Lockdown Letter 2.0
Books, Television, Stage

We may be back in lockdown once again, but there continues to be lots to be excited about – new publications, podcasts, TV shows, livestreams and more.

Many of our children’s authors and illustrators are getting involved with the brilliant #PassThePen social media campaign, which launched on the 16th November. It matches up more than 20 up-and-coming creatives from the children’s book world with an established literary star – and they will then take over their Instagram channel for the day. The campaign is designed to help promote visibility and champion authors and illustrators of colour. Chris Riddell will be paired with Poonam Mistry, Emily Gravett with Viola Wang and E L Norry with Katherine Rundell.

Chris Riddell is also involved in Holly Bourne’s brilliant #SignForOurBookshops initiative. He has designed exclusive bookplates, which over 200 authors have offered to sign as a show of national support for bookshops throughout lockdown. Find out more about the campaign here.

Speaking of bookshops, we were thrilled to see the UK launch of Bookshop.org, a new online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops. Find out more here.

In other book news – we’re absolutely delighted that Frances Cha’s If I Had Your Face has been selected as one of Waterstones’ Best Books of 2020! A glitteringly dark and unsettling debut novel about four young women struggling to survive in South Korea, If I Had Your Face plunges us into the mesmerizing world of contemporary Seoul – a place where extreme plastic surgery is as routine as getting a haircut, where K-Pop stars are the object of all-consuming obsession, and ruthless social hierarchies dictate your every move. Waterstones described the book as “sparkling and utterly original.” In other cheering news, to lift the spirits of its audience the TEDWomen 2020 conference featured the animated version of the hit viral song ‘Dinosaurs in Love‘ by Fenn and Tom Rosenthal and illustrated by Hannah Jacobs! The picture book of Dinosaurs in Love has just published in the US (Little Brown) and is coming to the UK (Hachette) in time for Valentine’s Day 2021.

There have also been some exciting new publications in the last couple of weeks. Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel Love Your Life  has been hitting bestseller lists around the world. In Love Your Life, Ava meets her dream man at a writing retreat in Italy, but when they’re back in London, real life gets in the way. Sunday Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan called it “as close to perfect as romantic comedies get” and it has also been included in the Publisher’s Association’s round-up of the best books out in November 2020!

Bestselling history writer Alison Weir’s Queen of the Crusades was published at the beginning of November. The second book in Alison’s ground-breaking ‘England’s Medieval Queens’ series moves into a period of even higher drama. From 1154 to 1291: years of chivalry, dynastic ambition, conflict with the church, baronial wars, and the all-pervading bonds of feudalism. We see events such as the murder of Becket, Magna Carta and the birth of parliaments from a new perspective.

And finally, the audiobook of Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries has been released for the first time! Listen to a sample of Nigel Slater narrating his classic book here.

If you’re looking for other great listens, Dr Gemma Newman, whose book The Plant Powered Doctor is coming out in January, has been hosting a fascinating new podcast called ‘The Wellness Edit’ with Holland & Barrett. The podcast tackles topics that could be impacting your health and wellness, from immunity to sleep. At a time when health and happiness is more important than ever, this is an especially essential series.

Francesca Specter, author of Alonement, has her own approach to this new lockdown. She is advocating using it as a 28-day alonement challenge. Instead of seeing it as a negative, she believes this is an opportunity to find joy in activities that we do on our own. Francesca has come up with some suggested activities, and you can find out more about the challenge on her website.

Last weekend, pastry chef Ravneet Gill made an appearance at Stylist Live’s virtual event to teach us all about the power of pastry and the bakes that saved her during the first lockdown. If you are looking for tips, she has a brilliantly instructive baking column in the Telegraph. You can also follow her on Instagram here. To see her incredible creations don’t miss the New York Times piece on Ravneet and her perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe here.

But if you’re just hoping to discover some new reads this month, don’t miss these ebook bargains. First up, Sunday Times bestselling author Veronica Henry’s uplifting novel The Forever House is only 99p this month. Escape to Hunter’s Moon – the ultimate ‘forever’ house. Nestled by a river in the Peasebrook valley, it has been the Willoughbys’ home for over fifty years, and now estate agent Belinda Baxter is determined to find the perfect family to live there. But the sale of the house unlocks decades of family secrets – and brings Belinda face to face with her own troubled past. . .  And if you love thrillers, Jess Ryder’s latest novel The Night Away is also currently available for just 99p! The unputdownable psychological thriller taps into every parent’s worst fear. After a night away, Amber’s child Mabel goes missing – this one will have you hooked until the final devastating revelation.

This lockdown we also have some really fantastic new TV shows to tell you about. The new 6-part series of ‘Escape to the Chateau’ launched on Sunday 15th November on Channel 4 at 8pm. You can catch up with the first episode here. And for more from the Chateau, Dick & Angel Strawbridge’s Sunday Times bestselling book A Year at the Chateau is also available now.

Also on Channel 4, ‘Sarah Beeny’s New Life in the Country’ started last Wednesday at 8pm. Property expert Sarah Beeny and her family swap London life for a new start on a 220-acre, semi-derelict former dairy farm in Somerset, where they plan to build a modern stately home of their dreams. Catch up on All 4.



And we are excited to share that Channel 4 have commissioned a Jordan Banjo and Dr Sarah Kayat fronted TX pilot, ‘Lose Weight Like Me’. It will consist of an inspirational new format that introduces two people who want to make a dramatic change to their lifestyle to four ‘health heroes’ – members of the public who have done just that, each losing up to 200lbs on safe and sustainable weight loss plans combining a mixture of diet and exercise. It will air in 2021 on Channel 4.

Tracy Borman has announced that her new series ‘The Fall of Anne Boleyn’ will air over three consecutive nights from 24th November at 9pm on Channel 5. Tracy retraces Anne’s footsteps, hour by hour, on the days she’s arrested, tried and executed, to find the truth behind her fall. You can watch the trailer here.

Alison Weir has also announced that Starz are developing two of her books, Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life and its companion book The Captive Queen, into a historical drama based around the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Starz is working in conjunction with Lionsgate TV and Colin Callender’s Playground banner as part of what the network is calling its “extraordinary women of history” slate.

We are hopeful that once this lockdown has lifted, the world of theatre will start to open up again. Until then, don’t miss the livestream for the 5-star production of RENT at the Hope Mill Theatre. Directed by Luke Sheppard, designed by David Woodhead and with lighting design by Howard Hudson, RENT will be available to watch from home from November 27th to 20th December. Check out some stunning photos from the set here.

Keep safe,

Love from The Soho Agency x