Festival Press


5 October 2013 by By Warren Manger

Queen guitarist Brian May is clearly a man of many talents.

Not content with being an ­international rock star and an eminent academic with a PhD in astrophysics, it turns out he is also an expert on visions of Hell.

So much so that he has now published a book on Diableries, a form of 19th Century French artwork that features ­skeletons and satanic figures going about their business in the ­Underworld.

But the ­badger-loving rocker is not alone, as a number of other celebrities have rare talents and unusual hobbies… –

4October 2013

Literary icons, sporting heroes, comic geniuses and TV stars are lined up for this year’s much-anticipated The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, writes Helen Blow. People are spoiled for choice right from the off today when comedians David Mitchell, Graeme Garden and Tony Hawks top the bill alongside jailed economist Vicky Pryce and Queen guitarist, astrophysicist and animal welfare campaigner Brian May.

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While Mitchell hosts a celebration of his popular panel game The Unbelievable Truth, Pryce will be sharing her experiences on her time in prison for taking speeding points for her ex-husband Chris Huhne. She will also talk about her new book, Prisonomics, which analyses the economic and human costs of imprisoning women.

Brian May takes a break from badgers to talk about the 19th century imaginary world of devils, satyrs and skeletons. Author Wendy Lower introduces her controversial and shocking book, Hitler’s Furies, about the role of German women in the Holocaust.

And that’s just the first Friday. Other big names vying for attention on the festival stage include actors Derek Jacobi, Emma Thompson and Jennifer Saunders, presenters Sir Terry Wogan, Jeremy Paxman and Amanda Holden, and authors Wilbur Smith, Alexander McCall Smith and Roddy Doyle. Other well-known names due to grace the festival are Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, Ray Davies of the Kinks and comedian Jack Whitehall.

Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood will tell sensational stories from his life on stage, while National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner reflects on a golden age of play-making that included The History Boys, War Horse and One Man, Two Guvnors becoming global successes.

With more than 100,000 tickets already sold, this year’s festival is on its way to being another success. Festival director Jane Furze said: “The festival is the cultural highlight of the year for so many people and so to see the first signs of the site build beginning is incredibly exciting. The team here is extremely busy, pulling together the final touches that make it the truly special event that it is. This year’s programme is so diverse that we really do have events for every taste.”