Jo Whiley at Hay Festival 2019

In May 2019 I produced my first Outside Broadcast for BBC Radio 2, taking Jo Whiley’s evening programme to the Hay Festival.

Hay Festival is an annual literature festival which this year took place from 23 May to 2 June in “the town of books”, Hay-on-Wye in Wales.

Jo was live from the BBC Tent with special guests from across the festival joining her live on stage. We started with Welsh poets Jonathan Edwards and Rhiannon Hooson, followed by a special edition of the Radio 2 Book Club with bestselling novelist, screenwriter, journalist and columnist Juno Dawson, discussing her latest young adult novel Meat Market.

Then in the second hour Jo was joined by the new poet laureate Simon Armitage, who told us about what he hopes to achieve in the role and read a poem all about not seeing The Buzzcocks play live. Finally, we welcomed bestselling novelist Jessie Burton (whose books include The Miniaturist, The Muse and The Restless Girls) and travel writer Monisha Rajesh.

Throughout the show we asked all our guests, our audience and listeners at home to send in their favourite first line of a book – with plenty of varied results.

I booked all of Jo’s guests (reading a lot of books in the process) and during the show itself was side of stage making sure everything ran smoothly. I wanted it to be an accessible programme for casual readers who aren’t familiar with Hay Festival and in that regard I think it was a success!

Images ©BBC/Tricia Yourkevich

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