While it rained and it poured in London, the sun was out in full force over in Brecknockshire for the GQ Hay Festival dinner. The magazine’s editor Dylan Jones welcomed speakers at the annual book festival to Cabalva House for a well-deserved glass of champagne after a day spent flogging books.
As guests including Ruby Wax, Salman Rushdie and A C Grayling arrived at the Land Rover bash, Helen Lederer caught up with Miss Steerpike about the upcoming Absolutely Fabulous film. Although Lederer does reprise her role as Catriona, she drew the short straw when it came to shooting her scenes. ‘I didn’t get to go to the French Riviera like the rest of them,’ she sighed. ‘I filmed my scenes over here.’ Adding some star power to proceedings, Benedict Cumberbatch arrived fresh from giving a reading at Letters Live and shortly attracted a posse of adoring fans — though his wife Sophie Hunter made sure to stay by his side throughout the evening.
While local MP Jesse Norman was on hand to represent his constituency, it was the Labour party that were the talk of the party. Ben Okri, the Booker prizewinner, spent the night crowdsourcing questions for his upcoming interview with Jeremy Corbyn this summer. Meanwhile it was Corbyn’s predecessor who was on Joan Bakewell’s mind. Recalling the moment Ed Miliband offered her a Labour peerage, Bakewell said she had to break the news to him that she hadn’t actually voted Labour in the last election. ‘He was rather taken aback and had to say he’d get back to me, which he thankfully did,’ she told Miss Steerpike.
After a dinner of lamb stew, spring greens and vegetarian cottage pie, guests made their way onto the dancefloor. Although A C Grayling’s dancing was as energetic as ever, it was Cumberbatch and his wife Sophie who were among the last standing at the end of the night — as the new parents grooved to CeeLo Green. With a subsequent late night rush for a limited supply of taxis, guests were reminded that they were a long way from the city now. However, the Night Manager‘s Tom Hollander became the hero of the hour — ferrying stranded hacks back to the village of books on his way home.
Here are a selection of photos from the event, courtesy of James Mason: