Festival favourite Sessions looks forward to Melrose appearance

John Sessions reads from the shortlisted novels during the prize presentation.'Sebastian Barry is announced as the winner of The 2012 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for his novel On Canaan's Side.'Borders Book Festival 2012. Taken 15th June 2012'Harmony House in Melrose, The Scottish Borders''pictures by Alex Hewitt/Writer Pictures
John Sessions reads from the shortlisted novels during the prize presentation.'Sebastian Barry is announced as the winner of The 2012 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for his novel On Canaan's Side.'Borders Book Festival 2012. Taken 15th June 2012'Harmony House in Melrose, The Scottish Borders''pictures by Alex Hewitt/Writer Pictures
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This year’s book festival will be closed on the final night by none other than legendary Scottish conductor and raconteur Sir Sandy McStanley.

Or rather by another one of the brilliant, hilarious characters from the imagination of the wonderful John Sessions.

A true original, Sir Sandy will bring this year’s festival to a close on the Sunday evening at 9pm when he will be in discussion with festival director Alistair Moffat.

The Melrose audience will hear all about Sir Sandy’s privileged background and discover how he happened into the world of orchestras and operas.

Not one to keep his opinions to himself, Sir Sandy is set to share his somewhat “interesting” ideas on range of subjects and along with some hysterical reminiscences, there will be a chance to hear a few pieces of his favourite music.

Sessions has become an established Melrose book festival favourite in recent years and says he enjoys the Borders event atmosphere.

He commented: “I’m very fond of the people who run the Melrose festival – Jim Naughtie is there quite a lot and he’s a good friend of mine – and Alistair Moffat is now also a good friend and we generally have a great time.

“It is work – well it’s work when you’re doing shows – but we have a laugh as well.”

Sessions has performed the Sir Sandy character at previous events, albeit under a different character name.

“But Melrose being in Scotland, I decided to make him Scottish and I based his voice on that of Alasdair Gray,” said Largs-born Sessions, referring to the well-know Scottish writer and artist.

Describing Sir Sandy as a “third-rate hack” whose motto is “near enough is good enough”, Sessions, a long-time classical music enthusiast, promises the show will be full of jokes.

A panel-show favourite, Sessions has appeared in numerous episodes of QI and Have I Got News For You and earlier this year played the part of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in ITV’s Mr Selfridge.

There have also been big-screen performances as Edward Heath alongside Meryl Steep’s Iron Lady, and former prime minister Harold Wilson in Made in Dagenham.

But he says he feels no pressure to constantly be funny when meeting people: “No, not really – I don’t burst into rooms singing and dancing!

“But I’m looking forward to Sir Stanley’s appearance in Melrose later this month.”

Sessions will be at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival (June 13-16) in Melrose on Sunday, June 16, at 9pm.

For tickets (£14, £12 conc.) contact 0844 357 1060 or visit www.bordersbookfestival.org for online bookings.