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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

BBC and ITN take the lead with new diversity schemes | Lisa Campbell

The issue of diversity continues to make the headlines. Not only did the festival welcome Keli Lee back from ABC to discuss her Diverse Talent Showcase (read part 2) but news emerged this week that both the BBC and ITN are launching new diversity schemes. Meanwhile the European Diversity Awards has crowned the BBC Academy’s Expert Women team Diversity Team of the Year.

Talk of a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) leadership and commissioning scheme has been rumbling on within the confines of the CDN (Creative Diversity Network) for some time with hopes that the major broadcasters would all sign-up. For now, however, only the BBC has committed to the idea and this week it welcomed applications from internal and external candidates.

The Senior Leadership Development Programme will offer six individuals the chance to work alongside DG Tony Hall and his executive team for 12 months.

Successful applicants to the scheme, organised in association with The Clore Leadership Programme, will start working at the BBC in the New Year.

Separately, the Assistant Commissioner Development Programme aims to find six “commissioners of the future” who will gain experience across entertainment, comedy, factual, daytime, children’s programming, as well as across BBC2 and BBC4.

BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore, who appeared on the TV Festival’s diversity panel, said: “It’s crucial for the BBC and other broadcasters to broaden the range of voices and backgrounds at commissioning level.”

The BBC has made a welcome first move, recognising that more diversity behind the camera will have a positive impact on the range of ideas, content and talent on-screen.

More welcome news, this time from ITN, which announced a new internship scheme targeting eight candidates from socially- and ethnically-diverse backgrounds for an 18-month placement.
The ITN Academy Digital Media Apprenticeship targets non-graduates to help them “learn through experience, with ongoing guidance and support, in a passionate, hard-working, team environment,” according to ITN chief executive John Hardie. “This is also our chance to perhaps find the next rising stars of ITN.”

And talking of rising stars, the BBC Academy’s Expert Women team has been instrumental in identifying and training a host of new female contributors, particularly across news and factual. Its efforts resulted in an award for Diversity Team of the Year at last week’s European Diversity Awards.

The lack of female voices on-air and on-screen was highlighted by Broadcast magazine in 2012, working with City University to monitor output. At the time, we heard the same complaint from broadcasters that we now hear about diverse talent, “we want more diverse voices, but we don’t know where to find them’.

The BBC Academy’s Donna Taberer and her team decided to do something about  that, launching a pilot scheme in January 2013 to uncover and train up females with specialist knowledge, whether engineers or crime epxerts. It was so successful, it led to further funding from the then acting DG Tim Davie and the programme was launched nationwide.

To date, there have been 374 media appearances by 73 of the Expert Women, across BBC news bulletins, CNN, Channel 4 and other outlets.

'Our winner tonight has made diversity and inclusion one of the strategic priorities of their company, and has enabled the company to have a diverse and inclusive culture,' said the judges.

'They have placed diversity as one of their long-term sustainability goals to attract, recruit and retain a highly talented, diverse and engaged workforce.'

Let’s hope these new schemes meet with similar success.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Best of the Fest | Lisa Campbell

I had the pleasurable experience of going behind-the-scenes of someone else’s festival this weekend, letting others run around like headless chickens while I sat back and enjoyed the show and the bacon butties.

Radio 2’s Hyde Park Festival was a lesson in perfect planning at every level. Festival-goers were armed with folding chairs, pac-a-macs and, at the top end of festival comfort, the Wicked Wedge (check it out). Meanwhile, the 1000-staff behind-the-scenes made sure that artists were happy (but not too happy, this is licence fee-payers money…), that stages were set and that Royal Park grass was left as nature intended. Individual speaker-systems were even in place to adjust sound levels should the wind direction change and residents complain. 

While we didn’t quite get down to that level of detail in Edinburgh, we did, just like Hyde Park, have a passionate team of people shedding blood, sweat and tears to make things happen, from the production director who clocked up 20 miles within the EICC on day 1 to the producer who stressed, railed and rallied to create a must-attend session, right down to the YouTube team who toasted 1250 pieces of bread for hungry/hungover delegates (see Festival in Numbers).

Making the most of that huge effort is one reason why we’re keen to keep sharing the Best of the Fest. One of the biggest ‘complaints’ is that there is too much to see, but you can catch-up at your leisure because 90% of our content is available on YouTube.

Listen to Frankie “Scotland’s Jesus” Boyle on media coverage of Scottish Independence - “the ‘No’ campaign will get torpedoed by media bias”-  and his views on what the fall-out will be, whatever the result; listen to BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore battle with Krishnan Guru-Murthy and former director general John Birt’s warnings onplans to re-shape the BBC; get up to speed on all the stats driving the diversity debate with our Minority Report VT and hear Steph Parker talking with trademark honesty on the idea for Gogglebox  -“on paper it’s shit”.

One of the most inspiring sessions was our 12-minute Ed TalksThose featured include:
Gurinder Chadha and Romesh Ranganathan’s witty sketch on racism and unconscious bias and Jon Snow on the changing dynamics of news provision brought about by social media.

Plus M&C Saatchi boss Camilla Harrison: “Difference is good. Generosity is powerful. If more people feel they own the idea it will help you win the war”;

Professor Vincent Walsh: “Creative people have the courage to be beautifully wrong. Creative people aren't the ones to get it right all the time”;

And Brand guru Steve Edge: “Dress for a party every day and the party will come to you;”

With advice like that at your finger tips, what are you waiting for? Click here to see more on our YouTube channel.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

From the RTS to Diversity, the Festival Lives On | Lisa Campbell

What impact does the Edinburgh TV Festival have? Well, there’s the immediate impact on both brain and body – cells are stimulated by day and addled by night and bodies become husks – but the damage is temporary. By contrast, Edinburgh’s impact on the industry is long-lasting.

The issues thrown up and thrashed out in sessions at Edinburgh continue to be debated well beyond August while MacTaggart lectures can set the agenda for weeks, months, even years to come.

This week’s RTS London conference is a case in point. Edinburgh was referred to repeatedly throughout, largely thanks to David Abraham re-opening discussions on the Terms of Trade, but points made about the lack of digital skills in TV made in the 2011 MacTaggart by Google’s Eric Schmidt were also discussed by two of the big beasts in broadcasting today, the BBC’s Tony Hall and Sky’s Jeremy Darroch.

