Venerable listings mag Radio Times launched its very first TV/Radio/Book festival this year 24-27 September in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace – and we were there!
Not exactly in lights…
… but on the programme!
The line-up was starry. Everything from the stars and writers ofWolf Hall to Doctor Who and Call the Midwife. David Attenborough, Peter Capaldi, Brucie, Andrew Marr, Jon Snow, Thomas the Tank Engine, Simon Schama, Phillipa Gregory… The best-known names in British telly and publishing in fact. And Steve and me, talking about Britain’s Greatest Generation and how we rose to the challenge of getting 90 and 100-year olds to tell their stories for the series and the book.
Yes, we were in a marquee, and our select but lovely audience gamely put up with competition from a VERY LOUD session on Radio 4 coming from the other end of the tent. We just about made ourselves heard over the theme tunes to Listen With Mother and The Archers...
But these are quibbles. It was a privilege to be part of such a buzzy and well-organised event. Afterwards we went to sessions with Russell T Davies (writer of Dr Who, Bob & Rose, and the amazing and under-rated Second Coming) and Peter Kosminsky – a hero of mine who directed Wolf Hall and who has been making brilliantly controversial drama-docs for more than 30 years –The Government Inspector, The Promise, Britz, Shoot to Kill among them.
Worryingly, both speakers were pessimistic about the future of the BBC and seemed convinced that the Tories are intent on dismantling it out of spite, revenge or pure ideology. We’ve been here before and the Beeb has survived political onslaughts from governments of all stripes. But it is Britain’s most precious cultural asset and events like this that round up so many BBC gems and talents remind us just what we’ve got to lose. I predict a Luvvie – and a public – fight-back.
This was the first RTFest – let’s hope it becomes an annual fixture. Popular culture deserves no less.