The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme will embrace a number of topical issues including the #MeToo campaign around sex and consent.
Disability, faith and the anniversary of the end of World War One also feature among 3,548 shows. Cerebral palsy sufferer Lee Ridley, winner of Britain’s Got Talent, brings Lost Voice Guy: Inspiration Porn.
Fringe debuts come from Hi-de-Hi! star Su Pollard, who stars in solo show Harpy; the IT Crowd’ss and Jason Donovan who addresses the triumphs and challenges of his career in a show featuring conversation and the occasional song.
Broadcasting legend Esther Rantzen takes to the stage with her daughter, journalist Rebecca Wilcox, to discuss highlights of her 50 years in show business, while Maureen Lipman returns to the Fringe for the first time in 50 years to share stories from her illustrious film, theatre and TV career.
TV stars Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet, Downton Abbey) and Rebecca Johnson (The Trip) join forces for The Song of Lunch, a theatrical comedy about a couple’s disastrous attempt to rekindle lost love.
Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street, Broadchurch) appears in The Greatest Play in the History of the World. Author, actor and former MP Gyles Brandreth returns with a show celebrating all things theatrical, and Absolutely Fabulous’s Helen Lederer brings two shows with Helen Lederer Asks Why The Fuss? and Helen Lederer: I Might as Well Say It.
Big names returning to the Fringe from the world of comedy include Rory Bremner and Jan Ravens, Jack Docherty, making his first appearance for 25 years.
Fringe anniversaries include Reginald D. Hunter and Craig Hill, who both celebrate their 20th year at the Fringe, while Jimeoin and Vladimir McTavish celebrate a remarkable 25 years at the festival.
Comedy stars crossing the pond this year include American comedian and actress Janeane Garofalo, 30 Rock actor Judah Friedlander and comedian Myq Kaplan. From India, renowned writer and comedian Anuvab Pal makes his Fringe debut at Pleasance.
From the world of children’s entertainment, Once Seen on Blue Peter is a theatrical tribute to the world’s longest-running children’s TV show, starring former Blue Peter presenters Peter Purves, Janet Ellis, Peter Duncan, Mark Curry, Tim Vincent and surprise celebrity guests.
Comedy double act Dick and Dom make their Fringe debut with an interactive show featuring games, song and mess, and the UK’s bestselling children’s author Julia Donaldson brings some of her favourite characters to life through songs and puppetry.
2018 will also see the relaunch of the Virgin Money Street Events on the High Street and Mound Precinct, 20 years after the Fringe Society first took over responsibility for the area. Highlights include new, fully accessible stages, spectacular entrance archways and specially programmed showcases.
Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said:
“Last year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Fringe, but we also used it as a time to reflect, question, recalibrate and look to the future.
“Alongside this year’s programme, the Fringe Society has produced a blueprint of ambitions that will guide our activities in the run up to our 75th anniversary in 2022, to ensure the continued success of this amazing festival for everyone involved.
“The Fringe Blueprint identifies new approaches to ensure anyone can participate, regardless of their background. From driving down the cost of attendance to engaging young people in the arts and reaching out to underrepresented groups in Edinburgh and further afield, we want the Fringe to be the greatest festival on earth at which to perform, run a venue, develop a career, see shows and discover talent.”
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “We are proud to have provided just under £5.5 million through our Festivals Expo Fund to support Scottish artists and creative companies with their careers. This funding demonstrates the talent and creativity of Scotland at the largest arts festival in the world.”
Cllr Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, City of Edinburgh Council, said: “We know from our People’s Survey that over three-quarters of Edinburgh residents have enjoyed a festival show in the last two years and, if the breadth and depth of this programme is anything to go by, I’m sure local residents will continue to delight in everything the Fringe has to offer.”