Dawn O’Porter tells Chris Evans about the return of Flackstock in honour of Caroline Flack

Virgin Radio

4 Jul 2023, 10:49

Dawn O’Porter tells Chris Evans about Flackstock festival

Writer Dawn O’Porter joined The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch to talk about the second ever Flackstock festival, which will take place this month.

Dawn is one of the creators of the festival, which pays tribute to the TV presenter who tragically died in 2020. Following the success of the inaugural Flackstock last year, Dawn told Chris that it’s back for a second outing. “We thought it was going to be a one-off. We thought it was going to be terrible. It was absolutely amazing,” she said.

She added: “You said to us on this show, ‘See you again next year for Flackstock’, I was like ‘No way. No chance’, and here we are again!”

The intimate day festival, which celebrates Caroline’s life, will take place on 24th July at Englefield House in Berkshire, with loads of comedy, music and dance. “We've got Sophie Ellis-Bexter performing for us, who was so amazing at Glastonbury and I'm just thrilled that she's going to be on our stage,” Dawn enthused. 

Dawn’s husband, actor Chris O’Dowd, is on the bill, and the author added: “We’ve got The Feeling, Jason Manford is coming along. I might sing with Jason… I think it's going to happen!”

The 2022 event raised £325,000 for mental health charities, and this year’s festival will once again benefit good causes and raise awareness. If you fancy heading along, Dawn said: “It's a Monday, and if anyone wants an explanation on that it's because we're a charity festival, and it just saves us a lot of money, basically.”

She continued: “We don't start until four o'clock, so you can come after work. It really kicks off around five or six. It’s wine o’clock all day long, and I basically walk around all day just hugging people because I'm so grateful that they're there. So please come!”

Presenter and writer Dawn’s Sunday Times bestselling novel, Cat Lady, comes out in paperback on Thursday.

Speaking about her fifth novel, she told Chris: “You've got a woman who is living a life she shouldn't be living, and her kind of evolution is what I love most about the book.”

The story opens with main character Mia attending a pet bereavement support group despite her beloved cat, Pigeon, still being alive. Dawn explained that the inspiration came from real life. “I started going to these different self-help groups as something to blog about. And one of the self help groups that I found in the back of a newspaper was a pet bereavement group. And I went along with the sole intention of writing about it, thinking it was going to be funny; what a tragic circle of people, hahaha. And as soon as I walked into the room, I was so into these people's grief.”

Dawn told Chris that she releasing straight away that she “would never write about these people in a joking way”, and added: “I do understand the humour that you think is in that situation, which is what I wanted to get across in the book, I wanted you to be laughing, but then by the end of it, I wanted you to really, really understand that this is real grief.” 

When asked by the group why she had attended the session, Dawn used a famous 1980s poodle as inspiration for a made-up reason. She told Chris: “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I'm gonna have to come up with a story’, and the only animal that I could think of that I wouldn't be affected by if it died was Roly from EastEnders. I said I was there because my mum's dog Roly had died, and I didn't know what to say to her!”  

On writing something similar in Cat Lady, she said: “All these years later, I managed to work out how I was going to get these guys into a story and respect their situation. So that's where the idea came from.”

Flackstock will take place on 24th July at Englefield House in Berkshire. Tickets are available now at flackstock.com.

Cat Lady is out in paperback on Thursday (6th July).

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.