BBC confirm 2017 Edinburgh Festival coverage.

Edinburgh Festivals’ 70th anniversary year is to be celebrated by the BBC with a dynamic showcase highlighting the cultural standing of this international event.

Among the top talent to be featured will be Sir Ian McKellen, Daniel Radcliffe, Karen Cargill, Stephen Fry, Aditi Mittal, Sir James MacMillan, Val McDermid, Joshua Bell, Andreas Haefliger, Jack Whitehall, Nicholas Parsons, Athena Kugblenu, and Paul Merton.

Edinburgh Festival 2017 on the BBC

Edinburgh Festival 2017 on the BBC


As well as a raft of favourite and new dedicated programming from Edinburgh, across tv, radio, and online, there will be special highlights to mark the festivals’ 70th anniversary, including:

  • Festival Tales: Edinburgh At 70 on BBC Two - presented by actor and comedian Jack Whitehall - will explore seven decades of the world’s largest arts festival and its impact on contemporary culture since its inception in 1947 - with Sir Ian McKellen, Daniel Radcliffe and Stephen Fry.
  • Kirsty Wark will present two programmes Welcome To Edinburgh on BBC Two, and Kirsty Wark’s Edinburgh, an hour long chat show on BBC Two Scotland, and there will be a further BBC Two compilation of some of the best music and performance from this year’s Edinburgh Festival.
  • Charlie Stayt will anchor a special BBC Breakfast broadcast in Edinburgh on the opening day.
  • Steve Wright In The Afternoon will be returning this year after the show’s debut at the festival in 2016. He will be joined by Radio 2’s The Michael Ball Show and The Radio 2 Arts Show, presented by Jonathan Ross, will feature festival specials across August.
  • BBC Radio 3, the official broadcaster of the Edinburgh International Festival, will broadcast special editions of key favourites across the opening weekend and throughout the festival, as well as a full schedule of music programming, live and pre-recorded coverage of 16 concerts from the Queen’s Hall as well as six concerts from the Usher Hall, including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in the 70th anniversary celebration concert at the close of the festival.
  • James Naughtie will present a new documentary Nothing Short of a Miracle for Radio 3, which will look at the EIF’s history and founding, with archive material and new interviews to trace an oral history of the early years of the festival.
  • Also to mark Radio 3’s longtime association with the EIF, 12 lunchtime concerts taken from the BBC archive will feature performances from some of the finest artists ever to appear at the EIF from Fritz Wunderlich to Jessye Norman. It’s a major opportunity to relive some of the EIF’s most amazing musical moments since 1947. Called Edinburgh 70, the series has been produced by BBC Scotland and will be presented by Kate Molleson.
  • Radio 4’s longest running quiz show Round Britain Quiz marks its 70th birthday this year, and celebrates with a visit to another 70 year old institution, the Edinburgh Fringe.
  • In association with the University of Edinburgh, Allan Little presents Enlightenment After Dark for Radio 4. This series of conversations with leading thinkers will be recorded in front of live salon audiences in Edinburgh locations associated with the Enlightenment.
  • BBC Arts Digital is showcasing a season of performance and talks called Spirit Of '47 in conjunction with the EIF and the British Council from the Festival Theatre.
  • BBC Arts Digital is also marking the 70th anniversary with a special virtual reality project, Edinburgh 70: The BBC at The Festival, Virtually. Commissioned by BBC Arts and supported by Creative Scotland, VR artists Dennis & Debbie Club have created a vibrant collage mixing abstracted digital models of the city and short BBC archive highlights from 70 years of the festivals, all at the control of the viewer’s gaze. The experience will be available for audiences to view throughout August at the BBC site in Edinburgh and to download both nationally and internationally.
  • On Monday August 14 and Tuesday 15, BBC Radio Scotland's The Janice Forsyth Show will be co-anchored with Sonya Feldhoff from ABC Adelaide, with these programmes broadcast in Australia and Scotland. The link up follows on from The Janice Forsyth Show broadcasting from The Adelaide Fringe in February. The Adelaide Fringe signed a memorandum of understanding with Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2016.
  • BBC World Service will reflect the international impact of the Edinburgh Festival in this anniversary year with a greatly expanded schedule of programming including The Arts Hour on Tour, Global Beats, the 15th anniversary of the World Book Club and A Night Of International Comedy, which will feature some of the big emerging names from across the globe.

There will also be coverage of the Festivals across news and magazine programmes and the hugely popular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo will be broadcast on BBC One.

Radio 4 favourites Just A Minute - presented by Nicholas Parsons and featuring Paul Merton, Susan Calman and Fred MacAulay - and Front Row will also be Edinburgh based while the Funny From the Fringe daily podcast is back after its debut success in 2016.

Edinburgh in August is well-known as a place for new performers to make their mark. On Sunday August 13, Mark Watson hosts the final of the BBC New Comedy Award 2017, which will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 at 6.15pm and filmed for BBC iPlayer. Six finalists will perform in a bid to win the coveted award. A panel of comedy experts will decide the winner and the show will also feature a performance from special guest, Tez Ilyas. The Asian Network will showcase new talent at the BBC base with their Comedy Night on August 11, which will also be available to view on the Red Button. BBC Comedy’s Lee Dalloway will have daily Facebook Live sessions with up and coming comedians at the BBC base.

As well as serving as the main broadcasting hub, the BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals base at George Heriot’s School will be home to many hours of unique sessions by BBC Presents, BBC Comedy, BBC Writersroom, and CBBC. It’s also where visitors can discover and enjoy special music performances, the seventh annual Edinburgh Poetry Slam and an exciting programme of children and family fun activities commissioned by BBC Learning and BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals, working in partnership with many organisations including Edinburgh Arts Festival, Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh Libraries, National Museum of Scotland and the University of Edinburgh.

Donalda MacKinnon, Director of BBC Scotland, says: “This is a special year for the Edinburgh Festivals and for the BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals.

“Edinburgh has been the world’s stage, every summer since 1947 and we have a programme of coverage across all platforms on television, on radio, online and on social media which will reflect its long-held standing as a crucial cornerstone of the arts which has evolved and developed and fuelled many elements of entertainment across the board. Its enduring vivacity as an international event in Scotland enjoys a cultural reputation of extraordinary magnitude and I’m delighted that the BBC is at its heart. The BBC at Edinburgh Festivals 2017 is a dynamic mix which celebrates the past 70 years and the present.”