Stuart, Duchess of Cornwall and Okri join Booker Prize ceremony

Stuart, Duchess of Cornwall and Okri join Booker Prize ceremony

Douglas Stuart, The Duchess of Cornwall and Ben Okri will be among the star speakers at this year's Booker Prize ceremony which will be broadcast from the BBC’s Radio Theatre on 3rd November from 7.15 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

The prize organisers had hoped to invite a full live audience this year but said "coronavirus protocols have so far prevented it". Instead there will be a small private event in London to celebrate the shortlisted authors and the winner. The organisers hope that next year will bring the possibility of celebrating in person "with a broader group of enthusiastic readers".

This year's announcement will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s "Front Row" and streamed on BBC iPlayer, the BBC News Channel and BBC World News. The ceremony will include a one-off recorded conversation between the Duchess of Cornwall and 2020 winner Douglas Stuart about his life-changing year since winning with Shuggie Bain (Picador). The BBC’s Samira Ahmed will also interview Stuart live on the night, along with poet and novelist Okri, who won the Booker in 1991 with The Famished Road (Vintage). 

All six shortlisted authors, Anuk Arudpragasam, Damon Galgut, Patricia Lockwood, Nadifa Mohamed, Richard Powers and Maggie Shipstead, will join the ceremony in person, and as part of a series of pre-recorded filmed interviews. This year’s chair of judges, historian Maya Jasanoff, will be interviewed during the ceremony by Ahmed. Jasanoff will then announce the winner of the £50,000 prize and briefly speak to the winner. The winner will also be interviewed for the BBC "News at Ten" by arts correspondent Rebecca Jones.

This year will also see six short films produced for the shortlisted books, created by directors Yero Timi-Biu, Liam Young and Christine Ubochi, who are graduates of New Creatives, a scheme funded by Arts Council England and BBC Arts to highlight the best of emerging film and TV talent. They will premiere on BBC digital platforms and the new Booker Prizes website in the week before the ceremony, and be aired during the event itself. In the Radio Theatre six bespoke bound books of this year's shortlisted authors will also be on display. 

Organisers said additional rolling content will be available on BBC Arts Digital, which will give audiences the opportunity to join in the discussion about the shortlist during the afternoon and evening of 3rd November as the anticipation builds for the winner announcement. Ahead of the ceremony, readers can listen to Booker Book Groups on "Front Row", airing each week night from 7.15 p.m. on Radio 4 from 21st October to 1st November, and in hybrid events at Coventry University on 29th October and Southbank Centre on 31st October.

After the announcement, there are a series of digital events with the winner including Guardian Live on 9th November and as part of the Hay Festival Winter Weekend on 15th November. 

On 15th October at 7.30 p.m., there will be a special episode of BBC Two’s "Inside Culture" devoted to reading. Presented by Shahidha Bari, it will include discussion with three former Booker winners: Eleanor Catton, Marlon James and John Banville.