Meet the Controller: Peter Fincham at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

ITV director of television, Peter Fincham, spoke passionately about the risks involved in making great shows in his keynote speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.


During his ‘Meet the Controller’ session at the Festival, Fincham described the different kind of risks involved in producing mainstream, incredibly popular television.


“There's an idea that risk naturally exists only on BBC Two and Channel 4 but it's different in mainstream,” he said.


“Viewers don't sit there on a Saturday and think: 'Has the controller taken a risk?' - they're just thinking: 'Is it entertaining?'"


Fincham said Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway was his ‘channel defining’ show, but that even with a solid gold hit like that, there were risks and decisions to be taken.


“There is nothing to be embarrassed about a channel defining programme being Ant & Dec,” he said.


“We rested the show for a couple of years which is risk, we're bringing back 'Sunday Night at the Palladium which is a risk…


“It’s like when people say with Downton Abbey: 'You must have known all along?' – no, it was a bloody great risk."


Fincham also looked forward to the return of the ‘entertainment juggernaut’ X Factor, back on our screens next weekend with Simon Cowell back in the driving seat. The ITV boss said he was ‘delighted’ Cowell was returning and that such shows had a long lifespan.


And he threw his support behind Good Morning Britain, saying: “We are right behind it, I think it is fresh, it is different.


"We tried to break the mould with Good Morning Britain. I think it has a good team on screen and working behind the scenes, that hasn’t at this moment shown itself with a jump in the audience but we would expect audiences at breakfast to move quite slowly.”


Fincham also showed a lighter side at the Festival, appearing in Keith Lemon’s Controller Through the Keyhole. He avoided the fate of Sky boss Stuart Murphy, who was confronted with a naked Lemon lounging about in his kitchen. However, the audience was treated to a glimpse of Fincham’s rather nice house, including works of arts and a giant ‘man cave’ in the garden, where Lemon ‘discovered’ wads of £50 notes.


Written by Jenny Cornish