An annual celebration of Agatha Christie
26 August 2020
Our Babbacombe development is proudly situated nearby the home of the popular and well known International Agatha Christie Festival. We spoke with Tony Medawar, the producer of the festival that works to celebrate Agatha Christie’s incredible achievements and use her legacy as a basis for promoting engagement with literature and the arts more generally.
Tony talked us through what attendees can expect this year and how they plan on coming back bigger and better next year with a seven-day programme of events.
Can you tell us about the festival and how it was established?
The festival was formally established in 2004, however it really dates back to 1990 – the centenary of Agatha Christie’s birth when there was a whole host of different events including gala dinners and appearances by David Suchet and Joan Hickson, television’s Poirot and Miss Marple.
The festival is supported by the Arts Council but we also receive project funding from other trusts and foundations which help us to deliver projects for people in the local community throughout the year.
Normally, thousands of people attend the Festival over four to five days and experience a mix of speakers and events that connect in some way with Agatha Christie – be that through crime fiction, archaeology, or music – or the arts generally.
What can we expect this year?
Due to COVID-19, this year the International Agatha Christie Festival is going online with a series of talks and performances for people to watch at home. But for next year’s festival we are going to pull out all the stops. We’ve extended the festival to run across seven days instead of five and some very special events will be taking place in and around Torbay, centred on the festival’s main venue at Torre Abbey.
We have a host of fantastic authors lined up to come and give talks including two major authors. And alongside this, there will be various events and activities including the premiere of a previously unperformed play and venues across the area, not least the fabulous Palace Theatre in Paignton, will be hosting special events.
Also, in the pipeline are a number of different events such as an innovative escape room – although I can’t say too much about that just yet!
What has the response been like from the local community to the festival this year?
When we announced cancellation, there was a real outpouring of sadness locally and from fans from across the globe who make the trip to Devon every year for the festival. But that response spurred us on to create the online festival and to extend next year’s festival to a week.
What is your role at the festival?
I’m the producer of the festival and was appointed last year, but I depend on support from sponsors and volunteers and the festival of course is only as successful as it is because businesses across the area respond so well every year and offer the kinds of things that draw tourists to this beautiful part of the country.
What’s your favourite Agatha Christie piece of work?
A tough question, but I think I’d have to say Death on the Nile - coincidently there is a new film coming out later this year and I’m really looking forward to that.
What do you like most about Torquay?
I’ve been coming to Devon since I was a small child, it really is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK. Every time I’m here I’m struck by the area’s natural beauty.
Do you have any top tips on places to visit in the area?
Well I should mention some of the places with a connection to Agatha Christie in the area - of which there are many! Torquay museum of course. And Greenway House on the River Dart. Kents Caverns, Beacon Cove, Heathcliff House, Cockington Court, Wallingford Museum and of course Burgh Island. And no visit would be complete without a trip on the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company! There are so many fantastic places to explore and things to do.
Looking to retreat to a home by the coast and walk in the footsteps of Agatha Christie? Our Babbacombe development offers an exclusive collection of just 9 two-bedroom apartments at this sought-after seaside location. With homes available to rent or buy from £380,000, get in touch to find out more: 01803 424 039 / [email protected]