Media release: Advisory chair announced for Edinburgh TV festival


CHANNEL 4 deputy director of Programmes and head of Popular Factual, Kelly Webb-Lamb, has been appointed as the advisory chair of the Edinburgh Television Festival, which will run from Wednesday 21st to Friday 23rd August 2019.

Alongside festival director, Lisa Campbell, Webb-Lamb will spearhead a team of cross-genre, industry executives to help curate the 2019 programme and lead the Advisory Committee.

Webb-Lamb’s festival theme centres around the fundamental question of ‘What is TV for?’ as the industry strives to remain relevant in a fast-evolving world.

She said: “Once upon a time I used to avoid Edinburgh… as it felt at times like an exclusive week full of telly people from London navel-gazing.

“But in the last few years, the festival has evolved and I am excited to be able to be part of that evolution. In what promises to be a momentous year for the industry and as we race to keep up with the way viewers watch content, I’m really looking forward to interrogating and questioning what and who we’re all doing this for.

“I’m pleased to be working with Lisa Campbell and Graham Stuart and the advisory team to make sure next year’s festival is both dynamic and different.”

As part of the ambition for the 44th TV festival, Webb-Lamb will concentrate on four key themes/strands to focus sessions and debates including:

Young audiences – how do we attract them, engage with them and represent them in a meaningful way? What can we learn from key digital players and youth brands, from Snapchat to LadBible and IGTV which reflect young viewers in new and innovative ways? The TV Festival is also committed to showcasing the views and talents of young content producers to help deliver real insight into viewing behaviour.

Representation – whether it’s social mobility, disability or Nations and Regions quotas, how do we ensure representation is authentic and not mere box-ticking or brass-plating? How can creativity drive cultural change? What are the wider benefits for businesses and for society?

Truth, trust and transparency – how do we restore faith in news and the wider media? How do we maintain standards when the line between activism and journalism is blurring? And how do we address the fact that for some young audiences, impartiality is an entirely outmoded construct.

The globalisation of TV – where do the new opportunities lie and how do you capitalise on them? What does successful digital transformation look like? How are the old guard and the rising stars of online combining to create a new world order?

These talking points will run alongside popular creative masterclasses, keynotes, Meet the Controllers and the Gamechanger interviews. In 2018 these included: A Very English Scandal masterclass with Hugh Grant; interviews with Joanna Lumley; Michael Palin and Steve Coogan and an Alternative MacTaggart with Jeremy Corbyn, alongside a ground-breaking MacTaggart speech from Michaela Coel.

Festival director, Lisa Campbell, said: “It’s over a decade since a Channel 4 executive has headed up the advisory, and I’m really looking forward to working with Kelly who made headlines at this year’s Festival with her comments about ‘mediocre posh white people’ in TV. I’m sure she’ll be making more headlines in 2019 with a noisy and provocative programme of sessions.”

Executive chair, Graham Stuart, said: “Kelly’s track record of commissioning and producing award-wining shows such as The Great British Bake Off on 4, The Circle, Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds, Genderquake, The Island with Bear Grylls and Hunted, means that creativity and innovation will be at the heart of her thinking. Kelly inherits the Festival in very good shape with a record number of attendees and an enhanced reputation as the must-attend media event of the year.”

The advisory chair is an one-year position and Webb-Lamb takes over from Sky Arts and Sky Entertainment head, Phil Edgar-Jones.

This year’s advisory committee will feature dedicated genre and talent heads, with Factual headed up by David Brindley, BBC head of Popular Factual and Factual Entertainment; Drama handled by Jane Featherstone, founder Sister Pictures and Kwadjo Dajan, drama creative director, Sugar Films; Comedy and Entertainment headed by Morwenna Gordon, comedy commissioning editor, Sky and Sohail Shah, former BBC entertainment commissioner; Talent by Ian Lamarra, creative director, Alaska; News headed by Rachel Corp, acting editor ITV News and the Younger Audiences strand led by Jita Mitra, YouTube executive, BBC Three; Dhanny Joshi, MD, Big Deal Films and Mindy Juss, EdTVFest marketing manager.

The group will also be joined by Webb-Lamb’s C4 working group who will help curate and develop the festival alongside the advisory committee which will be announced in the New Year: Rita Daniels, commissioning editor, Documentaries; Emma Hardy, head of On-Screen Talent; and Donna Mathews, deputy head of Press & Publicity.

As a festival and a charity, the Edinburgh International Television Festival is committed to helping young people from all backgrounds gain access to the TV industry. It runs two young talent schemes, Ones to Watch and The Network.

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