The BFI and Radio Times Television Festival returns later this year.
Described by organisers as the biggest, most exciting television festival in the UK, it will feature the very best TV shows and on-screen stars, returning for a third year at BFI Southbank. This year highlights include a celebration of The Goodies! who mark fifty years since the first episode, Hollyoaks’ 25th anniversary, Russell T Davies, Mary Berry and Gillian Anderson inducted into the Radio Times Hall of Fame and Sir Lenny Henry in conversation with Alan Yentob.
The Festival will celebrate the best of British television, as well as exclusive previews of some of the most anticipated programmes of 2020, with actors, directors and writers giving audiences a glimpse behind the scenes of some of television’s most talked-about shows.
There’s also events celebrating some of the UK’s most popular programmes, including: Last Tango in Halifax, Strictly Come Dancing, Grantchester, Killing Eve and Who Do You Think You Are?
Exclusive previews of some of 2020’s most anticipated new dramas, including series two of the critically acclaimed comedy-drama After Life created and starring Ricky Gervais who will attend the Festival as well as the team behind The Inbetweeners turn their hilarious gaze on the world of football in The First Team about the misadventures of three young football players.
There’s also BBC Two’s adaption of Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries with stars Eve Hewson and Himesh Patel, new Sky Atlantic crime drama Gangs of London starring Peaky Blinders’ Joe Cole and a sneak peek at the finale of Julian Fellowes’ prestigious new ITV drama Belgravia.
The Festival will also reunite Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie for The Goodies at 50! with material from the BFI National Archive, as well as a session featuring a bespoke compilation of dazzling footage of the one and only Prince, also drawn from the BFI National Archive. The Festival will remember the legacy of Dave Allen, the doyen of 70s comedy, with a compilation event featuring clips from all the varied parts of his small-screen career
Radio Times Hall of Fame
After launching her TV career in 1993 as UFO sceptic Dana Scully in global sensation The X-Files, Gillian Anderson has redefined the role of the coolly intelligent hero across three decades of television drama. She played the haughty Lady Dedlock in Bleak House, portrayed an icy Miss Havisham in Great Expectations and played cat and mouse with Jamie Dornan in BBC1’s serial killer thriller The Fall, before coming to the attention of a new generation as therapist Jean Milburn in cult Netflix hit Sex Education. Ahead of her eagerly awaited turn as Margaret Thatcher in the next series of The Crown, Anderson reveals the secrets of her success on screen in a gala finale to the Festival.
Since the early 1970s, Mary Berry has been championing cooking on TV, and 50 years on she remains the Queen of the kitchen. As a judge on The Great British Bake Off she put home-baking back on the menu and won a whole new generation of fans. Following recent hits such as Mary Berry’s Quick Cooking and Best Home Cook, the RT salute the nation’s favourite star baker, and consider the key ingredients of her enduring appeal.
Writer Russell T Davies’ career has been diverse, ambitious and heartfelt. He broke taboos in Queer as Folk, rejuvenated Doctor Who for a new generation, gave a darkly humorous spin to a political crisis in A Very English Scandal, and presented a frighteningly plausible dystopian vision with Years and Years. The master storyteller joins Radio Times TV editor Alison Graham to celebrate his life in television to date, and discuss his next project, The Boys, a 1980s-set drama for Channel 4.
Celebrations of the best-loved programmes on TV
Key moments include a preview of the first two episodes of series two of the critically acclaimed, thoughtful and poignant comedy-drama After Life with creator, director and star Ricky Gervais taking questions after the previews. Last Tango in Halifax creator Sally Wainwright, executive producer Faith Penhale and star Anne Reid will reveal all about the making of the BAFTA-winning hit that’s been hailed by viewers and critics alike as the warmest and most life-affirming drama on television.
Strictly Come Dancing judges Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse, executive producer Sarah James and BBC Commissioning Editor, Entertainment Jo Wallace bring the glitz of the ballroom to BFI Southbank as the Festival celebrates the enduring appeal of the nation’s favourite entertainment show.
As Hollyoaks celebrates its 25th anniversary, the Festival looks back at the cutting edge soap opera which has made it its mission to start conversations on big issues, with a panel including executive producer Bryan Kirkwood and cast members Gary Lucy (Luke Morgan), Talia Grant (Brooke Hathaway) and Rishi Nair (Sami Maalik). This event is presented in partnership with Pilot Light TV Festival, who will present a Hollyoaks session at HOME, Manchester as part of their Festival in May.
Other highlights include a Q&A for Giri/Haji, which turned the police procedural genre on its head, a session on Bram Stoker’s Transylvanian Count with key players from the show discussing the series. Villanelle left a trail of bodies in her wake on Killing Eve, the Festival is joined by top executives from the production as well as offer a sneak peek of clips from series three.
