TOP TV chefs, The Hairy Bikers will dish up the starter at this weekend’s Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival in Melrose on Thursday.

And it will be followed by a generous serving of explorer Sir Chris Bonington and his fascinating memoir Ascent, Charles Spencer talking to the Duke of Buccleuch about Charles II, and Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith chatting about life and food.

Thousands of lovers of the written word will once again make their way to Harmony Gardens for the latest chapter in this fascinating and much-loved festival.

Other highlights for 2018 include Robert Peston’s McInroy & Wood Lecture on the state of the nation, Archie Macpherson recalling the glory years of Scottish football, Alexander McCall Smith celebrating 20 years of his bestselling No1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, King of Crime Ian Rankin talking all things Rebus, and Richard Holloway musing on mortality in his Waiting for the Last Bus.

Also on stage over the four days are award winning military historian Antony Beevor, TV presenter and archaeologist Neil Oliver, politicians William Hague and Gordon Brown, naturalist and conservationist John Lister-Kaye, gardening expert Carol Klein, journalists Stacey Dooley and Misha Glenny, leading palaeontologist Steve Brusatte, James Naughtie and Simon Jenkins on Brexit, Alan Taylor and Ian Rankin on Muriel Spark, Mark Millar, the man behind some of the biggest comic books and their film adaptations such as Kingsman and Wolverine, sporting heroes including ex-international rugby star Doddie Weir, marathon runner and Irongran Edwina Brocklesby, and record-breaking cyclist and adventurer Mark Beaumont, as well as comedian and ventriloquist Nina Conti.

Festival Director Alistair Moffat is rightly excited by this year's line-up. He told us: "National and international names converge on Melrose this weekend for a dazzling array of events in Harmony Garden and across the road in the Orchard.

"From politics to comedy, sport to history, fiction to science and cooking to art, all tastes and interests are catered for.

"And of course, we are delighted to be announcing the winner of the coveted Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

"We look forward to welcoming our audience, authors and supporters to a weekend of fun, entertainment and lively debate.”

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust have programmed their first Resolute Optimism event at the book festival with controversial, evolutionary Richard Dawkins defending the power and glory of science based on his new book Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.

The winner of this year’s prestigious £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction will be awarded by previous winner Sebastian Barry on the Saturday, from a shortlist including books by Rachel Malik, Benjamin Myers, Paul Lynch and Jane Harris.

Debi Gliori, Ross Collins, Vivian French and David Solomons are just some of the names from the world of children’s books, who will entertain and energise the younger crowd in the popular Family Book Festival, sponsored for the first time by Nairn’s Oatcakes.

Taking place throughout Saturday and Sunday, the Nairn’s Family Book Festival also includes kids craft activities, storytelling and creative workshops.

Adults get to go free to any Nairn’s Family Book Festival event so long as they are accompanied by at least one child!

The Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival also includes the Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA) Schools Gala Day on Thursday, which sees more than 1,200 children and teachers attending from primary schools across the Borders, whilst a new Health & Wellbeing festival will run throughout the Friday afternoon to include yoga, drop-in massage therapy and mindfulness.

In addition, throughout the four days there will be live music, The Orchard tented food village and plenty of free, fun activities making the book festival a great day out for all the family to enjoy.

The festival welcomes the continued support of Title Sponsor Baillie Gifford, Key Media Partner The Times Scotland, Key Supporters The National Trust of Scotland, as well as Douglas Home & Co and Scottish Borders Housing Association, and new Key Sponsors McInroy & Wood, as well as Nairn’s Oatcakes and Borders Buses, and the on-going funding of Scottish Borders Council, Creative Scotland and many other loyal supporters.

James Budden, Director Marketing and Distribution at Baillie Gifford said: "This year’s Borders Book Festival sets the bar ever higher.

"Baillie Gifford is simply happy to be involved in a literary celebration of such depth and diversity.

"We look forward to welcoming the crowds to what is one of the nicest places in one of the nicest parts of the country."

The Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival is this year giving individuals the opportunity to become supporters and patrons of the festival. Details about the new individual giving scheme can be found at

Tickets for this year’s Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival are available from Hub Tickets, at or at 0131 473 2000.