Hay Festival Digital Winter Weekend 2020

We are delighted to present our 2020 Winter Weekend Digital Festival programme.

All events are free to access and it couldn't be easier to register and watch. Simply browse the programme and click "register" for any event you wish to see. You will need to log in to the website or create an account in order to do this. We'll send you a confirmation email once you've booked your first event, and all the events that you subsequently book will be added to your own Winter Weekend Schedule. All events are available with subtitles.

Once you have registered, follow the "Go to Event" link under each listing, or follow the link in your Winter Weekend Schedule to watch. To make sure you don't miss anything, we'll also send you an email reminder just before each of your booked events begins. You will be able to replay all events for free for the duration of the weekend, after this time they will be available on Hay Player.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us: boxoffice@hayfestival.org.

Event 33

John Barnes talks to Liana Stewart

The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

Born in Jamaica in 1963, John Barnes moved to the UK with his family in 1975 at the age of 12. Six years later he was a professional footballer, distinguishing himself for Watford, Liverpool and England, and in the process becoming our most prominent black player.

In this book he tackles head-on the issues surrounding prejudice by vividly evoking his personal experiences, and holding up a mirror to this country's past, present and future, in a powerful and moving testimony.

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Event 34

Jeanette Winterson talks to Claire Armitstead

12 Bytes: How We Got Here. Where We Might Go Next

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

Artificial Intelligence is the subject of this collection of 12 illuminating, funny and provocative essays. Drawing on her years of thinking and reading about AI in its bewildering manifestations, the author looks to history, religion, myth, literature, politics – and computer science – to help us understand the radical changes that are happening now and the implications for the way we live and love. With wit, compassion and curiosity, she tackles topics from the algorithms that data-dossier your whole life to the weirdness of backing up your brain.

Claire Armitstead is associate editor at the Guardian.

“Briskly and breezily, 12 Bytes joins the dots in a neglected narrative of female scientists, visionaries and code-breakers” – Observer

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Event 35

Vicki Hird ​talks to Kitty Corrigan

Rebugging the Planet

 Baillie Gifford Stage

Meet the intelligent insects, marvellous minibeasts and inspirational invertebrates that bring life to our planet. Discover how we can ‘rebug’ our attitudes and embrace these brilliant, essential insects, so that we can avoid an ‘insectageddon’ and help each other thrive.

Bugs are economically invaluable, responsible for pollinating plants, feeding birds, defending crops and cleaning water systems. But with 40 per cent of insect species at risk of extinction and a third more endangered, our planet is headed towards an insect apocalypse. We have to start giving worms, spiders, beetles, ladybirds and butterflies the space they need to flourish.

The author is head of sustainable farming for Sustain, the campaign for better food and farming, and a former director of policy and campaigns at War on Want. Vicki talks to freelance journalist Kitty Corrigan.
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Event 36

Kit de Waal, Jack Underwood and Alex Wheatle

Understanding Grief

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

I measure every grief I meet with narrow, probing, eyes

I wonder if it weighs like Mine – or has an Easier size.”

– Emily Dickinson

Led by Kit de Waal, the panel explores our changed understanding of grief as we emerge from the pandemic and begin to measure its personal and collective impact. They discuss the grief of ‘what could have been’ as a loss equal to that of what once was; they will examine how the pandemic denied us the experiences that punctuate life, as well as those that mark the passing of loved ones; and they will reflect on the absence we experience at the loss of our lives as we knew them before. Drawing on personal experience, they celebrate literature’s power to help us make sense of the world, provide perspective, and enable us to envision different versions of our reality.

Kit de Waal, born to an Irish mother and Caribbean father, was brought up among the Irish community of Birmingham in the 1960s and ’70's. Her debut novel, My Name Is Leon was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Her latest work, Supporting Cast, a collection of short stories, was published in 2020.

Jack Underwood is a poet, writer and critic. His debut collection of poems, Happiness, won the Somerset Maugham Award in 2015. His work has appeared in The Poetry Review, The New Statesman, Observer, TLS, and Tate Etc. He is a senior lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Alex Wheatle is a YA novelist, poet and playwright. He is a lecturer in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. His life story featured in Alex Wheatle, the fourth BBC film in the Steve McQueen series Small Axe.

