Thursday, 15 December 2016

Tuesday, 29 November 2016


Star date: 28th November 2016


Hundreds of people packed into Salford University's Maxwell Hall yesterday to hear Maxine Peake, Christopher Eccleston, Sheila Hancock, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Mike Joyce do Radical Readings from Salford's history and struggles.

The top class event was poignant, political and in parts hilarious, with Maxine Peake ending the day by explaining why it's so important to support the Working Class Movement Library... "If we don't learn from the past we end up with a future a bit like we've got now" she said, to thunderous applause. 

Full details here...

Radical Readings at Working Class Movement Library Salford Radical Readings at Working Class Movement Library Salford Radical Readings at Working Class Movement Library Salford 
Radical Readings at Working Class Movement Library Salford Radical Readings at Working Class Movement Library Salford 
click image to enlarge

So Maxine Peake is on stage, trying to get her tongue around a latter day poem by Radical Readings organiser, Royston Futter; a kind of re-working of an AA Milne poem but with added Brexit, Trump and Tories...

...There's a line about Cameron and Osborne but Maxine can't spit it out... "Ossbon...Ossbum...Arsehole" she laughs "They're all arseholes!"

The audience in the packed hall cheers her on. Despite two hours of readings about Salford's past political struggles and humour in misery, the radical spirit is definitely alive today – led by Maxine herself, Christopher Eccleston, Sheila Hancock, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Mike Joyce.

It's a fundraiser for the Working Class Movement Library and these top, top stars have given their time to aid the survival of an institution that archives in artefacts, books, banners and flyers the fights of ordinary people for a better life.

There's loads of readings of descriptions of old Salford society, from Walter Greenwood's `slumdom' stories of Black Bill Douglas and his child slave mill down Whit Lane, to Engels' documenting of the `conditions of the working class', to the opening chapter of Harold Brighouse's Salford-set Hobson's Choice, which is celebrating its centenary this year.

Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peake read extracts from the opening chapter which talks of Salford's "over populated districts" competing with Manchester, and "human beings extraordinarily endowed with the will to live"...

Within the misery of poverty there was also humour, as extracts from the Ewan MacCollautobiography, Journeyman, witness - kids using prize pigs' tails as would-be willies to scare off the girls, and George Drummond, whose work colleagues at Cox's Foundry presented him with a plaque as the `champion farter of Salford 1921'.

Robert Roberts also looms large with A Ragged Schooling recounting the hilarious exploits of kids using Salford's (and the country's) first public library, brought back to life through the vivid narration of the on-stage actors (and ex-Smiths drummer, who's got definite talent as a voice artist).

Then there's the classics of local working class history, with stories of Peterloo, The Chartists and George Orwell's Homage To Catalonia, plus everyone paying homage to Ruth and Eddie Frow, the Library's ace founders.

All in all it was a bit of a perfect, special day – Salford, radicalism and the legends that are Sheila Hancock, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Mike Joyce, Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peake, who ended the day explaining why it's so, so important to support the Working Class Movement Library...

"If we don't learn from the past we end up with a future a bit like we've got now" she insisted, to thunderous applause. 

*To learn more from the past go to the Mary Quaile Club event at the Working Class Movement Library this Saturday, 3rd December, at 1pm, for a film Looking Back at the Grunwick Strike 1976-1978 plus speakers from the Grunwick 40 Steering Group, and the Durham Teaching Assistants who are facing huge wage cuts and strike action now. See Salford Star article for further details – click here

For more details of the Working Class Movement Library see

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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Meet the unlikely screen star of the last days of coal mining as the demise of an industry is filmed.

Meet Big K, unlikely screen star of the last days of coalmining . Not Kellingley Colliery, which shared that title, but Kevin Rowe, who leads a cast of pitmen in a fly-on-the-coalface TV documentary. 

The Last Miners tells the story of King Coal's demise in Britain, through the closure of the last pit. 

Baccy-chewing Kevin, 55, a chargehand at Kellingley, North ­Yorks, kicks off the drama with a ­characteristically 
flamboyant song at the shaft bottom. 

"Are you ready for the northern calypso?" he asks his workmates. "We are," they chorus.

And off he goes:

"Hey, Mrs Micklethwaite will tha feed ma whippet?

Daylight comes, and I'm still down pit

I go down pub where I drink 10 pints

I think I'm getting plastered

I go back home and I beat my wife

Cos I'm a big fat northern b*****d!"

