Looking to strike it rich with television gold, an English media tycoon enlists the help of an unassuming novelist to script his small-screen epic, to disastrous-and hilarious-effect The year is 1986, and the cuts imposed by Margaret Thatcher's government have trickled down to university life, where departments are being forced to shave their payrolls to account for reduced public funding. Meanwhile, at Eldorado Television, a different kind of cut is about to wreak havoc. Lord Mellow, head of the declining studio, watches as his last-ditch effort to produce a hit series falls to pieces. The show's star, the volatile but vaunted Sir Luke Trimingham, has just declared that he will leave the production unless the script is entirely rewritten. Desperate to save the project, Eldorado brings university lecturer and author Henry Babbacombe into the fold to write thirteen new episodes of ambitious television-something so grand that the leading man cannot possibly refuse it. But the show's production is plagued from the start, suffering endless calamities with its unpredictable actors and crew, whose behind-the-scenes drama rivals anything Babbacombe could dream up.
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Malcolm Bradbury (1932-2000) was a well-known novelist, critic, and academic, as well as founder of the creative writing department at the University of East Anglia. He was the author of seven novels, including The History Man and Rates of Exchange, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He was knighted in 2000 for services to literature and died the same year.From Publishers Weekly:
Bradbury (Eating People Is Wrong) may have been inspired by the TV adaptation of his novel The History of Man to create this succinct satire set in the Thatcherite England of cuts (in spending, nuclear stockpiles, production, pensions, wages, services) and divisions (between North and South, rich and poor, black and white, young and old). Lord Mellow, of Eldorado Television, eager to guarantee the renewal of his franchise, wants to make a blockbuster of a TV series that will out-sell Brideshead and Jewel of the Crown. His minions have settled on an historical personnage, to be played by a Big Starbut Sir Luke, one of England's theatrical knights, turns down the deal, declaiming, "Gladstone's not my bag." The search is on for a famous author willing to provide the raw material for Eldorado's pot of gold. Enter mild Henry Babbacombe, little-known post-modernist novelist and university lecturer. Henry is swept into the Eldorado maelstrom, loses and finds his feet, cuts, edits, rewrites, and worries until, to his relief, production of the series, Serious Damage, is axed. Cuts is outrageously funny; but, be warned: anyone who can't take a pun won't think so. This is a satisfying entry in the Harper Short Novel series. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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