Rankin gets write idea to please fans at festival for all

FANS of Ian Rankin's best-selling Rebus crime series will hear an exclusive extract from the final book at the Edinburgh People's Festival.

The Edinburgh author and comedian Elaine C Smith are backing this year's five-day event, which was formed as a protest against "expensive" shows at the International Festival.

Venues include the city's estates, and even Saughton Prison, to deliver the arts to people who feel the Festival is just for the tourists.

The People's Festival starts on Sunday with the Rebus tour leaving from St Leonard's police station, where DI John Rebus is based in Rankin's novels.

Rankin has given tour guide Colin Brown a two-page extract from his final novel on the heavy-drinking detective, which is due out later this year. The author said: "If you live in Edinburgh you can feel that the city belongs to someone else during the Festival.

"A lot of Edinburgh people just put their heads down and get on with it, which is a shame.

"It's great that local areas in Edinburgh can have their own festival and can piggy-back on the big Festival.

Rankin - who will also be reading extracts from the final Rebus novel at the Edinburgh International Book Festival - added: "I've given Colin a couple of bits I'm not using, so if people go on his tour then come to my reading, eventually they'll be able to piece together the book."

Set up in 1951, the People's Festival was re-launched in 2002 by Scottish Socialist Party leader Colin Fox.

He said: "We want it to be for the people, by the people. The main criticism the Edinburgh People's Festival has of the Festival is that it's too expensive, it all takes place in the city centre and is no longer aimed at the people here. A Ricky Gervais ticket at 37.50 is scandalous.

"Our attitude is that we take the People's Festival into where the others don't go."

A debate on whether an independent Scotland would be artistically and culturally better off will be held on Wednesday in the Out of the Blue Arts Centre in Dalmeny Street.

The arts impresario Richard Demarco, Edinburgh University rector Mark Ballard and comedian Elaine C Smith, left, will be on the panel.

Mr Demarco

said: "I've always thought that the Edinburgh Festival should involve every citizen in Edinburgh and I have made every effort to do that over the years.

"I have had a dream that the Festival should inspire and be of educational value to people who normally imagine that it is not for them. I would like to see every street and every shop window festooned with flags and bunting."

Stand-up comedian Raymond Mearns and the Lynsey Dolan Band will be entertaining inmates at Saughton Prison on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service welcomed the event. He said: "Prisons seek to play an active role in the communities in which they are located."

A comedy night will take place on Thursday at the BMC Club in Gorgie, while a play called Marilyn Painted Pictures will follow on Friday in Dalkeith Arts Centre.

For more information visit www.edinburghpeoplesfestival.org.uk