Derry has plenty to Bragg about!

English novelist, broadcaster and television presenter Melvyn Bragg talks to Sunday Journal reporter Andrew Quinn.
English novelist, broadcaster and television presenter Melvyn Bragg talks to Sunday Journal reporter Andrew Quinn.

Legendary television presenter and broadcaster, Melvyn Bragg, is a fan of Derry man and BBC Radio Ulster presenter, Gerry Anderson.

Mr. Bragg arrived in Derry on Friday afternoon where he was invited by First Derry Presbyterian Church to give a talk about his new novel, ‘Grace and Mary’. The event was part of the City of Culture programme.

“I’m a big admirer of Gerry Anderson,” said Mr. Bragg.

“I’ve been to Derry before to make a radio with programme about the English language with Gerry - he was brilliant and utterly terrific.”

Mr. Bragg, who published his first novel in 1965, is perhaps best known for his work as editor and presenter of popular ITV programme. ‘The Southbank Show’ from 1978 to 2010. Mr. Bragg has interviewed some of the world’s most famous people, including Luciano Pavarotti and Sir Alec Guinness.

“I like visiting cities of culture and like a lot of other people I followed the comments when Derry was awarded City of Culture status. It seems to be turning into a real success so when I was invited here by First Derry Presbyterian Church I thought I would rather like to go and get involved,” he said.

When asked for his opinion on whether a celebration of culture can help to heal a city with a recent history of violent conflict, Mr. Bragg said he thought the City of Culture year had helped Derry to “find its style again”.

“Derry does seem to have found its feet and found its style again. It does seem to be strong city looking outward but not afraid to look inwards at itself - I am very impressed.

“Culture has a great healing force and not only is it cross-gender, cross-ethnic but it’s also cross-religion - that’s why it will work extremely well here,” he said.

Mr. Bragg’s new novel ‘Grace and Mary’ went on general release yesterday and is available to buy from all good bookshops.