Eclectic mix of stars for 2023's Borders Book Festival
and live on Freeview channel 276
Set to be held once again in the grounds of Harmony House in Melrose from June 15-18, the marquee-based festival has a programme of guests old and new, covering a plethora of genres, and a few surprises to boot.
This year, the festival opens with the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, with a £25,000 first prize for the winner.
Followers of politics can enjoy well-known analyst Sir John Curtice, who’s rarely ever failed to accurately predict election outcomes; former Labour MP Chris Mullin on what happened to New Labour; Manchester mayor Andy Burnham on his life in books; and, of course, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
There’s authors aplenty … how about bestsellers Robert Harris, Val McDermid, Sebastian Barry, Ambrose Parry (crime writer Chris Brookmyre and his wife Marisa Haetzman), Jenny Colgan, Mark Billingham and Mara Menzies.
There’s the usual large helping of comedy, with resident impressionist Rory Bremner along with the likes of Saparak Khorsandi, Theo Fennell and Jon Culshaw; and not forgetting the hilarious Nina Conti, who helps highlight the opening day.
Sports fans will not know where to turn next … former Celtic boss Martin O’Neil and Scotland player Pat Nevin; Andy’s mum Judy Murray; and commentating legends Archie McPherson and Andrew Cotter.
There’s travel (Malcolm MacGregor on the Namib); archaeology (Barry Cunliffe on Bretons and Britons); there’s folk you know from the telly (former Strictly judge Arlene Philips and Great British Bake-Off winning trio Giuseppe Dell’Anno, Peter Sawkins and Rahul Mandal).
There’s even the odd delve into music, including Lach and Martin Metcalfe; and, seeing as most of them are there anyway, the fabulous Fun Lovin' Crime Writers.
Kids are not left out, with a brimful of authors ready to talk about their books, such as Borderer Alan Windram, Martin Brown and Tolá Okogwu.
Festival director Alistair Moffat said: “Every year this comes round, I really look forward to it.
"My Litmus test on these things is if I wasn’t involved, would I go … you bet I would, because it makes such a joyous space in the middle of the summer.
"You think what would it be like without it, so I’m delighted we’ve got to 20 years and I look forward to the next 20 years.”
Mr Moffat, a local historian who’ll also be appearing on the stage, said that it appears that the hesitancy seen post Covid seems to have disappeared, with advance sales of tickets flying out the door already.
He said: “We are 33% on last year … I keep thinking it’s a mistake, but no, it’s true.
"I think we are now more comfortable about being in large groups, which is great.”