Borders Book Festival reveals line-up for 2022 comeback at traditional home

Broadcasters Clive Myrie, Gavin Esler, Andrew Marr and Allan Little are to appear at one of Scotland's leading book festivals when it returns to its traditional home for the first time in three years this summer.

Julian Clary is appearing at this year's Borders Book Festival.

Former UK Cabinet ministers Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Ed Balls, long-time CND campaigner Isobel Lindsay and military historian Trevor Royle will also be part of the Borders Book Festival line-up in June.

Tens of thousands of literary lovers are expected to flock to Harmony Garden in Melrose when it stages the four-day festival, one of the signature events of Scotland’s first official “Year of Stories”.

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Star attractions at the festival are expected to include actress Joanna Lumley, comedian and actor Julian Clary, novelist Lisa Jewell, and rapper, author and social commentator Darren McGarvey.

Crime writer Val McDermid will be appearing at the Borders Book Festival in June.

Jenni Fagan, Jenny Colgan, Val McDermid, Alexander McCall Smith and Chris Brookmyre will be among the leading Scottish authors appearing.

Scottish impressionists Rory Bremner, Ronni Ancona and Lewis MacLeod will be joining forces to stage a one-off show at the festival. Bremner will also appear in a special edition of the BBC’s long-running panel show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, along with Miles Jupp, Rory Bremner, Pippa Evans, Tony Hawk and host Jack Dee.

Myrie, who has been the anchor for much of the BBC’s coverage of the conflict in Ukraine, will be hosting a special Melrose edition of Mastermind, the long-running TV show he started presenting last year after taking over from John Humphrys.

Little will be delivering the keynote McInroy & Wood lecture at the festival, which will focus on the post-Cold War era.

Clive Myrie during a televised BBC report from Ukraine. Picture: BBC

Other special guests will include Scottish dinosaur expert Steve Brusatte, Great British Sewing Bee judge Esme Young, food writer Sue Lawrence and TV wine expert Helen McGinn.

Festival director Alistair Moffat said: “We’re raring to get the stage set and the show on the road to welcome our audience back to Harmony Garden after three long years.

“This year’s programme will delight the crowds with what everyone has come to expect of the Borders Book Festival – lively debate, a broadening of minds, insightfulness and, of course, a good dose of fun and laughter along the way.

“It seems more fitting than ever to be back for four days of fun and celebration of the written word in what is Scotland’s Year of Stories.

Actress Joanna Lumley will be among the guests at this year's Borders Book Festival. Picture: Ian West

"And I’m sure this year’s festival will mean we’ll have even more stories of our own to tell for years to come.”

One of Scotland’s leading literary honours, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, will be presented at the event. Andrew Greig, James Robertson, Amanda Smyth and Colm Tóibín are all in contention for the £25,000 award.

Robertson, who is shortlisted for News of the Dead, said: “Scott’s life and work have had an influence on my own writing, so it feels right to be in the running for a prize bearing his name. I don’t think of myself as a historical novelist, but as a writer with a deep interest in history and time.”

Greig, in contention for Rose Nicolson, said: “I’m immensely pleased, encouraged and generally chuffed. It’s somehow particularly apt that a central character of Rose Nicolson is the first Lord Scott of Branxholme and Buccleuch, a Border reiver on the rise.”

The Borders Book Festival will return to Harmony Garden in Melrose in June. Picture: Alex Hewitt

The Borders Book Festival was first held in 2004 and attracted more than 34,000 literary lovers when the event was last staged at Harmony Garden in 2019, but was cancelled completely due to the Covid pandemic in 2020.

Last year the festival was put back from June until November and relocated to Abbotsford, the historic former home of Sir Walter Scott, for an event that featured appearances from Hilary Mantel, Michael Palin, Robert Peston, Ian Rankin, Denise Mina and Gordon Brown.

Alan Bett, head of literature and publishing at national arts agency Creative Scotland said: “Book-lovers will be delighted to see the Borders Book Festival return to its home at Harmony Garden, Melrose.

"This offers the opportunity for those local to the area to engage with literature in a live setting, while also drawing people from across the country.

"This is a broad and diverse programme of writers that offers something for everyone, in many cases touching upon the big issues facing the world today.”

Scottish culture minister Neil Gray said: “Our ‘Year of Stories’ celebrations have highlighted the rich diversity of voices we have in Scotland and the infinite ways there are of telling stories across genres and art forms.

“The Borders Book Festival explores many of these, from historical and crime fiction to politics and comedy, in this inspirational and entertaining programme.”

The Borders Book Festival is a leading member of the Scottish Book Festival Network, which published new research last month revealing that literary events were worth more than £11.3 million to the economy when they were last staged in full in 2019.”

Around 410,000 in-person attendees were recorded at more than 2,500 in-person different events featuring 2,800 different authors.

At the time the Borders Book Festival, which was one of the main case studies for the research, said: “The 2019 festival generated £2.3m for the Scottish Borders economy.

"Visitors from outwith the area stay overnight in local hotels and guest houses, eat in local restaurants, spend in local shops and visit local visitor attractions.

"The annual festival ensures that those living in the south-east of Scotland don't need to travel to a city to enjoy and experience a nationally recognised arts and cultural event which not only attracts high-profile writers and thinkers, but also provides opportunities for local creatives with a platform to share their work with a large audience.”

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