Tim Key's Suspended Sentence

  • 0
  • 3
Now Playing:


More information

Perrier award-winning comedian and poet Tim Key sleuths out what makes a great literary opening line. With contributions from author Joe Dunthorne, literary critic John Sutherland and comedian and novelist Mark Watson.


Truths universally acknowledged. Clocks striking thirteen. Bests and worsts of times. A truly great opening line can make a novel iconic. But what makes these famous first sentences sing to us?

Perrier award-winning comedian and poet Tim Key is itching to find out. He's desperate to write his first novel - it's in him, just waiting, waiting to be unleashed. If only he could think of a good beginning...

Fresh from his acclaimed stage show and regular spots on Charlie Brooker's "Newswipe" and Steve Coogan's "Mid-Morning Matters With Alan Partridge", Tim's on a mission to pen the ultimate opening line: one that will knock your socks off, hook you in, blow you away (he'll sort out the rest later, yeah?).

As he slowly crafts his one-sentence magnum opus, Tim taps into the minds of some of Britain's top literary talents to find out what a first line should and shouldn't do, and the hours of sweat and toil enshrined in those crucial few words - his interviewees include the writer Joe Dunthorne (author of the hit novel "Submarine"), and literary critic John Sutherland. Tim also taps into the strange and brilliant mind of his friend, the stand-up comedian and novelist Mark Watson, over a spin of one of the world's strangest literary board games.

The pressure's on, as we hear a roll-call of some of the finest and most famous first lines in publishing history - from Dickens to Dostoevsky to uh, Dan Brown. Overwhelmed with information, we also hear a crash course on what not to do - as Tim visits Knebworth House, ancestral pile of a man whose most famous first sentence is legendary for all the wrong reasons: Edward Bulwer-Lytton, author of the infamous "It was a dark and stormy night...".
Done 100

Are you sure that you want to delete this?

Cancel Delete