Pilot Light TV Festival returns to HOME for a third season this May with a line-up that celebrates the full spectrum of small-screen programming. As broadminded as ever, this year’s edition finds time for everything from a 4K opening night screening of the Season 2 premiere of the critically lauded HBO drama Westworld to a 60th birthday event for children’s television stalwart Blue Peter featuring clips and guest appearances to a special screening of acclaimed Italian crime drama Gomorrah.
2018 marks the debut of a new In-Memoriam strand, dedicated to celebrating and mourning outstanding series that left our screens prematurely. The focus of the strand this year is Dennis Kelly’s Utopia, a stylish and off-kilter British conspiracy thriller with a comic-book edge. The festival will screen the first episode followed by a Q&A with Kelly and the shows cast and crew. Also new to the festival this year is the Pilot Light Excellence in Television Award, which goes to Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street, Broadchurch, Inside No.9) who will be on hand to talk through her acclaimed and trailblazing roles.
The local flavour continues with a visit from Salford-born Christopher Eccleston (Shallow Grave, 28 Days Later, Cracker, Doctor Who) who appears at the festival to talk us through his career, with an emphasis on his small screen accomplishments. Meanwhile beloved Manchester-set sitcom The Royle Family is honoured with a special 20th anniversary Q&A featuring Sue Johnston (Barbara Royle), Peter Martin (Joe Carroll) and director Steve Bendelack (The League of Gentlemen).
A classic is reexamined as Pilot Light present Sex and the City: The World according to Woke Charlotte — a live script reading of the pilot recast entirely with people of colour. Delivered in collaboration with London’s always exciting Reel Good Film Club, the event aims to examine the impact the show had on women of colour and the progress in on screen representation made during the last twenty years.
Of course, in addition to looking back at the television of the past, Pilot Light TV Festival also champions work from the next generation of storytellers from across the globe, screening new and under-seen projects in order to get them in front of both industry professionals and TV fans. Screening across six blocks, selected shows will compete for the festival’s Best TV Pilots and Best Web Series Awards with winners announced at the festival’s closing event.
As always, Pilot Light is a festival designed for television lovers, but also for those who work or aspire to work in the industry. Attendees can attend a range of panels and workshops on everything from pitching web series to Class and Diversity in British Television. Featuring top talent who have worked with the likes of CBeebies, SkyArts, Creative England, Netflix and All4, these events are of interest to industry types or viewers who just want to peek behind the curtain.
For its third year, Manchester’s television festival continues to go from strength-to-strength, with innovative new ventures and partnerships, but there are plenty of returning favourites too. Michael Cumming is back to talk us through his work as a director on shows such as Brass Eye, Snuff Box and Toast of London. Everybody’s favourite TV lover Walter Iuzzolino returns with his latest foreign language discovery: Belgian thriller Tabula Rasa. Whilst there’s another Sunday marathon screening, with Big Train on a Big Screen honoring the 20th anniversary of the cult British comedy.