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Julian Barnes

February

1986

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JULIAN BARNES is the author of three books including the discreetly mysterious Flaubert's Parrot which made the 1984 Booker Teaze short-list. But he is possibly better known to the teeming masses as The Observer's TV critic (all teeming people read The Observer).

Three and a half years ago Barnes succeeded Clive James who had wriggled, writhed and dozed in his fabled armchair since 1972. James is often thought of as the man who brought TV criticism into the present century. He filled his columns with his customary humour but also imbued them with a multi-browed appreciation which corresponded to the diverse output emanating from the box itself.

Like James, like most TV critics, Barnes came to the post in a haphazard manner.

"I would think it very odd if people left school or college saying 'I want to be a TV critic'," he says, perched beside his typewriter in a tasteful room in a tasteful house in a tasteful part of north London.

"In a way it's a job that everybody thinks they can do and everyone is equally qualified because they all watch television. I happened to be working at the New Statesman when the TV critic failed for the umpteenth time to deliver his copy, so I filled in for a few weeks and ended up doing it for two years. Then I had a year off and went to The Observer."

To continue reading this article and to discover many more (over 140,000 words-worth!), purchase Mick Sinclair’s Adjusting the Stars: Music journalism from post-punk London. 

 

 

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