Absolutely fabulous – again!

Jennifer Saunders will follow in the footsteps of Absolutely Fabulous co-star Joanna Lumley with a star turn at this year’s Borders Book Festival.

Saunders will be announced as one of the stars of the 2014 Brewin Dolphin-sponsored event, when the programme is launched today in Melrose.

Jennifer Saunders will be appearing at this year's Melrose Book Festival.

Jennifer Saunders will be appearing at this year's Melrose Book Festival.

And once again The Southern Reporter is delighted to be a media sponsor for the four-day festival, which this year runs from June 12-15 in the garden of the listed Harmony House and is expected to attract almost 15,000 visitors.

The 11th festival sees Saunders join a stellar literary line-up that includes household names such as Paddy Ashdown, Steve Backshall, former prime minister Gordon Brown, Kate Adie, Lynda La Plante, John Sessions, broadcaster Simon Mayo, Rory Bremner and Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason.

And in a break with tradition, the festival will adopt twin themes, with this year’s centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and the referendum on Scottish independence providing the backdrop to many of the events.

Gordon Brown will talk about the unique nature of the Union and a debate will be held on Scottish independence.

Commemorating the First World War centenary, Allan Little will talk about the spark that ignited it; Katie Adie will recall women of the home front, and Dave Anderson, playing Sir Harry Lauder, will Keep Right On to the End of the Road.

On Festival Friday (June 13), the winner of the fifth £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction will be announced (the shortlist is on our website), with at least three of the shortlisted six authors taking part in a panel discussion on historical fiction.

On the Sunday, another anniversary will be celebrated – the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s great, innovative novel, Waverley – with a specially dramatised adaptation starring Phyllida Law, John Sessions and David Robb.

Elsewhere in the programme, younger audiences will be entertained by television presenter Steve Backshall, broadcaster, Simon Mayo, Andy Stanton, Simon Chapman, Lauren St John, Ross Collins, and Lari Don.

And following in the festival’s tradition of introducing the unexpected, event patron Rory Bremner will interview legendary drummer, Nick Mason. Kirsty Wark will talk about her first novel, and foodies will enjoy a mouth-watering choice including Incredible Spice Men Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh.

Wildlife cameraman Doug Allan, who has worked on BBC series such as Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet, will fascinate with tales of filming in polar regions.

And the festival will be hilariously rounded off by ventriloquist extraordinaire Nina Conti on Sunday night.

Festival director Alistair Moffat commented: “Over 11 years, each Borders Book Festival has been different, memorable and unique. Our 11th will be no exception; as we look to the past and the future, it will be a festival to remember in this landmark year for Scotland.”