Fincham to give McTaggart lecture


LONDON -- Former BBC1 controller Peter Fincham is to deliver the agenda-setting annual MacTaggart lecture that kicks off this year's Edinburgh International Television Festival Aug. 22 it was announced Monday.

Fincham, who was forced to resign from the post after a BBC commission was found to have falsely edited footage of the Queen, is expected to be a hot ticket, having maintained his silence since quitting the BBC.

The news made for a spate of embarrassing newspaper headlines for the pubcaster, which was already embroiled in a debate about public trust after viewers were misled over charity phone-in calls. Stephen Lambert, creative director of independent producer RDF Media, later admitted to having re-edited the footage and also resigned.

"Being invited to deliver the MacTaggart is like being asked to be a guest on (classic radio show) 'Desert Island Discs' -- you don't turn it down," said Fincham.

"It's an enormous honor, as well as an opportunity to reflect on the enormous challenges facing the broadcasting industry in the digital age. I'm looking forward to it with relish."

Fincham, who was chief executive of drama and comedy indie Talkback Thames before taking the BBC1 post three years ago, would be "uniquely placed" to deliver this year's keynote speech, said Andrew MacKenzie, the festival's advisory chair and head of factual entertainment at Channel 4.

"He's not only built a successful super-indie but has also held one of the most powerful positions in British broadcasting. Even the Queen's heard of him," said MacKenzie. "Now as an independent voice he has an ideal perspective to deliver a memorable speech."