Iconic ‘Neil’ From The Young Ones, Actor Nigel Planer To Appear at Wigtown Book Festival

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 excited about 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 Remembering 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.