The lads applaud, and one says: " David Cameron may take our jobs but he can't take our sense of humour."

So starts another day of grafting 800 yards below the surface.

But no amount of hard work will save their jobs. The pit shut on December 18, 2015 – the death-blow of an industry that powered the industrial revolution and once employed more than a million men.

These are the last miners.

Independent film-makers Keo ­Productions were given unprecedented access to these unsung heroes of 
labour – well, they're singing now, louder than pit canaries. 

The story begins five weeks before closure and follows the fortunes of four miners: Kevin, alias "Jonesy", 49, a shift manager; Jack, 23, a fitter; Sheldon, 54, a supervisor and Andy, 22, a surface ­electrician. They're all made redundant, but make a new life for themselves.

Narrated by Christopher Eccleston , The Last Miners follows men riding four miles on a paddy train to the coal face, ripping "the black diamonds" with giant cutting machines and ­tackling ­nightmarish power breakdowns. 

They work in singlets soaked in sweat and shorts, ribboned with day-glo stripes.

The only light is from their headlamps.

Banter is frequent, but interspersed with real anxiety – they have a ­deadline to complete a huge coal cut to pay for their own redundancy.

This was the ­condition of a £4million loan from the Government to keep the pit open for a limited period. The money has to be repaid.

It's their ­determination to reach this production target, and ­commitment to each other, that turns an everyday story of work into a drama.

The documentary is shown on BBC1 in two parts, beginning on Monday. 

"They'll be bored stacking shelves," says Kevin. "These lads, they need some hard graft. It's good for the soul. We'll do it. We don't do the F-word – fail."

It's about the only F-word they don't use. There's no political correctness here.

In the last week of operation, men working the two-metre thick Beeston seam produce 40,000 tonnes of coal worth up to £200million – proof that Kellingley was still a viable pit. As the deadline approaches, the men work 12-hour shifts, and the toil takes its toll.

Ray Whitty, a 63-year-old miner who's worked at Kellingley for 47 years, falls in the shower. It's a heart attack, and he's given CPR by his workmates. Jack, who is quickly on the scene, says: "You could see the life had gone from his eyes."

Ray is taken to hospital, survives, and comes back for the pit's last day. Death is no stranger to these men – Andy's father Gerry died after being buried by 15 tonnes of rock in a roof collapse at Kellingley in 2011 .

Andy, who was training elsewhere in the pit at the time, says: "I always wanted to be a miner." A wall of his home is covered with photos of his dad.

On the last day of the last deep mine, the media are out in force (I was there, too). The miners had mixed feelings.

One says: "It's a shame they couldn't show the same interest about Kellingley when it was open as when it was closing. I don't mind publicity, but we could have been fighting to keep the pit open rather than ­celebrating it closing."

In the locker room, Sheldon passes by a heap of discarded uniforms, a poignant metaphor for the men who wore them and will never wear them again.

"That could be workers on the scrap heap," he observes dolefully.

But there is still a note of defiance.

"Kellingley is history – but the people who worked there are not."

The last piece of coal is carried out from underground, a trophy.

Then the final rites are ­technical: switching off the huge ventilating fans.

Amid emotional goodbyes, the last evening shift is sent home without going down. But it's not over until the fat man sings. Kevin brings down the curtain with another song.

"At the age of 16 years

With my father close to tears

When he swore to God never to send his son to the dark recesses of the mine

Where you're old before your time and the cold dust flies heavy on your lungs.

At the age of 55

I thank God I'm still alive

When the wheel above the hole no longer turns

And they finally close the hole where we fought for years for coal.

Never again will I go down ­underground."

They clap, and cheer, and gather round. They hug, and kiss, and wipe the tears from their eyes. But it's not quite the end of the story. The men start looking for work.

Sheldon is stir-crazy at home. Then, one day the phone rings, and he's got a job as a telecoms ­engineer on the railways.

So, no longer a miner?

"I'll always be a miner," he retorts to an interviewer who should know better. "You'll never take the coal dust out of my lungs."

Jonesy is taken on by a Mercedes dealer. Jack, ­demoralised by months on the dole, moved to County Durham to be with his girlfriend. He finally got a job as an engineer, and is about to become a dad.

Andy works for the National Grid. And after taking time out, Kevin trained as a handyman.

