Comedienne Jenny Eclair, reformed drugs baron Howard Marks and SAS author Andy McNab are among the big names booked for this year’s Devizes Festival, due to take place over two weeks in June.

Shock-haired Ms Eclair, among the top British female comics for many years, is due to perform at the Corn Exchange on Wednesday June 4, the first day of festival events this year. She follows in the footsteps of top-flight stand-ups like Jeremy Hardy, Andy Hamilton, Linda Smith, Shappi Khorsandi and, last year, Phill Jupitus.

Howard Marks was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the US after being convicted of smuggling consignments of cannabis of up to 30 tons a time but was released after seven years.

He published his autobiography, Mr Nice (one of his aliases), in 1996 and will describe his criminal career and its postscript at the town hall on Thursday, June 19.

Former SAS soldier turned author Andy McNab is publishing a new book this year and audiences at the town hall will be able to hear him talk about his military and literary careers and be able to ask him questions. He will be at the Corn Exchange on Saturday, June 7.

Arabella Weir is probably best known as a comedy actress who appeared in The Fast Show and Posh Nosh on TV but she is also renowned for her international best-selling book Does My Bum Look Big in This?, the catchphrase of one of her characters in The Fast Show.

She is due to appear at the town hall on Sunday, June 15.

As ever, there is a wide-ranging musical programme and it is hoped this year the festival will feature an orchestra for the first time in many years.

The Orchestra of the Swan is based at the Swan Theatre, the smaller of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s two auditoria at Stratford upon Avon. Contract negotiations are still continuing but it is hoped they will be able to come to the festival.

On a smaller scale, there will be music from Four Girls, Four Harps; flamenco jazz from Eduardo Niella, Irish music from Ceilidh Nua; and French-Canadian roots music from Le Vent du Nord (The North Wind).

Ian Hopkins, chairman of Devizes Festival, said: “Although we are still finalising our programme, it is already shaping up to be a classic mix of all forms of art.”

The box office will open in May but Friends of the Festival will benefit from priority booking. For more details go to