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Edinburgh Television Festival 2015 round-up

Fraser Ayres

Fraser Ayres

Diversity was the hot topic at this year’s Edinburgh Television Festival with Creative Skillset, in partnership with CDN, hosting an informal networking event, Some of My Best Friends Are… with the Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey  to Oona King, Baroness King of Bow, diversity executive Channel 4, hosting Creative Skillset’s  panel session, Why are we writing off diverse talent in TV drama? and Trevor Phillips, OBE, writer and producer, chairing the session Things we won’t say about delivering diversity.

Here, Satmohan Panesar, Commissioning Executive, ITV Factual, one of CDN’s seven participants in our Commissioner Development Programme, shares his experience of his first Edinburgh Television Festival:

Satmohan Panesar

Satmohan Panesar

“Stepping off the train at Edinburgh’s Waverley station, the warm smell of hops from the breweries filling the lungs and the ringing of bagpipes in the ears, I readied myself for my first Edinburgh Television Festival.

With the immediate priorities of which parties to attend dealt with – the Soho house party was the hot ticket, attention turned to the which sessions to attend.

In a schedule crammed with lectures from enigmatic execs from across the pond, like Rich Ross and debates with the potential to make big headlines, like the much hyped Leaders debate which for the first time would feature the heads of all five major broadcasters all served with a big slice of festival entertainment in the form of Edinburgh Does Big Brother – I was spoilt for choice.

Arriving at the Edinburgh Conference centre, it awash with familiar faces – smiling work colleagues from days gone by, recognisable industry luminaries and the welcoming faces of my current employers, ITV.

A quick caffeine fix and I was sinking into my seat at The Pentland Auditorium, eagerly awaiting the arrival of eight of our industry’s finest who – we were hoping – had left their dignity in the Elstree’s infamous Big Brother house, all for our amusement. We weren’t disappointed – with Camilla Lewis’ secret mission forcing her to fake a diva meltdown to Dan Baldwin’s flawless Donald Duck impressions, the 40th Edinburgh Television Festival had officially started.

But alongside the lighter offerings of Edinburgh Festival, there was also a job to be done – a chance to network with some of the most influential and brightest minds of our industry, an opportunity to learn about how to create more exciting and engaging content and a rare chance to hear frank and often uncomfortable debates about the future of our industry.

I moved from insightful dissections of programme titles courtesy of UKTV’s senior commissioning editor, Hilary Rosen and consumer behaviour consultant Philip Graves – get the word ‘secret’ and ‘millionaire’ into a name and you’re onto a winner, as Stephen Lambert proved – to a master class delivered by the stars of YouTube; leaving energised and inspired.  The Creative Skillset networking event ‘Some of my best friends are…’ gave me the opportunity to meet and hear Ed Vaizey speak about delivering on the objectives set out, at last year’s festival, for unlocking the potential of talent from diverse backgrounds – both on and off screen.

Having recently joined ITV as a commissioning executive, Edinburgh afforded me the opportunity to connect and, in lots of cases, reconnect with a plethora of talented individuals who I could form collaborative relationships in the future. Whether it was the budding first time filmmaker to the seasoned hit making exec; gossip is exchanged, ideas shared and minds were aligned, with the common goal of making outstanding content.

With a detox booked in, it was time to leave Edinburgh. Aside from the hangover, I left with a refreshed insight into our industry, a replenished list of contacts and most importantly a renewed enthusiasm for making television.”

Take a look at Creative Skillset’s film, launched at their Edinburgh Festival networking event, Some of My Best Friends Are…
The Haanes Appeal – Making TV More Diverse featuring Harry Enfield