Headshot of Nigel Planer standing in front of a brick wall.

Wigtown Book Festival 2023 Programme Preview


Get Wigtown in Your Diary to See Great Guests Like Jo Caulfield and Nigel Planer

17 July, 2023

Programmer Lee Randall promises diverse events and dynamite debates

Tickets for Booktown’s 25th annual festival will go on sale from 1 August

Wigtown Book Festival has revealed some of the guests and attractions for its 25th annual event – with tickets going on sale from 1 August.

Jo Caulfield, and Nigel Planer will join Kate Mosse in Scotland’s National Book Town for the 10-day festival which runs from 22 September to 1 October.

Lee Randall, guest programmer for 2023, said:Now’s the moment to get the festival dates in your diary – there’s so much to look forward to with lots of great guests. We’re really looking forward to unveiling the full programme, but can already promise that it will be packed with diverse events, talks, walks, poetry, music and film. There will also be some absolutely dynamite debates and panel discussions.”

Festival visitors from outwith the region often head to Wigtown for several days, which allows them to enjoy a short break attending festival talks, browsing book shops and exploring the beautiful Galloway coasts and countryside.

Lee said: “There’s so much going on at the festival, our author talks are just the beginning. There are all sorts of other things to do, in an exquisite region of Scotland, which is why so many people like to spend several days here.”

This year’s attractions will include:

 - Panel discussion led by journalist Brian Taylor on the 25th Anniversary of the Scotland Act

 - Start the day by enjoying Poetry for Breakfast

 - Nature, wildlife and literary walks – led by authors and countryside rangers

 - The ever-popular annual ceilidh and fireworks

 - A screening of the multi-award winning Galloway-made feature film Stella

 - Supernatural drama with Casting The Runes at The Swallow Theatre

Lee believes audiences will seize the chance to hear Jo Caulfield talk about her first book, The Funny Thing About Death, which she described as a “stirring read about growing up with a wonderful sister who was lost to her far too early”.

Jo Caulfield said: “I am so excited to be coming to Wigtown Book Festival. It’s a name I’ve heard of for years and I always thought it sounded like something made up, like Brigadoon or Trumpton - a magical town where everyone loved books.

“It was somewhere I’d never get to go to because I’m not an author. But I am now. I’ve written my first book and I get to enter the magical world of Wigtown. I can’t wait to explore.”

Nigel Planer, who shot to fame as Neil in The Young Ones, will discuss his first novel in two decades, Jeremiah Bourne in Time. He will also reminisce in an event titled Fay Weldon, My Mentor. Planer adapted Fay Weldon’s Life and Loves of a She Devil into a musical.

Kate Mosse will deliver her talk, Warrior Women, and in a separate event, discuss her latest novel The Ghost Ship. Audiences at The Ghost Ship event will also have a chance to hear the “eerie pirate pop song” of the same name, specially commissioned from Wigtown folk duo The Bookshop Band.

Kate said: “Since it’s my first time visiting Wigtown, I wanted to mark the occasion with something special and what better way than to have a brand new piece of music from the fabulous The Bookshop Band.

“Ben and Beth are amazing – so intuitive, so sympathetic to the tone of the novel - and I love the piece they have created. I also adore their description as ‘eerie pirate pop’ … they might just have invented a whole new genre!”

Starting back in 1999, a central aim of the festival has been to help drive regeneration across Wigtownshire (a highly rural area which has seen a steep decline in its traditional industries) and beyond.

In that time it has generated over £50 million for the regional economy and each year more than 10 times the town’s population (of just under 1,000) come along to enjoy the event.

- Ends -

About Jo Caulfield

Jo Caulfield was born in Wales to Irish parents and raised in England. At 17 she moved to London and spent two years living in a squat and playing drums in a rockabilly band before making a name for herself on the stand-up circuit. Jo moved to Edinburgh with her husband in 2013, having fallen in love with the city during numerous Fringe shows.

Six years ago, Jo was about to go on stage when she found out that her big sister Annie had cancer. Not the best way to start a nationwide comedy tour. But the tour turns out to be a welcome distraction for both sisters. As Jo reports back from various hotels and service stations, they revisit their childhood and adolescence while navigating Annie’s illness, learning through trial and error how to behave when someone you love gets sick. The Funny Thing About Death is a hilarious memoir of two unconventional girls growing up in the 1970s. Jo’s caustic wit and sharp observations make her account of life with her sister, even in the worst of times, as entertaining as it is touching and relatable.

About Nigel Planer

Nigel famously played Neil in the BBC comedy The Young Ones and Ralph Filthy in Filthy Rich & Catflap. He has also appeared in many West End musicals. He won a BRIT award in 1984 and has been nominated for Olivier, TMA, WhatsOnStage and BAFTA awards. He is the audio book narrator for many of Terry Pratchett's novels, and has appeared in the TV adaptations of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather and The Colour of Magic.

Nigel has published eight books and six plays. Jeremiah Bourne in Time is the first book in his new fantasy triology: The Time Shard Chronicles. It tells the story of Jeremiah Bourne who is swept from his crumbling home in Blackfriars in 2019, to the same house in 1910. He encounters a cast of comic characters and situations: a coven of free-thinking spiritualists, a futuristic residents’ association, warring street gangs, eugenic scientists, aggressive domestic servants and a nudist magistrate.

About Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse is an award-winning novelist, playwright, essayist and non-fiction writer. The author of 10 novels and short-story collections, her books have been translated into thirty-eight languages and published in more than forty countries.

The Founder Director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction, she is the founder of the global #WomanInHistory campaign and has her own monthly YouTube book show, Mosse on a Monday. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Kate is a Visiting Professor of Contemporary Fiction and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and President of the Festival of Chichester.

The Ghost Ship is the third in The Joubert Family Chronicles - a quartet of historical adventure novels covering 300 years and a feud between two families, one Huguenot and one Catholic. A sweeping and epic forbidden love story, ranging from Carcassonne and La Rochelle in France in 1610 to Amsterdam and the Canary Islands in the 1620s, it’s a thrilling adventure and buccaneering, love and revenge, stolen fortunes and hidden secrets on the High Seas. Most of all, it is a tale of defiant women in a man's world.

For further information and interview requests contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or [email protected]