Broadcaster Kershaw to return to literary festival

Veteran broadcaster Andy Kershaw has spoken of his 'delight' at being asked to headline Cleckheaton Literature Festival for a second time.

The globe-trotting DJ and journalist – once described by Stephen Fry as “the finest British broadcaster bar none” – will sit down for a conversation with local man Martin Webster at Spenborough Town Hall on May 1.

This comes after the music and travel fanatic “enthralled” his audience at the close of last year’s event.

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Mr Kershaw said: “I had a really good time last year. It was a great audience and the organisers looked after me really well.

“I’m delighted – a little surprised, but very flattered.”

The show will feature Mr Kershaw discussing his life and career, including selected photographs, with a focus on his extensive travel experiences.

“Having been to exactly half the world’s countries – 97 out of 194 – we won’t be short of material,” said Mr Kershaw.

Some of his more noted expeditions include a long stint in Haiti in the 1990s and eyewitness reports from the Rwandan genocide for the Today programme. He has also visited the highly-secretive state of North Korea no less than four times, once with the journalists Christopher Hitchens and Francis Wheen.

Rochdale-born audiophile Mr Kershaw booked bands such as The Clash, Elvis Costello and Siouxsie and the Banshees to play at Leeds University between 1980-2. It was huge,” he said. “Imagine doing that when you’re a music-mad teenager!

He added: “I saw nearly all of the greats when they were at their best.”

Soon after this, his long association with the BBC was kickstarted “by accident.”

He said: “I went to London to work with Billy Bragg as his driver and roadie. I took him to the Whistle Test. They ended up offering me a job – as presenter. It was just fairytale. It still feels like that.”

Cleckheaton Literature Festival organiser Martin Webster was asked to quiz Mr Kershaw on the night. He wants to unearth an in-depth account of Mr Kershaw’s travels.

Mr Webster said: “For me, there are things he must have seen and know about that he hasn’t told people.

“What I’m going to try and pull out is the way a place gets under his skin.”

Tickets for Andy Kershaw in Conversation (£12), which will start at 7pm on Sunday, May 1.