Post-Festival Round-Up

It’s all over for another year and what did we learn? That an award-winning writer can write a decent speech; that US channel bosses are still eyeing up our talent; that Nicola Sturgeon can pull in a crowd and that most TV producers can’t cook/perform a 1-minute party piece/answer University Challenge-level questions.

Before you start demanding a full refund, the TV Festival did of course create plenty of news and agenda-setting debate (See Hollywood Reporter’s Top 5 Takeaways) as well as one of the wittiest, well-crafted and passionate MacTaggart Lecture’s we’ve seen in years with Armando Iannucci rightfully receiving a standing ovation from the 1600-strong crowd. Dawn the next day, he emerged unscathed from a Radio 4 Today interview with no Clarkson in sight

Politicians give top performance
Meanwhile, John Whittingdale surprised everyone by suggesting that the BBC was his new best friend and that he has no intention of ‘dismantling’ it. It was a rigorous interview by ITN’s Alastair Stewart but the Culture Secretary remained conciliatory in a bid to calm fears of a Tory attack on the BBC. Or perhaps he just spotted Sue Perkins in the audience, custard pies at the ready.
With more than 100 press attending the Festival, Whittingdale attracted acres of coverage and #edtvfest reached its peak when his session trended. The interview succeeded in completely changing the mood of the debate, although the corporation remains cautious.

Whittingdale wasn’t the only politician stealing the limelight, with First Minster of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon making national news and leading local news bulletins with her call for radical reform of the BBC. And in her interview with new editor-in-chief of the Guardian, Katharine Viner, Sturgeon proved to be as quick-witted, engaging and free of spin as one might imagine. “People will still be talking about her in 100 years – she’ll become a historic figure,” said one impressed delegate.

Most Marmite session? Best Quotes?
One of the most Marmite-sessions of the Festival was our Leaders-style debate. Chaired by Kay Burley that was always going to be the case, but the fiery debate it engendered around aggressive scheduling was well worth the price of entry, as was the following day’s equally fiery BBC: Under Siege in which producer and BBC3 champion Jimmy Mulville battled with the Beeb’s James Purnell and Nick Ross gave one of the Festival’s choicest quotes. Another top sound bite came from John Landgraf in his comment about the glut of TV content: ‘We’re choking on our own abundance. It’s like winning a pie-eating contest every day’. Despite this, the FX boss, like the other US channel heads in attendance, is on a hunt for British talent and ideas – music to delegates ears who packed out all of our Gamechangers sessions from ABC’s Paul Lee to Amazon’s Roy Price. The latter invited our audience to use the Festival app to choose which of two new pilots should be greenlit. Bryan Cranston-produced Sneaky Pete won out – we await news of our delegates getting their own way…

Too many pies to eat at once? Graze on our session round-up.
With names including Ron Perlman, Martin Freeman, Shane Meadows, Harry Redknapp, Robbie Savage, Judy Murray, Nick Broomfield, Ross Kemp and Kellie Bright, we had our usual complaint of providing too many treats to choose from. Thanks to our filming partner Bournemouth University, you can catch-up on all our sessions via our YouTube channel.

As well as via our Festival Daily round-up for iPads, the Talking TV podcast and The Media Podcast covered the Festival. Here’s a C21TV special on the BBC featuring Edinburgh speakers. And there are some 6000 online articles on Google, plus 10 pages of coverage in last week’s Broadcast.

Thanks to everyone for attending and hope you enjoyed the Festival. If you have any feedback – good or bad! – please contact me at