Success stories – if not the kind they sought. But what of the other 435?

Keith Poulson, National Union of \ ­official, says: "At least two thirds have found jobs, mainly manual. Lorry driving, buses, warehousing, but nothing like the industry they were in."

The pit may be gone but its legacy remains – like its twin towers that still dominate the local landscape. Demolition work is under way and the land is scheduled to become housing and industrial development.

Kevin has given up chewing tobacco, and is busy plumbing, laying floors, painting and decorating. "I'm actually loving it at the moment," he says.

Still, I hear a wistful note in the voice of the pit troubadour.

"I really love my new life. But I'd go back to being a miner in a flash – and 99% of the other men would do the same."

That will never happen, and we're all the losers.

  • The Last Miners, which is in two parts, starts on Monday at 9pm, on BBC1.

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Monday, 14 November 2016

Christopher Eccleston to play Oedipus in Radio 3 Anthony Burgess season 

Christopher Eccleston said was 'honoured' to take on the role
Christopher Eccleston is to play Oedipus in a BBC Radio 3 drama marking the centenary of the birth of author and composer Anthony Burgess.

The actor said he was "honoured and proud" to take the lead role in Burgess's "brilliant and daring" version of Sophocles's tragedy.
Oedipus the King will be broadcast on 26 February 2017.
A Radio 3 season will also feature essays from eminent writers about the A Clockwork Orange writer's work.
Burgess's adaptation of Oedipus the King was first performed on stage in the US in 1972, with music from Grammy-winning composer Stanley Silverman.
But it has never been performed in the UK. The new radio version will feature Silverman's score performed by the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Chamber Choir.
"The celebration of Anthony Burgess in his centenary year forms part of BBC Radio 3's 70th anniversary, as part of our mission to connect audiences with remarkable music and culture," the station's controller Alan Davey said.
"Having one of the UK's leading actors, Christopher Eccleston, playing the title role in the UK premiere of Burgess' Oedipus the King will be a treat for us all."
Born in Manchester on 25 February 1917, Burgess is best known for his dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange, which was adapted into the controversial 1971 film directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Burgess's prolific output included more than 30 novels, 25 works of non-fiction, two volumes of autobiography, three symphonies and more than 150 other musical works. He died in November 1993, aged 76.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Abbie Cornish and Christopher Eccleston join Amma Asante’s Where Hands Touch.

Where Hands Touch

Amma Asante's fulfilled one long-time dream when A United Kingdom opened this year's London Film Festival. With Where Hands Touch, a passion project she's been trying to get off the ground for many years, the writer/director is ticking another box. The period drama has added Abbie Cornish, Christopher Eccleston and The Childhood Of A Leader's young star Tom Sweet to its cast.

Set in 1944 in Berlin, Where Hands Touch's central characters are a biracial German teenager and a Hitler Youth cadet played by The Hunger GamesAmandla Stenberg and George MacKay respectively. The story charts a forbidden love affair blooming amid the dying embers of the Third Reich. 

No word on Cornish, Sweet and Eccleston's exact roles yet, though it wouldn't be a surprise to see the latter channelling some Dark Elf into the part of an equally accursed Nazi.

"I have been an absolute fan of Abbie Cornish and Chris Eccleston for some time," enthuses Asante, "and I am delighted to welcome Tom Sweet to my cast."

The film's shoot gets underway in Belgium this week, with a script written by Asante. Her next film, A United Kingdom, makes its bow in the UK on 25 November. Pick up the new issue of Empire – onsale now – for a panoramic behind-the-scenes photo album of the shoot curated by the director herself.

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Friday, 21 October 2016

Mike Joyce and friends come together to sell T-shirt that will fund trip of a lifetime for Salford youngsters.

