DIARY: TV festival's turned off by Barrymore begging

And so to Edinburgh for the TV festival, where among the attractions on offer was the sight of the "entertainer" Michael Barrymore demanding to know why the TV industry had ignored him.

Poor old Barrymore has apparently not received an offer of work for two years (can't think why) and moaned pitifully that everyone had shunned him at the festival drinks party the previous evening.

If this was his attempt to resurrect his career, it failed. Given the embarrassed coughing among the audience, his desperate pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

But in the event there are any Barrymore fans out there, you may want to try that well-known broadcaster, the classy auction channel bid-up.TV ("bid from a quid"), which expressed an interest in him - perhaps doing a stint flogging kettles.

Stranger still was the sight of two nurses, complete with first-aid kit, standing at the foot of the stage as BSkyB's chief executive and Essex hardman, Tony Ball, delivered his MacTaggart speech in the splendour of the McEwan Hall.

Although his proposal that the BBC should flog off some of its better-performing shows to its commercial rivals raised a few eyebrows, Ball failed to induce any cardiac arrests and the medical staff proved to be superfluous.

While the advertising community largely ignored the three-day luvvie-fest, presumably because no yachting was involved, more striking was the low-key ITV presence. Apart from the marketer Jim Hytner, the communications supremo Nicola Howson and the scheduler David Bergg, the absence of the management team, shareholders and any obvious sponsorship of the event gave the impression the kicking the network received last year scared them off.

Or perhaps, as they wait for signs of white smoke emanating from Patricia Hewitt's office, they were rather hoping the proposed merger would be forgotten about.

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