Barry Norman and Alexander McCall Smith at Scarborough’s Books by the Beach

Alexander Mccall Smith
Alexander Mccall Smith

Film critic Barry Norman, his daughter Samantha and bestselling crime writer Alexander McCall Smith are on their way to Scarborough.

They are the latest guests to join the Books by the Beach event which will run from Thursday April 16 to Sunday April 19.

Samantha has completed an unfinished stand alone historical novel, Winter Siege, left unfinished on the sad death of her mother, award-winning historical crime writer Ariana Franklin .

Barry wrote a moving account of his life with his wife Ariana – real name Diana – called See You In The Morning.

In the opening event father and daughter discuss the final novel and share memories of Diana.

“Expect some poignant moments,” said Books by the Beach co-director Heather French, “but also some much lighter ones. From what I’ve read, this is a family that loved to laugh.”

As happened last year, there is a bonus event a few days after the official end of the festival.

Alexander McCall Smith will be the speaker at a lunch at the Palm Court on Wednesday April 29.

“Lunch with the author of the The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street, may well be the best lunch you’ll ever have,” said co-director Peter Guttridge.

“He’ll be celebrating the publication of the latest addition to the Isabel Dalhousie series, The Novel Habits of Happiness.

“He will also be discussing another new title, Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party, and catching up with the latest from Mma Ramotswe in Botswana with The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café.”

There are also a couple of quirkier special events. Scarborough Prison will be the spooky venue for a discussion of all things Jack The Ripper on the evening of Thursday April 16.

As part of it, actor John Benfield –Prime Suspect and the forthcoming AD – will be reading from contemporary reports and little known accounts.

“This will be a chilling event in every sense – audiences need to wrap up warm,” said Peter.

Peter has also written The Dead House, a dark mystery story that has both a twist in the tail and one in the telling.

For audience members will experience the story narrated on headsets as they snake their way through the Dean Road and the nearby ManorRoad cemeteries, stopping at points where incidents in the narrative take place.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Friends of the cemeteries to make this happen,” said Peter. “And I’m thrilled the Arts Council is supporting the project.

“I’m even more thrilled that Greta Scacchi, a friend of the festival who was so terrific narrating ghost stories in Scarborough prison last year, has agreed to “voice” the narration the audience will be hearing.”’

Brochures will be available by the end of this week and tickets will be on sale from Saturday February 21 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Also confirmed for the festival are Mary Portas, Ann Widdecombe, SJ Watson, Sophie Hannah, Alan Johnson and Simon Heffer.

“We’re excited by our programme,” said Heather. “We hope audiences will be too.”