On the opening night of Hay Festival 2021, writers join forces with stars of stage and screen in a unique celebration of the power of words. Beaming in voices from around the world, host Natalie Haynes presents an evening of joy, celebration, reflection and remembrance as performers share the poems, books, plays and speeches that have inspired them most over the past year.
Performers include HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, actors Richard Eyre, Jessica Raine, Stephen Fry, Theresa Lola, Romola Garai, Charly Arrowsmith and Louise Brealey, comedians Sindhu Vee and Rob Brydon, writers Elif Shafak, Juno Dawson, Clemency Burton-Hill, Simon Schama, Rufus Mufasa, Hafsa Zayyan, Margaret Busby, poets Hollie McNish and Karl Nova, rapper Guvna B, scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock, and more.
Join the author as he talks to comedian Shappi Khorsandi about his career in children’s books. Hear what inspires his stories and about the inspiration behind his best-loved characters. Then listen to him reading from his books and ask the questions you've been longing to ask.
Have you ever felt as if you’re losing your grip? Then you'll love Sally Parker, who's struggling to find the hero inside herself, when all she really wants to do is lie down. Her husband Frank has lost his business, their home and their savings. Their bank cards have been declined. The children have gone feral. And now the bailiffs are at the door. What does an ordinary woman do when the bottom falls out of her world? This is a life-affirming tale of failing, falling, and finding a way back up, from the comedian, actress and TV presenter.
Andy Bush is a writer, illustrator and broadcaster on Absolute Radio.
Tom Allen's No Shame is a candid and emotional ride of a memoir. The working-class son of a coach driver, and the youngest member of the Noël Coward Society, the author grew up in '90s suburbia as the eternal outsider. He writes with caustic wit about his childhood, adolescence, the family he still lives with, and his attempts to come out and negotiate the gay dating scene.
Pippa Evans is an expert at saying Yes – and No. She's a master of thinking on her feet, but has also had to learn how to go with the flow. In her book Improv Your Life she's passing on everything she's learned from her career as both a performer and teacher, so that you can take centre-stage in your life. By passing on fun exercises you can practise at home, she aims to help you reach your full potential.
The two share laughs with the comedian and satirist Marcus Brigstocke.
The Bold family are going green, reducing, reusing and recycling as much as they can. But not all of their eco-friendly ideas are welcome, especially when it comes to 'watering' the neighbours' front garden. Hear the brand-new book brought to life by author Julian Clary, and see the illustrations created live by David Roberts.
In a special event to celebrate the launch of the new Graham Norton Book Club podcast on Audible, sit down with the comedian, actor and broadcaster as he talks to fellow Irish author Marian Keyes (Grown Ups) and Pointless presenter Richard Osman (The Thursday Murder Club).
The poet Sam Riviere introduces his debut novel, Dead Souls, about poets, plagiarism, love, technology, feuds and affairs, cancellation and revenge, and how writing really does alter reality. It follows the course of a single night, most of which is spent in the bar at the Travelodge just off Waterloo Bridge. There the unnamed narrator meets Solomon Wiese, a poet who has been ostracized by the community but plans to return to the capital through the theft of poems, illegal war profits and faked social media accounts – plans in which the narrator discovers he is obscurely implicated.
Acts of Desperation is a darkly funny debut novel by Megan Nolan, about a toxic relationship and secret female desire: "He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. None of it mattered in the end; what he looked like, who he was, the things he would do to me. To make a beautiful man love and live with me had seemed – obviously, intuitively – the entire point of life...How could it be true that a woman like me could need a man's love to feel like a person, to feel that I was worthy of life? And what would happen when I finally wore him down and took it?"
Halfway through her PhD and already dreaming of running her own lab, computer scientist Asha has her future mapped out. Then a chance meeting and whirlwind romance with her old high-school crush, Cyrus, changes everything. Dreaming big, they come up with a revolutionary idea: to build a social networking app that could bring meaning to millions of lives. While Asha creates an ingenious algorithm, Cyrus’ charismatic appeal throws him into the spotlight. When the app becomes the next big thing, Asha should be happy, but decisions are being made without her and she feels invisible in the boardroom of her own company? The author talks to writer and broadcaster Georgina Godwin.
Come quick, there’s been a disaster! A session of extreme dancing has left Maisie in hospital with a broken leg and things are taking a real turn for the weird. Join the Blue Peter Award-winning author for some seriously silly stories, cuddly toys and tuna sandwiches (yuck!). Could Maisie’s leg be cursed? If it is, and it definitely is, then everything is doomed.
A stellar cast will share writing by some of our most influential women. Drawing on work from two important new books, The Penguin Book of Feminist Writing edited by Hannah Dawson, and Elizabeth Filippouli’s From Women to the World: Letters for a New Century, these writings demonstrate how we have the wisdom to inspire, motivate and reinvent our world.
Performers include Kate Winslet, Vanessa Redgrave, Juliet Stevenson, Caitlin Moran, Helen Lunkuse, Suzette Llewellyn, Bishop Rose and Suzanne Packer, musician Skin and novelist Elif Shafak.
All hell has broken loose in Kate Marsden’s life. Her husband has died, she’s lost her job and now she’s pushed the last of her friends away. Then one day, she wakes up in the wrong body – and the wrong year. She’s 18 again and it’s her first day at university. Which means today’s the day she’ll meet Luke, her future husband, for the first time. If they can fall in love again, Kate might just be able to save him second time around. The debut novel from the actor, comedian and author.
Join the brilliant author/illustrator of the Tom Gates series as she introduces her latest book with live drawing and plenty of jokes and tricks along the way. Pichon's books have been translated into 41 languages worldwide.
God is a tough audience as far as audible response is concerned, but at least you don't have to explain the references. In this collection of 'prayers', the comedian, broadcaster and radio host lays bare his convictions, questions, fears and doubts – all presented in an eavesdropper-friendly form. Hell, Judgement, atheism, money, faith and the X-Men all feature: it's a bit like reading the Bible, except you only get one side of the conversation, and all the jokes are left in. Is there a place for comedy in prayer? If there’s a place for comedy in life, there’s a place for comedy in prayer.
The QI Elves are the brains behind the hit panel show QI and the hugely popular spin-off podcast No Such Thing As A Fish. Every week the Elves appear on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show's 'Why Workshop' where they answer the ponderings and wonderings of Radio 2's most inquisitive listeners. Join Anne Miller, James Harkin and James Rawson for a live show as they prepare to answer questions such as: "If spiders can walk on the ceiling why can't they get out of the bath?", "Why is there an Essex, a Wessex, a Sussex but no Nossex?" and "How can I live for ever?"