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Departures: Live from Heathrow

26 October, 2011

Tony Parsons reads airport fiction live on facebook

Tony Parsons reads airport fiction live on facebook

Heathrow is to make literary history when bestselling novelist Tony Parsons returns to the setting of his latest book, Departures: Seven Stories from Heathrow, to give an exclusive behind-the-scenes preview live on facebook.

This Wednesday (26 October) the writer and journalist who lived at Heathrow for a week in August will read one of the short stories in Terminal 5. The live feed will be streamed on Heathrow’s facebook page to give fans a preview ahead of publication (27 October). 5,000 copies will also be given out for free to passengers.

Parsons was eager to take up the role as Heathrow’s writer-in-residence after becoming a fan of Airport – Arthur Hailey’s bestselling novel about a large metropolitan airport and the personalities of the people who use and rely upon its operation. As the world’s busiest international airport, Heathrow provided Parsons with the freedom to visit all areas of the airport to better understand the lives and routines of his potential characters.

Arriving and departing passengers, as well as pilots, air traffic control officers, police, fire chiefs and immigration officers, were given the unique opportunity to meet the novelist and potentially find themselves within his latest book as he unearthed the many amazing stories that take place at Heathrow each day.

The Heathrow writer-in-residence initiative was first launched in 2009 after the airport appointed philosopher and author Alain de Botton to tell the behind-the-scenes story of a week at Heathrow.  Parts of the book, titled A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary, were written from a desk in Terminal 5 where passengers were invited to share their stories.

Tony Parsons comments:

"There’s something both magical and majestic in the way that airports allow us to connect to the world in a way that would have been unfathomable to my parent’s generation. I feel very fortunate for the experiences I have had as Heathrow’s writer-in-residence and for the chance to learn more about the airport’s unique history, folklore and truly global residents.

"It has opened my eyes to how Heathrow is not just a hub for physical journeys, but also very often where passengers reach a crossroads in their lives and embark on new and life changing experiences.  I even got caught up myself in the intense emotion that takes place here during my stay as I waved goodbye to emigrating friends and met an uncle that I hadn’t seen in two decades."

Normand Boivin, Heathrow Chief Operating Officer, comments:

"I’m sure our staff are keen to get their hands on a copy of the book and see if they’ve inspired a character, and we are delighted to be able to offer Heathrow facebook fans and our passengers the first read of the book before it hits shelves on Thursday.

"There are so many great untold stories at Heathrow that it’s a challenge just scratching the surface of people’s lives here, however Tony Parsons is a terrific storyteller and has done a great job in bringing them alive in this fabulous collection of short stories."

Departures: Seven Stories from Heathrow is Parsons’ thirteenth book and his first collection of short stories. 5,000 exclusive copies will be given out to Heathrow passengers in all four terminals on Wednesday 26 October before the book goes on general sale through HarperCollins the following day (Thursday 27 October).

The live book reading will take place at 3pm and will be streamed on the Heathrow Facebook page

- Ends -

For more information, an interview with Tony Parsons and/or a Heathrow spokesperson or to discuss broadcast opportunities, please contact the Heathrow press office at Mischief on 0207 100 9999/

Notes to Editors

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport handles more international passengers than any other airport in the world. With approximately 65.7 million passengers per year, it is the busiest airport in Europe and the fourth busiest in the world. Heathrow is the UK’s only hub airport as it is home to 89 airlines serving 176 destinations in the UK, of which the most popular are New York, Dubai, Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris CDG.

Heathrow is the host airport of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and is expecting to welcome 80 percent of all Games passengers, including athletes, officials, sponsors, media and spectators next year.

£4.8 billion is currently being invested across Heathrow to provide passengers with new facilities and better service, which includes a brand new Terminal 2 at a cost of £2.2 billion that will become the new home for Star Alliance airlines and provide 20 million passengers with modern and spacious facilities. Heathrow is further committed to improving the passenger experience while reducing the environmental impact of the airport’s operation through the introduction of green transport schemes, such as the Heathrow pods, which are replacing 50,000 bus journeys each year with zero-emission driverless pods.

76,500 people work at Heathrow, which includes 6,422 employed directly by BAA.

About the Author:

Tony Parsons’ working life began in a Gordon’s Gin Distillery. Unfortunately for Tony he developed an acute allergy to the spirit. From these experiences his first novel, The Kids, was born and so began a literary and television career that thankfully did not affect his health!

He began as a writer with the New Musical Express in 1976 where he stayed for the next three years covering music such as The Clash, Blondie and The Sex Pistols. Going on to write for the Daily Telegraph Tony was poached by the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan took over as editor and continues to write a weekly newspaper column today.  He also writes a monthly column for GQ magazine.

Tony broke into television in the 1990s with regular appearances on the Late Review where he, Alison Pearson, Tom Paulin and Mark Lawson formed a regular panel to discuss the latest developments in art and culture. Tony has since fronted documentary series such as Parsons on Class and Without Walls, while also making guest appearances on programmes like Celebrity Mastermind, Question Time and the One Show.

Tony is the author of Man and Boy, winner of the Book of the Year Prize. His subsequent novels—One For My Baby, Man and Wife, The Family Way, Stories We Could Tell and My Favourite Wife— were all bestsellers. In 2010 Tony published Men from the Boys - the third part to the trilogy that began with Man and Boy.

Contact information

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BAA media centre
Job Title
Heathrow Airport
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