Friday 20 September 2019

Highlights from day one of the Edinburgh TV Festival

The chief of Channel 4 News, Russell T Davies and Labour MP Jess Phillips were among those who spoke at the annual event.

Alastair Campbell at the 2019 Edinburgh TV Festival (Jane Barlow/PA)
Alastair Campbell at the 2019 Edinburgh TV Festival (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter

A news chief’s withering criticism of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, and a celebration of Queer As Folk two decades on from its inception were among the highlights from the first day of the Edinburgh TV Festival.

Here PA runs down the top moments from day one of the annual three-day event.

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Channel 4 New chief Dorothy Byrne (Jane Barlow/PA)

Channel 4 News chief Dorothy Byrne delivers the MacTaggart Lecture

Byrne is among the longest-serving heads of news and current affairs in British TV, and was the sixth woman to give the prestigious address.

She used the 44th edition of the lecture to deliver a stinging rebuke to politicians who will not take questions from journalists.

Taking aim the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, she said: “I would never have thought I would say these words: I believe that Mrs Thatcher would agree with me; Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are cowards.

“She had a word for men like them – ‘frit’.”

Labour MP Jess Phillips takes aim at Theresa May

The representative for Birmingham Yardley described the former prime minister as “not very human”.

In conversation with comedian and host Joe Lycett, she also said the previous Tory leader would be “crap” on TV.

“She’s the only person I’ve ever met who actually gives off cold air. She’s not very human,” she said.

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Russell T Davies at the Edinburgh TV Festival (Jane Barlow/PA)

Russell T Davies suggests Queer As Folk could be revived

The screenwriter’s acclaimed gay drama aired 20 years ago, and during a panel exploring the show’s legacy Davies hinted it could be revived.

The former Doctor Who boss told attendees he would consider reuniting the three main characters if the money went to a good cause.

He asked: “I think that reunion shows are often disappointing, aren’t they?”

He then offered: “Maybe a charity thing or something…”

Screenwriter James Graham sits down with Alastair Campbell

The former Downing Street spin doctor under Tony Blair said Corbyn’s Labour Party is deluded to think it triumphed at the polls in 2017.

When quizzed about the state of British politics, former communications chief Campbell said that Labour had work to do in order to truly claim victory.

He said: “The Labour Party has been in denial since the last election, by thinking that they did very, very, very well.

“One of Corbyn’s people came up to me and used the phrase: ‘One of the reasons we won in the last election…’ and I said: ‘Hang on a minute’.”

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