Our Top Picks for We Have Ways Fest 2023
In just a week’s time, between 8 and 10 September, the brilliant We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast will be holding its annual We Have Ways Fest. Once again, the UK’s largest festival dedicated to the Second World WarA global war that lasted from 1939 until 1945. will be returning to amaze, educate, and entertain.
The We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast is going from strength to strength. Having begun as a punt in 2019 by historian James Holland and comedian Al Murray, in conjunction with Goalhanger Films, they have aired over 500 episodes and had over 20 million downloads. As well as attracting a dedicated following – including the thousands of members of the ‘Independent Company’ – it has brought together some of the brightest minds and contentious topics to create a podcast that is both engaging and informative.
The podcast is now bringing its unique blend of banter and expertise to the excellent Blackpit Brewery, situated just a stone’s throw away from the Silverstone circuit. With it will come an array of other attractions, including over 50 speakers, impressive displays of contemporarySomeone or something living or occurring at the same time. military hardware, and entertainments ranging from living history to live music – as well as enough alcohol to sink the entire British Naval Fleet! While talks from the likes of David Olusoga, Anthony Beevor, and Katja Hoyer – as well as the tasty selection of craft beers from the host brewery – will be enough to keep the adults entertained, there is also plenty for the kids (of all ages) to do, with music, live performances, Second World War-themed Top of the Pops and ‘Gögglebox’, and the ever-popular live firing demonstrations. What’s more, foodies will be well catered for, with everything from pies to pan-Asian street food, and camping will be available for those who want to make the most of the weekend; after all, it would be a shame to miss anything – as James Holland said, ‘The whole weekend is a total blast!’ For more information, click here. Tickets can be purchased here.
With so many things on offer, it will be difficult to choose what to do, so here’s our list of the must-sees of the festival.
The Secret War
Espionage and intelligence, spies and truth and lies, female secret agents and test pilots: these are the ingredients for an incredible war behind the lines. Helen Fry and Clare Mulley will be discussing the world of secret intelligence, introducing us to some amazing women and their significance in the wider conflict.
Helen Fry and Clare Mulley will be speaking on Friday 8 September, at 2pm.
The Fall of SOESpecial Operations Executive was a secret British espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance unit working in occupied territory during the Second World War.’s Prosper Circuit
For those who couldn’t see this talk, sponsored by us, at Chalke Valley History Festival, do not be concerned because this is your second chance! The fall of SOE’s Prosper circuit in June 1943 has long been a topic of controversy. How did the Germans so comprehensively dismantle it? Was it down to basic mistakes, was it betrayal, or was it even a plot at the heart of British intelligence? Robert Lyman and Kate Vigurs discuss this disaster – and tragedy – for SOE, as well as looking at the significance and long-term consequences.
Robert Lyman and Kate Vigurs will be talking about Prosper on Friday 8 September, at 3.30pm.
Literally the only opportunity in the world to see this brand-new panel show dedicated to Second World War trivia. Quivering in the hands of Quiz Meisteren, Al Murray and James Holland, team captains John McManus and Clare Mulley will be joined by Ben ‘Ghosts’ Willbond and Shane ‘Doc from Band of Brothers’ Taylor to tackle a series of gruelling rounds that will test their Second World War know-how to the fullest.
Meistergeist is on Friday 8 September, at 8pm.
Afflicted: Why Are We Obsessed with the Second World War?
Is it commemoration? Family ties? Curiosity or genuine ‘affliction’? What keeps us going back to the events of 80 years ago? It’s a debate in its own right. Dermot O’Leary, James May, James Holland and Al Murray are the right people to digress on the heart of the matter…
The panel will be talking on Saturday 9 September, at 3.30pm.
Ian Fleming’s War: The Birth of Bond
Author of the hugely successful Young Bond books and the most recent bestselling new Bond novel, Charlie Higson discusses the genesis of Commander Bond – 007 – and correlates that world of derring-do with Ian Fleming’s own highly significant role at the heart of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service during the Second World War.
Charlie Higson will be discussing James Bond on Saturday 9 September, at 5pm.
The Weimar Years: The Rise and Fall, 1925-1933
In the wake of catastrophic defeat, the Weimar RepublicThe unofficial name for the German state between 1919 and 1933. ushered in widespread social reform, a radicalA person who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform, or a description of that change. cultural change and the most democratic conditions the German people had ever known. So what went wrong, and how, and why? Frank McDonough, in conversation with Paul McGann, looks at how a democracy can drift towards a form of authoritarian rule that eventually destroys it. You can read our review of The Weimar Years here, and our interview with Frank McDonough on Weimar here.
Frank McDonough and Paul McGann will be in conversation on Saturday 9 September, at 6.30pm.
Wizzo’s Rip-Roaring Tales
Stephen ‘Abs’ Wisdom, of Chalke Valley fame, will be on hand throughout the weekend providing entertainment and information on everything from directions to weapons, as well as performing his brilliant one-man shows.
Kate Vigurs: Secret Agents and Sabotage
As well as discussing the fall of SOE’s Prosper circuit with Robert Lyman, author and historical interpreter Kate Vigurs will be entertaining the crowds throughout the weekend with tales of the amazing women of SOE, as well as showing off replicas of their kit. You can read our review of her book, Mission France, here, and our interview with her here.
Another firm Chalke Valley History Festival favourite, Adam Schuh des Forges will introduce you to the most remarkable officer you’ve never heard of: Major Banger. Across the weekend, we will be treated to the jaw-dropping, amazing, and most unlikely tales ever to be true, of this extraordinary man.
All speaker images courtesy of We Have Ways Fest.