The son of JB Priestley will join actor Kenneth Cranham at the Bradford Literature Festival to explore the enduring appeal of the writer’s work.

Kenneth Cranham was nominated for an Olivier award for his role as Inspector Goole in the acclaimed 1992 National Theatre revival of An Inspector Calls in London’s West End and on Broadway.

This month a specially filmed discussion featuring the actor will be screened at the first Bradford Literature Festival, to mark the 70th anniversary of the play.

A new adaptation of An Inspector Calls, starring Ken Stott as Goole, is due to hit TV screens this autumn. It was partly filmed in Saltaire earlier this year.

Mr Cranham is well known for roles in TV dramas such as Shine on Harvey Moon, Rome and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and movies including Layer Cake, Made in Dagenham and Hellraiser II. His theatre credits include West End productions of Entertaining Mr Sloane, Loot and The Birthday Party.


Set in 1912, An Inspector Calls is one of Bradford writer Priestley’s best known works, considered one of the classics of 20th-century British theatre. It takes place on a single night, focusing on the comfortably-off middle-class Birling family, headed by a self-satisfied mill-owner, who live in an industrial Midlands city. The family is throwing an engagement party for their daughter when they’re visited by a mysterious man calling himself Inspector Goole, who questions them about the suicide of a young working-class woman, Eva Smith.

Each member of the family is interrogated and is revealed to have played a role in the young woman’s downfall, through exploitation, abandonment and social ruin that all led to her death. As it sinks in that each person was responsible, relations within the family become fractured and, in some cases, end up beyond repair.

Long considered a repertory theatre classic and a standard school text, the play is regarded as a searing critique of the hypocrisies of Edwardian English society and an expression of Priestley’s Socialist principles.

Mr Cranham and Mr Priestley, who is president of the JB Priestley Society, will offer their insights into the themes and continuing relevance of the play, first performed in 1945, in a specially filmed panel discussion at the literature festival.

The screening will be followed by a live discussion between Lee Hanson, chairman of the J B Priestley Society, and John Baxendale, cultural historian at Sheffield Hallam University, with a particular interest in the life and times of J B Priestley.

Lee Hanson is series editor of the Rediscovering Priestley series for Great Northern Books and John Baxendale is author of Priestley’s England: J B Priestley and English Culture.

The Enduring Appeal of J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls is at City Hall on Sunday, May 17 from 2.30pm - 4pm.

Bradford Literature Festival runs from May 15 - 24. For tickets or more information ring (01274) 238283, email or visit