A Traitors rival and a Kardashians deep-dive: Backstage At… Edinburgh TV Festival


The annual gathering of the people behind the shows that we see on TV has been taking place in Scotland this week.

The Edinburgh TV Festival has seen commissioners, press and some famous faces heading to Edinburgh to discuss the current television landscape and promote some of the new shows they have coming out in the next 12 months.

The team from Backstage – the film and TV podcast from Sky News – was there, and these were their five biggest takeaways from the event.

Louis Theroux attending the Red carpet gala event, #TheMikeGala, hosted by Stormzy, at The Biltmore Mayfair, London, to mark the British rapper's 30th birthday. Picture date: Friday July 28, 2023.
Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux played it safe while discussing… not playing it safe

In previous years the MacTaggart lecture has seen Michaela Coel talking about the racism and sexual assault she’d experienced working in the industry and writer Jack Thorne using his time at the podium to criticise the business for how it’s treated disabled people – both behind and in front of the camera.

Last year journalist Emily Maitlis talked about the challenges journalists face reporting on Donald Trump, Brexit and populism.

Theroux though was less disparaging in his speech, titled The Risk Of Not Taking Risks, he urged TV bosses to continue to avoid playing it safe, in an era when it might sometimes be easier for them to do so.

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A fair point, but perhaps not the ground-breaking speech we’ve come to expect from the festival’s keynote lecture.

Coleen Rooney The Real Wagatha Story. Coleen Rooney as herself in Coleen Rooney The Real Wagatha Story. Cr. Ben Blackall/Disney+ 2023.
Coleen Rooney The Real Wagatha Story. Pic: Ben Blackall/Disney+ 2023

Wagatha Christie continues to compel

We’ve known that a documentary about Coleen Rooney and the Instagram post in which she accused her former friend Rebekah Vardy of leaking stories about her to The Sun was coming to Disney+ for a while.

But now the first sneak peek of the pre-credits scene for Coleen Rooney: The Real Wagatha Story have been shared in an Edinburgh session.

The three-part series promises to tell Coleen’s story through interview with her, and her inner circle.

The woman behind it, Julia Nottingham, said her jaw was “on the floor” after speaking to Coleen for the first time and we suspect viewers will be the same way when the doc drops this autumn.

Claudia Winkleman with the award for Entertainment Performance, The Traitors, at the Bafta Television Awards 2023 at the Royal Festival Hall, London. Picture date: Sunday May 14, 2023.
Claudia Winkleman clutching her BAFTA for Traitors

ITV’s new offering for fans of Traitors

Among the announcements from ITV at the festival was new show Fortune Hotel.

Filmed in the Caribbean with Stephen Mangan on hosting duties, it will see 10 pairs of contestants each given a briefcase which either contains the cash prize, an early checkout or nothing at all.

The series will see contestants deceiving one another and swapping cases – when commissioners used the word “subterfuge” while describing it, we immediately knew this would be one for fans of The Traitors (which incidentally won the best entertainment prize at the festival).

Pic: BBC
Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley. Pic: BBC

Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright’s new shows

The third and final series of Happy Valley was a monster of a hit when it aired at the start of the year.

At the TV festival a brief update on writer Sally Wainwright’s historical show The Ballad of Renegade Nell for Disney Plus, about a highway woman with superpowers, was simply that it’s still in production.

While the BBC announced they too have a new show coming from Wainwright, Hot Flush is described as “a celebration of women of a certain age” who come together to form a punk band.

Like Happy Valley the six-part drama will be set in West Yorkshire.

The Kardashians - Kris Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, Kourtney Kardashian, Robert Kardashian, Kendall Jenner and Khloe Kardashian. Pic: eter Brooker/Shutterstock
The Kardashians in their early days. Pic: Peter Brooker/Shutterstock

Sky dig deep on the Kardashians

During their panel at Edinburgh Sky announced a few new shows, including a nature documentary focusing on sound with Sir David Attenborough and the second series of Gemma Arterton’s Funny Woman.

But the one that really piqued our interest was House of Kardashian, a documentary series looking at the reality star dynasty and their influence and impact.

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Using interviews – including one with Caitlyn Jenner – and previously unseen archive footage, this promises to be a considered look at one of the most divisive families in popular culture.

Hear more from the festival on the latest episode of Backstage – the film and TV podcast from Sky News.