Review: Richard Osman's World Cup of Everything

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Unless you’ve spent your last few years buried under a rock or avoiding TV in all forms, then you’ll know who Richard Osman is. The Pointless co-host, panel show regular and all round demi-god giant of a man has become somewhat of a national treasure. Away from telly, he’s also a prolific tweeter and has recently run a series of social World Cup polls to decide which type of chocolate bar and packet of crisps are the nation’s number one. Richard is now transferring his electronic election into a reading referendum by writing “The World Cup Of Everything”. It follows a very simple format that even the most idiotic of Brexit voters would easily understand. 16 things compete in a knockout tournament until one is crowned as the winner. There’s a whole host of different categories within the book from animals to Americans, biscuits to British Bands, and even a couple of festive tournaments with songs and films up for the crown. The aim is that you find a winner to the 14 competitions, which then play off against each other to win The World Cup of Everything. This is not a publication which will be troubling the Man Booker Prize anytime soon - but will find a place on many a dining table on December 25th once the turkey and sprouts have been guzzled. It is a quintessential “stocking filler” (though you might need a stocking of Richard Osman’s proportions as it’s quite chunky in size!) which is neatly timed for release on “Super Thursday” - the day of the year when books enter the Christmas market to willing buyers. Being a book penned by Osman, there are a multitude of random facts which accompany each ‘World Cup’. Other authors may say these components are pointless, but I won’t stoop to such depths of wit. There’s a few ‘challenge’ sections in each chapter which offers a quiz teaser about the subject in hand (take the World Cup of Restaurants where you need to work out when particular food chains opened their first branch), an ‘argument’ part where Richard offers his tuppence worth on the particular topic before the actual round-robin can commence. Reading through the book, I did question whether the World Cup aspect lost its charm going from a vote on Twitter which can be shared to friends for them to have their say, to having just the people in the room at a particular time voting on whether Dad’s Army or The Young Ones is the Best British Sitcom. Osman makes clear that the book is “fully interactive - as long as you have a pencil” but I’m not someone who likes writing in books at the best of times. There is an accompanying website where you can download the wallcharts to play separately from the book - but I think I’d have preferred a pull out wallchart in the book that could be used as a supplement to the book. Maybe something to consider for the paperback! In short, it’s a book which knows its target market and will find a place in many people’s houses on Jesus’ birthday. It’s very much a “what will we get for Daniel? Oh, he likes that guy off the telly and silliness so stick this in the basket Frank” sort of present. Fun, amusing, entertaining and (dare I say it) a little pointless (does anyone *really* care which game show is the best?!) but something which Osman can make charming, enjoying and informative.

Richard Osman's 'The World Cup of Everything' is available now in all good bookshops, published by Coronet. You can buy your copy directly from the publishers (RRP £14.99) here: https://www.hodder.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9781473667266 *click image to see the full front cover*