The James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture:
David Abraham
Whether you agreed with him or not, Abraham’s MacTaggart succeeded in getting everyone talking – or in the case of Pact boss John McVay, shouting – and yesterday, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said he would re-examine the Terms of Trade following Ofcom’s PSB review in the Summer, acknowledging the huge change wrought on the sector by greater consolidation.

And earlier this week, ITV CEO Adam Crozier echoed Abraham’s call for pay-TV channels to pay transmission fees for PSB content - something else Javid said would be subject to industry consultation ahead of possible de-regulation.

For broadcasters battling declining audience shares and advertiser revenues, it’s vital new income but Sky and even the likes of Liberty Global which has a 6% stake in ITV, are bound to battle hard.

While we’re happy to let debates like that rumble on, there are others in which the festival will play a more active role in keeping alive outside of Edinburgh – diversity being one example.

This year, we funded important new ‘Diversity Watch’ research from Lis Howell and her team at
Keli Lee at Minority Report: Is TV Racist?
City University for our ‘Is TV Racist?’ session. It showed broadcasters across the board under-performing when it comes to diversity on-screen and we’ll be repeating the survey to help assess the progress made.

However, each channel boss demonstrated a real appetite for rapid change on our panel - one reason why we’re kicking off our first event outside Edinburgh on 25th September, when Keli Lee, ABC’s Executive Vice President of Casting, will give selected guests a detailed run down of her diverse casting initiative following her appearance on the ‘Is TV Racist?’ panel.

Lee is an inspirational figure and this is an opportunity for those at the forefront of scripted content in the UK to hear more about the birth of the scheme 13 years ago – a scheme which discovers and develops the next generation of diverse talent and unique voices on and off screen from Lupita N’Yongo to Grey’s Jesse Williams.

Lee will also discuss the practicalities and challenges involved in running the talent showcase and the impact this world-renowned, pan-industry casting pool has had on ABC and other networks.

The key complaint around diversity as a topic is a valid one –‘all talk and no action’ -  which is why, straight after the Q&A, we’ll explore the viability of a UK talent showcase via a roundtable with heads of drama from broadcasters and indies, as well as writers, directors and casting directors. If they believe it has legs and pledge their support, Creative Skillset has promised to match-fund the initiative.

It’s an exciting opportunity and we look forward to helping play a role in bringing the industry together to discuss how we can help affect real and positive change.

So forget everything you were ever told about 'what happens in Edinburgh stays in Edinburgh' (ok, maybe not everything), the festival should live on.

For details about the diversity event on 25th September, please drop me an email to

Lisa Campbell | Festival Director

Watch the 2014 session videos on our YouTube channel.

Sarah Thornton: behind the scenes with the Controllers

Sarah Thornton,VP Production and Development, Factual Entertainment, Discovery Networks International, is a member of the 2014 Festival Advisory Committee and produced 4 of the 12 Meet the Controller sessions at GEITF. 

There is a saying that being a best man at a wedding is like being asked to sleep with the Queen Mother... it's an honour, but no one really wants to do it. Although I am a woman I have (once) had the dubious honour of being a "best man". And so it's with a very small amount of authority that I draw this unlikely comparison when it comes to describing the task of producing four hours of Controller Sessions at GEITF.

I started, like an anxious best man with a blank page, by contacting the controllers and their PR teams. With a diplomacy I had previously employed for approaching new family and friends, I politely requested intel and interesting tidbits from the inside... secretly yearning for some real gossip that would entertain the audience.

Meet the Controller: Ben Frow
It was during this early planning that it dawned on me paying delegates were going to be in Edinburgh for these sessions and so I had to make sure they made some actual sense. There was a delicate balance to be found in responding to - and hopefully making - industry chatter while ensuring we all got a proper insight into what the controllers would be commissioning this coming year.

And then it was late July - what had felt like an age of prep time all of a sudden seemed somewhat insubstantial. As the big day came closer I persisted with (many) knowingly annoying requests for funny photos, facts and stats, clips and stories... All in the name of crafting an hour that would be humorous without being bawdy, intelligent without being boring and insightful without being too contentious.

Meet the Controller: Adam MacDonald
The panel itself was then a lesson in not wanting to upset the in-laws whilst at the same time pleasing the crowd. And that's probably where the comparisons end. Because ultimately - thank god - it wasn't down to me. We were all in the very capable hands of the controllers themselves, our chairs and - this year - the audience thanks to the rather brilliant app.

I'd love to claim the credit for Ben Frow being riotously funny, Steve Regan announcing his plans to commission the "most offensive show ever" and Adam MacDonald showing a clip of Wild Things (if you didn't see it, you missed out). But in reality it was their hour and it was all down to them.

Meet the Controllers: Multichannel,
Steve Regan
I do hope that someone in the Sidlaw got something out of it and, as is the case at any good wedding, may have even struck up a promising friendship since. It is after all why we do it.

To all the controllers and their teams - Nat Geo, Comedy Central, MTV, A&E, Sky 1, Channel 5 and UKTV - and our chairs, Lauren Taylor and Charlene White, thank you for putting up with me and my teams' numerous requests and for cooperating so kindly in preparation for these sessions.

I wish I'd had the sessions' Executive Producer, Graham Stuart, and master of the control room, Nobby, by my side the day I was best man.
Meet the Controller: Emma Tennant
They are without doubt the two calmest men I've had the pleasure of sharing 4 sweaty hours with in a control room.

Oh, and since a rather hectic Friday meant I needed to be in two places at once on several occasions I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my colleague and co-producer, Mark Procter.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Game of Thrones at GEITF 2014 | Lisa Campbell

“Edinburgh is the TV industry’s Glastonbury” said one of last year’s delegates after a 3-day bonanza of
creative inspiration and all-night partying.

This year, I’d say we’ve gone one better. Instead of ageing rockers taking centre stage(although rumour has it No Expectations might treat delegates with a guest appearance…), we are set to take you behind-the-scenes of the hottest, most-talked-about TV property in decades. Battle of Blackwater drum roll please….yes, it’s this year’s Breaking Bad – Game of Thrones!

