The TV festival runs for 3 days and this year it turned 40, while The Network (the talent scheme I was part of) turned 25, both pretty exciting numbers and great achievements too.
As a steward I was required to arrive earlier than the festival delegates and sort out some behind the scenes things, from packing delegate bags, to buying food/drinks for a band’s rider, to room rehearsals we had a lot going on. That aside, we still had plenty of time to get to know each other and experience the Fringe; something I’d never done before.
I arrived early Sunday afternoon and met up with Lija, conveniently acquired a pair of tickets to Adam Hills‘ sold out ‘Clown Heart’ Fringe show that was on that night (sometimes twitter really is great) and after catching up, having ice cream and a mooch around the city, we headed to the Assembly Hall.
The show was great, Adam was hilarious and he really comes across as such a genuine guy. There’s stories he shares within the show that are really personal; relating to his family and his friends and he definitely likes to include the audience. On Sunday night he was talking about typical Scottish guys after seeing two gym-friendly guys in the front row. He found someone who he deemed to be the ‘true representation of Scotland’, some 46 year old guy, funnily enough named Scott! The best part – Lija and I found 2 of an apparent 11 posters he’d stuck around Edinburgh, as a little joke for us all from that night. If you weren’t there, I’m sure he had other funny things for the other nights, but Sunday guys – how many did you find?
On Monday night I saw Ed Byrne in a very warm Guilded Balloon, an incredible venue (I felt like I was in a castle) but a very warm room. Nevertheless, the show did go on and whilst we all sat there, chuckling quietly to ourselves, we definitely all agreed the room was way too hot for comedy. A great show, with a very sweet photo at the end of his son in his new trainers. We actually bumped into Ed a few nights later and he’s a really down to earth guy.
After our dose of cosy comedy, we made a split second decision to go to The Showstoppers, an improv musical show in Pleasance. After a slight jog across to the venue, we found good seats and enjoyed a hilarious musical ‘Let’s Get Battered’, set in a late night fast food restaurant. The Showstoppers guys are performing in London‘s Apollo Theatre from late September to November, so if you get a chance to see them, I’d highly recommend it. They improvise a completely different musical every night, based on suggestions from the audience – everything from the concept, the location, narrative twists and influences and of course, the title.
Wednesday saw the start of the television festival and I was very happy to be placed within the room where the YouTube masterclass was taking place. I got to meet Fleur very briefly before she left for her journey home and she really is as lovely as you’d expect. I also saw the trailer for the final series of Downton Abbey, following their discussion which was also taking place in the room I was in, although it would’ve had more impact had I seen previous episodes.
The prestigious MacTaggart lecture was delivered by Armando Iannucci and was so inspiring, entertaining and well delivered. We had Martin Freeman sitting in the row in front of us too, which was surreal. I was within touching distance and fellow steward, Nicholas nearly coughed on his neck – what a claim to fame that would’ve been!
Thursday, I held the door for the CEO of Showtime (someone I know I could talk to about Dexter for hours, but y’know, you play it cool at these events) and saw the Hand of God premiere and Q&A featuring Julian Morris and Ron Perlman, along with other cast members, the director and two guys who work for Amazon. It was an interesting show, with a lot of production value though I can see it might not be to everyone’s taste. It’s out on Amazon from early September though, so if you do give it a watch, let me know what you think.
Now TV’s pick n mix was very well received throughout the festival, those jelly snakes are definitely my favourite, closely followed by the strawberries and the hearts. Did I mention it was all free?! A Dentist’s nightmare, right there.
Friday came by so quickly and marked the end of the festival and time for me to return home. A few of us managed to fit in seeing Thrones! The Musical – yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like and absolutely hilarious! After our crew drinks, I made my way across Edinburgh to the train station – with some soundtrack music provided kindly by The Waterboys who were playing in Princes Street Gardens. It really was an amazing week and I met some really lovely people. Some of which I knew from The Network, some I’d never met before but hopefully we can stay in touch and if I’m ever in London, Glasgow, Leeds or Cardiff (among other places too) I know who to holla at!
Edinburgh International Television Festival, I’ll see you again in 2016 for more fun, inspiring lectures and networking opportunities. Watching the Military Tattoo fireworks three times in one week is now my record to beat!
Have you been to the TV festival or the Fringe, tell me about your experiences.