VETERAN broadcaster and legendary inquisitor Sir David Frost will head a stellar cast at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival which takes place in Harmony Gardens, Melrose, from June 14-17.
One of the fathers of the satire boom of the early 60s and now a cherished national institution, Frost will be interviewed by festival patron and multi-talented adopted Borderer Rory Bremner in the 460-seater main marquee on Friday, June 15, at 7.30pm.
Frost’s appearance was confirmed yesterday at the programme launch of the extravaganza which will feature no fewer than 34 authors making their first visit to a festival unrecognisable from the modest literary celebration founded nine years ago by the Kelso-born author, historian and film-maker, Alastair Moffat.
“It’s making it different that allows me to keep insisting that what we are holding is the best yet,” said Mr Moffat.
Frost will be joined from the world of broadcasting by Jeremy Vine with both reflecting on illustrious careers.
The former, one of Bremner’s most enduring targets for impersonation, is the only person to have interviewed eight serving British prime ministers and seven US presidents, most famously his 1977 conversations with Richard Nixon which spawned the play and movie Frost/Nixon with Michael Sheen memorably taking the role of the measured and persistent interviewer in the latter.
Bremner will again be a ubiquitous presence at the festival, teaming up with Kirsty Wark and fellow patron James Naughtie for a unique interview with the interviewers on the Saturday night.
Another innovation this year will be a Melrose Mastermind, hosted by Sally Magnusson, daughter of the quiz’s late host Magnus, with Bremner and Wark pitting their wits against feisty Australian novelist Kathy Lette and, making his debut in Melrose, the brilliant Scots character actor and raconteur John Sessions.
Sessions will go solo to bring the curtain down on the festival on the Sunday.
There will be a rare appearance by Hilary Mantel to mark the publication of Bring up the Bodies, her eagerly awaited sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall.
Outspoken Episcopalian cleric Richard Holloway will discuss his much-heralded memoirs Leaving Alexandria, and three of the UK’s most acclaimed novelists – William Boyd, Andrew Miller and Patrick Gale – will talk about their new books.
There will be another notable first for the festival when that master of the taut thriller, Andy McNab, will launch his new book – title, as yet, a closely guarded secret.
James Holland will describe the exploits of the Dam Busters, and adventurer Mark Beaumont returns to Melrose to talk about the transatlantic rowing expedition that was nearly his last.
Other big names to feature this year include Peter Higgs, discoverer of the Higgs Boson particle, writers and actors Art Malik and Susan Wooldridge, reunited for the first time since making the hit television series The Jewel in the Crown.
Scots Makar Liz Lochhead, war correspondent and former hostage Charles Glass, and bestselling Scots authors Ian Rankin and Iain Banks are also on the guest list.
The line-up will include political heavyweights Alistair Darling and the indomitable Tam Dalyell, while there will be a mouthwatering date with restarateur and TV food guru Prue Leith who will talk about her candid memoir, Relish.
Councillors Grahame Garvie, executive member for culture with funding sponsor Scottish Borders Council, told us: “The festival goes from strength to strength every year and has become a truly international event, which brings huge benefits to the Borders economy and much enjoyment and enlightenment to all who attend.”
Mr Moffat enthused: “Within the constraints of four days, one walled garden, four marquees and the collective energy and imagination of the festival year, we have come up with a very well balanced programme which is sure to delight.
“We have 34 authors new to Melrose, two of Britain’s greatest novelists, a visionary television programme maker and inventor of entire genres, two of our best know politicians and two of Britain’s most gifted radio broadcasters.”
Reflecting on the festival programme yesterday, event co-ordinator Paula Ogilvie noted that admission prices had been pegged at last year’s level – ranging from £5 to a maximum of £13.
“We will take a bit of a financial hit this year because of rising costs, but the ethos of the festival has always been to be non-elitist and inclusive and, in the current economic climate, this can best be achieved if it is also affordable.”
Next week, TheSouthern will give full details of the Family Book Festival: a diverse programme of Saturday and Sunday events, which includes Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon and the chance to spot Where’s Wally.
In addition, the Schools Gala Day on Friday, June, 15, sponsored by Knight Frank, offers a vast programme of events with authors, illustrators, performers and stand-up comedians, aimed at nursery and primary children.
FM: festival marquee
SBBM: Scottish Borders Brewery Marquee
LM: Lochcarron Marquee
DCST: Davidson Chalmers Storytelling Tent
Thursday, June 14
6pm: Mark Beaumont, FM, £13 (£11 concessions)
6.15pm: Liz Lochhead. SBBM, £9 (£7)
6.15pm: Dr John Reid, Lochcarron Marquee, £9 (£7)
7.30pm: Prue Leith, FM, £13 (£9)
7.45pm: Charles Glass with Rory Bremner, SBBM, £9 (£7); Katriona MacEwan, LM, £9 (£7); James Naughtie, FM, £13 (£11)
9.15pm: Iain Banks, SBBM, £9 (£7).
Friday, June 15
4.45pm: Simon Watt, SBBM, £9 (£7)
6pm: William Boyd, FM, £13 (£11)
6.15pm: Frank Close and Peter Higgs, SBBM, £9 (£7)
7.30pm: Sir David Frost with Rory Bremner, FM, £13 (£11)
7.45pm: James Holland, SBBM, £9 (£7)
9pm: Jeremy Vine, FM, £13 (£11)
9.15pm: Richard Holloway, SBBM, £9 (£7).
Saturday, June 16
1.30pm: Sir Walter Scott Prize, FM, £13 (£11)
3pm: Britain’s Best Historical Fiction, FM, £13 (£11)
4.30pm: Melrose Mastermind hosted by Sally Magnusson, FM, £13 (£11); Jennie Erdal, Davidson Chalmers Storytelling Tent, £9 (£7)
4.45pm: Jeremy Wade, SBBM, £9 (£7); 4.45pm: Borders Writers’ Forum, LM, £9 (£7)
6pm: Hilary Mantel, FM, £13 (£11)
6.15pm: Kathy Lette, SBBM, £9 (£7); Tom Pow, DCST, £9 (£7)
7.30pm: Ian Rankin, FM, £13 (£11)
7.45: Andrew Miller, SBBM, £9 (£7)
9pm: Rory Bremner, Kirsty Wark and James Naughtie, FM, £13 (£11)
9.15pm: Chris Bookmyre, SBBM, £9 (£7).
Sunday, June 17
3pm: Tam Dalyell, FM, £13 (£11)
3.30pm: Vivien French: an introduction to writing for children, DCST, £5
4.30pm: Andy McNab, FM, £13 (£11)
4.45pm: Isla Blair, SBBM, £9 (£7); Exciting new voices in fiction, LM, £9 (£7)
6pm: Alastair Darling, FM, £13 (£11)
6.15pm: Patrick Gale, SBBM, £9 (£7); Allan Massie, LM, £9 (£7)
7.30pm: The Jewel in the Crown with Art Malik and Susan Wooldridge, FM, £13 (£11)
7.45pm: Ed Smith with Rory Bremner, SBBM, £9 (£7)
9pm: John Sessions, FM, £13 (£11).
How to book
By email to email@example.com
By telephone on 0844 357 1060 (Monday-Friday 10am -5pm).
By post to Borders Book Festival, Harmony House, St Mary’s Road, Melrose, TD6 9LJ
In person at the box office marquee June 14-17, 10am-9.15pm.