THE sixth annual Chippenham Comedy Festival brings a wealth of established favourites and new talent to the town when doors open next week.

A host of familiar faces from television and the alternative comedy circuit, as well as up and coming stars, make up the tempting programme put together by Chippenham’s own award-winning comedian-turned-barber, Wil Hodgson, and his wife and festival co-director, Sarah Winstone.

This partnership is establishing Chippenham’s place in the comedy calendar and giving local people a chance to see top talent in their home town.

“We want people from Chippenham to come and see,” Wil said. “Maybe people who have never seen live comedy before. The tickets are not very expensive, to we’d like people to come along and take a punt on it.”

Wil Hodgson stamped Chippenham on the comedy map first off with his own stellar career in stand up, describing his life in the town as part of his act. He appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe and won the coveted Perrier Best Newcomer Award in 2004.

“Wil would never say this himself but I know he is very highly respected in the comedy world, and comedians love doing the festival here in Chippenham,” Sarah said. “We get a good audience here – a savvy audience, who behave well too. It’s a good gig to do and up and coming comedians are honoured to be asked to do it.”

Wil set up his Chippenham Comedy Club in 2002, and it has featured artists who have become household names, such as Russell Howard.

The weekend festival began in 2012, and this year runs from September 8-10 at the Old Road Tavern, in New Road, giving the shows a relaxed pub atmosphere and comedy fans a chance to enjoy a relaxing afternoon or evening in the beer garden. It begins with one show on Thursday September 7, Andrew O’Neill’s Black magic Fun Hour, with award-winning O’Neill mixing comedy and the occult.

A full Friday evening line-up kicks off with Norman Lovett, best known for his role as Holly, the ship’s computer, on popular television series Red Dwarf. He is followed by Robin Ince, star of BBC radio show The Infinite Monkey Cage, then Charmian Hughes, presenting her show Soixante Mirth.

At 10.45pm Michael Redmond, infamous as Father Stone in Channel 4’s Father Ted, has a show called I Wrote a Joke in 1987, and finally Danny Buckler – described as “Robin Williams with a deck of cards” will be making his Chippenham Festival debut.

The Saturday line-up begins with Marc Burrows at 6pm, followed by Doug Segal, Sarah Bennettoo and finally We Hope It’s Chips at 9.45pm when Mark Fortune will join Wil for what has been billed as Chippenham’s premier pop culture podcast.

On Sunday, the festival runs all through the afternoon and into the evening, with Owen Niblock at 12.30pm, Peter Buckley Hill, Steven Gribben, Nick Revell, Caroline Mabey, Fern Brady and finally, the popular Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer – celebrating a decade of chap-hop, and listed in the Guardian’s Top Ten Things to see at Glastonbury.

Wil and Sarah’s festival line-up would please the comedy connoisseur, but they hope people new to the live comedy scene will give it a go.

The acts sometimes move into dark or challenging areas of the human experience, and they are keen to promote on original outlook – and they actively avoid comedians who look for easy laughs at the expense of women or minority groups.

“It’s substance we look for, it’s not about PR and glitz,” Wil explained.

The shows are already proving popular so if you want a chance to see some of the top comedy names of today and tomorrow, snap up tickets soon.

Tickets can be purchased from the Old Road Tavern, from Hepcats barbershop and beauty parlour on The Causeway, or online at or