14,765 book reviews and counting...

Books in the Media Update

This website is no longer being updated; theBookseller.com is the home of all books related-content and will continue to be updated with regular articles about books featured in the media. Thank you for using this website, and we hope you join us on theBookseller.com.

Airhead Reviews

Airhead by Emily Maitlis


The Imperfect Art of Making News

Emily Maitlis

4.50 out of 5

5 reviews

Imprint: Michael Joseph Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 18 Apr 2019
ISBN: 9780241362853

the insightful, hilarious and engrossing memoir from one of our most eminent TV broadcasters, Newsnight's Emily Maitlis

  • The TimesBook of the Year
5 stars out of 5
Melanie Reid
17 Apr 2019

"a deliciously funny book about the high-wire act of broadcasting and the madness that surrounds it"

Maitlis’s writing is light, easy and thought-provoking. She attempted to skewer Piers Morgan, a long-term mate, on the subject of Me Too. He declared that women objectify men disgracefully too, and challenged her to interview the Chippendales dance troupe. Which leads to Las Vegas, and possibly the most memorable opening line to any chapter written by a BBC employee: “I am watching a man simulate masturbation in the shower.”...She sounds great company: she loves a drink, admits to frizzy hair and being a terrible mother on occasions, goes to sleep with make-up on and indulges in mad internet shopping late at night. Her finest career moment, she claims, was appearing with Alan Partridge. Her book’s a romp. Don’t forget, though: she did her homework first.



4 stars out of 5
Fiona Sturges
18 Apr 2019

"Her writing is excellent: precise, economical and accessible"

Maitlis paints a vivid picture of the intensity and unpredictability that come with her assignments, which punctures the perceived glamour of life reporting the news... Her writing is excellent: precise, economical and accessible. And she does a nice line in self-mockery. When her editor, Neil, calls to discuss coverage of the migrant crisis at Budapest central station, all she can think about is whether she’ll be home in time for her birthday. Later, waiting in 43C heat for Clinton, she changes her clothes in a barn smothered in goat poo, and frets about her “pothole-jolted make-up” that looks “crayoned on by a three-year-old”...Her thoughts on her professional performance along with the wider responsibilities of a national broadcaster are more revealing. Given the divisive political times and the ire frequently directed at news organisations, addressing the BBC’s role seems especially vital. 

5 stars out of 5
Bel Mooney
18 Apr 2019

"Anyone with aspirations to work in television news... should study this book and take on board just how hard the whole thing is"

Anyone with aspirations to work in television news, any wannabe presenter who thinks it looks pretty easy to read an Autocue, should study this book and take on board just how hard the whole thing is... The searing honesty that informs Maitlis on this, as well as on migrants in Budapest, her compassion for those who present an unsympathetic face to the world, the intelligence that informs the most succinct paragraph on Brexit I have ever read . . . all this leads the reader towards a deeper understanding of an essential part of our culture: current affairs.

This is a book that engages at every level — and so I’ll take ‘brainbox’ perhaps, Ms Maitlis, but not ‘airhead’ . . . no, no, no.

4 stars out of 5
18 Apr 2019

"Airhead is a compilation of her greatest hits. And boy there are many."

Airhead is a compilation of her greatest hits. And boy there are many. I am reminded of her mauling of former White House press secretary Sean “Spicey” Spicer, in which she tore strips off him for underwriting Trump’s lies and corrupting the discourse “for the entire world”... But Maitlis is no one-trick pony. Her passion over the Grenfell fire — she lives near the tower and describes volunteering in the aftermath — sharply contrasted with Theresa May’s stiff reserve when she interviewed the Prime Minister two days after the tragedy. She also coaxed a mesmerising interview from Emma Thompson about Harvey Weinstein as #MeToo was breaking. All this is narrated in her snappy, chatty style.

4 stars out of 5
14 Apr 2019

"Emily Maitlis on her most memorable interviews and dealing with alpha males"

This doesn’t mean the rest of the book isn’t great. She is a superb writer, used to throwing together pacy, engaging scripts at a second’s notice. Each chapter is dedicated to one of her interviews — it is a sort of greatest-hits compilation. If you’re a fan of Newsnight you might find it a bit recycled, tossed together hastily during one of Evan Davis’s more tedious links. She’s always rushing: “Airhead” gamely refers to the panic she feels just before she does a piece to camera.