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Dominic heads a fresh cast of names added to summer's quirkiest line-up

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 22, 2012

Clockwise from right, Stephen Frears, The Staves and Beth Orton are joining the party

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Exciting announcements have been coming in thick and fast from the Port Eliot Festival camp this week, where they are putting the finishing touches to the bill for this most eclectic multi-arts fiesta being held next month at the historic South East Cornwall estate.

Intriguing names just added to the already-bulging weekend roster include BAFTA-winning actor Dominic West (star of The Wire, The Hour, The Awakening and Appropriate Adult), who has enjoyed the arty garden-party vibe as a visitor in previous years, and comedian, actor and writer Robin Ince.

This year's shenanigans run from July 19 to 22, with more than 100 performances on ten stages offering a wealth of creative talents from the worlds of books, music, fashion, food and film.

In the customary Port Eliot spirit of all things quirky and unexpected, Dominic will be interviewing eminent Sanskrit scholar and paragliding champion Jim Mallinson, as well as awarding the prizes in the inaugural Port Eliot Spelling Bee.

Another recent addition is Stephen Frears, one of Britain's most distinctive and provocative directors for stage and screen, both in the UK and Hollywood. He's worked with everyone from Alan Bennett to Michelle Pfeiffer; he worked with Martin Scorsese on The Grifters and directed Helen Mirren in The Queen – both of which gained him Oscar nominations. His most recent film was Tamara Drewe with Gemma Arterton in the title role.

Also in the field of film, indie cult hero Lawrence from the bands Felt, Denim and Go-Kart Mozart will be in discussion with Will Hodgkinson of The Times and Paul Kelly, director of Lawrence of Belgravia, the forthcoming documentary about Lawrence's work, life and musical ambition.

On a musical note, a welcome latecomer to the line-up is Beth Orton, Brit Award-winning folktronica superstar, who makes her only festival appearance this year in the Caught by the River tent on the Saturday evening.

Sibling harmony poppy folk trio The Staves, (who perform at the Eden Sessions on July 1), and rock-tronic dance technicians The Egg also add their unique contributions to a musical mix which already guarantees a rich spectacle.

Other names include Suggs, talking about his life in the music world, The Bees, Stornoway, Toy, Andrew Weatherall, Jeb Loy Nichols, Cate Le Bon, Laetitia Sadier, Bristol HiFi Sound System, By The Sea, The See See, Diagrams, Tim Burgess (DJ set), Tim Lyall, Louis Eliot and the Embers, John Hegley, bhangra band RSVP, Stealing Sheep, Black Kat Boppers, Sean Rowley's Guilty Pleasures, Gaz Mayall, Robert Ellis, 2 Tonic, Dalla, Grooveyard, The Half Sisters, Hat Fitz and Cara, , Matthew and Me, All the Fires and Kola. For serious party animals, a host of DJs, including house music pioneer Brandon Block will take over the new Sipsmith Hg2 bar from 9pm-3am every night.

Wordsmiths, journalists and critics are in abundance with a roll call that features John Cooper Clarke, Jessica Hynes, Tracy Chevalier, William Dalrymple, Simon Garfield, Simon Munnery, Miles Jupp, Luke Wright, India Knight, Murray Lachlan Young, Rosie Boycott, Hannah Rothschild, Kate Summerscale, Andy Kershaw, Nick Rosen, Robert MacFarlane, Miriam Margolyes, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Craig Taylor, Sam Leith, Mick Brown, Tamar Valley book blogger dovegreyreader, Ali Smith and Christopher Biggins.

Food is another huge area of interest, with top chefs and foodie writers like Nathan Outlaw, Angela Hartnett, Tom Parker-Bowles, godfather of fusion cuisine Peter Gordon and acclaimed hairstylist and committed baker Sam McKnight, taking part in Big Kitchen demos and talks, or cooking for the masses.

There's also a Hullaballoo children's area run by Rogue Theatre; fashion and pampering in the Wardrobe Department; a flower show with music and talks, curated by acclaimed Ballet Rambert production designer Michael Howells; Tom Hodgkinson's Idler Academy full of colourful characters; wild swimming in the estuary and Paul Simonon's art in the basement.

After this year's festival, Port Eliot will be taking a sabbatical.

"It's been five years since the festival last paused for breath. The year off will be a chance for the gardens to thrive and for the Port Eliot organisers to step off the roundabout and take longer to plot for 2014," says festival hostess Catherine St Germans. "So, now there's a breather around the corner, we are doubly determined to go out with the greatest festival we've ever staged. If you have a ticket for this year, brace yourselves for a magnificent time; now's the moment to get in before we begin our gap year."

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