All-star Bath v2.qxp_Layout 1 26/04/2019 15:08 Page 2
FESTIVAL | EVENTS
Sir Michael Parkinson (b.1935) is firmly embedded as a national treasure. Not only is he a star, and an unassuming one, but he has interviewed countless stars of our time, among them Bing Crosby, Mohammed Ali, Nelson Mandela, Joan Collins, Tommy Cooper, David Bowie and Naomi Campbell, and the infamous 1970s interview with Rod Hull and Emu. His interview style was open, relaxed and attentive, focused on the interviewee. He’s at the festival in conversation with his son Mike on 18 May, showing highlights from the Parkinson archive.
Mary Queen of Scots and Jo Brand: both ‘take-me-as-I-am’, headstrong women Our action star at the festival is Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (b.1939), who in 1969 became the first person to perform a singlehanded non-stop circumnavigation of the globe in one of the smallest boats to enter the race – he rounded Cape Horn 20 days before his closest competitor. If this wasn’t enough, he won the two-handed Round Britain Race in 1970 and 1974, as well as the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest circumnavigation in 1994. Suffice it to say that he’s super fast on water, and grazing superhero status. He’s at the Assembly Rooms on 23 May to reveal the extraordinary story of his life from his book Running Free. Writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg (b.1939) is best-known as presenter of The South Bank Show and the Radio 4 discussion series In Our Time. He’s had a pretty amazing life, from his early days in Carlisle and Wigton (where he lived above a pub) to reading Modern History at Oxford, his friendship with Labour Party leaders Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock and his active involvement with the arts. He talks about his latest novel, Love Without End, based on the love story of Heloise and Abelard, on 24 May.
Prue Leith (b.1940) replaced our own Mary Berry on The Great British Bake Off in 2017. While initially resentful, we have now taken her into our hearts, along with her bright outfits and exuberant necklaces, because she does appear to know about soggy bottoms. She talks to George Miller about her life-long passion for food and fiction, including her new novel The Lost Son, completing her Angelotti Chronicles trilogy on 23 May.
A rock band from Merseyside called The Beatles (formed in 1960) became the most influential band in history, mixing up influences and using unconventional recording techniques to create sounds that became associated with the counterculture of the era. Mark Lewisohn and Alan Johnson talk to David Hepworth about the band’s enduring appeal on 26 May.
Pam Ayres (b.1947), who hit the big time with her appearance on Opportunity Knocks in 1975, specialises in rhyming poetry about everyday subjects. Her poems’ delivery is characterised by her strong North Berkshire accent and her immaculate timing. She talks to Paul Blezard about her poetry, life and loves on 21 May. Jo Brand (b.1957), after 10 years in psychiatric nursing, moved to the alternative comedy stand-up scene where she had the stage name Sea Monster. In 2007 she learned how to play the organ in four months before performing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor for an audience of 8,000 people at the Royal Albert Hall, which says something about the woman she is. She talks to Francesca Beauman about her book Born Lippy on 18 May. There’s no doubt about it, Barbie (launched in 1959) is an icon of our era, reproduced well over a billion times. She was one of the first dolls taking an adult form and is named after her designer’s daughter, Barbara. But does she represent the characteristics of female independence or is she a metaphor for a culture preoccupied with how a woman looks? Moira Redmond, Zawe Ashton and Marisa Bate consider the evidence on 26 May.
Parky would have been a genteel escort for Jane
Pam and the Roman invaders would have produced some interesting poetry, but maybe not in Latin Mariella Frostrup (b.1962) has many claims to fame, but our favourite is the fact that her gravelly voice (once voted the sexiest voice on television) is used in lifts on the London Overground. Her latest book, Wild Women, which she discusses at the Assembly Rooms on 21 May, is an anthology of the greatest women’s travel writing ever written, from Edith Wharton to Dervla Murphy. Dame Darcey Bussell (b.1969) became principal dancer at the Royal Ballet at just 20 years old. Her star shone brightly until she retired in 2007, and her role as judge on Strictly Come Dancing, where her willowy elegance distinguished her, kept her in the limelight, although she’s moving on to new projects this year. She shares stories from her book Evolved on 18 May. The last of our starry visitors is broadcaster and radio presenter Sara Cox (b.1974), who grew up on her father’s farm near Bolton before achieving her first television show in 1996. Sara chats about her book Until the Cows Come Home on 19 May, her funny and heartwarming comingof-age memoir. n To see the full programme and to book tickets for The Bath Festival, go online; thebathfestival.org.uk
The Bath Magazine is Bath’s biggest monthly guide to life and living in the city of Bath