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BBC reveals Hay Festival 2018 line-up

Speakers include historian Mary Beard and best-selling novelists Colm Tóibín and Marian Keyes

Published: Tuesday, 17th April 2018 at 3:17 pm

The BBC has unveiled its full line-up for its live Hay Festival coverage in 2018, with notable speakers including historian Mary Beard, Dr Rowan Williams and the best-selling author of Brooklyn, Colm Tóibín.


The 31st Hay festival is set to run from 24th May - 3rd June, during which almost 40 BBC shows will be recorded live on-site during the week, including BBC2’s Front Row Late and Radio 4’s Today programme.

Jonty Claypole, director of BBC Arts, said in a statement, “The greatest writers in the world go to the Hay Festival and the BBC broadcasts them back to the world. Our BBC Tent has an action-packed programme with a wide array of writers from poet Helen Mort to novelists Colm Toibin and Marian Keyes and the verbal dexterity of Manchester's Young Identity. And we'll be out and about throughout the festival too, bringing the very best events to audiences everywhere.”

Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, said, “It’s a joy to work with the BBC to amplify the conversations in this Welsh field and bring the festival to the world.”

Read on for the full lineup.


Historian and classicist Mary Beard will present BBC2's Front Row Late from the site on Friday night. Meanwhile a series of films will be previewed at the festival, including:

  • The preview of Clare Beavan's new film on Germaine Greer
  • Chief executive of the Royal Academy Charles Saumarez Smith, producer Martin Rosenbaum, and film director Adam Low all team up to discuss their new film The Private Life Of The Royal Academy
  • David Olusoga, historian, discusses his role in the BBC's historical series Civilisation
  • Teresa Griffiths, filmmaker, and writer Dr Tim Kendall discuss the making of new film about Sylvia Plath’s seminal novel, The Bell Jar
  • The UK premiere of The Life After, a film entered around The Troubles

BBC Radio 4

There will be two live editions of the Today programme, presented in front of a live audience. There'll also be editions of Inside Science and Beyond Belief, and Start the Week.

There'll also be a series of behind-the-scenes looks at Radio 4 dramas, including an interview with Simon Russell Beale, who voiced Satan in the latest adaptation of Paradise Lost, while head of audio and drama Alison Hindell will discuss the making of Home Front and The Archers.

BBC Radio 3

There will be two live recordings of Free Thinking, with guests including Javier Cercas, Juan Gabriel Vasquez and Dr Rowan Williams, in addition to live recordings of The Listening Service and Lunchtime Recitals.

There are also a number of literary shows on BBC Radio 3 during the week. Poet Helen Mort will incorporate poetry and music in Lake District with Between The Ears: Give Me Space Below My Feet, while Ian McMillan will present a live recording of the ‘cabaret of the word’ The Verb, featuring performance from The Last Poets.

BBC World News

Four editions of Talking Books will be recorded in front of live audiences, with conversations between famous writers, journalists and authors. Martha Kearney will talk to Irish novelist Marian Keyes, and Scottish presenter Gavin Esler will interview the Norwegian journalist and author Åsne Seierstad and writer and publisher Anuradha Roy.

BBC Culture will also host panel talks throughout the festival, featuring Kamila Shamsie, Sarah Churchwell and Colm Tóibín, who will set out their new Stories That Shaped The World project.

Spencer Kelly will present Click, the BBC's science and technology show, with topics ranging from artificial intelligence to virtual reality.

BBC Radio Wales

BBC Radio Wales will present a new flagship show, Tonight At Hay, presented by GQ Editor Dylan Jones and featuring a number of interviews with star guests from the festival's lineup. Tom Price will host a recording of The Leak, showcasing guests from the world of comedy and entertainment to review the week’s biggest news stories.

BBC Hereford and Worcester will also showcase the best regional music with live sessions throughout the week.

BBC Asian Network

BBC Asian Network makes its first appearance at Hay Festival, with a live broadcast of Asian Network’s Big Debate.


BBC Masterclasses

BBC Masterclasses offer an invaluable insight into breaking into the media, and will also host a number of expert speakers, including music legends Alan McGee and Jim Eliot on how to write a hit record, and BBC commissioning editor Rhian Roberts, who will take a closer look at podcasts with Fortunately’s Georgia Catt and Blue Planet II’s Becky Ripley.


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