Stunning Cheltenham Literary Festival line up revealed

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The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival has been revealed and it’s going to be another fantastic year, with a raft of the most remarkable writers, thinkers and performers of our time.

From October 5-14 , Cheltenham will welcome tens of thousands of book-lovers at the Festival Village, setting the scene for once-in-a-lifetime conversations to take place over ten days of bookish revelry at the UK’s oldest literary festival.

The programme with almost 1000 speakers offers ranges from literary legends and debuts to celebrated chefs, renowned historians and sporting icons, as well as commentators, comedians and stars of stage and screen.

Booking opens online to Cheltenham Festivals Members at 1pm on Wednesday 29 August and general booking at 1pm on Wednesday 5 September.

Headline names include David Attenborough, Roger Daltrey, Gary Barlow, Michael Parkinson, Jennifer Saunders and former ballerina and BBC Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell

Director and founder of Comic Relief, Richard Curtis, is in conversation with his daughter and Guest Curator Scarlett Curtis and Gavin and Stacey star Ruth Jones will reflect on turning her hand to novel writing with Never Greener.

The Festival theme is ‘East meets West’ and writers, commentators and experts include Masatsugu Ono, Madeleine Thien, Sayaka Murata, Min Jin Lee, Xiaolu Guo, and Fujimoto Prize-winner Genki Kawamura (If Cats Disappeared from the World).

The huge pool of speakers include V&A Director Tristram Hunt, BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet, Sebastian Faulks, William Boyd, Lionel Shriver, Caitlin Moran as well as the Man Booker nominated Esi Edugyan.

Superstar of the spoken word scene Hollie McNish returns for a rare UK appearance and Wendy Cope presents her new collection (Anecdotal Evidence).

Bestselling author Francis Fukuyama (Identity) examines modern identity politics, anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller (Rise) speaks about the importance of fighting for our beliefs and politician Alistair Darling considers if we are on course for a repeat of the 2008 financial crash. Meanwhile Robert Peston gives his WTF account of public revolt against politics, and Helena Kennedy talks on how British justice is failing wome.

Master storyteller Bernard Cornwell will entertain  with the latest instalment in his much-loved The Last Kingdom series, now a major TV drama, whilst historical heavyweights Antony Beevor (Arnham) and Max Hastings (Vietnam) look into the very heart of war. Festival favourite Mary Beard reflects on Women and Power. 

John Torode takes festival goers on a global food adventure from the street food of Asia while Nadiya Hussain celebrates the best UK home cooking, and spirits expert Dave Broom (The Way of Whisky) uncovers distilleries lost amid ancient forests in a tasting tour of Japan.

Prue Leith shares her first cookbook in 20 years and Yotam Ottolenghi reveals his culinary inspirations.

Gardening guru Monty Don discusses the delights of Islamic paradise gardens and architectural historian Jeremy Musson on the most beguiling castles, estates and manor houses in the Cotswolds.

Tom Daley brings life hacks for healthy livings (Tom’s Daily Goals) while other sporting heroes on the bill include cricket maverick Shane Warne, football royalty Kevin Keegancycling superstar Chris Hoy andGrand National star Bob Champion. Ben Smith talks on the incredible feat of running 401 marathons in 401 days.

Comedian Adam Kay will share a hilarious, horrifying and heart-breaking account of his time on the NHS front line, and joins the clinical lead for innovation at NHS England Tony Young and broadcaster Vivienne Parry to give the NHS a 70 year health check.

Providing a breath of fresh air are Everest conquerors Ben Fogle, Kenton Cool and the first British woman to summit, Bonita Norris, as they explain the dangerous lure of the mountain, with Guy Stagg, Leon McCarron and Kate Humble (Thinking on My Feet), recommending the transformative power of walking.

Ruby Wax and connoisseur of comedy Robin Ince give their take on what it means to be human.

Six guest curators bring an immense raft of experience to the programme: novelist Sebastian Faulks; V&A Director Tristram Hunt; columnist and activist Scarlett Curtis; historian Peter Frankopan; curator, translator and writer David Karashima; and Junko Takekawa, of The Japan Foundation.