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Event 37

Christopher Meredith talks to Jon Gower


 Baillie Gifford Stage

Meredith has produced collections of poetry and works of fiction more or less alternately since 1984. This year, Seren published his novel Please and his book of poetry Still on the same day. Join him in a conversation about writing in parallel forms, with fellow Welsh writer Jon Gower, whose books include An Island Called Smith and The Story of Wales. He has been making TV and radio documentaries for 30 years.

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Event 38

Josh Widdicombe talks to Henry Widdicombe

Watching Neighbours Twice a Day...How ’90s TV (Almost) Prepared me for Life

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

Do you remember when viewing at a certain time was still a thing? When you spent 3.30pm-5.30pm every day watching CBBC? A forgotten or unknown time for some, but a treasured childhood for the comedian whose memoir revisits the TV of our past, from the CBBC Broom Cupboard, Live & Kicking, Eldorado and Big Break to C4’s bespoke Saturday morning sports output featuring Kabaddi. In conversation with his brother Henry, he reflects on his strange upbringing in Dartmoor where there were only four people in his year at school, and at home they didn’t just leave the front door unlocked, they didn't even have a key.

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Event 39

Richard Morris and Francesca Stavrakopoulou in conversation

Evensong: Lives, Finds and Reflections on the Church in England/God: An Anatomy

 Baillie Gifford Stage

Fewer than two per cent of the British population regularly attend services in an Anglican church, and since the idea of ‘church’ is its people, the buildings are becoming husks, without meaning or purpose. Some are finding new community roles, but the institutional decline is widely seen as terminal. For Morris, post-war parsonages were the happy backdrop of his childhood. In Evensong he explores what drew his father and hundreds like him to ordination as they came home from war in 1945. We meet archbishops, chaplains, campaigners, bell-ringers, bureaucrats, archaeologists, gravediggers, architects, scroungers – and follow some of them to dark places. Part personal odyssey, part lyrical history, the book spans two thousand years, and ends amid the messy legacies of colonialism and empire.

Stavrakopoulou’s God: An Anatomy reveals that God’s cultural DNA stretches back centuries before the Bible was written, and persists in society, whether we are believers or not. The Bible has shaped our ideas about God and religion, but also our cultural preferences, our concept of life and death; our attitude to sex and gender; our habits of eating and drinking; and our understanding of history. In her book she shows how the Western idea of God developed, investigating the places and artefacts that shaped our view of this singular God and the ancient religions and societies of the biblical world. In doing so she analyses the origins of Western culture.

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Event 40

Simon Jenkins

Europe’s 100 Greatest Cathedrals

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

Outstripping palaces and castles, cathedrals are sensational structures and humankind's greatest creations. The author has travelled from Chartres to York, Cologne to Florence, Toledo to Moscow and Stockholm to Seville to illuminate old favourites and highlight new discoveries. This fully illustrated book tells the stories behind these wonders, inspiring readers to make their own pilgrimage.

Previous books by Simon Jenkins include England's Thousand Best Churches, A Short History of England, and A Short History of Europe.

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Event 42

Emerald Fennell in conversation with Gemma Cairney

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

An evening with the Oscar-winning writer, director and actor as she discusses the complementary crafts of writing and performing. In April 2021, she won the Academy Award for best original screenplay, the first British woman to win (since it was established in its current form in 1958) with her film, Promising Young Woman. She earned two Primetime Emmy Award nominations as a writer on the BBC thriller series Killing Eve. She is known, too, for playing Patsy in BBC’s Call the Midwife and Camilla Parker-Bowles in Netflix's The Crown. In May, Fennell received the 2021 Hay Festival Medal for Drama. She talks to the radio and TV presenter Gemma Cairney.

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There are also five Winter Warmer events, free for everyone to watch and enjoy online featuring Matt Haig, Siri Hustvedt, Bill McKibben, Steven Pinker, and the 2021 Booker Prize winner, Damon Galgut.