As the BBC whisks Reverend Richard Coles away to an important TV shoot in Scotland (no, not Strictly!) the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival is delighted that the BBC’s North America Editor Jon Sopel has agreed to step into the breach on 13th September as an excellent replacement.

As each day brings stranger stories from the USA and the President’s tweets, it is beautifully timely that we welcome this expert voice on America today.

As the BBC’s North America Editor, Jon Sopel has experienced ‘the Greatest Country on Earth’ from a perspective that most could only dream of. He has travelled aboard Air Force One, interviewed President Obama and seen first-hand the gaudy splendour of Donald Trump’s billion-dollar empire.

Jon has also witnessed the darker side of the United States today. He was on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, as the riots took hold; he has visited gun shows, where lethal weapons are exhibited and sold like DIY tools; and he has listened to would-be-presidents turn TV evangelists, as they place their judgements in the hands of a god in whom they believe unquestioningly.

In a fascinating and insightful event, and one of very few he is doing, he will be saying that for all we think we know the USA, it is – now more than ever – a truly foreign land, and will be sharing anecdotes from his just published book, If Only They Didn’t Speak English – a portrait of American life and politics seen through British eyes.

With the combination of his political expertise (as a BBC correspondent for than 20 years) and his own stories from on the ground, he will set out to answer questions about a country that once stood for the grandest of dreams, but which is now mired in a storm of political extremism, racial division and increasingly perverse beliefs.

The Festival team hopes people with tickets to the event with Richard Coles on Wednesday 13th September at 7.30pm will come along to the Sopel event; your tickets will be honoured. If not, it would be happy to transfer your tickets to another event. Please call the Box Office on 01395 445275.

For the full programme line-up and details on how to get tickets, visit the website. For updates about the event, follow the Festival on Twitter , Facebook  or Instagram.