Iannucci's MacTaggart lecture: "We"re All in This Together"

On 26 August, The Knowledge attended the annual MacTaggart Lecture, always the most highly-anticipated session of the Edinburgh International Television Festival, a kind of state-of-the-nation address in telly terms.

This year's speaker was Armando Iannucci, seasoned writer, director, satirist and producer, now equally prolific on both sides of the Atlantic thanks largely to the critical success of Veep.

As you can imagine the multihyphenate was witty, biting and wide ranging on the broad church of TV, covering the history of viewing, swiftly changing technologies and the different cultures of programming and production around the world.

We thought we'd just bring you a few bite-sized chunks to illustrate what Iannucci covered. We haven't picked out quotes with any particular bias, well, not intentionally anyway, just the ones that deliver food for thought…


"We may alter and innovate how we watch, from set to laptop to tablet and yes, unbelievably, to a watch, but we still crave to view the same things. Basically costumes and cakes."


"But believe me, saying 'We're all in this together', I'm not being ironic. Playful, maybe, but deadly serious. British television needs to be at its strongest: with a big global fight ahead, we need to consolidate all our talent and expertise."


"If we don't do something to redress the balance, to allow the voice of the creative and production community in TV to be heard loud and clear, the politicians will become our masters rather than partners and supporters. Acting as if they alone are the experts."


"The bad news is, everyone wants to make television. Cheaper user-friendly technology, means we're living in both the Golden Age of TV, and a global bucket of swill. For every Sherlock and Breaking Bad there's a billion more people filming their brother squirt baked beans from his nose and anus."


"Our programme-making skills are not just a vague part of our heritage. They are the primary economic component of our success. When the media, communications and information industries make up nearly 8% of our GDP, larger than the car and oil and gas industries put together, we need to be heard, as those industries are heard."


"I simply trust British talent, as I've been trusted. I believe we are the best in the world at what we do. And am prepared to act on that basis."


"The BBC is a mirror into which Britain gazes every day: it reflects the country, sometimes flatteringly, but also truthfully.  It must surely keep asking questions about that country, digging around, startling, annoying."  


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