9 unmissable delights for drama fans at the Radio Times Festival

From Poldark to Wolf Hall, Call The Midwife to Sherlock, there's a Marvellous drama line-up on offer...


If there’s one thing Britain’s brilliant at producing these days it’s decent TV drama. From Poldark to Downton Abbey, Wolf Hall to Happy Valley, there’s rarely a Sunday night that we aren’t glued to our TV screens.


It’s no wonder then that so many wonderful dramas are up for discussion at the first ever Radio Times Festival. Running from September 24th to 27th in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, the four-day TV, radio and literary event is set to be a real treat for fans.

So, what’s in it for drama lovers?

1. You can crack crime

Fancy going behind the scenes of some of the biggest crime dramas?

On Friday the 25th you can catch up with Shetland author Anne Cleeves and find out how Douglas Henshall brought detective Jimmy Perez to life. (Book tickets)

There’ll also be a chance to learn how to catch a killer as Silent Witness star Emilia Fox and the show’s forensic pathology advisor Dr Stuart Hamilton take us inside the pathologist’s laboratory with script writer Ed Whitmore. (Book tickets)

Saturday brings Endeavour Morse to the Radio Times Festival as Shaun Evans, co-star Abigail Thaw, executive producer Damien Timmer and writer Russell Lewis discuss what it’s like to resurrect a national treasure and shed some light on what series three has to offer. (Book tickets)

And on Sunday 27th, Grantchester Mysteries scribe James Runcie and Robson Green will be on hand to reveal what James Norton’s crime-cracking cleric will be getting up to in series two. (Book tickets)

2. Find out how to tackle taboos

He may be best known from bringing back Doctor Who but Russell T Davies’ dramatic roots stretch back as far as Queer As Folk. The screenwriter most recently penned the critically acclaimed Cucumber for Channel 4 and will be on hand to explain how he made the journey from Swansea schoolboy to leading creative voice. (Book tickets)

Speaking of breaking ground, don’t miss the Transgender Trailblazers panel either. 

The fight for transgender equality hit newspaper front pages in 2014, when boxing promoter Kellie Maloney announced that she was undergoing gender realignment surgery. And this year, actress Rebecca Root broke new ground by becoming the first transgender sitcom lead in BBC2’s Boy Meets Girl. Kellie will discuss her new book, Frankly Kellie: Becoming a Woman in a Man’s World, as both women talk about busting societal taboos and adjusting to their new lives on Friday 25th. (Book tickets)

3. Talk Tennison with the woman who gave us one of Britain’s best female cops

On Saturday Lynda La Plante will be the Prime Suspect as she discusses her new novel Tennison. The book, which delves into the past of her famous DCI, is already being adapted by ITV so La Plante will be sharing insights into the new show, due to hit TV screens in 2016. (Book tickets)

4. Take a step back in time

Our fascination with historical royals exploded into life once again in 2015 thanks to Tudor epic Wolf Hall, so series director Peter Kominsky will take us through the period drama’s journey on Friday 25th. (Book tickets)

If you’d rather find the REAL Wolf Hall then why not join historian and joint chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces Tracy Borman, who will be on hand to lead festival goers on a tour of Hampton Court at 12.30pm that very same day. (Book tickets)

Borman will also be hosting a very special session on Thomas Cromwell, discussing her biography of the man she calls Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant. (Book tickets)

And fans of The White Queen should stop by on Saturday 26th to see Philippa Gregory. The author of the book that inspired the hit TV series will be discussing her latest novel, The Taming of The Queen, which is set in Henry VIII’s court and is already a New York Times bestseller. (Book tickets)

Or if you’d rather head to Brum with the Peaky Blinders, stick around until 8.30pm when Cillian Murphy and series creator and writer Steven Knight will be discussing the forthcoming third series (Book tickets)

5. Make a date with the Midwife

Sunday nights on BBC1 wouldn’t be the same without Call The Midwife, which manages to pull in more than ten million viewers on a weekly basis.

If you love the show you’d best be sure to make an appointment with Sister Julienne aka Jenny Agutter: she’ll join executive producer Pippa Harris and writer Heidi Thomas to lift the lid on the forthcoming fifth series on Saturday 26th. (Book tickets)

6. Meet a Marvellous man

The heart-warming tale of Neil Baldwin inspired a Bafta-winning drama which charmed millions in 2014. How exactly did he come to join the circus, sip sherry with royalty and serve as a kit man for his beloved Stoke City? Marvellous writer Peter Bowker and executive producer Patrick Spence join forces on the 27th to answer those all-important questions. (Book tickets)

7. Sit down with the women of Sherlock

Behind every great man there are equally (if not more) wonderful women and Sherlock’s Steven Moffat knows that all too well. 

He’s joined by the Women of Sherlock, producer Sue Vertue and series stars Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey and Amanda Abbington – the steadfast Mrs Hudson, marvellous Molly Hooper and mischievous/mysterious Mary Morstan – to discuss what it takes to keep the boys of 221b Baker Street in line. (Book tickets)

8. And find out how they put hair on Poldark’s chest

If there’s one TV drama that captured the imagination in 2015 it’s Poldark and the cast and crew will be on hand to talk about the smash-hit show on Sunday 27th.

Joining them will be Andrew Graham, who’ll discuss his father’s writing, including the book Poldark’s Cornwall, which highlights the show’s other main attraction – the setting itself. (Book tickets)


9. As if that wasn’t enough…

You can even sample ITV’s newest blockbuster autumn drama for FREE with a preview screening of Jekyll and Hyde on Friday 25th. Book your tickets while you can right here.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – for the full line-up check out the official Radio Times Festival website.