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Sunday Papers Live with top journalists and cocktails. Founder Ben DeVere talks to Charlie Partridge about this heady combo.

Sunday Papers Live is back. It’s a lazy day of sofas and roasts in a giant living room. There are philosophical walks, comedians, music, informative speakers, debates and lashings of Bloody Marys. They really have gone all out on crafting the perfect Sunday. Charlie asked SPL founder Ben DeVere some pertinent questions about his stellar line ups and how to get the perfect roast potato.

Charlie Partridge: It feels like with Sunday Papers Live you almost get to curate your dream dinner party every event. Have you any dreams coming true this season?

Ben DeVere: To have Satish Kumar, Lindsey Hilsum and Tariq Ali in the same room this month is pretty nuts. We're getting to the elder-statesman level of bookings now, which is nice. I'm going to try to hang out with Martin Rees at Wilderness - he's doing the Science & Technology section. If it's a clear night that would be nice. Snuggled up on a picnic blanket with the Astronomer Royal. 

Charlie: There is an exciting Britishness about Sunday Papers, but shed of authoritarian stiffness. Do you think you're helping expose the Brits' joyful side? What other unsung British qualities do you think Sunday Papers bring out?

Ben: Our thoughtfulness is something we should celebrate. Our capacity to loaf, to dwell, to admire. We've all gotten a bit hurried. We're a nation of hobbyists. Of potterers, of archers fans, and crossword fanatics. The hustle and bustle is against our nature. I see Sunday Papers Live as part of the slow movement. We should celebrate mooching about a bit more. It's valuable. And it's creative. 

Charlie: In your giant living room, along with smoking jackets and slippers, cats are encouraged. Are there many animal attics at Sunday Papers?

Ben: Well we set up the winners of our lonely hearts matchmaking thing with a date in the broom cupboard. Candles and a three course meal and a bottle of wine. They definitely took their time. And then left together quite hurriedly. We were very proud of that. 

Charlie: Some people find it difficult to let go of guilt on a Sunday. Douglas Adams called Sunday afternoon the 'long dark teatime of the soul'. Any tips for really letting go and enjoying Sundays?

Ben: A nap and a Bloody Mary can never hurt. 

Charlie: What was the first event you ever put on? Have your events matured with you?

Ben: I started off organising raves in caves at Bournemouth Uni with huge vats of mushrooms. Then we progressed to producing festivals and talks about aliens & the illuminati. Now it's all about the Sunday papers and slippers.

Charlie: Your lead newspaper stories are the EU referendum and the migration crisis. In the context of an entertainment event, are there any subjects you think too weighty to tackle?

Ben: They're the lead news stories, but the lead attraction is the day itself - the experience of discussing culture & politics in that environment. It's all about the manner in which it's presented. People are interested in the biggest issues, of course they are. But most people I know wouldn't trek across London to sit in uncomfortable seats and listen to a dry lecture about the refugee crisis when they can just sit at home on their couch and read about it instead. I figured that people don't really want to stay at home but they do want to stay on the couch, and preferably with a really nice cocktail. 

Charlie: Do you find your crowd tend towards particular political leanings? Do you ever seek to challenge them? How do you provide balance?

Ben: When you book the best journalists and writers they tend to have what some would call a liberal bias - because they're interested in the truth. You can't report on the refugee crisis without coming to the conclusion that these are for the most part decent human beings who deserve our help, because it's a fact. I definitely veer away from any out and out tabloid style campaigning, but the truth definitely has a progressive ring to it, and I am fine with that. It's an independent event so I have no obligation to support any ideas I disagree with. That said, I think Farage would be fun. I should have asked him to come to this next one. I might do that today. 

Charlie: This event you are covering news, gardening, travel, sports and business. Are there any other sections we can look forward to in the future, like motoring or cooking?

Ben: I'd love the make the sections a bit more live. Have actual sports and games, and actual gardening. It's all a matter of the venue and the time available. We have to cover the basics. 

Charlie: Do you have any secrets for the perfect roast potato?

Ben: Over salted water for the parboiling, then you're basically frying them when they go into the oven. I'm beginning to believe that deep frying yields better results. 

Charlie: I wish Sunday TV looked as exciting as Sunday Papers. Have you any broadcast ambitions, or is there something special that keeps you in live events?

Ben: Well the initial concept came out of an admiration for the old Saturday magazine TV shows like Motormouth. I'm finally going to release the recordings as podcasts this month, after years of deliberating. To be honest though it's an experiential concept. As good as the content is it's the liveness of the event that excites me. Also, TV is full of twats. 

Charlie: Is Sunday Papers Live worth staying in on a Saturday night for?

Ben: No. Nothing is. Go out. Get smashed. Let us take care of the hangover. 


Sunday Papers Live

#7 Edition

Bank holiday Sunday

May 29th 2016

Doors: 1:00pm - Close 11:00pm


Cecil Sharp House

2 Regent's Park Road

London NW1 7AY

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