This year's Hay Festival brings a wonderful mix of high-profile politicians, writers, historians, musicians, comedians, and scientists together at more than 600 events.
The festival runs from May 26 to June 5 in Hay-On-Wye on the Herefordshire border.
You'll find the full programme here and below, Herefordshire Live's top 20 favourites from the 2016 schedule.
David Gilmour and Polly Samson: Rattle That Lock
Event 29. Friday 27 May 2016, 7pm. Venue: Telegraph Stage. Price £15
The guitarist and writer discuss their songwriting partnership - the process between lyricist and musician. They have collaborated on four No. 1 albums: Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell and The Endless River, David Gilmour’s On An Island, and the recent Rattle That Lock. Hosted by Rosie Boycott.
Gordon Brown: Britain in Europe
Venue: Telegraph Stage. Price £8
In a town hall-style question and answer session, the former Prime Minister who intervened powerfully in the Scottish Referendum sets out his case for Britain not only ‘in’ Europe, but actively leading it: as a trade bloc, as a bastion of human rights and freedoms, as a new form of power shaping a new kind of international community for the C21st. Chaired by Anita Anand.
Sam Mendes: Taking About Directing
Event 67. Saturday 28 May 2016, 4pm. Venue: Tata Tent. Price £8
The Oscar-winning Osdirector talks about his work with actors and writers in the theatre and on screen. His films include the Oscar-winning American Beauty, Road to Perdition and the latest two Bond films Skyfall and Spectre. In the theatre he founded and ran the Donmar Warehouse for ten years, and has directed many productions for the RSC, the National Theatre, in the West End and on Broadway. His Neal Street Productions company produces The Hollow Crown Shakespeare films for the BBC. He talks to Clemency Burton-Hill.
Suzanne Vega: In Concert
Event 150. Sunday 29 May 2016, 9.45pm. Venue: Tata Tent. Price £25
A special festival appearance by the American singer and songwriter whose songs Luka and Tom’s Diner established her as one of the great poets and folk musicians of her generation. Her most recent project is the musical play Lover, Beloved: An Evening With Carson McCullers.
Dara Ó Briain: Crowd Tickler
Event 9. Thursday 26 May 2016, 8.30pm. Venue: Tata Tent. Price £26
The great Irish comedian returns to Hay to start the festival with a night of mercurial, joyful humour. He’s brilliant, quicksilver-smart and absolutely hilarious.
Brian Blessed Talks To John Mitchinson: Absolute Pandemonium
Event 480. Sunday 5 June 2016, 6.45pm. Venue: Llwyfan Cymru - Wales Stage. Price £7
The big actor yarns a riotous journey from his childhood, growing up the son of a miner in Goldthorpe, to finding fame in Z-Cars. He falls for Katharine Hepburn on the set of The Trojan Women, suffers wires strapped around his wotsits as he was hoisted into the heavens on Flash Gordon, almost causes an international incident when meeting the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and wins round George Lucas to get the role of Boss Nass on Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He punches Harold Pinter, loves and hates Peter O’Toole, woos his beautiful wife Hildegard Neil and braves the shocking death toll on cosy TV drama My Family and Other Animals. Then he climbs Everest.
To buy tickets visit here.
Michael Palin talks to John Crace: Travelling To Work
Event 330. Thursday 2 June 2016, 5.30pm. Venue: Tata Tent. Price £16
An interview with the treasured actor, writer, traveller, diarist and Monty Python star.
To buy tickets visit here.
Laura Marling: Solo Acoustic
Event 347. Venue: Tata Tent. Price £18
A rare solo performance by the songwriter and guitarist with the achingly beautiful voice. Laura Marling has been at the forefront of a generation that has reimagined British popular music. Her albums include the global hits I Speak Because I Can, Once I was an Eagle and most recently Short Movie.
