Book Review: How to Get Ahead in Television by Sophie Cousens

How To Get Ahead In Television
How to Get Ahead in Television by Sophie Cousens
Release Date: 3rd September 2015
Publisher: Corvus
Buy: Kindle
5 star


Poppy Penfold desperately wants a career in television. After months of dead-end applications, she gets her big break with a temporary job as a runner for RealiTV. But to land a permanent role, Poppy will need to go head-to-head with fellow runner Rhidian: arrogant, highly competitive – and ridiculously good looking.

Poppy goes all out to impress, but somehow things don’t go to plan. Whether failing to prevent a washed-up soap star from becoming roaring drunk during Scottish game show Last Clan Standing, or managing to scare the horses during the filming of Strictly Come Prancing, Poppy gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. With highly strung presenters and distractingly handsome producers in the mix, it’s Poppy’s determination that will see her win or lose her dream job, and maybe her dream man too…


Despite having a degree in History, 22 year old Poppy Penfold has her sights set on a career working in television. Many failed applications and lectures from her mother about how she should pursue a career in banking later, Poppy finally strikes gold when she lands a job working for cutting-edge production company, RealiTV. Everyone has to start somewhere and Poppy is determined to prove herself as a runner before making her way up the ranks. However, the only slight problem is that Poppy’s job is temporary and she is also going to be battling it out against someone else for the permanent job at the end. That someone else happens to be Rhidian who is gorgeous, self-confident and extremely capable. Gulp.

However, as hard as Poppy works to impress it feels as though nothing ever really goes, well, right. After dealing with flirtatious producers, mischievous horses and alcoholic presenters, Poppy soon discovers that working in TV isn’t going to be nearly as easy as she thought…

How to Get Ahead in Television was one of those books that I just knew I was going to love. As soon as I discovered that Sophie Cousens worked in TV I knew that this novel was going to be complete GOLD. Drawing on her past experiences in the most pant-wettingly-hilarious way, Sophie has created a hugely fun, fascinating and surprisingly romantic rip-roaring read.

As well as the excellent sounding storyline and zesty cover, I was also keen to read How to Get Ahead in Television knowing that it was the winning story of the #LoveAtFirstWrite competition which was run by LoveReading and Corvus. I knew this this novel had to be something special to win such a highly acclaimed prize, but I genuinely had no idea just how much I would love this book.

Firstly, we need to talk about Poppy. Poppy Penfold is an unmitigated disaster. She’s clumsy, disaster-prone and creates chaos wherever she goes. Needless to say I absolutely adored her. Sophie managed to make her fully believable, crazy yet normal and hugely loveable. I was worried that perhaps her actions may become a little far-fetched but this wasn’t the case at all. Poppy was just a normal girl, whose heart is in the right place. She works hard and always gives everything her best shot. I defy you not to immediately fall for Poppy too – she is ultimate BFF material and I could have read about her adventures from now until forever. She is simply fabulous.
Ok – I will admit to being slightly fond of Rhidian too. It was blindingly obvious that he liked Poppy and he was drop-dead-gorgeous after all. I really felt for Poppy when it constantly felt as though he was saving the day and clearing up the trail of disaster that she left behind. GRR. Stop being so darn perfect, Rhidian.
The other person who I adored was Poppy’s mum. This woman is sheer brilliance. Her insistence that Poppy get a ‘proper’ job will resonate with so many readers who have been in Poppy’s position (And I think we all have at some point in our lives.)

My other favourite thing about this novel (believe me there are many) was the sheer genius of the programmes that Poppy worked on. WHEN is Strictly Come Prancing going to be on our televisions? What about Changing Grooms? Or Last Clan Standing? The ideas for shows are absolutely fantastic and they really contributed to the whole fun, wacky and utterly hilarious feel of the book.

Sophie’s writing is amazing. The story flows so naturally and is both laugh-out-loud hilarious and completely believable at the same time. She has created a lovable and no doubt hugely popular character in Poppy – in fact the whole cast of characters were wonderfully brought to life. Poppy’s best friend, Natalie, her co-workers Helen and David, the annoying JR – they were all brilliant.
Another thing that appealed to me was how we got to see snippets of Poppy’s story via email, letters and text messages. This added a more personal feel to the novel and complimented the story so well.
I found a lot of similarities in Sophie’s style of writing to the legend that is Sophie Kinsella. Poppy did remind me of Becky Bloomwood in parts and the way that Sophie has encorperated the emails and texts into the story reminded me of the Shopaholic books (especially the early ones…Y’know the ones where Becky used to get letters from the bank all the time..?!?)

If you’re looking for a novel that is light, lovable and laugh-out-loud (beware if you’re reading on the train…) then How To Get Ahead in Television is your book. A completely worthy winner of the #LoveAtFirstWrite competition, all the remains now is for me to BEG Sophie Cousens to write more adventures of Poppy Penfold (ideally within the next few weeks?…Sophie?…SOPHIE??)

A huge thank you to Alison at Corvus. 


Television for over twelve years, working her way up from Runner to Series Producer. She has produced, among other things, The Graham Norton Show, Big Brother, Ant and Dec, Russell Howard’s Good News and most recently Murder in Successville for BBC3. Sophie recently won the LoveAtFirstWrite competition, run in partnership with Corvus and LoveReading with her debut novelHow to Get Ahead in Television.

Before launching into a Television career, Sophie gained a History Degree from Edinburgh University. She currently splits her time between London and Jersey, TV Producing and writing. She lives with her husband Tim and spends lots of time growing vegetables, baking cakes and yearning for a time when she will be able to own a miniature dachshund.

Sophie Cousens | Website | Twitter |  Goodreads |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s