South Yorkshire's Wentworth Woodhouse stately home is to be the spectacular backdrop for a new outdoor music and comedy festival with a chart-topping line-up including Tony Christie, Heaven 17, T'Pau and Lemar.
Radio presenter pals Toby Foster and Steve White are behind the ambitious plans for the first Wentworth Music Festival on Sunday, May 28, it was revealed today.
It is strap-lined Dancing On Diamonds, in reference to the home's Fitzwilliam coal-mining family dynasty past, which was the subject of Catherine Bailey’s best selling book, Black Diamonds.
The main stage in front of The Grade 1-listed building, which is twice the width of Buckingham Palace, situated in magnificent grounds on the Barnsley and Rotherham border, just five minutes from the M1 motorway.
There will also be performances by Britpop rock trio Dodgy, Beautiful South and the Housemartins tribute band The Southmartins, Big Shaun's Favourite Things and hotly tipped local bands The SSS and Sundance.
Comedian Archie Kenny, best known for his comic portrayal of Kenny "Dalglish" Senior in Peter Kay's award winning Phoenix Nights, will also entertain the crowds.
Around 5,000 people are expected to the all day event, from 11.30am to 9.30pm, which will also include a Last Laugh Comedy Tent, a First Laugh Kids Comedy Tent, an Underground Tent, featuring unsigned bands, plus street entertainment, funfair rides, a wide variety of specialist food stalls and bars, from 11.30am to 9.30pm.
Tickets are £35 for adults and £10 for accompanied under-12s and go on sale tomorrow - Friday, January 20 - at 9am. Full details at www.sivtickets.com.
Full details at www.wentworthmusicfestival.co.uk
Toby, who first came to prominence playing Les in Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, is BBC Radio Sheffield's breakfast show presenter, runs Last Laugh Comedy Club nights and is the man behind Sheffield's hugely successful annual Comedy Festival.
He explained how he and fellow BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Steve got all revved up about the idea of a Wentworth Music Festival when they went to Silverstone for the British Grand prix.
Toby said: “We were watching the main stage on the Saturday afternoon where they had loads of bands on and just thought that it would be a great thing for us to do at Wentworth Woodhouse, which is in the next village to where we live.
"We haven't given ourselves much time to organise it, but we know what we're doing and we believe there will be an enormous appetite to come along to this - a music and comedy festival, with so much more, in front of this amazing backdrop.
"We are hoping this will be the first of many festivals like this here. It’s great to be part of such an historic venue. It’ll provide the perfect backdrop for a wonderful day out."
Steve added: “Obviously it’s about the music, and we’ve got some great bands and singers booked like Lemar, Dodgy, T’Pau, Heaven 17 and Tony Christie, but it’s much more than that. We’ve got a fairground, comedy tents, unsigned bands, stuff for the kids to do. We want it to be a great day for all the family.
"This is the largest stately home in Europe, and it’s the first festival of it’s kind to be held there.
Wentworth Woodhouse sits in 82 acres of gardens and woodland, surrounded by the even larger Fitzwilliam Estate.
The stunning house itself covers 2.5 acres – nearly one-and-a-half football pitches. It boasts five miles of corridors, is 150 times the size of your average home, with 1,000 windows, 365 rooms, stabling for 100 horses and was formerly owned by the aristocrat who is believed to have inspired Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy.
King George V and Queen Mary visited South Yorkshire and stayed at Wentworth Woodhouse for four days in July 1912.
It has been the setting for a number of film and television productions including ITV's recent Victoria, Mr Turner, a 2014 biographical drama about the life of painter J M W Turner, BBC mini-series Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and featured in the David Walliams’ BBC children’s drama Billionaire Boy.
The house was bought in 199 by architect Clifford Newbold, who achieved his dream of opening the house to the public for the first time. But following his death it was sold to the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust for £7 million.
Surveys into repair work found £42 million is needed to be spent on the house over the next 12 to 15 years to meet the backlog of repairs and subsidence damage.
The Chancellor announced a surprise £7.6m Government grant to save Wentworth Woodhouse in last November's Autumn Statement - with just seven days to spare.
It comes after a campaign involving local businesswoman Julie Kenny, chair of trustees of the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, and Rotherham MP John Healey, who said the grant was a vote of confidence for the trust and Julie Kenny, giving the full go-ahead to plans to preserve one of Britain’s Great Houses for the nation - a huge potential boost to jobs, businesses and visitors in the North.