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80% of UK's favourite books are SFF

15/12/2003. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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The BBC's Big Read has ended, and in the top five, there was only one book that wasn't science fiction & fantasy!

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien has been voted the UK's favourite novel in The BBC Big Read. In a resounding snub to the snobs of the literary establishment, four out of five of the front runners were SFF novels.

In a live broadcast on BBC television from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, host Clive Anderson revealed that the public had voted overwhelmingly in support of The Lord of the Rings as their best-loved book.

The top five novels in The Big Read Top 21, as voted for by the public, were:

1. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (fantasy)
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (some dead early-Victorian chick)
3. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (fantasy)
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (science fiction)
5. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (fantasy)

The nationally broadcast TV progamme in which the results were announced was well worth watching just for all the worthy critics and talking heads of the lit scene having to sit there, making barbed comments about how crap the SFF genre and the works in question really are.

Yes. Read the votes and weep. You take it, you luvvy up-your-own-arse losers. SFF rocks.

750,000 votes have been received for The Big Read's top twenty one finalist titles since they were announced on Saturday 18th October 2003.

Of these 21 novels, The Lord of the Rings received a wopping 23% of the votes.

Pride and Prejudice and His Dark Materials received 18.1% and 8.4% respectively. As part of the scheme a free copy of LoTR will now be sent to every secondary school in the UK. Now that's hobbit power!

Simon Tolkien, the author's grandson, his wife Tracy and son Nicholas, and Ray Mears, who championed the novel for the series, were all present at The Big Read Final.

They expressed their delight that The Lord of the Rings had been chosen by the public as their best-loved book.

Simon Tolkien said: "It is an unbelievable honour to be here today... and I think it would mean an enormous amount to my grandfather.

"Just before The Lord of the Rings was published, my grandfather said, 'I'm dreading publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at'.

"There has been a lot of shooting, but there has also been enormous love and I think this has come through today. It is a wonderful moment."

Jane Root, Controller of BBC Two, said: "Our ambition for The Big Read was to excite people of all ages about a wide variety of literature from favourite children's books to classic reads to fantasy novels.

"Over the past year, hundreds of schools and many thousands of students throughout the UK have taken part in Big Read activities and we're delighted that we're able to reward their enthusiasm with this unique donation.

"Sending one free copy of The Lord of the Rings to all secondary schools means every young person in the country will have access to the book which the British people have claimed as their best-loved novel of all time.

"We hope that through their engagement with this one book, many young people will discover the magic of fiction, and go on to be life-long lovers of literature."

And reader, just for those that missed my naked dance of victory around the living room, let me state again. SFF simply rocks.


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