Actress and comedienne heads for Plymouth International Book Festival

An actress and comedienne whose credits include some of the most popular TV shows of the past 30 years is coming to the South West for the fourth Plymouth International Book Festival.

Helen Lederer is a familiar face to TV audiences, having worked on shows including Bottom, Absolutely Fabulous, Hollyoaks and Doctors.

She is also a successful stand-up comedian and is now a successful author, having earlier this year published her first novel, Losing It.

That will be the main topic of discussion of her appearance at Plymouth University on Saturday 17 October, where Helen will be in discussion with popular local radio host Judi Spiers. Helen says

“At events like this, it is always nice to have a conversation with someone rather than be on your own, as you feed off the other person’s energy. Despite being a stand up for many years, I’ve never been fully comfortable with doing things like this on my own. But I have never been a conventional person, and I like to keep putting myself on the edge – plus I met Judi Spiers years ago, so it will be lovely to see her again.”

The 2015 Plymouth International Book Festival runs from Thursday 15 October to Wednesday 21 October. Other headline acts include bestselling authors Judy Finnigan, Simon Scarrow and Matt Haig, writer and musician John Hegley, Thurston Moore, co-founder of experimental rock band Sonic Youth, asylum broadcaster and campaigner Bidisha, and whisky connoisseur Ian Buxton.

Helen started out as part of a group of early 1980s comedians, including Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, the late Rik Mayall and Ben Elton who made their names at London’s Comedy Store.

She is best known for her role as dippy Catriona in Absolutely Fabulous, working alongside Saunders and Joanna Lumley, as well as creating the 'Girl at the Bar' Naked Video.

Despite that résumé, she believes she has found something of a niche in writing, and is already embarking on her second novel. Helen says:

“Writing suits me right now – it feels like a natural way to be. I try to write every day, and you have to tackle it in an obsessive way because your brain can switch off to the characters and the story. It is difficult when I am travelling – and it was earlier this year when I got asked to be in Hollyoaks – but I tend to roll up my sleeves and keep challenging myself.”

She adds:

“I love going to literary festivals, and try to make sure I and the audience all have fun. In some sense, humour is the only thing that keeps me going, and if people don’t want to ask me a question, I will happily ask myself one. But I love meeting people and getting feedback – it grounds you and makes you fully appreciate the audience you are writing for.”

Helen will be speaking in The House at Plymouth University on Saturday 17 October from 6-7pm, and tickets (priced £6, £4 concessions) are available from the box office on 01752 585050 or by following the link below.

The Plymouth International Book Festival is back once again, bringing words and books to life across Plymouth. Organised through a partnership of Plymouth University, Peninsula Arts, Literature Works (the literature development agency for the South West) and Plymouth City Council, it will unite local and global authors in a celebration of writing and reading for everyone to enjoy.

This 2015 programme includes exciting, new novels from bestselling authors Simon Scarrow and Judy Finnigan, stimulating non-fiction from Bidisha, spoken word from the always entertaining John Hegley, and a Writing For Radio workshop from the multi-talented Paul Dodgson and Edson Burton.

Also this year, we not only have some of the greatest literary talents of our time, but an opportunity to meet before or after events and mull over your literary passions and experiences. You'll be able to relax in our 1950s-style café, Chez Paulette, and for the first time, we have events programmed in The House – Plymouth University’s performing arts building. 

While the majority of the festival events will take place at Plymouth University, a number of city organisations are also putting on related literary events. These include the Counter – Artists’ Book Fair at Karst, a book binding and illustration workshop at Plymouth College of Art, reading events for young people provided by Plymouth Library Services, the Flash Fiction Slam at The Athenaeum and other book events at PCQ Arts and Flameworks.

We would like to thank Arts Council England for once again supporting the festival, The Duke of Cornwall Hotel for looking after our writers and Waterstones for providing the festival bookshop.

View the Plymouth International Book Festival 2015 Brochure 


Authors who took part in the Plymouth International Book Festival in 2015

Every year the festival attracts a wealth of talent from across the literary world. Find out who took part in the 2015 festival.

Learn more about 2015's authors