Book Weekend brings big names to Buxton

Buxton International Festival’s annual Book Weekend once again brought a host of famous names to Buxton in two days of celebrated authors and personalities with great stories to tell.

Such was the success of Sir Tony Robinson’s talk, that 2018’s Festival could see the return of Time Team in a special stage show hosted by Sir Tony.

The actor promised to try and return to town after running out of time to talk about his work on the hit TV archaeology show when he appeared in Buxton International Festival’s Book Weekend.

Tony, also famous for his role as Baldrick in the comedy Blackadder, entertained a packed Pavilion Arts Centre with two hours of hilarious and moving tales from his life on stage and screen.

But with a career starting as a child actor in the original 1960s production of Oliver! he ran out of time before he could get to the Channel Four show.

Asked by a member of the audience if he’d talk about Time Team, Tony said: “I think the sensible thing would be to come back.”

A spokesman for the Festival said: “We would love to host Sir Tony and Time Team at Buxton, and will be exploring the idea.”

The Weekend included historians, politicians and celebrities talking about their latest books.

“Your Festival is clearly establishing itself as one of the national leaders,” said actor Mike Neary who was guest interviewer for some of the talks. “You have great guests and fantastic audiences.”

Fans of BBC radio soap opera The Archers were urged to write the story of their own daily lives to pass on to their grandchildren.

Actor Tim Bentinck came to Buxton International Festival’s Book Weekend to talk about his autobiography, Being David Archer, the character he has voiced for 35 years.

He revealed that he had already written 25,000 words of the book just as a record for his family before anyone even suggested publishing it.

His own father, the pioneer of environmental activism the Earl of Portland, had started to do the same but died before he could finish it.

“Go ahead and write your story for your grandchildren because your stories are just as interesting as mine,” said Tim, who recently starred in the TV drama The Last Post.

Tim held audiences spellbound with behind the scenes tales of life on stage, screen and radio – including recreating the birth of a lamb Ambridge-style onstage using only his voice for sound effects!

Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Vince Cable said “the unmitigated disaster of Brexit” could still be halted – not by a second referendum, but with what he described as “a first referendum on the facts” when the final details of the exit deal with the EU were known.

Star of BBC’s Eggheads and Radio 2 Jeremy Vine had his audience is stitches with highlights of the weird and wonderful calls he’s received over the years, and Britain’s best-selling female historian Alison Weir spoke about her new book on The Queens of the Conquest – the women behind the dynasties created after William the Conqueror’s victory.

John Higgs fascinated with his journey through time along Watling Street, and the wild love life of the artist Gainsborough featured in a talk by his biographer James Hamilton.

And how much – and how little – has changed in British political life between the beginning and end of the 20th Century was revealed by historian and Daily Mail columnist Simon Heffer.