Here’s the latest on what happened on the first day of the Edinburgh TV Festival 2017.
1. Alan Partridge returning to BBC Two
During the first session of the day, controller of BBC Two, Patrick Holland, now two years into his job, spoke to June Sarpong about the future for the channel and confirmed multiple reports that Alan Partridge will be back on the channel.
In quite what capacity we don’t know yet as Patrick and the commissioners who sat beside him kept very tight-lipped.
Patrick described BBC Two as “a place that embraces complexity and celebrates authorship that has a sense of mischief and curiosity.”
He reiterated time and time again that he didn’t want BBC Two to be bland channel, it needs to speak up. It’s because of this that BBC Two announce that they are not liking for any panel shows and would like smarter entertainment formats like The Mash Report which Patrick confirms “There will be a lot more of.”
Patrick discussed how their documentaries now shift audience perspectives, by moving away from describing a story to being inside the story. He also discussed wanting more Sunday night formats that can appeal to that male-skewing audience.
And finally, when confronted by June Sarpong over the gender pay gap, a nervous Patrick Holland stumbled and hesitated his way through an answer that resulted in him committing to sorting out equal pay by 2020. How? He’s not sure.
2. Edinburgh did Blue Peter
As has become customary at the Edinburgh TV Festival, each year, the opening session of the festival sees TV Execs take part in a special version of a much loved TV show.
In recent years, TV Execs have tackled Big Brother, Through The Keyhole and Taskmaster and this year it was the turn of Blue Peter which turns 60 next year.
Taking part, were controller of BBC Entertainment Kate Phillips, director of Sky Arts Phil Edgar-Jones, commissioning editor for Factual & Entertainment at Channel 4 Sarah Lazenby and Chief Executive of Kudos, Diederick Santer.
Hosted by voice of Love Island and CBBC presenter Iain Stirling, each of the TV Execs had to impress an expert panel in as tries of live challenges in a bid to become “the next Blue Peter presenter. That panel was made-up of CBBC Controller Cheryl Taylor and bonafide Blue Peter LEGENDS Peter Purves and Valerie Singleton.
With current Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell on hand to help, Kate had to interview someone with a snake wrapped around her, Phil had to create a skittle out of a water bottle, Sarah had to do the classic jump on a trampoline and interview someone and Diederick had to pop 40 whoopee cushions in 30 seconds!
With just one point in it, the winner was announced and it was Diederick Santer who started welling up when presented with a Blue Peter badge!
These opening sessions are always good fun and I look forward to seeing what the festival will have in store for us next year!
3. Jay Hunt says goodbye to Channel 4
Jay Hunt joined Channel 4 at the start of 2011 and this year marks her final Edinburgh as Chief creative officer and she began the session by declaring Channel 4’s upcoming autumn schedule “the strongest we’ve ever had.”
Chaired brilliantly by Boyd Hilton, Jay was asked of course asked about The Great British Bake Off and says Channel 4’s intervention has kept the format fresh and that the show was always going to air on Tuesdays.
When asked what the measure of success would be for The Great British Bake Off when it launches next week, she said “anything over 3 million”. She also revealed how “something magical has happened between Sandi (Toksvig) and Noel (Fielding)” and admitted that she was the one who suggested Noel Fielding.
Looking ahead to the future, Jay Hunt said that the reason she’s leaving is partly due to David Abraham’s departure. She’d always told herself that she’d either go for his job or resign and she’s chosen the latter.
What will Jay do next? She hasn’t said. She admitted that she has had a number of offers and will be remaining in TV.
We were shown preview clips of upcoming comedies Derry Girls, Back and Lee and Dean as well as upcoming Jack Thorne drama Kiri which looks fantastic. It stars Sarah Lancashire as a social worker Miriam who loves and believes in her job, but has a maverick and instinctive approach to protecting the children in her care. Definitely one to watch.
It was also confirmed that Chewing Gum will not be returning for a third series but Channel 4 would not rule out working with Michaela Coel.
The session ended with a ‘Best of Channel 4’ type montage which served as a real testament to the hard work Jay has put in during her time at Channel 4 and watching the clip of Musharaf in Educating Yorkshire got me going again.
4. Kevin Lygo discusses ITV’s successes and failures
Last year’s controller session with Kevin Lygo (forever good value) was one of the busiest so it’s no surprise that the year he was bumped up to the largest room in the EICC and still managed to pack it out.
This year’s session, hosted by Lauren Laverne, began with an extended clip of ITV’s new 9pm drama Trauma, a four-parter written by Mike Bartlett which will air next year and one which Kevin Lygo likens to Doctor Foster.
Sticking with drama Kevin described the last series of Broadchurch as “extraordinary” and “the most successful drama of the year” and he’s pleased it “went out on a high”.
Kevin went on to speak a little bit about Love Island and how it “busts the myth that young people don’t watch telly when you give it to them.” And with rumours rife that Love Island will be getting a promotion from ITV2 to ITV, Kevin Lygo set the record straight and said that he would not move it to ITV.
He said “If you move it, yes you’ll get a high rating, but you’d lose some of the cache, some of the cool, some of the young viewers and gain some older viewers which we can get elsewhere. I think it’s best kept on ITV2 where it’s the stand out, most-talked about show of the summer.”
If there’s one thing Kevin Lygo is, it’s honest. When asked about The Nightly Show, he said “Did it work? No. A different host every week made it very difficult form the production team. Maybe 10pm was too early.”
When probed further about whether or not it will return he said rather confidently “No” before saying “Look, I don’t know. Not at 10pm anyway.” So there might be a future yet for the failing format.
When asked “What is the future of scripted comedy on ITV?” Kevin Lygo simply replied “Bleak.” and when asked what ITV is missing, he said “Some more fucking hits please.”
He also admitted that whilst Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule didn’t rate very well, he thinks the show is very funny, is Harry Hill back at the top of his game, so it will return but instead of a midweek slot it will move to teatime on a Saturday. The TV Burp slot if you will.
As for where the extra episode of Coronation Street will go, ITV are still keeping it very much a secret but Kevin promises that it will be in “the perfect place” – let’s hope that means a Sunday night.
There are also a couple of ridiculous head-in-your-hands type shows that were spoken about, but head to my Twitter to find out what those were.