If, like me, you spend most of your non-working hours lying on the sofa (or in bed), eating crisps and baguettes while watching TV shows - you're in for a treat this May Day Bank Holiday.
We’ve been in a Golden Age of TV for years now and it doesn’t look like the relentless release of much-watch shows is going to slow down any time soon. HOME will play host to the 3rd year of the Pilot Light TV Festival this 3rd – 6th May, and there is a ton of stuff going on.
You’re all intelligent enough humans to visit their website and look at the listings so I’m just going to bring your attention to the one’s that caught my eye.
Visit pilotlightfestival.co.uk for the full listings.
Westworld Season 2
Thursday 3rd May
I spend a week just after Christmas catching up on this fantastic series; a deep, brooding TV remake of the Yul Brynner movie of the same name. As you’d expect from something written by Michael Crichton, it involved lots of science and lots of deaths, as well as posing some of the most existential questions to grace the TV screen since SuperTed was discarded like a piece of dog muck into a cold, dark storeroom. The TV show follows the same basic plot of SuperTed, except Ted didn’t choose to punish the bastards that made him and instead consistently saved them from Texas Pete. Thursday sees the start of the second season and, with the last episode ending on such a shit show for all involved, it’ll be very interesting to see where they go.
Arrow TV presents: Gomorrah
Friday 4th May
Hailed as an absolute modern classic, every man and his dog has been telling me to watch Italian crime thriller Gomorrah ever since it started a couple of years back. It’s on the list (I promise) but I haven’t got around to starting it yet. For anyone who is in the same boat, you should head on down to this showing of the first two episodes of the first series to wet your whistle for crime and guns and savage beatings. It will look great on the big screen too!
Sex and the City: The World According to Woke Charlotte
Friday 4th May
One of the biggest shows of its time; much like Thundercats and Friends, Sex in the City hasn’t really aged terribly well, especially in relation to issues of race, gender and LGBTQ+. Therefore, Pilot Light and London’s Reel Good Film Club have got together to examine the impact the show had on women of colour and the progress made in on-screen representation in the past 20 years. To do this they’ll be having a live script read through of the pilot, recast entirely with people of colour followed by an in-depth discussion on identify and race.
The Royle Family at 20
Saturday 5th May
If you like your bacon dead, dead crispy and enjoy a tin of Dandelion & Burdock with your chippy tea, you’re probably a big fan of the Royle Family and will be disheartened to know that it’s been 20 bloody years since it first got on the telly. It’s one of the best TV shows ever, and when you’re away on holiday for a long time in some far off exotic place, it’s the perfect remedy to being homesick – making any Manc feel instantly at home with talk of Beverley Macca, Black Roy and his White Wife and Darren shagging a woman who looks like Tina Turner and works in Argos. To commemorate the 20 years, Barbara (Sue Johnston) and Joe (Peter Martin) will join director Steve Bendelack for a special Q&A.
Big Train on the Big Screen: 20th Anniversary Screening
Sunday 6th May
Penned by Father Ted creators Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews, the sketch show Big Train introduced many famous faces to TV, including of course Simon Pegg, Mark Heap and Kevin Eldon, and was a massive favourite when it first screened on Channel 4 in the 90’s. There’s a fair degree of surrealism going on in each episode, which is to be expected from a team that had Father Ted and Dougal entering the Eurovision Song Contest with a song about a Lovely Horse. Everyone remembers the Staring Contest bits but there’s plenty more on offer during this marathon screening – including a video introduction from absolute legend Kevin Eldon.
TV in Memoriam: Utopia
Sunday 6th May
I’m not entirely sure how many people actually watched Utopia when it was on Channel 4 because nobody ever really seems to talk about it or know much about it, so I was thrilled to see this ‘TV in Memoriam’ for this often overlooked classic. Looking at shows that were taken away from our screens too early, Utopia definitely fits the bill, as Dennis Kelly’s take on conspiracies, government intervention and mystery was cancelled after only 2 brilliant seasons. It was graphic, slightly offensive and featured a cast that just seemed to get better with every episode (including Emperor Palpatine!). My advice, watch it on All 4, and then head on down to this memoriam to discuss everything you’ve just witnessed.
Spread over a series of 4 ‘Blocks’ over 2 days, the Web Series event offers a platform for series creators to get their work in front of a wider audience, and for guests to perhaps get to grips on ‘the next big thing’. There’s loads of stuff flying about over the 2 days, appealing to a wide range of interests, from post-apocalyptic drama, right up to satirical animated comedy.
In Conversation: Christopher Eccleston
Sunday 6th May
If there was ever a bigger Manchester legend than Christopher Eccleston, let them stand up and make themselves be known. I’ll then show them that bit in Cracker where he got stabbed by Robert Carlyle or his final scene in the recent work of genius The Leftovers and that person can quickly sit down. He’s been in so much throughout his 30-year career that I’m certain you’ve seen him in something – and I can guarantee that he was absolutely fantastic in it. He was also the best Doctor Who, just in case you were wondering. Pilot Light TV Festival will be hosting this exclusive in-person event with Christopher, discussing his small screen triumphs and experiences across his definitive career. I want to be here.
Michael Cumming: Directors Commentary
Sunday 6th May
Michael Cumming has worked with the likes of Matt Berry, Chris Morris, Stewart Lee, Peter Serafinowicz and Matt Lucas on a range of programmes including Brass Eye, Toast of London, Snuff Box and loads more throughout his massive 30-year career. To celebrate, Pilot Light will be hosting this unique ‘show and tell’ event where Michael will screen some of his favourite works, and subsequently discuss and elaborate further. There should be plenty of behind-the-scenes stories for you to get your teeth into, as well as plenty of insider insight into what it takes to direct great television comedy.
Excellence in Television Award: Julie Hesmondhalgh
Saturday 5th May
Saturday night will see TV legend Julie Hesmondhalgh receive the inaugural Excellence in Television Award from the gang at Pilot Light TV and you can be there to watch and explore the stories behind her incredible career. Most known for her often moving portrayal as Hayley Cropper in Corrie, Julie was the first Transgender character in the history of soap operas – a mantle which she successfully carried on her shoulders for 15 years. With a mixture of humour, warmth and depth, Julie managed to pick up a raft of awards and since leaving the cobbles has gone on to star in some of TV’s most recently critically acclaimed shows. This session will feature Julie talking through her performances and exploring the stories behind her career.
TV Pilot Series
As you’d expect, these events will showcase a series of TV Pilot episodes, each one looking to get a commission for a full series. Again, this is a great chance to see some of TV’s rising stars, writers and directors, and an opportunity to sample what could be the next biggest TV show on our screens. Spread over the Saturday and Sunday, there’s 8 diverse pilots to get to grips with, from comedy to drama to dystopian thriller.