Gregory Doran in conversation with Abigail Rokison-Woodall - Talking About Shakespeare
Event 385. Friday 3 June 2016, 7pm. Venue: Telegraph Stage. Price £8
The Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and this year’s Richard Dimbleby Lecturer, joins Abigail Rokison-Woodall from the Shakespeare Institute to discuss Shakespeare’s legacy in 2016, the 400th anniversary of his death. The RSC’s celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon include two major new productions to be directed by Doran: King Lear with Antony Sher, and a ground-breaking production of The Tempest with Simon Russell Beale, in collaboration with Intel and The Imaginarium Studios.
Event 79 • • Venue: Tata Tent. Price £20
Letters Live returns to Hay for a third year after very popular shows in 2014 and 2015 at which Benedict Cumberbatch, Louise Brealey and Jude Law headlined, and following a sold-out, highly acclaimed run at the Freemasons’ Hall in London in March 2016. Letters Live has rapidly established itself as a wonderfully dynamic and exciting new format for presenting memorable letters to a live audience and each event celebrates the joy, pain, wisdom and humour that so often hallmarks this most intimate of literary forms. This Letters Live is in aid of the Festivals of Literature Charitable Trust and its cast will be announced on May 16.
Turin Brakes: In Concert
Event 203. Monday 30 May 2016, 9.45pm. Venue: Telegraph Stage. Price £10
Sixteen years of touring across continents have sealed the indie band’s reputation as a fearsome live act, able to hold any size crowd with the sheer chutzpah of their no-hidden-tricks, raw and direct onstage presence. Their seventh studio album Lost Property stormed into the UK charts on release in January, their acoustic sound enriched with a gloriously heavy bass. They’ll play material from the new album alongside classic hits like Painkiller and Fishing for a Dream. Turin Brakes are childhood friends Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian and their long-term collaborators Rob Allum and Eddie Myer.
Peter Temple-Morris talks to Jim Naughtie: Across The Floor - A Life in Dissenting Politics
Event 306. Venue: Oxfam Moot. Price £7
On 20 June 1998 Peter Temple-Morris, former Conservative MP for Leominster, crossed the floor to join his rivals on the Labour party benches. What drove a seasoned Conservative politician, one of the so-called Cambridge Mafia, with 24 years’ experience at Westminster, to change his allegiance so radically? He discusses his disillusionments and inspirations, his adventures in ‘the art of the possible’, and his colleagues on both sides of the House with the veteran BBC anchor.
Billy Bragg: A Lover Sings
Event 336. Thursday 2 June 2016, 7pm. Venue: Tata Tent. Price £8
Bragg is one of Britain’s most distinctive and accomplished songwriters, whose work has articulated the passions, both personal and political, of Britain during the past five decades. A new collection of his lyrics, A Lover Sings, reveals a unique sensibility: principled and proudly of the Left, funny, forthright and tender. He talks to Sarfraz Manzoor.
Isy Suttie: The Actual One - Stand Up
Event 144. Venue: Telegraph Stage. Price £11
The brilliantly funny new show – featuring stories, songs and readings –about that moment in your late twenties when you suddenly realise that all your mates are growing up without you. The invisible deal that Isy had made – to prolong growing up for as long as possible – was all in her head. Suddenly everyone around her is into mortgages, farmers’ markets and nappies, rather than skinny-dipping in the sea and sambuca sessions on rope-swings. When her dearest friend advises Isy that the next guy she meets will be not just The One, but The Actual One, Isy decides to delay the onset of adulthood for just a bit longer until a bet with her mum results in a mad scramble to find a boyfriend within a month. Isy played the character of Dobby in Peep Show, and in 2013 won the gold Sony Radio Academy Award for her radio show Pearl And Dave.
Vince Cable talks to Bronwen Maddox: After The Storm
Event 225. Tuesday 31 May 2016, 2.30pm. Venue: Good Energy Stage. Price £7
In a robust Q&A, the Liberal Democrat who served as business secretary in the coalition government from 2010-2015 considers the state of the global economy in the aftermath of the 2008 crash.
