . gave up our fantasies of control and of immortality.’