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Trio of star guests booked for Rochdale’s prestigious literature festival

28 June 2017

The first names on the line-up for this year’s Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival have been revealed.

The seven-day festival in October will feature talk show legend Sir Michael Parkinson, comedian and novelist Jenny Eclair, and Manchester poet Tony Walsh aka Longfella.

Michael Parkinson will be looking back at his life and career interviewing many of the most important cultural figures of our time. With his son Mike, he will show highlights from the Parkinson archive, and provide an opportunity to get an entertaining and informative look at his remarkable journey from a pit village in Yorkshire to the top of the famous stairs on his chat show set, while re-living the best moments from a show which defined Saturday night for millions of viewers over many years.

Jenny Eclair, who performed a sell-out show at Middleton Arena during last year's festival and vowed to return, will be back in more intimate surroundings talking about her new collection of short stories -'Listening In,' based on the BBC Radio 4 Series 'Little Lifetimes.' The book comprises tales from the mouths of many different (mostly furious) middle aged women!  In 1995 she became the first female solo winner of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival's prestigious Perrier Award. A regular on radio and television ever since, she voiced the thoughts of Grumpy Old Women for years and is also the author of another 6 books including 'Life, Death and Vanilla Slices'. 

Tony Walsh, one of the UK's most renowned performance poets, is also on the line-up and will be writing a new poem especially for the festival.  His poignant reading of 'This is the Place' in Albert Square after the Manchester bombing is being turned into a book for charity. Tony, or 'Longfella' as he is also known, is quite literally a giant of the performance poetry scene. His work has been published internationally and he's a multiple award-winner. A regular on television and radio, his trademark mix of intimacy and controversy, comedy and tragedy has been stunning audiences from poetry gigs to international literature festivals for the last 15 years.

The festival will run from Tuesday 17 to Monday 23 October 2017 and we're promising another packed week of exciting arts for all ages.

Events will cover drama, comedy, poetry, spoken word, visual arts and children's shows. For young people aged 14 to 25, another 'Generation Z' programme is being put together.

Councillor Janet Emsley, our Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Community and Culture said:

"5 years in, our wonderful festival continues to inspire and entertain, attracting some fantastic guests. It brings together so many genres and really makes you think. We're going to be taking the festival to different places around the borough too, showcasing more great venues. I want to thank our sponsors for their continued generous support of the festival which helps us to deliver a fabulous event we can all be proud of."

The festival will include guest speakers and writers and is aimed at celebrating and promoting the Maskew Collection of classic literature and philosophy at Rochdale Central Library, encouraging people to engage with books and ideas. Annie and Frank Maskew, a Rochdale couple who shared a passion for reading and thinking, met in Rochdale Library in the 1950s and left a sum of money to be used on resources and events related to literature and philosophy to ensure classic works are available for future generations.

'our wonderful festival continues to inspire and entertain, attracting some fantastic guests'

Further details of the programme will be announced next month and tickets go on sale from 10am on 7 August 2017 from the festival website

For festival updates on Twitter connect with @RochdaleLitFest

The festival is organised by us, supported by the Maskew Bequest and sponsored by The Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre and creative digital media company - JGM Agency


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