HBO programming chief Mike Lombardo will head a stellar panel, giving delegates a unique insight into this
epic production. We’re announcing some other great names who are involved in the series very soon, so watch this space!

Meanwhile, TV news is engaged in a battle of its own with online services such as VICE, Huff PoLive, Buzzfeed and NowThisNews threatening the cosy monopoly of the traditional players. Alongside an impressive line-up of news bosses from all the major channels, we’ll  hear from award-winning American journalist Tim Pool, head of live news at Vice, whose unique style of interactive broadcast journalism exists at the intersection of social and mainstream media. He’s a
Tim Pool, Vice
great speaker and this promises to be one not to miss.

Our Bafta Rocliffe panel – who will come together to judge the best new British comedy writing – is shaping up nicely. Joining BBC controller of UK comedy production Myfanwy Moore, we have the comedy maestro behind Modern Family – Amy Hartwick. We look forward to welcoming the ABC Studios senior vice president to the UK to share her expertise with our lucky competition winners.

This year, we’ll also be bringing you a series of ED Talks – each of our amazing speakers promise to bring you a unique perspective on harnessing creativity – in just 15 minutes – perfect bite-sized fodder for our Saturday line-up. Recognising that we can be guilty of navel-gazing in the TV industry, we’re showcasing speakers from other industries and professions who will encourage new ways of thinking.

Among the line-up we have neuroscientist Professor Vincent Walsh who will tell us why away days are a waste of time and why we all get our best ideas in the shower and Dr. Paul Dolan,  Professor of behavioural science, LSE, renowned expert on happiness, who has developed ways of measuring well-being. He’s the man responsible for writing the questions that are now being used in large surveys in the UK to monitor national happiness.

Just the tip of the iceberg in a programme with some 50-plus sessions - and much more to follow. Keep reading our newsletter and following us on Twitter for all the latest updates.

Early Bird tickets for GEITF 2014 are available until Monday 30 June. Book yours now to save £114 on the standard rate.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Diversity is the real One to Watch | Campbell Glennie

Last week, Tony Hall revealed his vision to address the woeful figures facing BAME representation both on and off screen. The BBC target for 2020 for off-screen talent is 15% (up from 8.3%). While the BBC’s unique position has meant that it has had no choice but to act, we also hope that this will lead to other broadcasters and indies thinking about what they can do over the coming year to effect real change too. Whether the BBC’s training and development approach will achieve the results that Lenny Henry feels can only be brought about by ring-fencing, time will tell. I’ll join Simone Pennant in “raising a cautionary glass of Cava” and hope that progress can be achieved swiftly without calling into question the massive contributions BAME creatives already make to the television industry.

It is both an insult and a missed opportunity when the television production process does not reflect its
audience. As part of our charitable remit, our schemes strive to represent all groups and we have traditionally had healthy BAME participation, above both the industry and national average. However, after the disappointing statistics on BAME representation in the industry revealed by Creative Skillset last year, we knew we could do more. We have further shifted our emphasis to go out and find more talent from underrepresented groups, regions and backgrounds, through new outreach partners, and more rigorous assessment. We feel this is even more important at the Ones to Watch level: the level where diversity starts to fall away from the industry’s composition. We are therefore delighted to report that The Network 2014 final selection is 32% BAME (up from 21% in 2013) and more crucially this year’s Ones to Watch are 30% BAME (up from 13% in 2013). As you move up the hierarchical structures of TV and the media, diversity is often a casualty, which is why we are particularly proud to preserve diverse television careers as they reach maturity.

As well as increasing BAME diversity, this year’s Ones to Watch are 70% female (something we hope will be heartening news for Jay Hunt, who will be part of this year’s Ones to Watch sessions programme) and cover a wide range of roles from within the industry, from writers to producers to VOD schedulers. It’s impossible to create an accurate microcosm of the industry in just 30 people, but we hope that this year’s successful candidates will have their eyes open to new perspectives, ideas and approaches, and learn as much from each other as the senior level talent they’ll enjoy intimate audiences with.

If Ones to Watch was a Buzzfeed article – it would be called something like “30 Reasons Why The Future of Television Is Looking Bright”. So, finally, here they are: this year’s Ones to Watch. If you know them, be sure to send them a virtual pat on the back, high five, hug, hair ruffle or whatever level of congratulation you feel comfortable with. We are not liable for any injuries sustained during “the bumps”.

Natalie Alvarado, Adam Barth, Rosa Brough, Samuel Burr, Claire Cahill, Sarah Collinson, Jessica Connell, Deanne Cunningham, Anca Dimofte, Suzy Grant, Nimesh Joshi, Jen Kerrison, Grivas Kopti, Tara Magan, Matthew Marsh, Mog McIntyre, Alana McVerry, Datshiane Navanayagam, Siobhan Ni Chiobhain, Meriel Paisley, Emerald Paston, Sophie Petzal, Sophia Rashid, Helen Richmond, Sam Shetabi, Andy Sockanathan, Cat Spooner, Rocco Sulkin, Philippa Treverton-Jones and Annabel Wigoder

Thank you to our Talent Schemes OTW sub-committee who painstakingly marked the hundreds of applications we received and those who participated in our new interview and selection panels: Alex Ayling, YouTube Channel Manager, BBC Worldwide; Dominic Bird, Head of Formats, Channel 4; Lisa Campbell, GEITF Festival Director; Tamara Howe, Controller, Business, Entertainment & Comedy, BBC Television; Angela Jain, Director of Digital Channels and Acquisitions, ITV; Jo McClellan, Drama Development Executive, Sky; Viv Molokwu, Chris Shaw, Editorial Director, ITN Productions, Neale Simpson, Head of Entertainment Development, RDF; Ben Tattersall Smith, Social Media Manager, BBC; Sarah Thornton, VP, Production & Development, Lifestyle & Entertainment, Discovery Networks; Katy Thorogood, Commissioning Editor, Factual, ITV; Newton Velji; and Karl Warner, Managing Director, Electric Ray.