Smiths star Mike Joyce has drummed up support from the region’s top actors to launch a T-shirt which will help fund a trip of a lifetime for Salford teenagers. 
A picture he took of fellow band member Morrissey has been embossed on a yellow shirt for Salford Lads Club to sell. 
The image of the group’s singer was taken by Mike on Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, during the Smiths’ tour of the US in 1986.
Actors Maxine Peake, from Bolton , Salford’s Christopher Eccleston, and John Thompson, and Bolton radio presenter Mark Radcliffe, have helped out by doing Morrissey poses in the shirts. 
A limited number of one thousand shirts will be printed to help finance a trip to New York for Lads Club members, which will cost £24,000.
Last year another T-shirt went on sale featuring an image by photographer Stephen Wright, of the band outside the arch at the entrance to Lads Club.
That shirt raised £43,000 profit for the club after sales topped £80,000 and were delivered world-wide.
The new shirt goes on sale today at the club and will be available at a pop up shop at Afflecks Palace in Manchester for a week from Monday.
Leslie Holmes, spokesman for the Club, said: “The idea came about after a visit by Mike Joyce to see the Wall of Names earlier this year. Mike has been here lots of times over the past 10 years, I first met him in 2003 when he came played drums on the balcony of the gym which was live on 6Music.
“He then rehearsed here for a couple of years with a band led by Vinny Peculiar with Andy Rourke, Craig Gannon and managed by Bonehead.
“We started talking about how inspirational the first USA trip had been for young people here that we are planning a second trip, this time to New York.
“Mike said he’d like to help fundraise for this and mentioned he had a photo of Morrissey which he took in 1986 which we might be able to use.
“Over the past few months we have met with Mike and come up with different designs using his photo. We are really pleased with the end product, it’s a much larger design than we have done before but we think it suites the photo, the original is in colour but we have done it like a grainy black and white image and had it printed on a ‘80s faded yellow look t-shirt.
“Mike also said we had a few mutual friends who have been to the club and know about the work that goes on here, so they were keen to be involved. Only turns out that they are great Manc icons.”
The shirts are priced at £20 + post and packaging and £15 from each shirt will go direct to the USA trip and towards future activities for young people at the club.

Tony Martin, general manager at Afflecks, said: “We have been supporting Salford Lads Club for over two years now and are very proud to have raised just over £10,000 during that time. Salford Lads Club Morrissey & Smiths themed products sell well with our shoppers, especially tourists visiting the city.”

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Photo Flash: Christopher Eccleston, Emma Hamilton and Nikki-Amuka Bird Present THE TIME MACHINE.

Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who, Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, Thor), Emma Hamilton (The Tudors, The Musketeers, Mr Selfridge) and Nikki-Amuka Bird (Luther, Quarry, Survivors) open Southbank Centre's 10th London Literature Festival on Wednesday 5 October with a live reading of HG Wells's classic work, The Time Machine, on stage in front of Royal Festival Hall's world-famous organ.

The special adaptation and performance is directed by Cedering Fox of Word Theatre® to mark the 150th anniversary this year of the birth of HG Wells, the father of science fiction. Former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston performs the role of the Time Traveller and leads the cast in a performance which also features music from James McVinnie on Royal Festival Hall's magnificent organ, representing the sounds of the Time Machine.


Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Tardis meets ‘The Time Machine’ - An Interview with Christopher Eccleston.

28 September 2016 Stephanie Brandhuber  | Interviews

The 10th London Literature Festival is taking place from the 5th-10th October at Southbank Centre. The Festival will be featuring a host of incredible events, including a live reading of HG Wells' visionary work 'The Time Machine' by Nikki Amuka-Bird, Emma Hamilton, and the ninth Doctor Who himself, Christopher Eccleston. We sit down with the former Doctor and overall brilliant actor to talk about his love of literature, his favourite roles, and the fun of ageing. 

