American Clare Pettengill, newly arrived in Glasgow, starts up a book group in order to make some new friends. The group consists of three unhappy European football wives, a pretentious ... See full summary »




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2003   2002  
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Series cast summary:
 Clare Pettengill (12 episodes, 2002-2003)
Bonnie Engstrom ...
 Dirka (12 episodes, 2002-2003)
 Janice McCann (12 episodes, 2002-2003)
 Lachlan Glendenning / ... (12 episodes, 2002-2003)
 Kenny McLeod (12 episodes, 2002-2003)
 Fist de Grooke (12 episodes, 2002-2003)
 Rab (12 episodes, 2002-2003)
 Jackie McCann (8 episodes, 2002-2003)
Gotti Sigurdarson ...
 Lars (7 episodes, 2002-2003)
 Miles Longmuir (6 episodes, 2003)
 Wee Jackie (6 episodes, 2002-2003)
Karen Kilgariff ...
 Jean Pettengill (5 episodes, 2003)
Lars Oostveen ...
 Bart van Dongen (5 episodes, 2002-2003)


American Clare Pettengill, newly arrived in Glasgow, starts up a book group in order to make some new friends. The group consists of three unhappy European football wives, a pretentious drug-addict student, a closet-homosexual football enthusiast, and a kind and gentle struggling author in a wheelchair. Each week they meet to read and discuss a new book, which always affects or influences each of the group's lives in some way. Written by Vladimir (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

book | tea | scotland | love | loneliness | See All (12) »


Comedy | Drama


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Release Date:

12 April 2002 (UK)  »

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(12 episodes)

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Did You Know?


Though the book group met at her house, Fist didn't pick the scandalous book 'The Sexual Life of Catherine M'. Instead it was Jean, who was rooming with Fist at the time. This means Fist never picked a book during the series' run. See more »


Jean Pettengill: Okay, what we just heard was a bottle of Jim Beam - a present for you in fact. Now my wardrobe such as it is will have that special whiff of sour match whiskey.
Clare Pettengill: Everybody smells like that here in Glasgow.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The first season's opening credits show the characters' houses in the order they appear during the book group sessions: Clare, Dirka, Barney, Rab, and Janice; though he had picked the book, Kenny decided to have the group meet at Clare's instead and Fist hadn't picked one during the first season. See more »

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User Reviews

Not as funny as it was sold as being – but much more rewarding in other ways
17 May 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A lonely American girl living in Scotland advertises a book group in a local shop window to help her meet people. For the first meeting she has a strange mix of people arrive for the discussion. Kenny is a leisure center attendant in a wheelchair, Barney is a pompous English dope fiend, Fist and Dirka are Swedish football wives, Rab is a working class football fan and Janice is a football wife struggling to be seen as smart and as confident as everyone else. As the group gets to know each other better the characters come out more and the books provide only an excuse for the collage of feelings and experiences that are really exposed within the group.

This started it's run in the slot of the brilliant Black Books. Channel 4 were keen to keep the laughing Friday night audience it had captured with Black Books and Fraiser and hence launched The book Group as a comedy similar to that other Book title. However the two have little in common except the word book. The Book Group was initially a disappointment – I spent the first ten minutes trying to laugh too hard, feeling I had to try because it was supposed to be wacky and hilarious. Once I got past this I found it was more comedy based on characters rather than surreal humour.

This has actually made it more rewarding and the comedy is better because it is more liberally scattered rather than the scattergun approach of Black Books. But the real money here is the characters and their stories. We find out more and more about them each week and get more and more involved in their stories. I've just finished watching the first (but hopefully not only) series, but I won't talk too much about the stories as it may spoil it. But the characters get more detailed each week – some in surprising ways! It's a little stretched at times, but most of it works. Yes – the series may drift away from the actual reading of books for some episodes but then the actually discussing of books was never the focus of the programme anyway.

All the cast are great – Dudek (also popping up in ER) is great as Clare – the first episode is an example of how she can play cool on the surface but let things bubble just beneath – and then explode in an emotional overflow. McCann is great as Kenny – able to display his frustartions and hurt (?) at his situation – but more so at the different ways he is treated, as a sex object by some and a object of pity by others. James Lance is great as the least likeable of the characters while Mulder and Engstrom are great as the football wives. Riddell is brave as Rab. Gomez is mixed as Janice – it's hard to tell. At first I thought she was poor because I thought she did a poor show of being confident – then I realised that was the point, then her breakdowns etc and her efforts to show everyone how smart she is come off really well.

Overall it has it's weaknesses – but it has developed over the 6 shows and would be a welcome return for series 2.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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