If you would like to find out more about the diverse graduates of our schemes, or would be interested in becoming a mentor to the next generation of talent, please do not hesitate to get in touch at or follow us @OnesToWatch_TV @TheNetwork_TV or @campbellglennie

Campbell Glennie
Director, Talent Schemes

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Britain’s Got Talent (Assessment Days) | Campbell Glennie

Glasgow, Salford, Camden, Chiswick, everybody’s talking about pop music.  Apologies, I meant to say The Network talent assessment days at the end there. Cannot resist a rhyme.

For those of you who don’t know, The Network is GEITF’s entry level talent scheme, aimed at those with less than three months’ paid experience, but with a burning passion for TV, preferably bordering on the obsessive. You might know them as the inquisitive ones with bright eyes and bushy tails after your business cards at the parties. But our purpose is serious, we’re looking for new voices from new places. In short, we want to ensure that those who work in television are as diverse as those who watch it.

For the first time this year, rather than just use written applications to decide who makes it onto The Network, we packed up the GEITF Talent Schemes magic bus and hit the road during May to meet the top 170 of the over 1,000 applications we received this year. Our task: to find the final lucky 50 who will be joining us for The Network this year for four intense and fun-filled days in Edinburgh. While we hope the assessment days were instructional and inspirational for the candidates, we couldn’t help but take away a few things ourselves about the next generation of talent coming through.

Here are seven things we learnt over four days of meeting some amazing people.

•Gogglebox and Game of Thrones were among the most discussed programmes in our interviews. I’m taking away from this that titles starting with “G” connect with the younger generation. All I’m saying is a Going For Gold reboot could really clean up.

•Unorthodox interviewee techniques included winking during introductions. We would not necessarily recommend this.

•Ross Kemp may be known exclusively as a documentarian to anyone born after 1990.

•Bingewatching could be having a disastrous effect on exam results. I’m not saying Michael Gove will ban Netflix, but keep an eye out.

•The next generation are definitely hyphenates who are trying everything and teaching themselves. There were very few we met who weren’t self-shooter/editor/director/producer/actor/breakdancers.

•There are a lot of Emmas out there.

•There are more alumni of both The Network (formerly TVYP) and Ones to Watch (formerly Fast Track /
TV25) in the world than we thought. If you are too – please take a few seconds to let us know what you’re doing via this handy form – we’d love to know what you’re up to and you’ll get invites to our free quarterly alumni events.

Thank you to all the talent scheme committee members, talent managers and execs all over the UK who generously gave us their time to make these days such a success, and to Creative Skillset, University of Salford, University of Hertfordshire, BBC Scotland, Discovery UK and The Roundhouse for making them possible.

The final 50 have now been selected, and they’ll be getting the good news as you read this. So when you see a Networker at the Festival, say hello. If they’re trying out their newfound networking skills on you at a party, be patient. When they send you an e-mail asking for advice, help them out. Let’s face it, they’ll all be our bosses one day.

Friday, 23 May 2014

MacTaggart and the business of creativity

'Who's giving the MacTaggart?' is a question that's been fired at me more times in past weeks than you'd
care to imagine.

Rightly so, because it's a very important question. The MacTaggart lecture is one of the most high-profile & prestigious platforms on the global television stage.

The best MacTaggarts are rousing, crowd-pleasing, championing. Or they are fearless, angry, challenging.

The most memorable set the agenda not just for the festival, but well beyond, and often, take aim at a perceived enemy. Who can forget James Murdoch taking on the BBC, describing its "scale and scope" as "chilling"? It's a debate that has raged and raged ever since.

Other MacTaggarts call for change, some successfully. In his lecture in 2010, then BBC DG Mark Thompson called for broadcasters such as Sky to start paying for its services. Retransmission fees wasn't the sexiest subject at the time but Thompson's plan has since seen the light of day.

Others reveal a personal side to a no-nonsense exec - Liz Murdoch gave a rare insight into her childhood and family dynamics.

And going further back, you have legendary MacTaggarts - Dennis Potter; provocative MacTaggarts - Janet Street Porter; plain-speaking MacTaggarts - Paxo and as last year, perfectly-performed MacTaggarts - Kevin Spacey.

Which of these we'll see from David Abraham remains to be seen but for Channel 4, it is a long-overdue opportunity - some 12 years since Thompson's MacTaggart as C4 CEO.

With our festival theme this year being the business of creativity, Abraham is perfectly placed to discuss the meeting of those two worlds. We look forward to hearing his vision for maintaining C4's cultural impact in a media landscape that has changed more in recent weeks than we've seen in many years.

Early Bird tickets for the 2014 Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival powered by YouTube are on sale now.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Getting ahead in TV

This week, Directors UK revealed just how hard it is for female directors to find work in TV in a shocking new study which exposes vast inequality. Who’s Calling The Shots? Women Directors In British Television, analysed a 10-year period and discovered that across all genres, women are getting less than 10% of the work.

And taking 2011-12 in isolation, the numbers are getting worse.  Take game/panel shows, with 1251 episodes directed by men and just 21 by women – a drop from 5% to 2%. No wonder panel shows are so blokey and female comedians so reluctant to take part.

The good news is that Directors UK’s incredibly insightful study has been greeted not just with shock by broadcasters, but a determination to see positive change and I am confident they will rise to the challenge of ensuring that 30% of all shows are directed by women by 2017. Read the key findings here.

On the same day, across town, festival producer Adam Webb attended a writers’ roundtable hosted by Creative Skillset. There too the story was one of a battle to get in and to get on in an industry which favours big, established names and where the platforms for new talent are rare, and thanks to proposed closure of BBC3, shrinking. This is why initiatives such as Bafta Rocliffe’s comedy initiative are so vital and why the festival is lending its support once again.

At this year’s festival, two winning sitcom scripts chosen from new writing talent will be performed in front of delegates and judged by a panel of experts, including a comedian, commissioner and producer. Previous winners at Edinburgh and other events are signed to agents/production companies/are writing episodes for series such as Stella or are crafting their own series.

