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…

Literary life

Bernard Pivot’s CV

1935 Born in Lyon, France
1958 Joins the editorial staff at Le Figaro
1959 Publishes his first book, L'Amour en Vogue, a novel
1973 Produces and hosts Ouvrez les Guillemets
1975 Produces and hosts Apostrophes; co-founds Lire magazine
1985 Creates and hosts the Championnats de France d’Orthographe, a national spelling and grammar competition
1991 Produces and hosts Bouillon de Culture
2004 Elected a member of the Académie Goncourt, a prestigious organisation that awards literary prizes every year
2008 Publishes his 11th book 100 Mots à Sauver (100 expressions to save)


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