I guess there’s some sort of scandal in the UK around a TV personality who wrote a book that accompanies a TV series, but only he didn’t write it, see, and, like, some other guy did? And, like, everyone’s totally getting shafted because there’s only one name on the cover? And, like, I feel so violated? (Insiders’ tip: We mostly call this “ghostwriting” in the biz. I’m sure most of you have NEVER heard of it. It’s very obscure, especially where celebrities are concerned… But ghostwriters don’t usually get acknowledged at all the way this young fellow has. This is mostly about throwing bones to a scandal-starved public in what we call (another insiders’ tip) “a slow news cycle”.)
The book’s publisher, BBC Books, said in a statement this morning that “in order to help shape the text he had already begun”, Paxman “worked with Neil Hegarty to bring the book to completion”, and that Hegarty’s “role in editing Jeremy’s own material and supplying additional research is fully credited”.
But in the book itself, Paxman had already gone further, writing that all television is a collaborative exercise, “so it is rather silly for this book – which accompanies a television series – to appear with only one name on the cover”.
For a long time, he said, he “resisted attempts” by his editor to finish the book, because he didn’t have the time. “In the end, the solution arrived in the form of the young Irish writer, Neil Hegarty,” he wrote. “Quite apart from pulling together the various elements – scripts, research notes, ideas and other material – his creative talents ensured, I hope, that the book is a worthwhile thing in its own right. He is a gifted writer and we shall, I think, hear much more from him.”
Lisa Jardine, centenary professor at Queen Mary University, London, said that Paxman had been “typically scrupulous” in acknowledging Hegarty.
“It’s a far fuller acknowledgement than the very many busy presenters and broadcasters who are fortunate enough to have researchers and writers give,” she said.