Category: Events

“the country’s cleverest podcast” (The Telegraph) has doubled its audience in the past year and now receives over 70,000 listens per episode

Talking Politics, the political podcast hosted by David Runciman and sponsored by the London Review of Books, has passed the 5 million download milestone just ahead of its 150th instalment.

The hugely popular podcast now averages 70,345 listens per episode and 492,415 listens per month. In 2018, it was listened to in 196 countries. 60% of listeners are in the UK and 10% are in the United States, where the audience is steadily growing.

Recorded weekly at the University of Cambridge, where Runciman is Professor of Politics, Talking Politics combines a regular panel of experts with invited guests. It is usually co-hosted by Professor of Political Economy, Helen Thompson.

The first episode, released in September 2016, featured Israeli historian and author of the bestselling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari. Other popular contributors have included historians Adam Tooze and Jill Lepore, philosopher Martha Nussbaum, authors Oliver Bullough and Pinkaj Mishra, and economist Thomas Piketty.

Recent topics have included surveillance capitalism, Facebook as a threat to democracy, and the place of fear in contemporary politics, alongside the politics of the World Cup, food and Brexit, and whether or not six-year-olds should be able to vote.

David Runciman said: “Keeping on top of the relentlessly breaking political news can feel like an impossible task. What we try to offer is an informative and genuine dialogue, where experts with differing opinions come to explore themes in a collaborative and non-combative way – as opposed to just providing a platform where guests present their views. The result is that you can often hear contributors thinking, changing their minds, or learning from eachother in the course of an episode.”

Talking Politics is produced in partnership with the London Review of Books. Its publisher, Nicholas Spice, commented: “For forty years, the LRB has proved that serious, demanding, intellectually provocative content can attract a large international audience. It’s therefore no surprise to us that Talking Politics, a podcast founded on similar principles, by one of our contributing editors, is achieving these remarkable figures. We’re proud of our relationship with Britain’s best political podcast – and also grateful for its clarity in these challenging times.”

Sophie Herdman, UK content director for Acast, said: “We’re proud to have Talking Politics as part of the Acast family. The show’s appeal lies in its ability to offer timely, nuanced and informed perspectives on current events which are more valuable than ever in the current climate. The show has seen fantastic week-on-week growth in terms of listeners over the last few years and we look forward to seeing it continue to flourish.”

Talking Politics is available via iTunes, Acast, Stitcher or any other podcast app. A new episode is uploaded every Thursday morning and transcripts are made available on talkingpoliticspodcast.com. Follow Talking Politics on Twitter @TPpodcast_

Last week, the London Review of Books launched a new podcast, ‘The State of…’, hosted by LRB editors Joanna Biggs and Tom Crewe – who are joined each month by two guests trying to understand a little better the state of our times. Within 24 hours ‘The State of…’ reached the top ten of the UK Podcasts Chart.

ENDS

For further information please contact Caitlin Allen or Emily Souders on caitlin@riotcommunications.com / emily@riotcommunications.com / 020 3174 0118

 

Notes to editors

About Talking Politics

Talking Politics is the podcast that tries to make sense of the unpredictable, often alarming and always interesting political moment we’re living in. Hosted by David Runciman, with help from a panel of political experts from Cambridge and guests ranging from historians and economists to philosophers and novelists, it offers a historical long-view perspective on current events. Big ideas are explored in a non-combative way. The podcast is totally independent, balanced and offers up a wide range of political views. A large portion of its listeners are in the UK but it also has a sizeable and growing following in the US. A new episode is uploaded every Thursday morning.

About the London Review of Books:

The LRB is Europe’s leading magazine of culture and ideas. Published twice a month, it provides a space for some of the world’s best writers to explore a wide variety of subjects in exhilarating detail – from art and politics to science and technology via history and philosophy, not to mention fiction and poetry. In the age of the long read, the LRB remains the pre-eminent exponent of the intellectual essay, admired around the world for its fearlessness, its range and its elegance.

As well as book reviews and reportage, each issue also contains poems, reviews of exhibitions and movies, ‘short cuts’, letters and a diary, and is available in print, online, and offline via our app. Subscribers enjoy unlimited access to every piece we’ve ever published in our digital archive. Our website also features a regular blog, podcasts and short documentaries, plus video highlights from our events programme on both sides of the Atlantic, and at the London Review Bookshop.