London Calling: How are you feeling about being one of the three people to take part in the reading of H.G Well's The Time Machine for the opening of the 10th London Literature Festival?
Christopher Eccleston: Well it's a great honour, I'm very excited about it.
LC: What made you want to take part in the Literature Festival?
CE: Well, as a child I fell in love with the film with Rod Taylor. Then as an adult, I studied H.G Wells' short stories as part of my A-Level and it was my favourite part of those studies. I'm fascinated by Wells. I mean, we're living in the future that was, to a certain extent, predicted by him. And it's the 150th anniversary of his birth so it's a double celebration.
LC: The Literature Festival is taking on a sci-fi theme this year. Was the sci-fi aspect of the Festival appealing to you considering your past roles in the sci-fi and fantasy genres? 
CE: I'm not a particular fan of science fiction just for the sake of it. I was attracted to it because of HG Wells. And, any Festival that celebrates literature is going to be attractive to me because I've always been a voracious and very passionate reader. I was a remedial reader at school and then I was given concentrated teaching and I ended up leading my school with the best reading age. I went from remedial to top of the class, so in a sense I found a lot of my confidence as an individual through literature.
LC: That's amazing and certainly shows how powerful literature can be.
CE: I had an extraordinary teacher who was American. I was being taught on almost late-Victorian English literature and she gave me Dr. Seuss. The education of children in America was a very progressive movement at that time. In the 1970s you had Dr. Seuss, you had Sesame Street, and that had a huge impact on my development. It appealed to me in a way that some of the Victoriana I was being fed just didn't.
LC: Considering the broad range of roles and characters you've played over the years, what do you look for in a script when choosing roles to play?
CE: Quality. I grew up watching British television of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, which by and large was writer-led, meaning the writer was the most important person in the process. Consequently, the programmes you watched were extremely well written. And I don't care how good an actor you are, if you don't have the words, you can't do it. So I look for strong writers with a very individual voice. I think dialogue is a huge factor for me when deciding whether to take a role.
LC: Despite such a variety of roles over the years, it doesn't seem like you've done much comedy. Is that something that you might want to do?
CE: Yeah, I mean Maurice in The A Word was my most recent thing on British television, and he certainly had a comedic element. I really enjoyed that and I would like to do more of that, very much.
LC: Speaking of The A Word, which is such a wonderful BBC drama about a young autistic boy, what made you want to take on the role of Maurice, the young boy's grandfather?
CE: Well, I have small children myself and fortunately they are not on the spectrum. But they have friends who are on the spectrum and I have friends whose children are too. It's increasingly a concern for parents and a huge social issue in the way that dementia on the other end of the spectrum is. So in terms of The A word, I liked the way the programme forgrounded a social issue without soapboxing it.  Also, it was very attractive playing the role of Maurice because it's not necessarily a role I'd normally be associated with.
LC: Did it bother you being cast as the grandfather?
CE: Not at all! I mean I'm 53, so I can't play Romeo anymore. Although Maurice is Romeo - that was one of the appeals of the role. Maurice is in his fifties but has an active sex life. We can't leave it all to the kids.
LC: I think it's great that more TV shows are shining a light on the active life of the older generation.
CE: Exactly! I think it gets better as you get older personally.
LC: Well that's good to know! 
CE: You've got a lot to look forward to.
LC: I'm glad to hear that! You also star in the HBO show The Leftovers, and it's having its final season. How do you feel about that coming to a close?
CE: Well, we wrapped this past Friday. We're all very, very sad. We're very proud of the show. The fact is, the first season was not brilliantly reviewed and then we got a second season and we got the best reviews you've ever seen. And yet, still we struggled for viewers. But HBO have been true to their word and let us finish it, and I think we've made a series that's as strong as the second. I'm very excited for it to reach its audience.
LC: Of all the roles you've played, is there one that stands out as your favourite or that you'd like to revisit?
CE: Two really. On stage it was Hamlet at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the television role that I'm most proud of is playing Trevor Hicks in the drama-documentary Hillsborough because as we now know, everything said in that programme has been proven to be true. We made that programme in 1996, the tragedy happened in 1989, and it's taken until 2016 for the Government, the police, the FA and everybody else to come clean. So, playing Trevor was a great challenge and a huge honour.
LC: Do you have a favourite place in London?
CE: Hampstead Heath – I run there, I take my children there, I spend as much time as I possibly can on Hampstead Heath. Long may it prosper!
The 10th London Literature Festival will be taking place from October 5th-10th at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX. The live reading of The Time Machine featuring Christopher Eccleston will take place on October 5th in the Royal Festival Hall of Southbank Centre. Tickets for this and all of the Literature Festival events can be booked online.

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Sunday, 11 September 2016


Ninth Doctor actor Christopher Eccleston has given a new interview, stating his regrets at not staying in the role of the Doctor longer and speaking again on the reasoning behind his departure.

Speaking with Raf Epstein on 774 ABC Melbourne's Drive, Eccleston says the first series of the returning show was both "badly organised and certainly badly produced," and had it been acknowledged at the time, things would have "turned out differently".


However, Christopher regrets not staying in the role longer.

"There's always regret when you play a role like that because what you do is you… i watched it back and i thought ok, next time don't do this – do that, you know, calibrate the performance. It was kind of tragic for me, that I didn't play him for longer. He's a beautiful character and I have a great deal of professional pride and had I done a second season, there would have been a marked improvement in my performance. I was learning new skills, in terms of playing light comedy. I was not known for light comedy and, again, production did not allow for that."

