Pilot Light TV Festival Season 2

Jon Whiteley

Pilot Light TV Festival Season 2 at HOME Manchester, Manchester 4 — 6 May 2017 Tickets from £30 — Book now

Last May, a new player entered the Manchester festival game: Pilot Light TV Festival was a celebration of all things small screen, with public screenings, panel discussions and special events to satisfy every kind of telly fan. This year, they’re taking over arts hub HOME, archway club venue Gorilla and Central Library with an even bigger and better lineup of televisual treats.

Young & Promising – Image courtesy of Pilot Light


Opening the festival this year is a screening of the hotly-anticipated pilot for American Gods, a brand new series on US network Starz, adapted from the novel by cult writer Neil Gaiman. It tells the story of Shadow Moon, a man recently released from prison who comes into contact with the old gods, including Norse god-king Odin, portrayed by veteran Lancastrian actor Ian McShane. Suffice to say, American Gods is on every critic’s must-watch list for 2017 and the house is going to be packed for this screening.

But it’s not just the big, tentpole shows that Pilot Light screens, they’ve also got an eye for the independent and foreign language shows. The festival features a dense programme of content from way outside the prime time in their TV Pilot Spotlight Selection. Amongst these well-travelled pilots are two shows presented by Walter Iuzzolino, of Channel 4’s ‘Walter Presents’ programming block, who’ll be hosting screenings and panel discussions of two shows: The first is Norwegian show Young & Promising, a coming-of-age dramedy about a young Nordic stand-up returning home from L.A. The second is Dutch crime drama Professor T, which scooped the Grand Prize at France’s Festival de la Fiction TV in 2015.

They’re also shining their spotlight on a number of web series at this year’s festival. The pilot of British superhero comedy web series Heroes LTD is amongst those to be screened. This episode – entitled Supermum – follows the exploits of a super-powered mother, played by comedian and Edinburgh Fringe favourite Juliette Burton. Another high point is lesbian comedy Skirtchasers, from veteran comedy producer Stan Zimmerman, best known for MADtv and The Jamie Foxx Show.

Sugar Rush – Image courtesy of Pilot Light

A key feature of the festival is its appreciation of shows that are no longer with us. For this year’s festival, they’re remembering the lives of British show Sugar Rush and US series Mad Men with special screenings and discussions. Showing with an introduction from star Olivia Hallinan, the Julie Burchill-scribed Sugar Rush is a daring, funny, semi-autobiographical look at teenage sexuality, that was BAFTA-nominated against heavyweights such as Life On Mars and The Street. Man Men needs no introduction, but its influence can’t be overstated: Not only did it unleash the talents of Jon Hamm on the world, it also started the AMC network’s long association with quality television, bringing us enduring greats such as Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Now ten years old, it’s also a thumping good show, and worth celebrating in its own right.

Last year’s festival closed with a screening of overlooked sketch show Snuff Box, and they’ve upped the ante for 2017 with a 20th anniversary retrospective of the satirical news comedy Brass Eye. Taking place in the gig space at Gorilla, they’ll be screening the entire series, and they’ll also be joined for a special Q&A session from series director Michael Cummings (a friend of the festival, he also appeared on last year’s Snuff Box panel). Cummings will also be presenting his new Brass Eye documentary Oxide Ghosts, which features never-before-seen footage cut from the original show.

The panel discussions and Q&As underscore that this isn’t just a festival about watching television, but also one about the process of making television. During the festival, the organisers are hosting a web series masterclass, where aspiring web series creators will have their rough scripts read by a team of actors and bruted by established web creatives. Maybe we’ll even see a few of these embryonic shows at next year’s festival.

Pilot Light TV Festival takes place Thu 4th May – Sat 6th May. A full festival pass is available for £50, or £40 concessions. Day passes for the Saturday are priced at £30/£20.

Pilot Light TV Festival Season 2 at HOME Manchester, Manchester 4 — 6 May 2017 Tickets from £30 Book now

What's on at HOME Manchester

Where to go near Pilot Light TV Festival Season 2

Indian Tiffin Room, Manchester

Indian Tiffin Room is a restaurant specialising in Indian street food, with branches in Cheadle and Manchester. This is the information for the Manchester venue.

The Ritz Manchester live music venue
Music venue
The Ritz

The Ritz was originally a dance hall, built in 1928, has hosted The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and The Smiths and is still going strong as a gig venue now.

Event venue

Homeground is HOME’s brand new outdoor venue, providing an open-air space for theatre, food, film, music, comedy and more.

Café or Coffee Shop
Burgess Cafe Bar

Small but perfectly-formed café – which also serves as the in-house bookstore, stocking all manner of Burgess-related works, along with recordings of his music. It’s a welcoming space, with huge glass windows making for a bright, welcoming atmosphere.

Rain Bar pub in Manchester
City Centre
Bar or Pub
Rain Bar

This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city.

Bar or Pub
The Briton’s Protection

Standing on the corner of a junction opposite The Bridgewater Hall, The Briton’s Protection is Manchester’s oldest pub. It has occupied the same spot since 1795, going under the equally patriotic name The Ancient Britain.

What's on: Cinema

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Jewish Culture Club

Meet new people, explore contemporary cultural works and learn about Jewish culture with Jewish Culture Club at Manchester Jewish Museum.

free entry
A still from Now, Voyager featuring Charlotte Vale played by Bette Davis.
Now, Voyager at Cottage Road Cinema

Bette Davis stars as a wealthy young woman who escapes her domineering mother in this classic melodrama selected to show as part of Classics at the Cottage this June.

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