Thame Arts & Literature Festival

12th to 16th October


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Fri 14th

Sat 15th

Sun 16th

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9.30am - 4.00pm

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James Macdonald-Lockhart : Raptor - A Journey through Birds   Christchurch Sunday 16th 4.00am £7.00

James Macdonald Lockhart  serves up our British raptors  on a journey that begins in Orkney and ends in Devon. He is a wonderfully modest presence in his own narrative, often to be spotted hiding in a hedge or crushed into a hilltop cleft, where he can rest unseen but watch his beloved birds better. When he first glimpses a hobby, a gorgeous little summer-visiting falcon, he shouts out as if we are there with him: ‘Hobby! At last! Shooting low over the heath, long sharp wings a hundred times faster than a kestrel.’

Lockhart brings out both the birds’ ecstatic gifts of flight but also the tragedy and triumph of their predatory lifestyle. For the raptor that is less than perfect in ear, eye and aerial skill is, by definition, a dead raptor. It is perhaps this precarious power of the birds that is at the heart of our wider preoccupations.

Jason Lewis : Dark Waters - The Expedition         Town Hall  Sunday 16th 5.30pm    £7.00

“Arguably, the most remarkable adventurer in the world today.” THE DAILY MAIL

Jason Lewis is an award-winning author, explorer, and sustainability advocate. He is recognized by Guinness World Records as the first person to circumnavigate the Earth by human power—without using motors or sails.[1] He walked, cycled, and inline skated five continents, and kayaked, swam, rowed, and pedalled a boat across the rivers, seas, and oceans.

Taking thirteen years to complete, the 46,505-mile journey was hailed “the last great first for circumnavigation” by the London Sunday Times

Nicholas Parsons   Just a Laugh a Minute          Spread Eagle Hotel   Saturday 15th 12.00noon     £7.00

For more years than most of us can remember Nicholas Parsons has been part of our lives. He served his acting apprenticeship in Repertory at Bromley in Kent. After two years playing a different part in a different play each week, he proved that comedy and character roles were his particular strength. Failing to obtain work in the West End, he moved to the legendary London cabaret circuit in the 1950s. He starred at Quaglino's, The Allegro, The Colony, the famous Cafe de Paris and many other venues. In 1952 he became resident comedian at the famous Windmill Theatre for six months, which was followed by a lot of radio variety. Even now, he is still doing a lot of solo work, after dinners, one man shows, and more recently his show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - solos comedy and guests - now in its eighth year.

From Television to Radio to personal appearances at TAL Festival, we welcome the man from “Just a Minute” to reminisce on his Life in the world of entertainment.... Unmissable!!


Julie Mayhew with Sandra Smith : The F-Words Fact and Fiction  Museum   Sunday 16th 10.30am       £7.00

Author and BBC Radio dramatist Julie Mayhew, in conversation with Sandra Smith, will explore the way we can incorporate fact in our fiction and how walking in other people's shoes makes sense of our own lives.

Julie Mayhew originally trained as a journalist and then an actress before she turned to writing because she hardly ever saw a script with a brilliant female role in it. She and Sandra Smith will host an interactive discussion for anyone interested in how the creative process takes form and how the inspiration of real events can lead to better fiction and how that fiction helps us to make better sense of our own reality!

Julie is the author of Red Ink, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Branford Boase Award, as well as the critically acclaimed The Big Lie, a book about girls, protest and revolution, set in an imagined contemporary Nazi Britain. Her latest novel, Mother Tongue, was published in August 2016. Aside from novels, she is also a prolific writer for radio and has twice been nominated for Best Original Drama at the BBC Audio Drama Awards for her plays A Shoebox of Snow and The Electrical  Venus.  

Sandra Smith is a journalist, freelance writer, author and creative writing teacher. She appears in many columns across local and national press and she has hosted creative writing workshops at TAL for many years. We are thrilled that two such    qualified writers should share their experiences with us this year.

Kev F Sutherland : Comic Masterclass    Thame Barns Centre : Saturday 15th : 10.00am & 1.30pm : £10.00

TAL is pleased to welcome back Kev F Sutherland to Festival 2016. His Comic Art Masterclass last year was so popular, he has agreed to run two classes this year. The writer and artist for The Beano, Marvel and many other comics brings his famous skills to Thame.  Kev will teach you all there is to know about making comic strips and his Masterclass is open to all children from the age of 7 upwards.  There are only 30 places per workshop so book quickly when the  box office opens

By the end of the session, we will have produced a comic containing a strip by every single one of those attending, a copy of which you can take home, plus Kev will draw a caricature of every participant.

Each Masterclass lasts for 3 hours and the price includes all materials, drinks and snacks for all participants - and a copy of the finished comic!

Marcus Berkmann : Set Phasers to Stun                    Christchurch       Satuday 15th 3.00pm           £7.00

“….These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.” Forty-seven years after NBC killed it off, Star Trek celebrates its half-century in a state of rude health. Boldly going where several other people have been before, Marcus Berkmann tells the story of this sturdy science fiction vehicle from its first five-year mission (rudely curtailed to three), through the dark years of the 1970s, the triumphant film series and The Next Generation, to the current 'reboot' films, with a younger cast taking on the characters of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and co.

With wit, insight and a huge pile of DVDs, he seeks to answer all the important questions. Why did Kirk's shirt always get torn when he had a fist fight? What's the most number of times Uhura said 'Hailing frequencies open, sir' in a single episode? (Seven.) And what's the worst imaginable insult in Klingon? (Your mother has a smooth forehead.)

Marcus Berkmann was born in 1960 in north London, and lives there still. Freelance since 1988, he has been an acclaimed TV critic for the Daily Mail and the Sunday Express, and written sports columns for Punch, The Independent on Sunday and the Daily Express. For 28 years, he wrote a monthly pop column for The Spectator. These days he writes a weekly column for The Independent magazine, contributes regularly to Private Eye and is film critic for The Oldie. His books include Rain Men and Zimmer Men, Fatherhood – The Truth, and A Shed of One’s Own. He is still taller than his two children, although not for long.

Sponsored by

Matthew R Hall     The Case of the Crusading Coroner     Museum  Saturday 15th 10.30am      £7.00

The cause of any sudden or unexpected death - the ‘how, when, and where’ - must be determined by the coroner. If not obvious, a coroner must inquire and decide on a cause before death can be certified. So a coroner has to be part- judge and part-investigator – and novelist Matthew R. Hall’s Bristol coroner, Jenny Cooper, certainly takes the investigator’s role seriously. From the first Coroner book, when she investigates the death in custody of a young boy, to the latest, when she digs into family death in a fire, she is on the case even when it threatens her own life.

‘Hall shows that a coroner is just as able to be a detective as the forensic pathologists of Cornwell and Reichs’ (The Sunday Times).

An award-winning crime writer, Matthew R. Hall began his career as a television screenwriter and producer, writing episodes of Kavanagh QC, Dalziel and Pascoe, A&E, Foyle's War andBlue Murder and legal series, Wing and a Prayer, amongst others, before writing the acclaimed Coroner books.

The Coroner was shortlisted for theCrime Writers’ Association Dagger for best crime novel.  Matthew is in conversation with Susan Walker