Preena Gadher, co-founder and MD of Riot Communications has been included in PR Week’s 2019 Power Book, which recognises the top 100 most influential and respected communications professionals in the UK today.

Entering the list for the first time, Gadher is among the 9%* of the entire PR workforce who is from a BME background.

Gadher said: “It’s a huge honour to make PR Week’s Power Book, not least as one of the few BME agency heads. Having taken a slightly unusual path – co-founding an agency without having ever worked in one! – I hope this can, in a small way, help show people who are currently underrepresented in our industry, that PR is a profession for all, no matter what your background or who your connections. All you need is determination and a healthy dose of resilience! We still have a long way to go, but change will come.

“Making it on to a list like this is by no means a solo effort and I’m enormously grateful to everyone who has been on the Riot journey over the past ten years or supported from the side lines.”

–ENDS–

 

*PRCA Census 2018

Philip Pullman, Author. Photographed by Michael Leckie in Oxford 11th January 2017

First look at The Secret Commonwealth, the next volume in Philip Pullman’s bestselling The Book of Dust

Publishing in October 2019 ahead of highly-anticipated BBC One adaptation of Pullman’s seminal His Dark Materials trilogy, starring Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Clarke Peters and Lin-Manuel Miranda in lead roles

“At the heart of the book are Lyra, the young woman we saw first as a girl of twelve and then as a baby, and Malcolm, whose life as a boy became involved with hers and who now finds their lives helplessly entangled again; and how some emotions can last a lifetime, and others change beyond recognition.” – Philip Pullman

Lyra Silvertongue, one of the world’s favourite heroines, is to return this autumn in The Secret Commonwealth, the second instalment in Philip Pullman’s bestselling The Book of Dust. The book will be published on 3rd October 2019 by David Fickling Books in association with Penguin Random House UK.

Lyra is no longer a child. The Secret Commonwealth is set 20 years after the events of La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One unfolded, and seven years after readers left Lyra and Will Parry on a park bench in Oxford’s Botanic Gardens in The Amber Spyglass, the final book in the His Dark Materials series.

Global in scale, The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two sees Lyra, now an independent young woman, forced to navigate a complex and dangerous new world as she ventures far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search of an elusive town said to be haunted by dæmons. As well as taking readers on an exhilarating journey into places that are at once familiar and extraordinary, the book is a timely exploration of what it is to be human, to grow up and make sense of the world around us, from one of the UK’s greatest writers.

Details of the book, released today by Pullman’s publishers, are accompanied by a first look at the beginning of The Secret Commonwealth, showing Lyra at odds with her dæmon, Pantalaimon, after they unwittingly witness a murder.

Philip Pullman says:

“Things have been biding their time, waiting for the right moment to reveal their consequences for Lyra Silvertongue. The Secret Commonwealth tells the continuing story of the impact on Lyra’s life of the search for, and the fear of, Dust. I found it intriguing and deeply exciting to discover how great events can turn on a little moment, and how revenge can be nurtured and fed and watered till it grows beyond control.

“Life is not easy for Lyra. It was enthralling for me to remember how powerfully and passionately our minds and opinions can be turned by reading a particular book at the right time. Lyra, as a student, is finding that out. She is also discovering a new and difficult aspect to her relationship with Pantalaimon, and other things about dæmons that she never suspected.

“But those things are background. At the heart of the book are Lyra, the young woman we saw first as a girl of twelve and then as a baby, and Malcolm, whose life as a boy became involved with hers and who now finds their lives helplessly entangled again; and how some emotions can last a lifetime, and others change beyond recognition. It’s the story of some people we know, and others we’ll meet for the first time. Their journey is going to take them far from their homeland towards a mysterious desert in Central Asia, where they hope to find, at last, the secret of Dust.”

Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House Children’s (UK), comments:

“Like the original readers of His Dark Materials, Lyra has grown up. Her concerns are adult ones, and this new perspective – coupled with Philip’s unflinching look at the human condition and his extraordinary storytelling – makes for a breath-taking read.

