YORK’S Festival of Ideas had a surprise visit from comedian Ross Noble.

He was alerted to the event, organised by the University of York, who invited him to the Design For Living debate, held in the Ron Cooke Hub on Tuesday night, via Twitter.

Noble is currently making his way around the country – being guided by tweets from his near 350,000 followers – for a new TV show on Dave called Freewheeling.

Heading over the moors from Whitby, he ended up dropping by to be a guest on the panel of the talk.

His visit added to the huge success of this year’s festival which also saw a reading by Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet and playwright Seamus Heaney at Central Hall last night.

The 17-day long festival concludes on Saturday with talks at the Ron Cooke Hub at the university as well as Celtic worship at St Helen’s Church.

Festival highlights so far have included talks by Melvyn Bragg about his new novel Grace and Mary, author and art critic Brian Sewell, and Peter Lord of Aardman Animations – creators of Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit.

And Tuesday night saw Dr Sean Paling, of Sheffield University Department of Physics and Astronomy, host a physics lecture at St Peter’s School in Clifton entitled Deep Underground Science at Boulby Mine; the search for Dark Matter and beyond. Present were pupils from Fulford School, Queen Ethelberga’s and St Peter’s.

Organiser David Morris, head of physics at St Peter’s, said: “This was a fascinating lecture about the physicists working at the forefront of science in their quest to learn about Dark Matter.

“Dr Sean Paling is a world authority on the subject and spoke with humour, enthusiasm and great clarity on a project that is taking place so close to us at Boulby.”

Joan Concannon, director of external relations at the university, said she was delighted at the response to this year’s event.

“This year has been really successful. All the audiences have been really engaged, the speakers have commented on it. We have wanted to make the event accessible to everyone and have definitely had more people attend than last year.”

• For more details visit yorkfestivalofideas.com