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Celebrities including Orlando Bloom and Lorraine Kelly backing Leicester's rivals for UK City of Culture title

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From Orlando Bloom and Bagpuss to Lorraine Kelly and Billy Connolly - Leicester's rivals for the UK City of Culture title have been rolling out the big guns in support of their bids. Earlier today, as the 11 contenders for the Government-run competition submitted their initial bids to judges, the Mercury reported that film legend Lord Attenborough had pledged his support to Leicester's campaign. The 89-year-old peer, who is in a frail state of health, made a rare public statement in support of the city where he and his brother, David, grew up. Lord Attenborough has been described by some commentators as the highest-profile figure to lend his support to a bidding city. The consortium behind Leicester's bid consider it a considerable coup to get his backing, but other hopefuls are also drawing on celebrity appeal to become the city that succeeds current title holder Londonderry in Northern Ireland. East Kent's list of celebrity backers apparently includes Bagpuss, the 1970s cloth cat and children's character dreamed up in a farm house near Canterbury. Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean star Bloom, 36, who is also backing the area's bid, said: "Born and raised in Canterbury, it was here that I first discovered my love of acting. "Like myself, many have found their inspiration here. East Kent has always had a strong reputation for cultural excellence – be it in the field of theatre or literature, the visual arts or dance – and developments over the last few years have only served to cement that relationship." Comedians have also been backing bids. In East Kent's case, Paul O'Grady, and in support of Aberdeen, The Big Yin Billy Connolly, who has a home in Aberdeenshire. The Scots comic said: "Aberdeen becoming UK City of Culture would be a great thing. In addition to its many other cultural attributes, the heritage of traditional music and ballads in Aberdeen and the north east is outstanding and deserves wider recognition. I hope this can be achieved." Dundee has telly presenter Lorraine Kelly and film star Brian Cox on board while Plymouth has turned to teenage diving sensation and Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley, who recently hosted ITV show Splash! Other public figures to wade into the contest include designer Wayne Hemingway and musician Jools Holland for East Kent, singer Emile Sande for Aberdeen and celebrity chef Gary Rhodes for Plymouth. The Department of Culture Media and Sport is to consider the initial 30-page bids from each city before short-listing them in June. Final bids from cities reaching the next stage will submitted by September with a decision being made in November. The full list of contenders is Aberdeen, Chester, Dundee, east Kent, Hastings and Bexhill-on-Sea, Hull, Leicester, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Southampton, Southend-on-Sea and Swansea Bay.

Celebrities including Orlando Bloom and Lorraine Kelly backing Leicester's rivals for UK City of Culture title


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