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Edinburgh TV Festival Live Blog: Jeff Ford on Channel 5 in 2012

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Welcome to our first live blog from the MediaGuardian Edinburgh Television Festival. Digital Spy will be bringing you all the news and gossip direct from Scotland, where TV bigwigs and the biggest names of entertainment are gathering for three days to discuss the best (and worst) of British television.

First up is a session with Channel 5's director of programmes Jeff Ford - following on from his channel's successful acquisition of Big Brother, how does Ford plan on expanding the brand? Will he be able to maintain audience numbers and keep hold of that much-desired younger demographic? And the most important question - will the BB live feed come back?

Join us at 12pm for a live blog - charting developments as they happen...


Atmosphere
Celebrity Big Brother Summer 2012 Launch held at Elstree Studios
London, England - 15.08.12
Mandatory Credit: Daniel Deme/WENN.com

© Daniel Deme/WENN.com

Jasmine Lennard

© Channel 5



13:05And that's a wrap on the Channel 5 session here at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh Television Festival - stay tuned to Digital Spy for more news and live coverage!


13:00The channel tends to air more female-skewed programming around the time that Big Brother is airing, since that series attracts a lot of female viewers, Ford explains. During other times of the year, shows tends to be more male-oriented.


12:57Ford claims that he is more concerned with making a show work on television and isn't worried about online tie-ins and spinoffs, like "cool" rival Channel 4. "Channel 5 is not cool, we're fun," he claims.


12:55"We've got money, we've got slots, we've got success - and we want more success!" Ford says of the channel's future.


12:54Ford is "immensely proud" that Channel 5 is launching a variety of all-new programming in the second half of 2012, including star-driven nature documentary Dominic Monaghan's Wild Things.


12:51Time for some Dallas talk - Channel 5 has acquired the UK rights to TNT's revamped series. "You won't be disappointed," Ford promises. "It is brilliant."


12:48"We'll pick up football whenever we can," he adds, praising forthcoming six-part documentary series Being Liverpool.


12:47Channel 5 has lost the Europa League, but Ford insists that sport remains an important part of the channel's schedule. He wants to expand coverage of boxing and also highlights the channel's coverage of cricket.


12:46When does Ford believe that Channel 5 will overtake Channel 4? "I'd love for [that to happen] - we're on a roll," he says, but adds that Channel 5 will "probably not" beat its nearest competitor any time soon.


12:44Ford defends Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars which underperformed for Channel 5. "Not every show can work - sometimes you have to take risks," he argues. "It was brave, it was big, it was expensive - all those things are very positive signs that we are trying to do something new."


12:37Would Channel 5 produce a comedy panel show? "We'd love to, but let's not force it," says Ford. "It's got to be the right idea. At the end of the day, we are looking for returnable formats."


12:36Does the talent also have a little snobbery about working with Channel 5? Ford thinks so - "We have two or three fantastic opportunities next year for talent," he says, explaining that he's keen to hire big names with a passion for a particular project. He names Paul Merton's travel programmes and Robson Green's Extreme Fishing as ideal examples.


12:34Ford confirms that Channel 5 is in talks with Chris Evans about a variety of projects, but again insists that it's unlikely to be a broad entertainment show. Evans may or may not present.


12:33Has Big Brother opened the door for more light entertainment on Channel 5? Ford explains that his idea of "light entertainment" is something like Celebrity Wedding Planner - but appears to rule out more variety-based shows.


12:31If behaviour on Big Brother was felt to be "totally, totally inappropriate," Channel 5 would definitely eject the offending party from the house, Ford insists.


12:30Of the show's appeal, Ford says: "For the most part, it's about laughing at these people," - but he swiftly corrects himself. "Not laughing at them, laughing with them," he quickly adds, claiming that all housemates know what they're in for when they sign up for the show.


12:27Is there a danger of Big Brother overexposure? "We're doing the same weeks as Channel 4 - we've just changed the make-up of the show," Ford explains. "It's on the same amount of time as it was on Channel 4."


12:26Despite's Bacon's pushing, Ford insists he is not disappointed with the Big Brother ratings, but adds: "Would I like more? Sure."


12:25Is Ford disappointed with the Big Brother ratings? "If you take the programme as an average, last year it did 1.7m over its run, this year it did 1.6m consolidated." But is 1.6m enough for that show on a terrestrial channel, asks Bacon. Ford blames a "horrendous" summer full of sporting events.


12:22Big Brother discussion time! "We've put the show back on the public mind. We've made it a Channel 5 show, it's not a Channel 4 show - I think that's very, very clear."


12:20"We were too fat as a business," he continues, insisting that changes and cuts were on the cards for Channel 5 before Richard Desmond came on board.


12:19Channel 5 turned itself around by losing some "middle management" and some "worker bees" - Ford describes the cuts as "terrible" but argues that the channel is now in "bloody rude health".


12:17Of their close rival, Ford says: "Channel 4 have their remit and their remit is very different to our remit. Channel 4 perhaps have a different way of working - I'm not saying whether that's right or wrong."


12:16Channel 5 has reduced its number of commissioners of late - there are only six for the channel's entire output. "We've proved that we can do things on that level," says Ford, pointing out that the channel is now turning a profit and audience shares have risen.


12:12Ford again blames "ingrained snobbery" on Channel 5 failing to secure many awards nominations, comparing the selection process to the voting system at the Eurovision Song Contest. "Does it bother me? Not really."


12:11Richard Desmond was directly responsible for Channel 5 adopting the format Farmer Wants a Wife which Ford admits didn't work. "Did you see a series two?"


12:10Desmond does have an overview of Channel 5's programming but has never interfered or objected to a particular project, Ford claims.


12:09Ford describes channel owner Richard Desmond as "a very charismatic character" and "a very passionate man" and claims that there is still "a lot of snobbery" surrounding Channel 5.


12:07Why is Channel 5 still seen as an undesirable place to pitch new programming? "We are a little blue-collar - that may be partly some of it," says Ford. "People don't know the channel - they still have a preconception of what the channel's about. We still get e-mails with Channel 4 crossed out at the top and Channel 5 written in crayon!"


12:05The session - hosted by Richard Bacon - begins with a video highlights reel of Channel 5's output over the past seven months...

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