Roger McGough and Little Machine: The Dream Team
Event 337. Thursday 2 June 2016, 7pm. Venue: Telegraph Stage. Price £9
Photo credit: Colin Clarke ARPS
Hilarious and surreal, McGough is a poet of many voices. Menace and melancholy there may be, but with plenty of McGough’s characteristic wit and wordplay, too. His newest collection of comical verse is perfect for Hay, is It Never Rains. He is joined by the brilliantly inventive three-piece band that has enjoyed huge success around the world with its settings of poetry. Little Machine are the musicians, composers and writers Walter Wray, Steve Halliwell and Chris Hardy.
Joan Bakewell talks to Clemency Burton-Hill: Stop The Clocks - Thoughts On What I Leave Behind
Event 130. Venue: Llwyfan Cymru - Wales Stage. Price £9
The broadcaster and writer looks back at what she was given by her family, and the times in which she grew up. She ranges from the minutiae of life such as how to make a bed properly with hospital corners, to the bigger lessons of politics, of lovers, of betrayal. She talks of the present, of her family, of friends and literature. She talks, too, of what she will leave behind.
Mervyn King talks to Bronwen Maddox: The End of Alchemy - Money, banking and the future of the Global Economy
Event 124. Sunday 29 May 2016, 4pm. Venue: Good Energy Stage. Price £8
The former Governor of the Bank of England analyses the causes of the global financial crisis. He proposes revolutionary new ideas to answer the central question: are money and banking a form of alchemy or are they the achilles heel of a modern capitalist economy?
Jonathan Dimbleby: The Battle of the Atlantic - How The Allies Won The War
Event 124. Sunday 29 May 2016, 4pm. Venue: Good Energy Stage. Price £8
The Battle of the Atlantic was crucial to victory in the Second World War. If the German U-boats had prevailed, the maritime artery across the Atlantic would have been severed. Mass hunger would have consumed Britain, and the Allied armies would have been prevented from joining in the invasion of Europe. There would have been no D-Day. Using fascinating contemporary diaries and letters, from the leaders and the sailors on all sides, Dimbleby maps the human stories, the intelligence breakthroughs and the strategic daring of this turning point in European history.
Stuart Franklin: The Documentary Impulse
Event 282. Wednesday 1 June 2016, 4pm. Venue: Oxfam Moot. Price £7
The Magnum photographer took one of the most powerful photographs of the twentieth century - the “tank man” in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, 1989. From his insightful position as a photographer, Franklin explores why we are driven to visually document our experiences and the world around us. He focuses on photography but traces this universal need through art, literature and science. Looking at photojournalism, war photography and work recording our culture, Franklin identifies some of its driving impulses: curiosity, outrage, reform and ritual; the search for evidence, for beauty, for therapy; and the immortalisation of memory. Chaired by Oliver Bullough.
Russell T Davies and Maxine Peaker: Talking About Shakespeare- A Midsummer Night's Dream
Event 87. Sunday 29 May 2016, 2.30pm. Venue: Oxfam Moot. Price £9
The former Doctor Who show-runner talks about his passion project, the film of Shakespeare’s play he’s wanted to make his entire life. With a cast that includes Maxine Peake as Titania and Matt Lucas as Bottom, the Dream is set in the tyrannical court of Athens and the magical forest around the city. Screenwriter and star talk to Clemency Burton-Hill.
Willow Robinson: In Concert
Event 41. Friday 27 May 2016, 10pm. Venue: Telegraph Stage. Price £6
The singer-songwriter from near Hay and a favourite of Herefordshire Live is one of the most hotly fancied emerging artists of 2016. His blues-infused voice and guitar evoke the spirit of his inspirations Jeff Buckley and Robert Plant, and his songs have a raw emotional power that make his live performances absolutely enthralling.
Read our interview with Willow here.
To buy tickets visit here.
Brix Smith-Start talks to Sarfraz Manzoor: The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise
Event 395. Venue: Starlight Stage. Price £6
Brix spent ten years in the band, The Fall, before her exit and the end of her marriage with Mark E Smith. Her story is much more than rock ’n’ roll highs and lows in one of the most radically dysfunctional bands around. Growing up in the Hollywood Hills in the 1960s in a dilapidated pink mansion, her life has taken her from luxury to destitution, from the cover of the NME to waitressing in California, via the industrial wasteland of Manchester in the 1980s.