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The Book Group 

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 »
4,422 ( 242)




2   1  
2003   2002  
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »




Series cast summary:
Anne Dudek ...  Clare Pettengill 12 episodes, 2002-2003
Bonnie Engstrom Bonnie Engstrom ...  Dirka 12 episodes, 2002-2003
Michelle Gomez ...  Janice McCann 12 episodes, 2002-2003
James Lance ...  Lachlan Glendenning / ... 12 episodes, 2002-2003
Rory McCann ...  Kenny McLeod 12 episodes, 2002-2003
Saskia Mulder ...  Fist de Grooke 12 episodes, 2002-2003
Derek Riddell ...  Rab 12 episodes, 2002-2003
Des Hamilton ...  Jackie McCann 8 episodes, 2002-2003
Gotti Sigurdarson ...  Lars 7 episodes, 2002-2003
Henry Ian Cusick ...  Miles Longmuir 6 episodes, 2003
Jack McElhone ...  Wee Jackie 6 episodes, 2002-2003
Karen Kilgariff Karen Kilgariff ...  Jean Pettengill 5 episodes, 2003
Lars Oostveen 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 (Laitue_Gonflable@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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


Comedy | Drama


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Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:

Channel 4 [UK]





Release Date:

12 April 2002 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Pirate Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(12 episodes)

Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Each episode takes place over the course of a month. See more »


Clare propositions Barney on their first meeting, then seems surprised when he turns up at her door on another occasion stoned and propositioning her. See more »


Clare Pettengill: I think I'm suffering from clinical depression.
Rab: Brilliant.
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 »


Referenced in Team America: World Police (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

There's nothing quite like it
8 May 2003 | by Laitue_GonflableSee all my reviews

"The Book Group" is the sort of show that is completely unique, not in its content matter or style but in the way it makes you feel. This is the second of Annie Griffin's series I've gotten into after the very similarly themed "Coming Soon" and I can't quite decide which one I like, or hate, more.

Essentially it's a look at several unhappy characters, I won't go into them here. But they're all unhappy, or insecure, or sexually frustrated in some way, and the combined misery of all the members of this 'book group' formed by the Ohio depressive Claire all seem to clash in every meeting they have. The first series all dealt with each one's attempts to hit onto each other one; Claire was in love with Barney, Kenny in love with Claire, Dirka & Fist both in love with Kenny, it was quite a vicious love triangle. We've just started screening the second series in Australia and it seems this time everybody has found someone but naturally is still unhappy.

But that's not the way the show seems to deal with it. All the characters are portrayed as pathetic, almost ludicrous in many ways, despite the fact that the feelings they are expressing are not in any way unknown to anybody. But it's black comedy, it makes you laugh even though there's nothing funny about it. And for that reason, while I might spend an entire episode cackling away non-stop, every episode always leaves me with a hollow, empty feeling. Maybe it's the un-finite nature of every episode ending, or maybe it's the haunting theme music or just the fact that the things I'm laughing at end up striking a nerve with me, either way, it's a unique experience.

One thing that has to be noted; very little of the series has to do with books: there are occasional references to the books they are reading for the week, often in the form of a member of the group's fantasy or dream, but apart from that it is simply a character study and fun-poking at some of the most depressing and heart-breaking human emotions set in the surroundings of a group of people gathered together to talk about books. For one thing, you have to realise that at least quarter of each episode deals with professional football given that one member is obsessed with it and three others are married to professional footballers.

Personally I think that Annie Griffin is one of the most under-rated writers/directors around today. She blends comedy and drama in a way that nobody else can do and weaves such intricate, almost psychological plots, around such a simplistic premise. I eagerly anticipate each episode and her next project. 4 stars out of 5.

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