BBC unveils star-studded line-up for Edinburgh Festivals

The Edinburgh Festivals are always one of the highlights of my year and I’m delighted that the BBC plays its part in making it such a fantastic spectacle. I’m always amazed at the enormous range that our production teams from across the BBC offer in Edinburgh and our cast list this year really does educate, entertain and inform.Donalda MacKinnon
Date: 29.07.2015     Last updated: 11.08.2015 at 12.54
An eclectic mix of great names, including Paul Merton, Joanne Harris, Jo Brand, Rory Bremner, The Proclaimers, Sylvie Guillem, Denise Mina, Imran Yusuf, Nish Kumar and Ian Rankin will star in the BBC’s wide-ranging output at the Edinburgh Festivals next month.

Most of the content will come from the BBC’s Festivals venue at Potterrow, where a host of acts will be on stage over three weeks from Friday 7 August, with more shows and events also taking place in other venues throughout the city.

BBC Scotland’s Head of Programmes and Services, Donalda MacKinnon, said she believes this year’s coverage should ensure that there is something for everyone, both in Edinburgh and for those listening and watching at home.

“The Edinburgh Festivals are always one of the highlights of my year and I’m delighted that the BBC plays its part in making it such a fantastic spectacle. I’m always amazed at the enormous range that our production teams from across the BBC offer in Edinburgh and our cast list this year really does educate, entertain and inform,” she said.

Highlights this year include The One Show and BBC Breakfast live from Potterrow and TV specials, Edinburgh Nights, with Kirsty Wark, and Sue Perkins’ Big Night Out, while of course Edinburgh wouldn’t be complete without The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Our digital teams have a raft of content available throughout next month curated under and we’ll also have live streams produced in partnership with the Edinburgh International Festival and Book Festival featuring interviews with Sylvie Guillem, Juliette Binoche, Simon McBurney, Jesse Jackson, Val McDermid and Nicola Sturgeon and Liz Lochhead.

Radio will bring a wide variety of content including Simon Mayo’s Drivetime, the Radio 2 Arts and Saturday Breakfast shows, Jazz on 3, Late Junction, In Tune and World on 3 and the BBC SSO’s performance at the opening concert of the 2015 EIF, conducted by Donald Runnicles, will be broadcast at a later date.

Radio 4 and 4 Extra output includes Front Row, Saturday Review, Just a Minute, Loose Ends; 5 Live and 6 Music bring Afternoon Edition and Shaun Keaveny while the Asian Network will also be in town with their Big Comedy Night, the Nihal show and the Tommy Sandhu breakfast show.

And, of course, Radio Scotland are always at the heart of the Edinburgh action with Kaye Adams and Janice Forsyth broadcasting their daily programmes live along with Breaking the News, Vic Galloway, Jazz House and Travelling Folk.

“Edinburgh in August is the best place in the world to discover new artists, performers and entertainers. It’s a privilege for the BBC to bring our biggest and most extraordinary cultural festival to a wider audience,” said the BBC’s Director of Arts, Jonty Claypole.



The One Show will be broadcast live from the heart of Edinburgh on BBC One at 7pm on Wednesday 12, Thursday 13 and Friday 14 August. Alex Jones, Matt Baker and on Friday, Patrick Kielty, will be joined at Potterrow by an array of established and up and coming guests. Expect fascinating features, lots of Festivals fun and a few surprises. The show continues every evening at 7.30pm on the Red Button with The One Show Edinburgh Showcase when Matt, Alex and Patrick will host a live mix of comedy highlighting some of the best and funniest acts at the Fringe.

On Friday 21 August BBC Breakfast will be live from the Potterrow Garden, where presenter Charlie Stayt will be joined by a host of acts from across the Edinburgh Festivals, including some early morning performances and sofa guests.

