Edinburgh International Television Festival 2017

Another great Edinburgh this year with a sobering, timely and well-judged MacTaggart lecture from Jon Snow. Whilst this addressed a very serious issue facing the media, particularly the news media, and the subject formed an integral part of the festival conversation, I want to comment on a lighter side and on one of the wonderful benefits I find attendance brings. The time it gives you to appreciate what you miss during the frantic activity of day to day work.

I sat in on Black Mirror Masterclass with Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones and it reminded me of what a spectacular show that is. Despite having seen the C4 series, I had not found time to watch it on Netflix. So I downloaded three episodes in the auditorium, to ease the four and a half our Virgin Trains journey back to London, and settled in to hearing from Charlie and Annabel about how they put the show together.
With what, some might say, is a surfeit of episodic drama production at the moment, the pleasures of a fantastically well-crafted anthology series are a very welcome change. Although the mind of Charlie Brooker is clearly dark and twisted, it is also fiendishly perceptive and playful. I don’t think there is a better one around that can draw together such well realised dystopian worlds, characters and emotions in an hour. Great praise and a host of awards have been heaped on the San Junipero episode, and rightly so, but I thought that Nosedive did a better job of creating a believable alternative future than the whole series of The Handmaids Tale, much as I enjoyed (is that the right word?) THT. My knowledge of TV series is far from encyclopaedic, but after the Twilight Zone, has there been any really good anthology series until Black Mirror? It’s a true once in a generation classic.

So that is one of my pleas to the writers and commissioners, don’t forget the Anthology series.

Sadly now I am back to the reality of work I am doing the same thing with the current Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, three episodes in and I haven’t seen a single one. Perhaps it will have to wait until the train back from Edinburgh next year!

Written by Tom Avison, Head of Studios

  • on October 5, 2017