Sophie Ellis Bextor to open Bedford Park Festival

Richard Briers and Edna O'Brien head list of performers

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Chart favourite Sophie Ellis Bextor is to open the 42nd Bedford Park Festival, Chiswick's annual fortnight of arts and community events, based in Britain's first garden suburb. The singer will be opening the Green Days fete and Craft Fair at 11am on Saturday June 7th, on the green opposite Turnham Green tube station.

Sophie will also be judging the children's fancy dress contest, with Father Kevin Morris, vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Bedford Park, which runs the Festival. Green Days weekend will have the usual stalls, fairground attractions, and live music, including a performance by the Twyford School Gospel Choir - runner-up in the 2008 BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year contest.

There'll also be the Savills Balloon Race, supported by the estate agent's Chiswick office, the Festival's principal sponsor.

Highlights of this year's Festival include a celebration of the work of Richard Briers, one of Chiswick's best-loved residents, marking his 50 years in showbiz and 40 years living in Bedford Park. He'll be reminiscing about his career, with clips from his TV comedies and stage productions. This evening is also sponsored by Savills, which is one of more than 60 local companies supporting the Festival.

One of Britain's greatest writers, Edna O'Brien, will speak at the poetry evening on the work of WB Yeats, who used to live in Bedford Park. There's also a drama about the life and work of Oscar Wilde, performed by two local actors - Patrick Marley and Genevieve Allenbury, who is currently appearing on television in Emmerdale.

And the celebrated local painter Alfred Daniels, who was featured on TV in Star Portraits with Rolf Harris, has painted the poster for the annual Bedford Park Summer Exhibition, which runs throughout the first week of the Festival in St Michael's church.

On the musical side, David Juritz, leader of the London Mozart Players, who attracted world headlines and TV coverage when he busked "Round the World and Bach" last year, will be performing in St Michael's with other top musicians. This year's Festival is raising money for his new charity, Musequality, as well as the local Upper Room charity and St Michael & All Angels Church.

Radio presenter Sandy Burnett will be bringing back his top-flight jazz quartet, for the Two Generation Jazz concert, together with the young jazz band from Twyford School. And to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arnold Dolmetsch, the pioneer of Early Music, the Dolmetsch Ensemble will be performing chamber music from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

The award-winning musical Honk!, inspired by the take of the Ugly Duckling, will be performed by St Michael & All Angels Junior Choir.

The 2008 Festival also include all the regular events - the Bedford Park Summer Exhibition, the Open Gardens, the Bedford Park Walk, and photographic competition - as well as concerts, talks, and meals.

May 29, 2008