But the benefits for anyone who enters are enormous – detailed script reports reveal how to make improvements and this year, entrants will be given the chance to re-write their script before it’s read by a star-studded jury. Last year’s jury included the likes of Jennifer Saunders, Jessica Hynes, David Quantick (writer, The Thick of It); Andrew Newman (CEO, Objective Productions) and Myfanwy Moore, head of BBC comedy. So sharpen your pencils and your jokes and enter now. DEADLINE 19 May.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Quick TV Questionnaire: Alex Ayling

There are plenty of chances for us to share the television we love on the GEITF blog (and also on our YouTube channel), but we thought it was high time we let a few other people have a go...

We asked Talent Schemes committee member and YouTube Channel Manager for BBC Worldwide Alex Ayling to share some of his favourite programmes, nostalgic memories and boxset picks, and found out why he'd want to be friends with House of Cards' Frank Underwood.

1. Childhood favourite?
There was a children’s TV show called T-Bag in the 80s which was about an evil witch who hid out in random pieces of junk (I think she was miniaturised or something) plotting nefarious schemes, but was always vanquished by a plucky young heroine who had to collect magic objects in every episode. It had series-long narrative arcs that changed each year and pre-figured the era of Joss Whedon’s “Big Bad” by a good decade. I remember it being very affecting to me as a kid, but I’m sure it has aged dreadfully – so have resolved not to look it up on YouTube!

2. The popular show I just can’t get into
Even though I ought to be slap bang right in the middle of its target demographic, I can’t quite seem to get into The Big Bang Theory. Perhaps it’s the sheer number of episodes looming ahead of me that terrifies a perfectionist completist like me... But I also just can’t shake the feeling that these nerds are being laughed at, not with, and that just sounds like being back at school all over again

3.The programme I have on series link It might be shorter to list the shows that I don’t have on series link to be honest, I tend to devour as much as I possibly can. This year though, there has been one show which was elevated even above series link status in our house, as I found myself tuning in at 9pm every Wednesday to watch Keeley Hawes’ amazing turn in Line of Duty. I can’t remember the last time I made an appointment to view for a non-live show, so they must have been doing something right.

4. The last boxset I bought was...
Game of Thrones S3 – I don’t have Sky Atlantic, so I’m about a year behind everyone else on GoT. Fortunately I’ve read all the books so I’m unlikely to be spoiled. And anyway, with that show you should go into every episode thinking that your favourite character is about to meet an untimely end, as half the time you’re probably going to be right.

5. Guilty pleasure?
I fundamentally disagree with the entire concept of a guilty pleasure. If you like something then you should be proud of liking it! I could list all the critically-acclaimed dramas and worthy foreign imports to counteract the next half of this sentence, but you’ll still not see me much more excited than when the votes start coming in from the Eastern Bloc during Eurovision.

6. Reality show I’d be most likely to apply for...
I’ve always quite fancied going on The Apprentice. Not because I want to work with Lord Sugar (we’re just not Twitter compatible) but because I think the tasks they do always look like loads of fun and the house they stay in is always preposterous. I’m pretty sure I could come up with some winning hyperbole so the producers could hoist me by my own petard during my inevitable downfall and I’d also do a great line in two-faced snarkiness about the other obnoxious contestants in the talking heads.

7. The TV character I wish I knew in real life...
Maybe it’s my masochistic nature betraying me, but part of me kind of wishes I knew Frank Underwood from House of Cards. If I did know him, everyday life would be that much more exciting – not knowing whether I was going to get a sudden promotion or a one-way ticket to purgatory (or worse!) but at least it would never be boring.

8. If my life were a sitcom, it would be…
W1A (even though I work in W12).

9. TV theme tune I can’t get out of my head
My colleagues who sit near me have said that I frequently tap out the percussion line from the Doctor Who theme, but the weird earworm that I can’t seem to shake right now is the theme tune to Adventure Time.

10. Cancelled show I wish they’d bring back
Twin Peaks. Bring back Kyle MacLachlan for the first episode and then kill him off (again?). Cast Summer Glau as a hotshot FBI recruit sent to the town to investigate the murder. Russell Tovey can play her on/off love interest and Jessica Lange would make an excellent log lady. David Lynch would produce, Vince Gilligan would script and Ben Wheatley would direct. Come on Netflix – what are you waiting for!?

Alex is part of the Festival's Talent Schemes committee, who are responsible for the editorial direction of the schemes and selecting their delegates. The members of the committee are individuals who have extensive knowledge of the industry and are passionate about the future of the media. 

To find out more about our two talent schemes - The Network and Ones to Watch - visit the GEITF website:

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Tomorrow's responsible leaders | Lisa Campbell

"Prune the raspberries to make way for new growth," declared broadcaster Michael Buerk this week.
Essentially, his point was that to make way for the fresh-faced in this industry, we need to ditch the wrinklies.

Not surprisingly, his comments met with cries of ‘ageism!’ and ‘sexism!’ Yet exactly how new talent breaks into this industry is a perennial problem. Forget whether the golden oldies are hogging all the plum jobs or not, the more immediate questions are: do you have to be from the right background/part of the country/university? Do you need to know someone?

It’s ironic that an industry obsessed with youth and keen to appeal to increasingly fickle 16-34-year-olds makes it tricky not just to get in, but crucially to get on. Attending an RTS Futures event last year, an AP with a string of decent credits told me he was on the brink of quitting as he could not see how to progress his career, and as a freelancer, felt there was little support from employers. His remark prompted similar comments from the other 20-somethings in the room.

This is why we’re keen to extend the aims of one of the festival’s new talent initiatives, Ones to Watch. Traditionally, we’ve focused on identifying and supporting tomorrow’s leaders; now we want to find tomorrow’s responsible leaders. We want to find people who are not just determined to make great telly, but determined to make a difference to their industry, whether it’s around diversity, working conditions for freelancers or through a willingness to mentor others.

As well as benefiting the wider industry, those prepared to rise to the challenge will reap personal rewards: a free ticket/accommodation for this year’s festival and a tailored programme of events. Last year’s lucky delegates had their own Q&A with Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan and BBC1’s Charlotte Moore. They also joined an impressive network of alumni including: Myfanwy Moore (ITV), Kate Quilton (C4), Cameron Roach (Sky), Kim Shillinglaw (BBC), Katy Thorogood (ITV), Andrew Zein (Warner Bros) and current advisory committee members Anna Fern (ITV) and Neale Simpson (RDF).

