For its 40th anniversary edition, the Edinburgh International Television Festival is placing an emphasis on talent and bringing in more offshore content than ever. But, it’s keeping things homegrown for the prestigious James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture. The fest has recruited Scottish writer, director and producer Armando Iannucci “to show why TV still matters.” The Oscar and Emmy-nominated writer, director and producer of In The Loop, The Thick Of It, and Veep, will address the British television industry in a discussion about the role of TV channels, the future of BBC funding, and the changing dynamic of how the public view TV.
The MacTaggart lecture is a key point on the UK calendar which typically stirs debate. It has previously been delivered by three different Murdochs, Kevin Spacey and, last year, Channel4 boss David Abraham, among others.
Iannucci says of the opportunity, “In the current climate where no one knows what the hell is going to happen to TV schedules, revenues, watching habits, funding, quality control, the BBC, investment, licence fees, charters, and government interference, I’m terribly excited to be asked to join the debate in this, perhaps our most spectacularly clueless year. Nobody knows anything, and in my MacTaggart lecture, I’m sure that will become abundantly clear. I’ll do my very best, though, to show why TV still matters.” He recently announced his exit from Veep and is next set to direct a new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield for BBC Films.
The Edinburgh festival, which runs August 26-28, will also feature sessions with Showtime’s David Nevins, FX’s John Landgraf, Discovery’s Rich Ross, HBO’s Michael Ellenberg, Google’s Matt Brittin and Amazon Studios’ Roy Price. Also, for the first time, the Controllers of the main UK broadcasters will be questioned at once in a debate format.