“In the same way that Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go reflect and refract the world around us to devastating effect, The Secret Commonwealth – and its predecessor La Belle Sauvage – shows us a darker parallel world whose troubles echo our own. And then there are the dæmons, and the way the relationship between dæmon and human embodies the very human identity struggle between childhood to adulthood. It is truly a book for our time.”

David Fickling, Publisher and Editor, David Fickling Books, adds:

“I feel as if I know Lyra Silvertongue (and Pantalaimon) so well. The most natural, mischievous and spirited girl you could ever wish to meet, and more than that, a friend. To me, she outstrips all the coming-of-age protagonists of the past 100 years: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen, The Magic Toyshop’s Melanie, On the Road’s Sal Paradise and To Kill a Mockingbird’s ‘Scout’ Finch. Lyra is the one-off original, simply the best.

“When Philip told me that the next volume of The Book of Dust was about Lyra as a student, I was thrilled: not because I expected Lyra to be the same as she was (Philip does not repeat himself), but because I so wanted to meet the young woman she’s become. And now, amazingly, I have and I am not disappointed. She is more real to me than ever. It is not easy for her, that’s true, but somehow I knew it wasn’t going to be. And the story? The story is quite astonishing: without doubt, Philip is one of the most important writers on the planet.”

The Secret Commonwealth publication follows the chart-topping success of the first volume of The Book of Dust La Belle Sauvage – in October 2017. It can be read as a standalone, paired with La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One, or set alongside Lyra’s adventures in the internationally bestselling His Dark Materials series (Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass). Chris Wormell will also return to illustrate the cover and the chapter headings.

Filming of the highly anticipated TV adaptation of His Dark Materials, produced in Wales by Bad Wolf, has now wrapped and a teaser trailer released. Written by playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, This is England ’88) and directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) and Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood [2018], Peaky Blinders), the series will be broadcast by HBO and BBC One in the near future. The stellar cast includes Dafne Keen (Lyra), James McAvoy (Lord Asriel), Ruth Wilson (Mrs Coulter), Anne-Marie Duff (Ma Costa), James Cosmo (Farder Coram), Clarke Peters (Master of Jordan College), Lucian Msamati (John Faa) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scoresby).

The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two will be published in hardback, ebook and audiobook on Thursday 3rd October 2019 by David Fickling Books in association with Penguin Random House in the UK, featuring original new illustrations from Chris Wormell.

*

First look at The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two

‘It used to be you who was impulsive,’ said Pan, ‘and me who kept holding you back. We’re different now.’

She nodded. ‘Well, you know, things change … This isn’t just shoplifting. This is murder.’

‘I know. I saw it.’

‘And maybe by doing this we’d be helping the murderer get away with it. By interfering with the investigation. That can’t be right.’

‘That’s another thing,’ he said.

‘What?’

‘You used to be optimistic. You used to think that whatever we did would turn out well. Even after we came back from the north, you used to think that. Now you’re cautious, you’re anxious … You’re pessimistic.’

She knew he was right, but it wasn’t right that he should speak to her accusingly, as if it was something to blame her for.

‘I used to be young,’ was all she could find to say.

He made no response.

They didn’t speak again till they reached the station. Then she said ‘Pan, come here,’ and he leapt up at once into her hands. She put him on her shoulder and said quietly, ‘You’re going to have to look out behind. Someone might be watching.’

*

For further information or images, please contact Hephzibah Kwakye-Saka at Riot Communications: 02031740118 / hephzibah@riotcommunications.com

*

Praise for La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One

‘Philip Pullman is one of the great storytellers of our time. The way he creates characters is exquisite and I am excited for anyone reading Lyra’s story for the first time; you have the most extraordinary world to discover.’ – Cerys Matthews, musician, author and broadcaster

‘Is there a richer, more complex conceit in modern fiction than Pullman’s daemons – animal companions that are both projections of yourself and a guide, both soul and guardian angel?’ – Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Observer

‘These are dark, uncertain times. Pullman has given them the brilliant, disturbing book they deserve’ – i

***

Notes to Editors:

  • The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two will be published by David Fickling Books in association with Penguin Random House in the UK, priced £20 (hardback, ebook, CD), £14.99 (trade paperback) and £12 (audiobook) on 3 October 2019.
  • La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One is available in hardback and ebook editions (£20), paperback edition (£7.99) and audiobook, narrated by Michael Sheen (£13).
  • His Dark Materials: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife andThe Amber Spyglass are published in hardback and paperback by Scholastic, priced £12.99 and £7.99 respectively, with covers by Chris Wormell, and in ebook by Penguin Random House, priced £4.99.
  • Sir Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, UK, in 1946 and educated in England, Zimbabwe, Australia and Wales. He read English at Exeter College, Oxford.