We’ve helped over 4000 individuals to get in and get on in the television industry so far and we know that between us, we can do more.

The deadline for entries is fast approaching – 27 April – so recommend the best here: 

Or encourage them to apply here:

We are also hosting a Ones to Watch surgery on Wednesday 23 April in central London. This informal drinks event is an opportunity to learn a bit more about the scheme and chat to our alumni about their experiences. You can register for your place here.

Good luck!

Lisa Campbell | Festival Director

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

6 Format Regenerations You Need to Know About

As ITV confirmed that Through the Keyhole would be returning for a second series, we were also excited to announce that the Festival will also be welcoming Keith Lemon back, to host a very special version of Controller Through the Keyhole.

Through the Keyhole is part of a literally-glittering lineage of quiz shows that have been regenerated, rejuvenated or reformatted across the years (and even across continents). Here are 8 more that you need to know about...

1. You Bet!

You Bet! was a staple of Saturday night British telly in the 80s and 90s, but the original German version is still running on channel ZDF, with the same core idea of celebrities making wagers on whether normal people will be able to complete difficult or bizarre tasks - including a blindfolded farmer recognizing his cows by the sound they made while chewing apples, or this cool character popping balloon by doing The Worm. Attracting top-ranking celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Karl Lagerfeld and Bill Gates, Wetten Dass is one of the most successful Saturday television shows in Europe.

2. University Challenge

Decidedly peppier than it's UK spin-off, the GE College Bowl was the predecessor to University Challenge. Where Bamber Gasgoine (and latterly Jeremy Paxman) have focussed on intense academia and a compact filming style that's led to generations of viewers thinking the show has a two storey set, the College Bowl had a far sportier style: all college pennants and meeting the "coaches" before the big game. The questions were just as hard though.

3. Mr & Mrs

Proving how well you know your respective partner is the foundation of many a good quiz show, but Mr & Mrs has it down to a fine art. The format originated in Canada, with the first British version being a Welsh language version called Siôn a Siân, which still runs on S4C. Subsequently hosted in English by the likes of Derek Batey, Nino Firetto and Julian Clary, the show's celebrity spin-off All Star Mr & Mrs is currently filming its sixth series.

4. 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown

Like retro Instagram filters and typewriter-style iPad keyboards, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown beautifully blends the old with the new, as Jimmy, Sean & Jon wreak comedy havoc whilst still actually playing Channel 4's longest running quiz (trivia fans will probably already know that Countdown was the first programme to be broadcast when Channel 4 launched), all under the watchful eyes of Rachel Riley and Susie Dent . We're also very excited that Rachel will be bringing some Countdown glamour to our We Love TV Quiz in May, which she'll be co-hosting with Mark Watson.

5. Catchphrase

Brought back to TV screens in 2013 with Stephen Mulhern, the revived version of Catchphrase retains all the charm and character of the Murray Walker era, just with whizzier graphics and more contestants. Mr Chips is still around and it would seem that there's still every opportunity for hilariously lewd-looking reveals, as Kimberley Walsh, David Walliams and Emma Willis found out on the most recent Mother's Day Special...

6. Through the Keyhole

And of course, we couldn't finish without having a closer look Through the Keyhole! With the ever-industrious Keith Lemon taking on the role of both host and tour presenter, the last series nosed around the houses of Mary Berry, Mel B and John Prescott, to name a few, and we're looking forward to many more in series 2, as well as finding out what going on through t'keyhole of some of TV's big decision makers in Controller Through the Keyhole.

GEITF delegates will be treated to home truths and juicy secrets at Controller Through the Keyhole on 21 August 2014 - the opening session for this year's Festival. To ensure your place, book now and get the discounted Early Bird rate too!

Friday, 28 March 2014

#WeLoveTVQuiz - The Answers

To celebrate the announcement of our two wonderful hosts  - Rachel Riley & Mark Watson - for the unmissable 'We Love TV' charity quiz, sponsored by Dave, we ran a mini #WeLoveTVQuiz over on our Twitter account @EdinburghTVFestQuestions and answers are all below. 

And if they've whet your quizzical appetite, why not enter a team for the quiz? A firm favourite in the TV calendar, the event, which takes place on May 13
th in the sumptuous surroundings of Café De Paris, raises money for the Edinburgh TV Festival's new talent schemes – so a chance to show us your support, as well as showing off your TV trivia. 

And alongside your battle with TV rivals, you’ll also get to race against the famous Countdown clock in our letters and numbers rounds. So dust off your times tables and start assembling your A-team. Plus, can anyone knock last year’s winners, the mighty Endemol, off their perch? All the details, including how to book, can be found on our website, and if you enter before April 4th, you'll receive the special Early Bird rate.

Q1: What links: A Save the Children charity shop, House of Fraser, a knicker factory?
A: They have all been helped by last year's Alternative MacTaggart speaker Mary Portas

Q2: According to Mr Hamilton in the Fawlty Towers episode, there are four main ingredients to a Waldorf salad. Name three of them.
A: Celery, apple, walnuts, grapes

Q3: Which esoteric BBC4 panel show did Mark Watson host with Tim Key and Alex Horne?
A: We Need Answers. And Mark will of course be hosting the real life We Love TV Quiz on May 13th too.

Q4: *Picture round* – Which two famous faces have we morphed together?
A: Oprah Winfrey & Alesha Dixon

Picture Round 1 - Oprah Winfrey & Alesha Dixon
Picture Round 2 - Alan Carr & Jon Snow
Q5: What links Mad Men, E4 & Broadchurch?
A: They’ve all won at the Channel of the Year Awards (and you can too. Enter here:

Q6: Who recently featured on the first episode of W1A, arm-wrestling?
A: Alan Yentob & Salman Rushdie.