Eccleston was also critical of the choice of directors for the series:

"It's very important on a first series that you make a very informed and intelligent choice, even if it means breaking the budget, about getting the first director who is going to set the tone for the season, for the way the actors relate and that did not happen. Disaster."

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Thursday, 8 September 2016

South Bank Centre Announces Christopher Eccleston, PJ Harvey and Sarah Pascoe in Lineup for its Coming Literature Season


    Southbank Centre announces Marina Abramovi?, Nikki Amuka-BirdMyAnna BuringChristopher EcclestonPJ Harvey, Sara Pascoe and Slavoj �i�ek as a part of the Autumn/Winter 2016 Literature programme

  • Christopher EcclestonMyAnna Buring and Nikki Amuka-Bird perform a reading of HG Wells' classic The Time Machine on the opening day of the 10th London Literature Festival: Living in Future Times in Royal Festival Hall (5 October)

  • National Poetry Day Live features readings from Mercury Prize-winning artist PJ Harvey. The free annual celebration of the UK's poetry scene has a packed programme of live performances by top poets and free activities (6 October)

  • Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie screening and exclusive in-person Q&A hosted by comedian Adam Buxton in Royal Festival Hall and broadcast live to over 120 cinemas across the country (10 October)

  • Comedian Sara Pascoe hosts this year's Man Booker Prize Readings, as the 2016 shortlisted authors come together for an evening of readings and conversation (24 October)

  • Eminent Slovenian Philosopher Slavoj �i�ek discusses his new book, Disparities (31 October)

  • Coinciding with the publication of her memoir, Walking Through Walls, world-renowned performance artist Marina Abramovi? reflects on her career spanning five decades in an exclusive London event held in Royal Festival Hall (7 November)

  • Southbank Centre hosts The Forward Prizes for Poetry 2016 on 20 September 2016, and the TS Eliot Prize Readings on 15 January 2017

Ted Hodgkinson, Senior Programmer, Literature and Spoken Word, said: "We're absolutely delighted to announce Christopher EcclestonMyAnna Buring and Nikki Amuka-Bird as the cast of three, reading HG Wells' The Time Machine. The 10th London Literature Festival: Living in Future Times is fast approaching and the performance will be a fantastic way to mark 150 years since the birth of HG Wells and the opening of the festival.

The Autumn/Winter literature programme has something for all literature lovers and ages; from free events taking place on National Poetry Day and an exclusive Q&A with Marina Abramovi? to celebrate the release of her memoirs, to the ever important Forward Prizes, Man Booker Prize Readings and the TS Eliot Prize Readings, celebrating the very best in new poetry and writing."


Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who, Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, Thor) performs the role of the time traveller in a new, specially commissioned adaptation and live reading of HG Wells' classic, The Time Machine, directed by Cedering Fox of WordTheatre®, marking 150 years since HG Wells' birth and the opening of Southbank Centre's 10th London Literature Festival. Eccleston is joined by MyAnna Buring (Doctor Who, Twilight, Downton Abbey, Ripper Street) and Nikki Amuka-Bird (Luther, Quarry, Survivors) to form a cast of three, accompanied by music on the Royal Festival Hall organ from James McVinnie.

This year's London Literature Festival (5 - 16 October 2016) explores the theme Living in Future Times. The festival rediscovers far-sighted classics and examines how we are already living in an era predicted by Science Fiction, celebrating the work of the world's most visionary established and upcoming writers and artists.

The festival includes an array of world-renowned writers, futurologists and transhumanists. The line-up includes John Agard, Riz Ahmed, Naomi Alderman, Margaret Atwood, Kat Banyard, Caroline Bergvall, Lauren Beukes, Malorie Blackman, Hassan Blasim, Teju Cole, Richard Dawkins, Marcus Du Sautoy, Michel Faber, Tom Gauld, Isabel Greenberg, Xiaolu Guo, Etgar Keret, Deborah Levy, Cixin Liu, Eimear McBride, Kei Miller, Caitlin Moran, Paul Morley, Neel Mukherjee, Edna O'Brien, Iain Pears, Nikesh Shukla, Di Speirs, Chimene Suleyman, Louis Theroux, Thomas Thwaites (GoatMan), Louisa Treger, Ed Yong and Alejandro Zambra.

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