The response to the first ever drive-in Appledore Book Festival has been ‘phenomenal’ according to organisers.

The Yorkshire shepherdess Amanda Owen at Appledore Book Festival 2020 in conversation with Jeremy Vine. Picture: SImon ElleryThe Yorkshire shepherdess Amanda Owen at Appledore Book Festival 2020 in conversation with Jeremy Vine. Picture: SImon Ellery

The five-day festival opened on Thursday, September 17 with a special event featuring Ainsley Harriott and closes tonight (Tuesday, September 22) after a packed programme of celebrity and local authors talking about their work.

The authors took to the stage and shared on the big screen with their audiences at the drive-in location hosted by Skern Lodge and in association with Waggle Events.

The final day includes an evening with comedian Lucy Porter, plus authors Alison Weir, Susan Ronald and Emily Brand – click HERE for tickets and information.

Festival director Ann Juby said through a massive team effort and the help of Waggle Events and Skern Lodge, it had been possible to host a unique event.

Festival patron Jeremy Vine at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnieFestival patron Jeremy Vine at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnie

She said: “The response we have had from our audiences has been phenomenal. The authors have been so entertaining. There’s a true festival atmosphere - and of course the weather has been kind.

“It’s been a brilliant five days.”

Headliners this year included Richard Osman, Loose Women presenter and former Coronation Street star Shobna Gulati, TV presenter, Kate Humble; author, playwright and former Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo.

There was also best-selling novelist, Adele Parks, award-winning science journalist, Dr Michael Mosley, actor, former MEP, gay rights campaigner and life peer, Lord Michael Cashman; comedian and broadcaster, Viv Groskop and comedian Lucy Porter, among many more.

Richard Osman and festival patron, Jeremy Vine. Picture: Jodie McWhinnieRichard Osman and festival patron, Jeremy Vine. Picture: Jodie McWhinnie

Festival patron and national broadcaster Jeremy Vine added his own praise, saying: “The Appledore team have truly pulled it out of the bag this year. The technicals, the logistics, and above all the delivery of great audiences for stellar writers — it all came together so perfectly that even the weather decided to help out.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that this year has truly put Appledore on the map as one of the best, and best-loved, book festivals in the country.

“My favourite moments — Richard Osman talking sleuths as the sun set, Amanda Owen carrying a fake sheep, and Michael Mosley’s tapeworm (you had to be there).

“I was accompanied by my daughter, 16, who is already asking about next year.”

The Yorkshire shepherdess Amanda Owen at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnieThe Yorkshire shepherdess Amanda Owen at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnie

Usually quite an intimate affair, this year because of coronavirus restrictions the festival had to go down the drive-in route for the first time.

As the audience sat in their parked cars, the author and interviewer sat on a socially-distanced stage for their discussion.

For tickets and information go to https://www.appledorebookfestival.co.uk .

Devon Life editor Andy Cooper with Iain Dale at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnieDevon Life editor Andy Cooper with Iain Dale at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnie

Alexander Larman kicking off day one of Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnieAlexander Larman kicking off day one of Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnie

Mark Lane at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnieMark Lane at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnie

Lord Michael Cashman at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnieLord Michael Cashman at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Jodie McWhinnie

Appledore Book Festival 2020 patron Jeremy Vine. Picture: Jodie McWhinnieAppledore Book Festival 2020 patron Jeremy Vine. Picture: Jodie McWhinnie