Q7: In Gavin & Stacey, when Dawn and Pete renew their vows, how does Dawn express her love for Pete during the ceremony?
A: Reading the lyrics of ‘BEN’ Michael Jackson

Q8: Where will the follow up to Educating Yorkshire be filmed?
A: Walthamstow, Frederick Bremer School

Q9: *Picture round 2* - Which two famous faces have we morphed together?
A: Alan Carr & Jon Snow

Q10: Who is taller: Ant or Dec?
A: Ant

Conscious coupling | Lisa Campbell

Lisa CampbellNo doubt your "hearts are filled with sadness" at the "conscious uncoupling" of Gwynnie and Chris, so we've embarked upon some conscious coupling of our own to help ease your pain.

These two are as beautiful (ok, one of them is) and as talented - but crucially, they'd be much more fun to go for a pint with, which is why we've brought them together to host one of the best nights out in the TV calendar - the festival's annual We Love TV Quiz.

Step forward Rachel Riley and Mark Watson who, with help from our lovely friends at Dave, we've lined up to host one of the most fun, competitive and, yes perhaps, drunken nights out you'll ever experience (with the exception of Karl Warner's leaving do).

We'll be mixing TV trivia with some Countdown rounds, so dust off your dictionaries and brush up on your arithmetic, ready for battle. It's one of our key fundraising events, so enter your A-team now. Book a table here.

Our aim as a charity is to foster new and diverse talent in the industry with The Network and Ones to Watch schemes. We all know how hard it is to get a foot in the door in an industry which, like the charge levelled at the BBC's arts plans this week, is "too London, too white and too establishment". So if you know a promising individual who'd benefit, please encourage them to apply. The deadline is fast-approaching (The Network: March 30, Ones to Watch: April 27)

Recommend an individual for Ones to Watch or read more about The Network.

And while I'm cracking the whip, there's another deadline to bear in mind - entries for our Channel of the Year Awards close on Friday April 4.  There are several categories up for grabs, including the new TV Moment of the Year, so submit your best work now. And unlike most other award schemes, they are free to enter.

The festival's sessions are shaping up and this week we bring you news of what are bound to be two of the most popular. Want to see how the other half live? Join Keith Lemon for our opening session, Through the Keyhole with the Controllers, where he'll be sniffing out the secrets behind closed doors (literally, no doubt).

Meanwhile, the controllers will be on stage again as we reveal the results of our latest commissioning survey. Will we see the improvements promised at our last festival?

It was one of the most talked-about sessions, and with more channels taking part, it's set to be the same this time around.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Lisa Campbell  | Festival Director

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a screen

We were at BAFTA’s Television Lecture this week delivered by Lenny Henry CBE. In his important and often entertaining speech, he proposed a pathway to ensuring that more television productions use Black and Asian Minority Ethnic performers and production staff.

With statistics from the latest Creative Skillset report, Lenny made the compelling case for immediate action to tackle the decline in BAME people working in the TV industry. Here are some of the highlights from his lecture:

"Between 2006 and 2012, the number of BAMEs working in the UK TV industry has declined by 30.9%
“Want some more evidence? Here’s another rocket-propelled statistical grenade for you. In the last three years the total number of BAME people in the industry has fallen by 2,000 while the industry as a whole has grown by over 4,000.” 

“Black British Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen –damn, that sounded good, I’m gonna say that again.”
“The evolution of BAME involvement in British TV seems to lurch one step forward and two steps back - a bit like John Sergeant on Strictly Come Dancing, except he had a job at the end of it.”   
“I have a screen. I have a screen where great programmes are produced by the multi-cultural many, as opposed to the mono-cultural elite.” 

On the BBC’s promise to represent the nations and regions: “The promise was to represent the UK’s nations, regions and communities. The BBC has kept its promise for the nations and regions but what about communities? More precisely, the BAME communities?”
To the audience: “ You have it within your power to effect a radical change upon this appalling situation. Let your greatness blossom, and let’s just see how great our generation can be.”  

Photos: BAFTA/Jonathan Birch

Friday, 14 March 2014

What's your TV Moment of the Year? | Lisa Campbell

I'm delighted to be in post as the new festival director of The Guardian Edinburgh International Television
Festival powered by You Tube and I'm looking forward to helping shape an event that will celebrate creativity but also deliver great business insight for all our delegates.

We're busy developing session ideas at the moment and there are some great suggestions which we'll be announcing in coming weeks. I'm also thinking hard about how we make this premier event in the TV calendar even better and I'd love to hear your thoughts. (You can email me on the address below).

We're likely to make a few tweaks this year and introduce further changes in the longer term, but we plan to keep you up to speed with all our news in these new fortnightly newsletters. One new initiative I'd like to tell you about is our new awards category,  TV Moment of the Year - and I'm sure many of you have material which could be a contender for the title.

If you think about your favourite TV series of years gone by, there's always a classic moment that sticks in the mind. They may be moments that make us laugh no matter how many times we've seen them - the comedy gold of Del Boy falling through the bar in Only Fools and Horses - or moments in which we marvel at the sheer inventiveness of the show's creators - from Python's Dead Parrot to David Lynch's dancing dwarf in Twin Peaks.

They may be cringeworthy moments - the first time we saw a jungle-dwelling celebrity chow down on a testicle; or David Brent gyrating in The Office  - or even moments we wish we could forget, but can't - George Galloway, on his knees, lapping milk like a cat on Big Brother makes me shudder even now.

Then there are the moments that shock, that surprise, that leave us gasping in incredulity - the Breaking Bad finale or Game of Thrones' Red Wedding. 

Every producer seeks that golden moment - whatever the genre - the moment that causes the nation to unite and react together whether in sadness, shock or laughter. It’s the moment that sees everyone take to Twitter to ask: ‘did you see that?!'

Which is why we wanted to add a new category to Edinburgh's Channel of the Year Awards. We want to identify and celebrate the most iconic moments of the year and there is certainly plenty to choose from in what has been a stellar year for television.

Whether it’s the explosive ending of a series such as Sherlock; the exit of a much-loved character such as Corrie’s Hayley; or a heart-wrenching minute such as Musharaf overcoming his stammer on Educating Yorkshire, we want to reward the most talked-about 60 seconds of television.

 You can make your submissions for TV Moment of the Year until June 30, and submitted clips will be showcased online in May and June when the category will be opened up to a public vote. The winner will be announced as part of the festival’s Channel of the Year Awards on August 22.

