BAFTA-WINNING actress Miriam Margolyes returns to the Malton Dickensian Festival once more this weekend.

After Saturday’s 4.30pm screening of the new film The Man Who Invented Christmas, at The Palace Cinema, Miriam joins Charles Dickens's great-great-great granddaughter, author and lecturer Lucinda Hawksley, for an exclusive question-and-answer session at 5.50pm.

On Sunday, Miriam and Lucinda explore what it would have been like to take part in a real Dickensian Christmas, in a Christmas lunch engagement at 1pm at The Talbot Hotel, where Lucinda will give a lecture, while Miriam will perform a monologue from A Christmas Carol, the inspiration for the new film.

Miriam plays the role of Mrs Fisk in The Man Who Invented Christmas, the story behind the journey that led to Dickens's creation of A Christmas Carol, with Christopher Plummer playing Scrooge. “I only have a small part but it's a sweet film, with the wonderful Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens,” she says.

“There have been many iconic films of A Christmas Carol and this latest shows how this very special book endures. It’s timeless, and perhaps its message of kindness and hope are ones we should value now more than ever. Malton should be rightly proud of its rich association with Dickens and this magical book and I’m honoured to be celebrating the town’s literary legacy once more.”

Miriam, 76, enjoyed making the film in Ireland. “It was filmed in Dublin because the Georgian houses there provided a wonderful location. My involvement was minimal, I was only there for a week, but It was a very lovely experience for me. My part is tiny, the housekeeper where Dickens lived, and I can’t even remember her name, but I know I played it Scottish,” she says. “She’s an invented character and I just thought it would give a sense of character to a rather dull creature.”

Gazette & Herald:

Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens in The Man Who Invented Christmas

Glory be for Miriam, all her scenes were filmed with former Downton Abbey leading man Dan Stevens’s Dickens. “He’s absolutely lovely and I think he’s done a terrific job because he gives Dickens an almost manic energy that Dickens definitely had as a young man,” she says.

Miriam was first invited to participate in the Malton Dickensian Festival by Selina Scott. “I’ve been twice, this will be my third time and I feel so connected to Yorkshire now, and I love going back there,” says Miriam, who also has appeared at York Theatre Royal as Madame Ranyevskaya in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard in October 1999 and in Dickens’ Women in September 2012.

She has always felt a connection with Dickens too. “He really was the ‘man who invented Christmas’. He was a complicated man who I’ve ‘spent my life with’ since I was 11, reading his books,” says Miriam. “He had this love of humanity, until he actually had to meet people and then he’d dry up, so he was full of contrasts: loving to put on parties but also deeply introverted, as a result of his suffering as a child.”

As Miriam heads to Malton, she is not entirely sure what the Sunday part of her visit will involve. “I’ll do whatever Lucinda tells me to do,” she says. “She’s a marvellous lecturer, so interesting and funny and knowledgeable, such a delightful and intelligent woman, that I’m happy to do whatever she asks.”

Come Sunday lunchtime at The Talbot Hotel, all will be revealed. Meanwhile, one plan will not come to fruition. “I hope to go to Scampston Hall while I’m in Yorkshire; I haven’t been there for years,” she said at the close of this interview. Alas, Miriam, Scampston Hall closed for the winter in late-October; you will have to come back north from March 30.

Tickets for The Man Who Invented Christmas screening and Q&A on Saturday can be booked on 01653 600008; tickets for the Dickens At Christmas festive lunch, lecture and performance on Sunday cost £25 on 01653 639096.