Visitors were able to listen to a number of talks from a variety of speakers across the Literary Festival’s Winter Weekend.
Politically-minded attendees heard Birmingham MP Jess Philips share her thoughts about the upcoming election, and the importance of empowering normal people to change their lives, as well as long-time broadcasters Sir Trevor McDonald and John Humphrys recall encounters with Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela.
The programme also featured historical talks, with Sir Max Hastings speaking on the WW2 bouncing bomb raids; Radio 4 presenter Tom Holland talking about the enduring influence of Christianity; Oxford University’s Professor Emma Smith’s thoughts on Shakespeare’s relevance today and comedian and writer, Jenny Eclair’s tales of her stand-up career and her best-selling novel.
The Festival additionally focused on TV, with the BBC journalist Carrie Gracie joining line-up part-way through the tribunal over equal pay at the BBC, TV producer David Parker sharing moving footage of Laure Lee reminiscing about his career against a backdrop of the Cotswold valleys, and connoisseur Ned Palmer taking his audience on a cheese journey around the British isles, accompanied by artisan cheeses provided by Paxton & Whitfield.
The Really Big Pants Theatre was available for those with families to enjoy the festival. Children were able to enjoy Roald Dahl’s Rotsome Words, create a giant Very Hungry Caterpillar with designer Judy Reaves to mark his 50thanniversary, with the result now hanging with pride in Stratford Play House, as well as listen to actor and comedian Ben Miller, as he shared his thoughts about meeting Father Christmas, and the danger of black holes. Black holes pop up alarmingly in his latest book, which visitors were then able to buy two weeks ahead of publication.
Festival director, Annie Ashworth, said: “It was fantastic to welcome so many great speakers, and we are very proud that people of this calibre are so keen to come and talk to audiences here. I’d like to thank our sponsors, David Hunt Lighting, who gave its name to the entire weekend, and are really looking forward to the spring festival which runs from 9 to 17 May when we will be making more of a splash over several venues celebrating the fact that Stratford is a first class festival town.”