Bodyguard writer Jed Mercurio to headline Harrogate Crime Writing Festival

The cast of Jed Mercurio's Line of Duty. Picture: World Productions
The cast of Jed Mercurio's Line of Duty. Picture: World Productions
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Jed Mercurio, the TV writer behind last year’s most watched drama, The Bodyguard, will be among the line-up at the 17th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, which takes place in Harrogate in July.

Mercurio, a former hospital doctor and RAF officer who also wrote the BBC police series, Line of Duty, will join a panel discussion at the event, the biggest of its kind in the country.

Also in the cast, which was unveiled last night at a launch in London, will be the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in conversation with the crime writer Val McDermid, a fellow Scot and a regular at the event.

Among around 90 writers also taking part are Stuart MacBride, Jeffery Deaver, Belinda Bauer, Eva Dolan, Erin Kelly, Harlan Coben and Ian Rankin.

Themes include Irish fiction exploring borders and Brexit, the rise of Australian crime fiction and the debate over the role of gratuitous violence.

The location is the Old Sawn Hotel at Harrogate, whose crime writing connections date back to 1926 when the writer Agatha Christie checked in under an assumed name while the world searched for her.

Simon Theakston, executive director the eponymous North brewery that sponsors the four-day festival, said it was “another remarkable line-up”, and singled out the American author and philanthropist James Patterson, whose sales number 300m.

“It is a huge privilege to welcome one of the world’s biggest selling authors, James Patterson, a remarkable advocate for reading who has donated millions to reading initiatives in schools, colleges and libraries,” Mr Theakston said.

Mari Hannah, an author and former probation officer who is the festival’s reader in residence, added: “The Theakston programming committee has a reputation for attracting the finest crime writers to the festival from around the world and we’ve done it again.”

The festival begins on July 18.