Comedian Mo Gilligan picks the best moments of his Channel 4 programme, The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan while the team behind The Mash Report, including Nish Kumar, Michael Spicer, Rachel Parris and Desiree Burch, will ask whether the world is now beyond satire and as Who Do You Think You Are? prepares to enter its 17th series, newsreader Sophie Raworth and the show’s producers discuss the research process and emotional impact of taking part.
There’s also sessions with World on Fire star Julia Brown, writer Peter Bowker and designer Paul Spriggs and Grantchester stars Robson Green and Kacey Ainsworth, plus writer Daisy Coulam and executive producer Emma Kingsman-Lloyd, discuss their parish’s ever-increasing murder rate and the reasons why the show’s cop-and-vicar crime-solving partnership remains so appealing.
Television stars in conversation
The Festival’s Talent Spotlight event will this year celebrate the meteoric rise of Nicola Coughlan, star of Derry Girls, who will next appear alongside Julie Andrews in period drama Bridgerton, while following his Imagine film for the BBC Alan Yentob interviews Sir Lenny Henry to discuss his rise to fame, from working-class kid from Dudley to one of Britain’s most celebrated performers
Award-winning magician Dynamo discusses his return to our screens after time away due to severe illness, and his new show for Sky, Beyond Belief, which promises to change perceptions of magic on TV.
First looks and previews
Humour and heartbreak play out in BBC One’s upcoming four-part drama Us, adapted by David Nicholls from his bestselling novel; with preview clips from the drama, David Nicholls, star Tom Hollander and executive producer Greg Brenman talk about bringing the book to life.
Jenna Coleman reunites with Victoria makers Mammoth Screen for BBC One’s upcoming international crime drama The Serpent, inspired by real events. Attendees can watch the exclusive first-look clips and hear Coleman and co-stars Billy Howle and Ellie Bamber, as well as writer Richard Warlow and director Tom Shankland, shed light on the story of the elusive Charles Sobhraj – the killer who was sought on three continents in the mid-1970s for the unsolved murders of young Western travellers across the ‘hippie trail’ of South East Asia.
There’ll be a preview of the epic opening episode of BBC Two’s The Luminaries, an intricately woven, suspenseful tale of love, murder, magic and revenge set on the wild coasts of 1860s New Zealand at the height of the gold rush, followed by a panel discussion. An assassination at the heart of the capital’s most powerful crime family sparks an underworld power struggle in Gangs of London starring Peaky Blinders’ Joe Cole. There will be a preview the first exhilarating episode of Sky Atlantic’s latest high-profile series along with a Q&A session.
Also the festival will screen exclusive clips from Alex Rider, the latest episode of Julian Fellowes’ prestigious new ITV drama Belgravia and the team behind The Inbetweeners turn their hilarious gaze on the world of football in The First Team about the misadventures of three young football players a preview of the opening episode will screen. Most of these events will include chat sessions with cast and crew.
Musicologist and composer Neil Brand returns to the small screen with The Sound of TV, in which he casts his expert eye on the soundtracks and themes of the small screen.
Rare material from the BFI National Archive
The Festival will celebrate The Goodies at 50! with very special guests Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, who came together 50 years ago to unleash sublime, often surreal, mayhem in The Goodies; the event will offer a rare chance to hear the group reminisce, and will feature material from the BFI National Archive.
Following last year’s David Bowie extravaganza, the Festival presents another bespoke compilation of highlights from the BFI National Archive – this time looking at the one and only Prince; featuring rare dazzling footage of the star performing live as well as music videos and interviews.
Irish comedian Dave Allen was the doyen of 70s comedy, taking a gentle aim at religion from his perch on a high stool; the Festival will remember his legacy in this compilation event featuring clips from all the varied parts of his small-screen career.
The Year of the Sex Olympics (BBC, 1968) is a genuinely groundbreaking drama set in a near-future where a ruling elite controls the masses with banal reality TV shows and pornographic contests. Starring Leonard Rossiter, Suzanne Neve and Brian Cox, The Year of the Sex Olympics was long thought lost, but luckily a print surfaced in the 1980s – the Festival will offer audiences a rare chance to see this seminal sci-fi drama on the big screen, preceded by an extended introduction with guests to be announced.
Also in the Festival will be a special session on the Channel 4 New Comedy Shorts Initiative, a platform for finding distinctive and diverse new talent, with a panel of comedy writer/performers Donna Preston and Verona Rose and producer/writers Guy Davidson and Daniel Clarke. Plus the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival TV Quiz returns for another bumper batch of rapid-fire rounds designed to find out who can tell their Poldark from their Picard, and their Mrs Brown from their Mrs Maisel.
For ticket information please visit https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/tvfest20