MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival Announces 2012 Lineup

written by: Richard Kastelein

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The 37th annual MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival today announces upcoming sessions for this year’s Festival, as it shapes up to be the most diverse and exciting line-up of creative and industry heavyweights to date.

Taking place for the first time between Thursday 23rd and Saturday 25th August, the MGEITF is the only industry event that brings together the great and the good of the television world, mixing the stars of the screen with the people behind the scenes that make them so recognisable.

As previously announced, Elisabeth Murdoch will deliver this year’s MacTaggart Lecture, following in the footsteps of former speakers who include Eric Schmidt, Mark Thompson, James Murdoch, Dennis Potter, Michael Grade, Greg Dyke, Peter Fincham and David Liddiment.

The three-day Festival will feature a line up of sessions that focus on this year’s biggest breakthroughs and finest successes, as well as addressing the current and future issues that the industry is facing. The roster will include a look forward into the business policy and creative agenda for the BBC, as it gets set to welcome a new Director-General and reflects on the biggest broadcasting event of the year – The Olympics.

This year’s Festival kicks off with an opening session jam packed with no holds barred thrills and entertainment, as Celebrity Juice takes to the stage. Keith Lemon will host this live special edition of ITV2’s award-winning comedy panel game show, featuring team captains Holly Willoughby and Emma Bunton, who will lead teams featuring some of TV’s biggest names. Our bang tidy teams will battle their opponents in a series of raucous rounds, including TV themed physical games and quizzes, all the while facing Keith’s usual high-octane antics.

The Richard Dunn memorial interview will feature prolific broadcaster, satirist, screenwriter and journalist Charlie Brooker speaking live to award-winning Times columnist Caitlin Moran. The Screenwipe star will discuss his experiences as a writer, producer and showrunner, as well as talking about his latest productions and the world of television criticism.

Meanwhile Welsh TV actress and writer Ruth Jones will be talking to Boyd Hilton about being an actor, writer and co-founding her own production company in their session, Ruth Jones: bethsyddyneich pen gwallgof, which is Welsh for, “What’s in your mad head?”


BBC Director-General 2.0 will ask the experts what key decisions face the incoming Director-General, as Mark Thompson prepares to depart the post. How will the BBC enter the next phase of its history? How might the BBC continue to evolve under his (or her) stewardship?

Hot on the heels of the biggest international event of the year, the Festival’s BBC Olympic session will bring together core members of the production team to relay the good, the bad and the ugly moments of delivering the greatest show on Earth.

Some of this year’s biggest and most talked about TV shows, both home grown formats and transatlantic TV hits, will get the Masterclass treatment, with appearances from the figures behind their success.

A Modern Family Masterclass welcomes Emmy award winning writer and producer Steve Levitan, the co-creator of Modern Family. Steve will reveal what it’s like to be the brains behind a multi award winning show which regularly attracts audiences of over 16 million viewers in America alone, including the President!

The Educating Essex Masterclass will feature Series Director David Clews, Channel 4 Commissioner Mark Raphael and the indisputable stars of the show, Head Teacher Vic Goddard and his Deputy Stephen Drew. They will reveal why they feel Pass Mores School in Essex touched viewers’ hearts and became one of the most talked about shows of the autumn. They will also detail the realities of managing 65 cameras, 1000 students, parents and consent forms, to make education a breakthrough TV hit.

In addition, the Horrible Histories creative team will be telling delegates how they bring the past to life with brilliant sketches, songs and cartoons, Packed full of shocking facts, bonkers beliefs and gruesome punishments, the programme has transformed the children’s television landscape and continues to inform and entertain millions of children and grown-ups alike..

The Festival will also feature a Masterclass on one of this year’s most talked about series, BBC One drama Sherlock, with appearances from show creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, and producer Sue Vertue.

Hatufim to Homeland: The Anatomy of a hit Drama will feature conversation with Gideon Raff and AviNir, the Israeli creators of the series Prisoners of War (Hatufim) and those who brought the series to life in the US as Homeland. They will review how the deal was born and the business and creative challenges that came with adapting a big Israeli hit series into a successful American programme

The First Ten Minutes will examine hit dramas Scott and Bailey and Call the Midwife with the creative teams behind them. The session will explore how to make the crucial first ten minutes of that first episode compelling and addictive, examine the significance of the marketing and PR before the show airs and question what impact the channel it is aired on has on it.

Budding broadcast entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to face the formidable TV dragons – Evan Davis will host Dragons’ Den at the Festival, with Duncan Bannatyne and guests inviting entrepreneurs, inventors and ideas people to pitch for real money with TV related business ventures.

We’re Stealing Your Stuff: The Piracy Problem will be dissecting how the web is changing ownership business models. In a world where television can be instantly and infinitely copied and shared, what can TV creatives do to make sure they make money and retain creative control over their output?

The Festival will also tackle the profound implications of Scottish Independence on the broadcasting landscape. Leading political and cultural figures will examine the practicalities and effects of dismantling the BBC, the introduction of legal production quotas and competitive tax breaks and the political battleground that is EastEnders.

And of course the Festival will be exploring the impacts of the forthcoming Communications Bill Green Paper on EPG positioning, charter renewal, media plurality and more...

The Channel of the Year Awards will be voted for by festival delegates, who will be able to cast their vote before attending the live ceremony on Friday 24thAugust.

Meanwhile, in a special series of screenings, delegates will be treated to an exclusive first look at the first episode of the next series of Doctor Who, while Frank Spotnitz, the award winning American television writer and producer best known for his work on The X-Files, will discuss new UK spy-thriller Hunted.

Along with headline sponsors MediaGuardian and YouTube, the Festival is delighted to have 13 major sponsors confirmed this year, including 3 brand new, the Canadian Tourism Commission, UKTV and Xbox. Collectively the sponsors will enhance the delegates' festival experience with networking, business insight and demonstration of the latest technologies transforming entertainment in the living-room.

Advisory Chair of the Festival, Kenton Allen comments: ‘2012 is a seismic year for our industry and the 2012 Edinburgh TV Festival is going to be an unmissable event for anyone working in and around TV. The many and varied challenges of Creative Leadership run though the festival from Elisabeth Murdoch's most speculated about MacTaggart in years to an irresistible roller-coaster ride of provocative debate and once in a lifetime creative access to the most brilliant minds working in TV today. And this is just the beginning. There's a lot more to come. So watch this space!’

Director of Entertainment and Comedy at ITV and Executive Chair of the Festival, Elaine Bedell added: “Television in the UK is in rude health – and this festival programme of masterclasses will provide a very valuable and unique insight into the making of some of the year’s finest shows. Edinburgh is also always about provocation and debate – and this year’s keynote speakers guarantee that we’re in for a news-worthy few days…”

Further sessions to be confirmed in due course.

Registration for the 2012 MGEITF is now open.

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