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Dundee, Hull, Leicester or Swansea Bay? Dylan Thomas takes on Philip Larkin in a battle to become City of Culture


Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay have been named as the four cities left in the running to become the UK’s next City Of Culture. They are competing to receive the title for 2017, following this year’s chosen city, Londonderry.

The shortlist, announced by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, was selected after an independent advisory panel looked at 11 bids for the four-yearly accolade.

Locations which failed to make the list were Aberdeen, Chester, East Kent, Hastings and Bexhill-on-Sea, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Southampton, and Southend-on-Sea.

The panel which looked at the bids was chaired by former TV executive and Brookside creator Phil Redmond. The winning City Of Culture will be announced in November, with the finalists asked to submit an updated submission by the end of September.

The winner can expect a major boost in tourism, though Derry is said to have faced financial difficulties when income from sponsorship and ticket sales failed to live up to expectations.

Prominent locals came forward to back their home cities, including former Dr Who scriptwriter Russell T Davies, who hails from Swansea, and TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, who is from Dundee.

Mr Vaizey said: “I want to congratulate the four shortlisted cities who have made it this far, and indeed all 11 cities who put time and great effort into submitting bids.

“The events in Derry-Londonderry over recent weeks highlight just how much of an impact being City Of Culture can have. It brings together communities, encourages economic growth, and inspires social change and the shortlisted cities should be very proud of the bids they have put together so far.”

Mr Redmond said: “It was incredibly difficult to decide on a shortlist as all the bids recognised the power of culture to bring about social change and offered innovative and interesting programmes.

“In the end the panel thought the four shortlisted cities offered plans that were ambitious, realistic and would not only deliver for their communities, but would also maintain the momentum created around the success of Derry-Londonderry.”

...and here’s why Dundonian George Galloway thinks the Scots should win

Dundee fine city on the silvery Tay

City of culture some do say (And I’m from there by the way!)

So I couldnae disagree

Even tho’ I’m a far-flung MP

The Broons, Oor Wullie and Desperate Dan

Every sentient adult’s a fan

Cow pie, Smiffy and the Bash Street mob

A half-loaf and a bridie just the job

There’ll be artefacts in the new museum

At the V&A they’ll be queuing just to see ‘em

The Discovery the ship of Captain Scott

Dundee, I telt ye’s got the lot

Built on jute, jam and scribblin’

At Dens and Tannadice watch them dribblin’

Dundee United, the Arabs, as they’re known

You can see for life why I was sworn

To support them through thick and thin

Except when they repeatedly failed to win

Brought up in a place called Little Tipperary

In the Hilltoon it could get exceedingly hairy

Particularly on a Friday night

When the fu’ lads came out to fight

Take a burst pay poke back to yir missus

You’d get a lot more than Glasgow kisses

The shipyard’s gone and IBM too

Michelin tyres and the job I knew (although I got one pdq)

Dundee has a bra’ uni tho’ I never attended

An honorary degree and I wouldn’t be offended!

The Tay Bridge stretches all the way to Fife

It fell down once, but not in my life.

Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay

There’s hee-haw but philistines down that way

Dundee and culture will irrevocably twin

And Nablus too I’d just throw in

The West Bank city we earlier linked-to

If I took one I’d raise a strong drink too

To the decision when it inevitably comes

For Dundee, in ‘17, see you there chums

Clash of cultures: The four contenders


Population: 147,000

Attractions: Leicester Catherdral, close to where the body of Richard III was discovered; Leicester also hosts the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India and the largest UK comedy festival.

Stars: David Attenborough,  Sue Townsend


Population: 238,700

Attractions: The Grand Theatre has a capacity of a little over 1,000 people and was opened by the Victorian opera singer Adelina Patti.

Local stars:  Dylan Thomas,  Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ian Hislop, Russell T Davies


Population: 263,900

Attractions: Huge public aquarium – The Deep, Hull New Theatre; the Ferens Art Gallery which broke visitor records with its  Da Vinci exhibition last year.

Local stars: Philip Larkin,  Sir Andrew Motion, John Prescott


Population: 147,000

Cultural attractions: The V&A is due to open a £45m branch in Dundee in 2015 and the Dundee Contemporary Arts gallery and Dundee Rep theatre both have national reputations

Local stars: Brian Cox (actor), Lorraine Kelly, A.L. Kennedy