TV Cream

A bit of business

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Closet Reading by Phil NormanAh, autumn! The nights draw in, the thermostat goes on, the back garden becomes increasingly despoiled by decomposing foliage and, regular as any of these natural occurrences, someone off of TV Cream punts another book out.This time the modest tome vying for your attention in your local branch of WH Smith is Closet Reading by Phil Norman. And what’s this latest bit of opportunistic lavatory literature about, then? Well, funnily enough, it’s about… opportunistic lavatory literature.

Amazingly, Closet Reading is the first comprehensive historical study of what Britons read on the loo: the knocked-off joke books, the TV tie-ins, the last minute gift ideas for Uncle Alan. This bogside library is a weird and wonderful mixture of saucy picture books, well-spoken whimsy, fascinating trivia and childish, snotty-nosed filth.

We’ve delved into the murky waters of the gift book trade to bring you the story of the great comedy tie-in works of our time, from Monty Python through The Goodies, Not the Nine O’Clock News and Spitting Image right up to Lee and Herring’s Fist of Fun and the QI Book of General Ignorance.

We’ve traced the publishing exploits of all the humour stalwarts – the scholarly Nigel Rees, the affable Willie Rushton, the roguish Willie Donaldson and the industrious Gyles Brandreth.

We’ve got the lowdown on every Christmas gift publishing phenomenon under the sun, including How to be a Wally, Henry Root, One-Upmanship, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and Rock Stars in Their Underpants.

There’s also:

A scholarly breakdown of that bastion of British comedy, the whimsical sideways look!

An unabashed analysis of the evolution of literary sauciness!

A peek at such unlikely celeb-authored works as Emperor Rosko’s DJ Book, Len Deighton’s Action Cook Book, Entertaining at Home with Cynthia Payne and The Wit of Prince Philip!

A cautious look at the sheer insanity that is Frank Bough’s Breakfast Book!

And that’s, as they say, not all! As well as covering the Cream era in depth, Closet Reading goes way back into history to investigate the earliest stirrings of the novelty book market, and uncovers some surprisingly modern-looking nuggets of antique ribaldry.

The history books may groan with the authorised story of our island, but the contents of the smallest room down the ages tell a different, much more interesting tale. From the chronicles of demented court fools to the secret origins of Jimmy Hill’s beard and the secret perversions of Barry Manilow groupies, this is history with its trousers down.

Inside its painstakingly researched pages, you will…

THRILL to the merry exploits of farting jesters, randy servants and coffee-crazed aldermen!

GAWP as sex-starved young fops learn pulling techniques from Cardinal Richelieu!

MARVEL as a mad poet pre-empts Monty Python by over 200 years!

DUCK as Gyles Brandreth’s distant ancestors bring toilet books to the wild west!

CHUCKLE POLITELY as a Leicestershire rector invents observational stand-up comedy!

DISCOVER the secret location of Reagan’s brain!

WINCE as a Christmas book creates a middle-eastern diplomatic incident!

BLUSH as Bucks Fizz fans reveal their darkest secrets!

WASH your hands before and after using this book!

“Well worth the paper it’s written on. Soft, strong and just the right length.”
JOHN LLOYD, Creator of QI.

Oh No, What a Giveaway!

Serving suggestion (accompanying literature, sanitary products not supplied)Closet Reading is published by Gibson Square Books Ltd (ISBN 978-1906142483) and is available at all good bookshops, and all over the net. You can order it from Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

Or you can WIN one of five copies we’ve got to give away, by entering our excitably capitalised, bright red COMPETITION!

Simply get in touch with us at, singing the praises of your favourite piece of smallest room reading. It can be any book you like – just make your case brief, to the point, and amusing, like all the best toilet books.

Not only will five lucky winners get a pristine copy of this rather ridiculous meisterwerk, we’ll also throw in a slightly soiled research copy of one of the tomes covered in the book, chosen completely at random. It could be Paul Heiney’s In at the Deep End! It could be What a Week with Bruno Brookes! You’ll never know if you don’t have a go!

You’ve got until midnight on October 20th to enter. You can enter as many times as you like. Winners will be notified by due process when all the entries are in. TV Cream’s decision is final. Calls made after this date may still be charged. Ask permission from whoever pays your bill. No salesman will call. Good luck!



  1. FishyFish

    October 6, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    So, just how tempted were you to add an extra ‘h’ to the title of this article then, eh? 😉

  2. Paul

    October 6, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Hare you sitting comfortably?

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