After graduating, Pullman went into teaching, at various Oxford Middle Schools before moving to Westminster College in 1986 for eight years. He retains a passionate interest in education.

His first children’s book, Count Karlstein, was published in 1982 (later republished in 2002). It was followed by The Ruby in the Smoke (1986), the first in a quartet of books featuring the young Victorian adventurer, Sally Lockhart. He also published a number of shorter stories, which he calls fairy tales, including The Firework-Maker’s DaughterClockworkI Was a Rat! and The Scarecrow and His Servant. To date, he has published 33 books, read by children and adults alike.

His most famous work is the His Dark Materials trilogy: Northern Lights (1995, published as The Golden Compass in the USA); The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000). These books have been honoured by several prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Book Award, and (for The Amber Spyglass) the Whitbread Book of the Year Award – the first time in the history of that prize that it was given to a children’s book. Pullman has received numerous other awards, including: the 2002 Eleanor Farjeon Award for children’s literature, and the 2005 Astrid Lindgren Award, jointly with the Japanese illustrator Ryoji Arai. The first volume of The Book of DustLa Belle Sauvage – was published in October 2017 to great acclaim, winning the Waterstones Book of the Year in December 2017, securing Pullman ‘Author of the Year’ at both the British Book Awards 2018 and the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018, and the audiobook – narrated by Michael Sheen – ‘Audiobook of the Year’ at the British Book Awards 2018. Pullman was knighted for services to literature in the New Year’s Honours 2019.

Sir Philip Pullman lives in Oxford. Further information can be found at www.philip-pullman.com.

David Fickling Books is an independent publisher of high-quality books with a focus on brilliant storytelling and world-class illustration. They publish picture books and novels for all ages, as well as graphic novels based on the strips in The Phoenix

David Fickling set up David Fickling Books in 1999 as an imprint of Scholastic and then developed the same brand as an imprint of Random House from 2001 until 2013. During this time, he published Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (bestseller and award-winning play), as well as John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Jenny Downham’s Before I Die and Andy Mulligan’s Trash – all international bestsellers and, later, hit Hollywood movies. In 2012, he launched a weekly story comic for children called The Phoenix, which has been rated the second-best comic in the world by TIME magazine. Recent notable publishing successes from DFB include La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman (co-published with Penguin Random House UK) and The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, which won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Fiction in 2016.

Penguin Random House is the world’s number one publisher. We champion authors, shaping and sharing writing that sparks thoughts, dreams, conversations and learning. We are a vibrant community of publishing houses, representing distinguished publishing histories marked by unparalleled success. We are a home to all kinds of authors. From the best new fiction or picture book writers, to political commentators, trailblazing entrepreneurs, health experts and bold illustrators, we enable talented people from all walks of life to tell their stories – and we make sure they are heard. We sell and license books in over 120 countries, connecting great books with a growing and global audience. We bring words to life. www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/www.penguin.co.uk/

Riot Communications has been appointed by property company Bruntwood, a major supporter of the arts and partner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, and world-class producer, the Royal Exchange Theatre, to help with the strategic positioning and promotion of Europe’s richest prize for playwriting.  

Launched by the two organisations in 2005, the Prize is open to writers of any background or experience and judged anonymously in order to discover new voices and stories for the stage. Through the expertise of the Manchester-based Royal Exchange Theatre, the Prize also champions new playwrights to help develop their craft. Its judging panel is chaired this year by Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic. 

Riot Communications MD Preena Gadher said: “What most impresses me about the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is not the reputation it has for consistently finding high-quality plays – which is, in itself, a skill – but the genuine commitment of both Bruntwood and the Royal Exchange Theatre to finding and nurturing brand-new voices and stories. This is something we value at Riot, and when client and agency values align, that’s when you can create truly excellent work.” 

