Big names lined up

What links an actor, journalist and a food writer?

Brian Blessed
Brian Blessed

If your answer was the Althorp Literary Festival then you are right as several big names from the world of entertainment have been announced as the first authors to appear.

But Brian Blessed, Joan Bakewell and Loyd Grossman will hope they aren’t unlucky as they are the guests at the 13th literary festival held at the stately home.

Brian Blessed, 79, has had a varied career from early roles in televisionshows including Z Cars and I Claudius from appearances in films Flash Gordon, The Phantom Menace and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

Dame Joan Bakewell

He has also wide experience on the stage, appearing in the original West End runs of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS and the much loved fantasy story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

More recently, he has made two memorable appearances as a guest host on the panel show Have I Got News For You.

Dame Joan Bakewell first became a well known face on television hosting the show Late Night Line Up from 1965 to 1972.

Later, Bakewell was the main presenter of the documentary and discussion series Heart of the Matter which ran from 1988 to 2000.

Loyd Grossman

Loyd Grossman’s television début came in 1987, as a roving presenter for Through the Keyhole, a programme examining the homes of the rich and famous.

Before leaving in 2003, Grossman made almost 400 appearances on the programme.

In 1990, he cogitated and digested the food of amateur cooks as the first presenter of MasterChef, which he presented for 10 years. He also fronted the children’s version of the same show from 1995 until 1999.

Among the other authors announced for the festival include philosopher A C Grayling and the screen writer Andrew Davies and travel novelist Bill Bryson. The former governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King.

Dame Joan Bakewell

The other writers due to appear are Arne Maynard, Charles Fitzroy, Daisy Dunn, David Lough, Flora Fraser, Harry Parker, Mark Price, Sir Richard Eyre, The Duchess of Rutland.

The 13th Althorp Literary Festival will be held from Thursday June 30th to Sunday July 3. No further details have been announced and tickets will go on sale later in the year.

For further details about the festival visit

Loyd Grossman