Don't forget to tweet about your moment, and include a link using #TVmoment.  You can find us at @EdinburghTVFest

We'll also be featuring a selection in our newsletters.

So get your entries in and good luck!

Lisa Campbell | Festival Director

Thursday, 13 March 2014

#Network14 Twitter Chat Round Up

Twitter Chat - Getting into TV with #Network14

Twitter Chat - Getting into TV with #Network14

A Twitter chat on applying for The Network and general tips & advice on getting into the TV industry. Hosted by @TheNetwork_TV, with panellists @SimonNorman1, @ShelleyTalksTV & @TamsinCurry
  1. Just to intro our panellists: @SimonNorman1 is Story Assistant on Casualty; @ShelleyTalksTV is Development Researcher at Electric Ray...
  2. ... and @TamsinCurry is an Assistant Producer, who is glamourously joing our Twitter chat from Paris! #network14
  3. Our panel all started in quite different parts of the TV industry, which really goes to prove that there's no one "correct" route into television.
  4. @TheNetwork_TV 1st job was a researcher on Newsnight Review. I was working in BBC radio, applied internally. Got it as I had arts journalism
  5. @TheNetwork_TV lucky enough to get on the BBC PTS- first job trainee ass script ed on #EastEnders.
  6. @TheNetwork_TV continuing drama = best training ground. Fast paced, high turnaround but hugely rewarding. #network14
  7. @TheNetwork_TV 1st job in TV was as receptionist at C4. Then went on to secure a place on C4's Production Trainee Scheme #DreamInternship
  8. And they all had some great pearls of TV wisdom to share.
  9. @TheNetwork_TV don't tell stories u think ppl want 2 hear. Tell stories tht excite u personally. Your passion will shine through #network14
  10. @TheNetwork_TV #Network14 You are a business with it's own brand and you're only as good as the last production you've worked on #NoSlacking
  11. @TheNetwork_TV Try to understand the whole process, so you know what everyone does on a shoot #network14
  12. We had a few questions about the practical side of applying for The Network...
  13. ... And our other talent scheme Ones to Watch. (A lot of this advice is also relevant for Network applications too).
  14. @TheNetwork_TV What advice would you give for applicants of this year's OTW? Thanks! #network14
  15. .@GracefaceTV Tell us what OTW can do for you nowhere else can & what you can do for OTW & Network to nurture talent. Altruism v imprtnt!
  16. @GracefaceTV @TheNetwork_TV And don't worry about whether you've had the 'right' experience, everyone's is different. #network14
  17. @TamsinCurry @TheNetwork_TV @GracefaceTV I agree I had least exp last year. Its about wot u bring to the table,nt wot u hvnt done#network14
  18. @GracefaceTV I remember spending ages on answering application questions! I knew my C.V wasn't enough to stand out on its own #network14
  19. And we discussed getting into TV as a career change.
  20. @TheNetwork_TV I followed another path but find myself wanting to write comedy. Is it possible to break to the industry from the outside?
  21. .@ljmessam @bbcwritersroom often have comedy opps. & get making your own stuff to put on YouTube. You never know who might see it #network14
  22. @TheNetwork_TV @ljmessam trainee schemes are great foot in the door opportunities. I only had my degree b4 #bbcpts #network14
  23. As well as tips on how to handle striking out your own as a freelancer...
  24. @TheNetwork_TV Does anyone have advice for how to handle gaps when your not working and what you can do? #network14
  25. @andycooktv @TheNetwork_TV Keep busy, work stuff (training, ideas, emailing) & life stuff (see ppl). Freelancing will always have gaps
  26. @TheNetwork_TV @andycooktv no excuse 2 nt have ur own content,scripts/shorts on youtube/writing comps etc. Ppl cnt c how gd u r if u don't!
  27. @andycooktv @TheNetwork_TV Keep busy, work stuff (training, ideas, emailing) & life stuff (see ppl). Freelancing will always have gaps
  28. @TamsinCurry @TheNetwork_TV Thanks I've found it difficult to get used to, as I'd rather be working, than waiting on new contract to start.
  29. @andycooktv @TheNetwork_TV Me too! Just embrace it, plan stuff for when it's quiet (Jan and summer)
  30. ... Or producing your first script.
  31. @TheNetwork_TV @Aaron3000_ be prepared 4 1st draft 2 b crap. But keep going, take all advice on board and don't give up!
  32. @TheNetwork_TV @Aaron3000_ and be small to be big. Find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Nothing wrong with boy meets girl! #network14
  33. @FrankyKentish asked what a typical day was like for the panel?
  34. @TheNetwork_TV @frankykentish never typical was is great! Researching, contacting contributors, planning shoots, filming #network14
  35. @TheNetwork_TV @frankykentish no 2 days the same. Script editing, research visits (paramedic for a day) filming, pitching stories#network14
  36. @TheNetwork_TV @frankykentish #network14 in a typical day researching, pitching, casting, editing, photoshoping & truck lots of TV watching
  37. Thanks to a question from @Rochelle-Eva, we also got into a discussion of the most memorable new stories or content the panel had covered.
  38. @TheNetwork_TV @rochelle_eva Behind the scenes mini doc of casualty stunt involving limo hanging off a grade 2 listed bridge #network14
  39. @TheNetwork_TV @rochelle_eva Worked on a show about the Booker when Hilary Mantel was nominated and won. Great interview #network14
  40. @TheNetwork_TV @rochelle_eva Content? Loads! Glastonbury, Cannes, Latitude, some of my favourite authors & musicians, too much! #network14
  41. @TheNetwork_TV @rochelle_eva #network14 most memorable casting real-life diary of a Call Girl incredible stepping into other people's worlds
  42. @TheNetwork_TV @rochelle_eva script edited casualty red button ep about soldiers with PTSD. We made South Wales into Afghan #network14
  43. If you want to get involved with The Network, there's plenty of information on our website or follow us on Twitter @TheNetwork_TV and like us on Facebook. Applications for the scheme are open until March 31st.
    And there's plenty of opportunities coming up to talk to us in person - an event in Cardiff on March 19th and a workshop in London (at the Channel 4 building) on March 20th. Just make sure to register!