BBC One’s August coverage of the Festivals concludes on Monday 31 August with a showcase of the very best of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. With the RAF taking the lead for this year’s Tattoo, there will be dramatic performances aplenty including their Massed Bands. And with the theme being East Meets West, there will also be a great range of international acts including the worldwide sensation, Top Secret Drum Corps from Basle in Switzerland.

On BBC Two, Friday evenings will see Kirsty Wark present Edinburgh Nights, bringing interviews, performances and music from across the Festivals. Art critic Alastair Sooke will offer his personal highlights from the Edinburgh Art Festival whilst Kirsty will investigate the discovery of lost scripts from the 1950s comedy programme Hancock’s Half Hour, which were unearthed by actor and book dealer Neil Pearson, and are now being performed at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. As a new venue dedicated to showcasing the very best of international circus opens in Edinburgh, Kirsty talks to a variety of producers and performers who are involved in rebooting the circus movement and who are weaving serious narratives together with astounding acrobatics. Musical performances will include pianist and composer Chilly Gonzales who will be performing with the Hamburg-based Kaiser Quartett. The first two episodes of Edinburgh Nights will also be broadcast on BBC World News.

BBC Two will bring a celebration of the Festivals to our televisions on Saturday 29 August at 9pm. Recorded as live at Potterrow, Sue Perkins’ Big Night Out will feature special guests and performance highlights from across this year’s Edinburgh Festivals in a one hour cabaret of comedy, music and spectacle.

A further special programme made by BBC Scotland will celebrate 50 years of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus by following the creation of a spectacular outdoor audio-visual show to mark the birthday of this world-class choir.

On BBC Four viewers will be able to enjoy Juliette Binoche’s Antigone which was recorded at the Barbican earlier this year and is one of the gems of this summer’s Edinburgh International Festival.


With more shows and performances available to watch live and on demand online and on Red Button than ever before, the BBC Edinburgh Festivals website ( is a destination for audiences in Edinburgh and at home. With content co-curated by BBC Arts, there will be something for everyone, from comedy to theatre to spoken word.

With some 26 live streams and numerous individual films, BBC Arts Online ( offers probably the most wide-ranging coverage of this year’s Festival and some of its biggest stars.

BBC Arts will live stream a series of films entitled ‘Edinburgh International Festival Conversations’ featuring major names from its partner, the EIF. They are; ballet and contemporary dancer Sylvie Guillem, actor Juliette Binoche, director and playwright Robert Lepage and film/theatre actor-director Simon McBurney. Deborah Bull, Director, Culture, King’s College London and former Principal, Royal Ballet and singer and presenter Jamie MacDougall will take turns to host the conversations.

BBC Arts is also working with the Edinburgh International Book Festival to live stream 11 events, including appearances by Jesse Jackson, Val McDermid and Nicola Sturgeon, Liz Lochead and Rev Richard Coles.

BBC Arts will live stream a dozen shows from BBC@Potterrow, from such as Simon Mayo, Anneka Rice, Janice Forsyth, Ed & Jason Byrne and Rory Bremner.

BBC Arts will also feature dozens of shorter films - drawn from the Edinburgh Fringe, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh International Book Festival - and featuring the best and most entertaining talent in the city.

Audiences in the city and at home can also follow the latest news and highlights of the BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


BBC Radio Scotland

Kaye Adams brings her new BBC Radio Scotland programme to Potterrow on Monday-Thursday mornings. Kaye will be talking to some of the biggest names at Edinburgh in front of a daily live audience and will be joined by a number of special guest co-hosts, including Scottish comedian Karen Dunbar and impressionist Rory Bremner.

Janice Forsyth will bring us all the richness of the Festivals as she takes her afternoon programme out and about. In front of live audiences at Potterrow, and for a special week of programmes at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Janice will have the most comprehensive coverage and review of the Festivals on Radio Scotland’s home of Scottish arts and culture. On Tuesday 11 August you can also watch Janice’s show live via the BBC Edinburgh Festivals website.

Radio Scotland’s new weekly comedy news panel game Breaking the News will be recorded at Potterrow in front of a live audience. Host Des Clarke will be joined by journalists and comedians to give a different perspective on the week’s news.

