Dizzee Rascal tops bill at biggest-ever festival fringe

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Chart-topper Dizzee Rascal, Britain's Got Talent dance act Flawless and Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson are among the big names featuring in this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, organisers said today.

The world's largest arts festival boasts its biggest-ever programme with a record 2,453 shows, a 17% increase on last year.



An estimated 21,148 performers will take to the stage in this year's run of the annual event, which is now in its 64th year.



Launching the programme today, chief executive Kath Mainland said: "I am delighted to unveil the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme, which yet again exemplifies why the Fringe is the world's leading arts festival.



"Edinburgh in August will be bursting with the most talented artists from every area of the arts world. Nowhere else can you see such a variety of world-class talent and range of shows that are guaranteed to engage, enthral, excite and delight.



"As the largest arts festival, the Fringe attracts performers and audiences from every corner of the world. I look forward to welcoming them to Edinburgh and kicking off what is set to be the biggest and most exciting Fringe to date."



British rap star Dizzee Rascal will appear at the Corn Exchange as part of the Edge Festival while Flawless will perform at the Underbelly.



Nanny McPhee star Thompson is the executive producer of a play about sex trafficking called Fair Trade.



Thompson will not appear in the show at the Pleasance, which is inspired by the stories of two women trafficked into Britain.



Model Abi Titmus will take to the stage in theatre production Up 'n' Under at the Assembly.



Scottish-born actor Alan Cumming will perform songs from his debut album in I Bought A Blue Car Today at the Assembly. Comedians Paul Merton, Eddie Izzard, Josie Lawrence and Greg Proops also feature in this year's programme.



The Fringe generates around £75 million annually for the Edinburgh and Scottish economy.



Following the success of the first Made in Scotland programme last year, which secured nine awards including the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Prize, the showcase returns this year with "some of the best" Scottish theatre and dance.



Made in Scotland is supported through the Scottish Government's Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund and helps Scottish-based performers present their work on an international stage.



Comedy makes up 35% of the programme, as it did last year, followed by theatre at 29%.



Music accounts for 16% of shows, with musicals and opera at 5%. Dance, physical theatre, children's shows and exhibitions also feature in the programme.



The 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs from August 6 to 30. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 8am.

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