Appledore Book Festival has broken all previous box office records in the run up to opening day on Friday, September 20.

Correspondent Mike Thomson, pictured here in Afghanistan, will be at Appledore Book Festival 2019. Picture: Mats LignellCorrespondent Mike Thomson, pictured here in Afghanistan, will be at Appledore Book Festival 2019. Picture: Mats Lignell

In fact, award-winning BBC news journalist George Alagiah created such a demand for tickets that a new venue had to be found.

Organisers say this year's demand has broken all records thanks to a varied programme that includes top names such as Robert Harris, Killing Eve author Luke Jennings and Lord David Owen.

Festival director Miche Tompkins said they were grateful to Kingsley School for providing its purpose-built theatre.

She said: "Our largest venue capacity is 230 and it's just not possible to accommodate bigger events from a venue or parking perspective in Appledore.

North Devon author Simon Dawson will be at Appledore Book Festival 2019 to talk about his new book The Boy Without Love. Picture: contributedNorth Devon author Simon Dawson will be at Appledore Book Festival 2019 to talk about his new book The Boy Without Love. Picture: contributed

"It is a little sad not having every talk in Appledore but the flip side is that we have now made it possible for 420 people to join George on Monday, September 23."

More than half the festival's events are sold out but there are still tickets available for other top visitors including Peter James, one of the world's most successful fiction writers, Mike Thomson, a multi-award winning BBC world affairs correspondent and Tim Waterstone, the founder of the Waterstones empire.

Todd Gray, Devon's most widely-published historian, Bart van Es, the 2018 Costa Book of the Year winner, Gregg and Anna Wallace and John Wright, the UK's foremost expert on foraging, also have tickets remaining.

That applies as well to local writers such as explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Simon Dawson, Veronica Henry, James Mortain and Simon Dell.

Miche added: "We have seen our Friends community almost double since last year with more than 600 people supporting our charity through purchasing a Friends membership.

"In exchange they receive priority access to tickets and VIP events and a 10 per cent discount in our festival bookshop which is managed by Waterstones.

"With 75 events to choose from ranging from chart-topping authors, poetry events, workshops, films music, local interest and children's activities the demand for tickets has been the best in our history.

"Thanks to the dedication and hard work of a team of volunteers, our charity continues to delight and inspire our local community and it is such a treat having international literary greats and media personalities so accessible without the need to travel to cities."

For more information about the festival, visit www.appledorebookfestival.co.uk or call the box office on 01237 424949.