Julia Sutherland introduces the comedians who dare to tackle cancer, terminal illness, euthanasia and soul crushing grief, and make it a little easier to talk about and cope with life's most difficult and challenging times, in A Funny Kind of Life… and Death.

The eclectic live music scene will be explored in special editions of Vic Galloway, The Jazz House and Travelling Folk.

BBC Radio 2

BBC Radio 2 will be broadcasting from the heart of the Edinburgh Festivals with Simon Mayo’s Drivetime (Monday 17 – Thursday 20 August, 5-7pm), the Radio 2 Arts Show (Friday 14 August, 10pm-12am) and the Saturday Breakfast show (Saturday August 15, 6-8am) , both presented by Anneka Rice.

Throughout the week Simon will be chatting to a variety of guests including comedians Bridget Christie, Ed Byrne and Marcus Brigstocke while live performances will come from West End star Shaun Escoffery, singer-songwriter Andreya Triana and The Proclaimers. Plus, Simon is joined in the Radio 2 Book Club by authors Matt Haig, Joanne Harris and comedian Paul Merton and there is a confession from 6 Music Breakfast host Shaun Keaveny. Listeners will also be able to watch Drivetime live via the BBC Red Button. BBC Arts will present a special Radio 2 Arts Show with Anneka and Radio 2 Book Club with Simon which will be available to watch via the BBC Edinburgh Festivals website.

BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 will bring special editions of its programmes to Potterrow, curated with some of the most exciting classical, world, folk, and jazz artists and talent from across the Festivals. Through live and recorded concerts available on radio and online, BBC Radio 3 will also bring the best of the Edinburgh International Festival to audiences at home and across the world.

For jazz lovers, Jez Nelson will present a special live edition of Jazz on 3 featuring musicians from Scotland and the north of England. Bassist Andy Champion will perform with his prog-jazz outfit ACV (featuring pianist Matthew Bourne and guitarist Chris Sharkey among others), while reeds player Fraser Fifield and his trio evoke the Scottish folk music tradition. Also in the line-up are Edinburgh improvisers Emma Smith (bass) and Lauren Sarah Hayes (electronics), and Herschel 36, a drums and keys ‘avantronica’ outfit weaving improvisations from electronica, breakbeats and noisy soundscapes.

Listeners will have the chance to discover some of the most exciting names on the jazz circuit with Claire Martin who will present a special live edition of Jazz Line-Up with music from Festival guests including pianist Darius Brubeck, son of jazz legend Dave Brubeck, vocalist Alison Affleck, who will perform music associated with iconic jazz singer Billie Holiday, and Corrina Hewat and Dave Milligan who will perform a duo set featuring harp and piano.

Live shows at Potterrow include Late Junction on Thursday 13 August with Verity Sharp, and In Tune with Sean Rafferty on Friday 21 August, featuring musicians and guests from across the Festivals, including comedy piano duo Worbey and Farrell, composer Max Richter, and Neil Pearson and the cast of his new Hancock's Half Hour show.

World On 3 broadcasts live from the Fringe for the first time, on Friday 28 August, bringing bagpipes to Radio 3 with a performance from Scottish folk band The Scott Wood Band alongside the latest talent from BBC Introducing including the Senegalese AfroBeats of Samba Sene and Diwan. The show will also be available to watch via the BBC Edinburgh Festivals website.

Radio 3’s ‘cabaret of the word’ The Verb will record a special edition at Potterrow to be broadcast in September, with a fantastic variety of guests who are experts in the spoken and written word, featuring Canadian comedian Mae Martin, novelist Denise Mina and poet Mark Doty.

