The first sessions and speakers for the Edinburgh TV Festival have been revealed., producer Warren Littlefield (The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo, Dopesick), and The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm executive producer, Andy Wilman, are some of the first names announced to speak at the 49th Edinburgh TV Festival in August 2024.

The speakers also feed into two new areas of expansion that have been introduced to look at the future of the industry. In a new addition to the regular Spotlight Sessions, panel discussions and programme Masterclasses, Creative Director, Rowan Woods is expanding the Festival’s international focus and also launching a new strand called Frontiers.

New strand, Frontiers, “celebrates creativity, convergence and new forms of storytelling.” Programming will explore the “intersection between the traditional TV space and other sectors, including podcasting, tech and digital.” It will also look at “state-of-the-art” programme making and “provide insight from some of the world’s foremost creative innovators as well as practical guidance on how to adapt your business and working practices for a new digital age.”

In its first year, the Frontiers strand features a headline speaker in Grammy Award-winning musician, producer, “creative innovation advisor,” and tech entrepreneur, who will be in conversation with Dr Alex Connock, academic in media and artificial intelligence at Oxford University to discuss the future of creativity and what role AI will play in it.

The Festival is also growing its international focus. Former NBC network chief Warren Littlefield, who oversaw and developed series including Friends, Seinfeld, ER and Cheers, will be In Conversation, discussing his work on both sides of the commissioning line.

Now forging a new career as a producer of high-end drama, Littlefield is behind multi-Emmy and Peabody Award-winning shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo, Dopesick, The Old Man, and the forthcoming Amanda Knox drama co-produced by Knox and Monica Lewinsky. He will be discussing the current state of scripted drama, talent relationships and where the next big shows will come from.

Andy Wilman, executive producer of The Grand Tour, Clarkson’s Farm and Top Gear will be in conversation with Nutopia CEO and Founder, Jane Root. Wilman is behind three of the biggest unscripted shows ever created. As Clarkson, Hammond and May take their final bow on The Grand Tour, Wilman speaks to Jane Root – who in her role as BBC Two Controller greenlit the reboot of Top Gear that started it all – about creativity, talent wrangling and the secrets of his success.

Woods said: “It’s such an exciting moment for me to be able to unveil our first session announcements for the 2024 Festival. They hint at three of our key priorities this year: expanding our international programming, reflecting the increasingly porous boundaries between TV and other sectors and the creative opportunities this brings, and celebrating the success and impact of UK talent and programme making. We have lots more news to share in the coming weeks and look forward to convening the industry in Edinburgh in August to reflect on a challenging year and chart a way forward.”

The Festival will once again take place at the EICC in Edinburgh from 2pm on Tuesday 20 August to 2pm on Friday 23 August.

Jon Creamer

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