She has helped promote the delights of reading via the Richard and Judy Book Club.

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But now TV presenter Judy Finnigan will be joining leading authors, and figures from the world of politics and the arts at this year’s Way With Words literary festival in Southwold.

The annual festival returns from November 8-12, with broadcaster Jeremy Vine and former political leader Lord Ashdown among the notable speakers lined up to take part over the five days.

The event will feature more than 20 intimate talks and readings at St Edmunds Hall, starting at 2.30pm on Thursday, November 8 when former British banker Gary Mulgrew will provide a harrowing account of his time in a US prison. He will be followed by Man Booker Prize winner Pat Barker who will read from her latest novel, before poet Ronald Blythe discusses prominent people and places in Suffolk.

On Friday, Mr Blythe will return to explore the life of Lowestoft-born composer Benjamin Britten, while comedian-turned-author Ben Elton will speak about his latest novel, Two Brothers. In the afternoon, nature writer Richard Mabey will reveal his cabinet of curiosities, while eminent journalist and broadcaster Simon Hoggart will recount his years working as a parliamentary sketch writer for The Guardian.

On the Saturday, there will be talks and readings by Jessica Fellowes, author of the companion book to the award-winning costume drama Downton Abbey, Judy Finnigan, who will talk about her first novel Eloise, and broadcaster Jeremy Vine who will look back at his 25 years working at the BBC.

Sunday will see appearances by philosopher AC Grayling, BBC journalist Paul Mason, and Labour MP Tom Watson who will give his account of the phone-hacking scandal which saw him quizzing News Corp’s Rupert and James Murdoch when they appeared before the culture, media and sport select committee.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown will discuss a second world war canoe raid on German ships through his own experience in the Special Boat Squadron.

●Tickets for each talk are £10, while day tickets cost £16 for the Thursday, £48 for the Friday, £40 for the Saturday, and £40 on the Sunday. For more information on the festival, contact the box office on 01803 867373 or visit www.wayswithwords.co.uk

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