A FAMOUSLY ‘nasty’ soap star, a BAFTA nominee and a major literary editor will visit North Yorkshire next weekend, for the annual Ryedale Book Festival.

John Altman, who starred in Eastenders as ‘nasty’ Nick Cotton, will appear at the fifth annual three-day festival - which begins on Friday - to talk about his recently published autobiography, In the Nick of Time Final preparations are underway and tickets are still available for the festival, which has a packed programme of events for families and readers of all ages.

Organiser Sarah Tyson said: “There is so much going on. We hope people check out the website and discover something that appeals to them.

"Other community groups have contributed to the programme such as the much loved radio drama from the Dickens Society and Gruffalo biscuit decorating at the Kingfisher café to stories with crafts by the Methodist Church and Beatrix Potter at Pea Green Pottery.

“We are particularly looking forward to a return visit from The Bookshop Band as they were a really popular attraction last year. They are giving a free concert on Saturday evening in our pop-up bookshop in the Old Town Hall, which is staying open after hours.”

Prize-winning writer William Fiennes’ The Snow Geese - with the author discussing his trip following migrating geese across North America to accompaniment by folk duo The Bookshop Band, who wrote new music and a song inspired by Fiennes’ journey.

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A special lunch will take place at The Talbot Hotel which will include discussions with The Times literary editor and Man Booker judge Erica Wagner, and the Helmsley Arts Centre will host Yorkshire poet, journalist and broadcaster Ian McMillan paired with Punch cartoonist Tony Husband.

Also appearing at the festival will be MasterChef finalist Saira Hamilton, Irish teen writer E.R.Murray, dyslexia expert Barbara Pavey, novelists Anna Hope and Lucy Foley, former Malton girl Lucie Brownlee and columnist Howard Croft, who has donated the proceeds of his anthology Howard’s Way to the Ryedale Book Festival.

The festival ends with an event for fans of horse racing and thrillers, with bestselling sports author, journalist, punter and racing enthusiast Jamie Reid at The Milton Rooms on Sunday.

For more information on the festival, ryedalebookfestival.com