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Word champion

— Paris


He made serious literature popular and if he liked a new book the nation ran out and bought it. He even made a televised spelling test appointment viewing. The talk-show host and TV producer Bernard Pivot is a peculiarly French hero.

French, Hero, Literature, popular

For nearly 30 years, millions of French viewers tuned in religiously on Friday nights to watch one man talk about literature. The man responsible for this uniquely French weekly rendezvous was Bernard Pivot, a 74-year-old journalist who is affectionately thought of as France’s literary Everyman.

Over the course of three successive TV programmes from 1973 to 2001 – Ouvrez les Guillemets (Open Quotes), Apostrophes and Bouillon de Culture (Culture Soup) – the wavy-haired and bushy-eyebrowed Pivot peered over the trademark bifocals perched on the end…


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