Screening Literature

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Literature has always been a favourite source for screen adaptations, whether for television or cinema. The debate continues: does the screen version live up to the book? Is it every author’s dream to have their creation turned into a global franchise? Could Ian Fleming have ever imagined the global phenomenon that his character 007 James Bond has become? Shakespeare’s dramatic works are still celebrated 400 years after being penned; in the theatre, in cinemas, on television and radio in a host of different languages. Wouldn’t the Bard have been delighted at the timelessness of his genius?

From the other direction, famous personalities, having achieved fame via television or film, then turn to writing with great success. Stephen King once said, ‘Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit, but taste completely different.’

One of the highlights of the Shakespeare strand at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to be held from 1-12 March, 2016 will be Steven Berkoff’s performance in Shakespeare’s Villains. His face will be familiar to the young and old, having appeared in everything from Star Trek to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and of course, James Bond.

Michael Dobbs has had a varied career, as a political figure, a BBC television presenter, a newspaper columnist, the deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and an author. His portfolio of political novels is capped by the evergreen House of Cards, characters of which have been vividly portrayed on the screen by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.


Crime continues to feature heavily in the Festival programme, attracting some of contemporary fiction’s most popular names. Anthony Horowitz has had a finger in every crime-writing pie. He’s written Sherlock Holmes novels and recently turned his hand to writing the latest James Bond entitled Trigger Mortis. He is no newcomer to celluloid, either. His Alex Rider spy thriller series for young adults was adapted for film and Foyle’s War has remained a favourite on British screens for several years.

Another mainstay on television and consistently in the bestseller list is Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus. Fans will be able to catch up on Rebus’ new adventures with his creator Ian Rankin at the 2016 Festival. One of the most unlikely crime protagonists is Ann Cleeves’ cantankerous Vera Stanhope. Brought delightfully to life by Brenda Blethyn in the current Vera series, the series has built up a huge following. Equally popular is the adaptation of her Shetland series, set to begin its third season in 2016.

Victoria Hislop sets her immensely popular novels in the Mediterranean. Her debut novel, The Island, is celebrating ten years this year and was made into a 26-episode Greek television series in 2010.

John Torode MKOF (c) Yuki SugiuraFamiliar to many will be the culinary stars coming to the Festival. John Torode has made a name for himself as a judge on the MasterChef series in Britain. MasterChef Celebrity winners Lisa Faulkner and Nadia Sawalha will be discussing their careers in the world of food and British television.

Comedy lovers will find themselves drawn to this year’s Festival, with Dom Joly, Robert Lindsay and Meera Syal joining the line-up. Syal is best known for her role in The Kumars at Number 42, but has gained wide recognition for her gripping novels.

Joly will undoubtedly bring some humour to his accounts of travels to unlikely places (Chernobyl, anyone?) as will Lindsay, who will be recounting his experiences on stage and screen.

Film-makers Maha Gargash and Nujoom Al Ghanem will also be showcasing their literary works at the Festival. Gargash’s The Sand Fish was a massive hit in the region, and she will be speaking at length about her latest novel That Other Me. Nujoom Al Ghanem will be holding film-making workshops to encourage the next generation of Emirati film-makers and thrilling audiences with her breath-taking poetry performances.

Younger viewers will enjoy meeting the creators of their favourites, as well. Lauren Child has brought the beloved Charlie and Lola to the page and they have been extremely popular on screen, as well. Of course, Bob the Builder has been part and parcel of many a childhood, and creator Curtis Jobling will be at hand to enlighten audiences about the making of such an entertaining character.

The recent association of the Festival with the Dubai International Film Festival has cemented the position of literature and cinema as two sides of the same coin. The two streams constantly fuel each other. For more lively discussions on the topic, do not miss the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to be held in March 2016.

All information about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is online. Check for updates at Join us on Facebook (, Twitter (, Instagram ( and YouTube ( for competitions and more updates.