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is to perform the Opening Concert of the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival. Chief Conductor Donald Runnicles will be at the helm for Richard Strauss's monumental Ein Heldenleben which will be recorded and broadcast on Radio 3 at a later date. Also during the Festival, the BBC SSO will perform Max Richter's Memoryhouse and Recomposed, a postmodern 'remix' of Vivaldi's Four Seasons with violinist Daniel Hope at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

BBC Scotland also produces concerts from the EIF for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 – this year they are live again for three weeks from the Queen’s Hall (15 presented concerts by Donald MacLeod and Jamie MacDougall) and there are highlights from the prestigious Beethoven Piano Sonata series featuring Rudolf Buchbinder. There’s also another Scottish Opera production - an all-star cast of HMS Pinafore for Opera on 3 - well as three other evening concerts; Philharmonia Orchestra and Lang Lang (piano) performing Bartok Piano Concerto No 2; the Philharmonia and Edinburgh Festival Chorus performing the gigantic Messe des Morts by Berlioz; and the wonderfully vivacious Budapest Festival Orchestra performing Mozart’s Requiem.

BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra

BBC Radio 4’s magazine programme on the worlds of arts, literature, film, media and music, Front Row, will be bringing news, high profile interviews and reviews from the Festivals. There will be a live show in front of an audience at Potterrow on Monday 17 August which you can watch online and tune in to that evening, as well as shows on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19.

The panel from Saturday Review will be joined on Saturday 22 August by Ian Rankin to review a pick of The Best of The Fest.

There will be a whole host of well-loved comedy shows from Radio 4 including Just a Minute (with Nicholas Parsons and Paul Merton), Loose Ends, Dead Ringers (with Jon Culshaw and Jan Ravens), Sketchorama (with Isy Suttie and Gein’s Family Giftshop), Mitch Benn Has Left The Building and Comic Fringes (Robert Florence, Dane Baptiste and Angela Barnes). The very best in exciting new talent performing at this year’s Fringe will be showcased on Radio 4’s Fresh from the Fringe, which will also be available for audiences to watch live online, and on 4 Extra Stands Up with Fred MacAulay.

Radio 2 and Radio 4 Extra will be staging the first two heats of the BBC Radio New Comedy Award at Potterrow. The first heat is hosted by Phil Ellis (Funz and Gamez) with guest judge Angela Barnes, plus regular judges Steve Bennett from Chortle and BBC Comedy’s Sam Bryant, and the second heat is hosted by Susan Calman with guest judge Paul Sinha.

BBC Radio 5 live

Afternoon Edition will be live on Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 August, with hosts Dan Walker and Sarah Brett bringing the latest news and big celebrity guests.

BBC Radio 6 Music

On BBC Radio 6 Music Shaun Keaveny will be broadcasting his breakfast show (7 – 10am) live from Edinburgh from Monday 17 – Friday 21 August, with a range of special guests including Jo Brand, Justin Moorhouse, Stewart Lee and Clive Anderson. Kate Tempest will also be talking to Shaun about her poetry collection and appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and authors Richard Havers and Ian Rankin will be chatting about their upcoming talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Plus, Friday’s show will be in front of an audience for the last hour with Scottish band Honeyblood playing live.

In addition, each evening there will be a 6 Music gig featuring performances from a variety of Scottish acts, including indie rockers Idlewild (Sunday), alternative rock band PAWS (Monday), orchestral indie pop group Admiral Fallow (Tuesday), singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph (Wednesday) and musician and composer C Duncan (Thursday), with Honeyblood live into Shaun’s show on Friday. Highlights from the sessions can be heard the following day on 6 Music Breakfast and Steve Lamacq’s show (4-7pm), as well as on Vic Galloway’s BBC Radio Scotland show (9-11pm) on Monday 24 August.

BBC Asian Network

The BBC Asian Network’s Big Comedy Night featuring the best Asian talent from across the Festivals takes place at Potterrow on Sunday 23 August from 8.30pm – 10.30pm and will be hosted by Breakfast show presenter Tommy Sandhu. It will include performances from comedians Imran Yusuf, Nish Kumar, Tez Ilyas and Sajeela Kershi. You can hear the best bits of the Comedy Night on Tommy’s breakfast show and watch highlights on the Red Button in the autumn. The Tommy Sandhu breakfast show will also be live from Potterrow on Monday 24 August.