Sally Hill, Social Impact Partnerships Director at Bruntwood said: “The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is one of a number of partnerships we have with ambitious cultural organisations like the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, since we passionately believe that investment in Arts and Culture is a way to help cities thrive. 

“We were really impressed by the approach Riot took to meeting our brief: they really interrogated what we are trying to achieve with the Prize which demonstrated their intelligence, as well as their passion for our mission to help discover new stories.” 

-ENDS- 

For more information please contact Katy MacMillan-Scott onkaty@riotcommunications.com / 020 3174 0118 

Notes to editors 

Riot Communications is a PR agency specialising in culture and entertainment. Driven by the belief that culture promotes empathy, creativity, respect for others and joy, the agency works with clients across publishing, TV, theatre, science, museums and heritage organisations, as well as a variety of entertainment brands.   

Bruntwood develop, own, let and manage outstanding buildings and science facilities across the UK but it is much more than a property company. The company has been investing in its communities for over forty years and is deeply connected to the cities it operates in.  As part of this commitment Bruntwood partner with ambitious cultural organisations that are looking to make an impact, tell the stories of our time, and inspire change. That’s why we’re proud to support the Royal Exchange Theatre and the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.  Fundamentally what we believe is that cities aren’t structures, cities are people, and we look forward to the stories they can tell us.  

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre Company transforms the way people see theatre, each other and the world around them. The historic building, once the world’s biggest cotton exchange, was taken over by artists in 1976. Today it is an award-winning cultural charity that produces new theatre in-the-round, in communities, on the road and online. 

Here at Riot we LOVE a debut – whether we’re launching a new voice we know is going to resonate on a global scale, like we did with Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, or running the “the UK’s most prestigious award for first-time novelists” (The Telegraph), the Desmond Elliott Prize.

Over the past six months or so we’ve had the great pleasure of working with the team at Hutchinson to promote a particularly special debut – Tara Westover’s extraordinary memoir, Educated. We were thrilled with the coverage, which included The Times Magazine, Observer New Review, Harper’s Bazaar, Stylist, FT, Economist, Press Association, BBC Online, Channel 4 News, BBC Radio 2 Steve Wright and BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, to name but a few.

To celebrate the success of the campaign and Educated becoming an international bestseller, we thought we’d share some of our top tips for launching debuts:

  • Having a book published can be quite a daunting process, so it can be reassuring for first time authors to get to know others who are having the same experiences. Shout out to Amy Baker and Rosy Edwards who run The Riff Raff, a community for debut writers. Getting your author featured on their podcast or in the line-up of one of their monthly events helps to build buzz, but also gives the author the opportunity to meet supportive peers who will hopefully go on to champion their work.
  • Identifying the right influencers and early adopters who can help position the book and generate word of mouth is of course crucial for a debut. Another shout out is due here to the wonderful Caroline Sanderson, who is such an incredible supporter of the books she loves. Having such an important figure from the book world on board can help you get cut-through in the mainstream media and Caroline’s early coverage of Educated in The Bookseller was invaluable to the success of the campaign.
  • A tip for your pitches – don’t be afraid to tell media what else you already have in the bag. Nervousness around this is understandable as worded badly it can make the recipient of your pitch feel like they’re late to the story, but worded right, and with the inclusion of a bespoke angle specifically for that outlet, it can help convince them this is going to be an important and high-profile book that they really should be covering.
  • Given that your author won’t have an existing fan base, you need your coverage to be as wide-reaching as possible. Focus on working with media to create shareable content. Two examples from the Educated campaign are this BBC Online piece, which featured on the UK and International homepages all day on the day it went live, and this video interview shot by the Channel 4 Digital team, which has been viewed on Facebook over 130,000 times.
  • Lastly, plan for longevity – how are you going to keep your author relevant and interesting to journalists beyond the publication moment? Are there any hot topics that you could establish them as experts on? If so, use the publication moment to secure coverage in special interest titles, such as the TES, which you can point to later as evidence of them being a respected spokesperson on those issues. This will help you secure additional pieces of coverage further down the line – for example, comment pieces on current affairs.

Caitlin Allen, associate director