Tickets are flying off the shelf

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Seats to Books by the Beach are flying off the shelves with almost three times the number of tickets sold compared to this time last year.

The festival runs from Thursday April 16 to Sunday April 19 with guests including Mary Portas, Val McDermid, Omid Djalili, Ann Widdecombe and Alan Johnson.

“I’m blown away, said Books By The Beach co-director Heather French.

“We’re so pleased – and relieved – the people of Scarborough have responded very positively to the programme,’ added her co-director, Peter Guttridge.

Former MP Alan Johnson is by far the most popular, with more than 50 per cent of the tickets for the event already sold.

In second place – from the opposite end of the political spectrum – is Ann Widdecombe.

“But all the events are selling well, Heather said. “And people interested in some of the smaller events such as the lunches, the Poirot dinner and the Scarborough Prison Jack The Ripper event, should get their tickets soon as they are all at around 50 per cent capacity sold too.”

Film critic Barry Norman, his daughter Samantha and best selling crime writer Alexander McCall Smith are also on the programme.

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.

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.

Comedian Omid Djalili is at the Spa, Scarborough, on Friday April 17.

Also confirmed for the festival are, SJ Watson, Sophie Hannah, Louise Doughty and Simon Heffer.

Sophie will be hosting a dinner at the Town Hall around the theme of her latest book featuring the Belgium sleuth Hercule Poirot.

Tickets are available from the Stephen Joseph Theatre.