The Nihal show will also be broadcasting live from Edinburgh each weekday from Monday 10 - Friday 14 August, 10am-1pm, featuring a range of guests from across the Festivals, while Asian Network at the Edinburgh Fringe, 1 – 2pm on Sunday August 30, will feature all the highlights, with guests including Imran Yusuf and Nish Kumar.

BBC World Service

The BBC World Service returns to Edinburgh in August with a special edition of BBC Trending, where presenter Mukul Devichand will be joined by a panel of comedians to look at the world of online comedy pranking. Pooneh Ghoddoosi and Kim Chakanetsa will be reporting daily into the Arts Daily segments in Outlook and The Fifth Floor across the month.

BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal

BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal will be bringing Feasgar, its magazine programme, and Rapal, its live music show, to Edinburgh on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 August.

BBC Radio Wales

The BBC Radio Wales Arts Show will be in Edinburgh for the first time on Wednesday 26 August.

BBC Local Radio

On Monday 10 August BBC Local Radio’s Mark Forrest will bring his evening programme, which goes out across all 39 stations, to Potterrow for the first time.

BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz will bring his Sunday morning Radio Oxford show to Edinburgh on 16 August, and Radio Humberside’s David Burns will review the Festivals live from the heart of the city on his morning show on Friday 28 August.


Every day at Potterrow there will be a variety of shows, performances and sessions for audiences of all ages to enjoy.

BBC Presents… are our late-night themed shows that give a taster of content from across the Edinburgh Festivals. Familiar names known to BBC audiences will present their picks of the most entertaining, interesting and curious comedy, music, theatre, cabaret acts and more. Highlights this year include BBC Presents… The Next Big Thing with Katherine Ryan and BBC Presents… Matt Forde and his Political Pals.

Edinburgh Exclusives are special sessions that give audiences access to BBC, Edinburgh Festivals and arts content and talent. They take the form of masterclasses, panel discussions, QandAs and screenings and involve a variety of guests. Each show will give insights on a specific theme, this year’s highlights include Byrnes' Night... In the Afternoon! Ed Byrne and Jason Byrne In Conversation and Behind the Scenes of Just a Minute with Nicholas Parsons and Gyles Brandreth.

We’ll also be bringing the Bright Club - the freshest thing in stand-up, straight from the research field to the Fringe. Interesting, funny people share gags and silliness about what they know best - their own work. And the Poetry Slam returns for a fifth year, featuring some of the top performance poets from throughout the UK, all battling it out for the coveted title of 2015 BBC Slam Champion. Competing this year are World Champion Harry Baker, UK National Champions Sara Hirsch and Keith Jarrett, and Scottish National Champion Bram E. Gieben.

Live Music at Potterrow will be thematically curated by BBC presenters and DJs, and will entertain audiences in Edinburgh, as well as providing live tracks recorded for audiences to enjoy at home. Highlights include King Eider, Rise Kagona and the Jit Jive Band, Dean Owens and Rayguns Look Real Enough.

BBC Childrens will be bringing live stage shows to Potterrow including CBeebies favourite Swashbuckle and CBBC’s Art Ninja featuring much loved characters such as Shaun the Sheep and Morph.

Popular BBC Learning strand Authors Live returns to Edinburgh with sessions featuring the brilliantly talented author-illustrator of the Jolley-Rogers series, Jonny Duddle, and comedian, entertainer and writer Julian Clary and award-winning illustrator David Roberts as they introduce their fantastic new children's book, The Bolds. The sessions will be available to watch online.

Potterrow will host workshops and sessions as part of the BBC’s Make it Digital initiative, helping children and young people discover digital creativity, with help from the BBC’s Connected Studio and BBC Taster. | | @BBCEdFest | #BBCEdFest