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Hay Festival digital programme to feature Benedict Cumberbatch and Hilary Mantel

The digital festival will take place later this month.

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Benedict Cumberbatch (Ian West/PA)

Benedict Cumberbatch (Ian West/PA)

Benedict Cumberbatch (Ian West/PA)

The Hay literature festival has unveiled a digital programme of events featuring guests including Benedict Cumberbatch, Hilary Mantel, Helena Bonham Carter and Stephen Fry.

Organisers had previously announced that the festival, which has been held in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, since 1988, would not be taking place as a live event later this month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A series of free live broadcasts and interactive Q&As have now been scheduled to take place instead of the physical event in Wales.

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The festival will take the form of an online event this year (Ryan Phillips/PA)

The festival will take the form of an online event this year (Ryan Phillips/PA)

PA

The festival will take the form of an online event this year (Ryan Phillips/PA)

Other speakers at the digital festival will include authors Anne Enright, Margaret Atwood and Ingrid Persaud, historian Simon Schama, journalists Afua Hirsch and Jon Sopel and broadcasters Sandi Toksvig and Monty Don.

Actors Jonathan Pryce, Helen McCrory and Vanessa Redgrave will also take part in discussions.

Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, said the online events will not replicate the experience offered by the live festival.

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McCrory will be among those to speak in the digital festival (Ian West/PA)

McCrory will be among those to speak in the digital festival (Ian West/PA)

PA

McCrory will be among those to speak in the digital festival (Ian West/PA)

He added: “When we get an answer to this separation we are going to come back together with joy and great whooping and hollering and delight and be in a room together.

“But until then our green field is this digital version.

“You have to be able to play the hand you are dealt and this hand, at the moment, is challenging but also actually strangely exciting.”

In March organisers announced they were launching an emergency fund after the festival was put in financial jeopardy by the cancellation of the live event.

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The Mirror And The Light author Mantel will take part in the online programme (Ian West/PA)

The Mirror And The Light author Mantel will take part in the online programme (Ian West/PA)

PA

The Mirror And The Light author Mantel will take part in the online programme (Ian West/PA)

Mr Florence said £98,000 had been donated to the festival by members of the public and £52,000 was raised by people returning refunded ticket fees.

A further £140,000 was donated by private donors and a number of speakers returned their fees.

“We didn’t ask them to but they kindly suggested they would,” Mr Florence said.

The digital programme of events will take place between May 18 and 31.


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