Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers: Andrew Marr's Paperback Heroes

Video clips are automatically supplied by broadcasters and distributors. is not responsible for the clip's contents.

Series 1 - Episode 2 Fantasy



Fantasy, says Andrew Marr, is “a form of fiction for people who like to see all the ordinary rules smashed”. Which, often, is children – many of us will fondly remember long nights spent in Hogwarts, Middle-earth, Narnia…

But the attraction doesn’t diminish in adulthood, as the mania for Game of Thrones – first introduced as a book by George RR Martin in 1991, now an HBO series watched by millions worldwide – aptly demonstrates.

There’s plenty of highfalutin talk about fantasy being “distilled metaphor and truth” etc etc, but I think Marr sums it up best when he describes fantasy as “Magic, swords, quests”.

For some, though, it’s all a bit much. Take professor Hugo Dyson, a colleague of JRR Tolkien who, at one of his Lord of the Rings readings, despaired, “Oh God, not another f***ing elf!”


The broadcaster explores the conventions of the fantasy genre, profiling key figures including JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Terry Pratchett and chatting to best-selling writers Neil Gaiman, Alan Garner and Frances Hardinge.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Andrew Marr
Director Andy Hall
Executive Producer Michael Poole
Producer Andy Hall
Series Producer Sebastian Barfield
Documentary Arts