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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Al Gore to address UK TV industry
Al Gore
Al Gore will deliver the Alternative MacTaggart Lecture in Edinburgh
Former US Vice-President Al Gore is to share his experiences of new media with the British TV industry in a speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival.

There will also be masterclasses by Sir David Attenborough, Armando Iannucci and the creators of animated series South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Historian Simon Schama and pundit Alan Hansen will be interviewed, and Rageh Omaar will discuss trust in journalism.

A giant screen will be used to let the public see previews of new programmes.

Many of the sessions at the festival - held in the Scottish capital from 25 to 27 August - will focus on a theme of "the digital future" for television.

Mr Gore will talk about his role as president of CurrentTV, a US cable channel aimed at young people. He is also a director of Apple Computers and an unofficial advisor to search engine Google.

Characters from the cartoon South Park
South Park has satirised religious figures, politicians and celebrities
Google itself is represented by one of its most senior executives, Marissa Mayer.

She will hold a masterclass, explaining how she designed and developed the searching facilities and expanded the site across more than 100 languages.

'Chav culture'

There will be a panel session on the changing nature of celebrity, with guests including presenter Jeremy Beadle, former royal butler Paul Burrell and Debbie McGee, wife and assistant of magician Paul Daniels.

Other discussions will focus on the way so-called "chav culture" is represented on British TV, and the "newfound confidence" of daytime programming.

The future of the BBC will be debated in a session with a similar format to the Question Time programme, chaired by presenter and publisher Andrew Neil.

The controllers of each of the five terrestrial networks will also be interviewed, along with their counterparts from leading digital services including Sky One, More4, Discovery, al-Jazeera, BBC Three and BBC Four.

'Incredible insight'

Alison Sharman, advisory chair of the festival and also director of factual and daytime programming at ITV, said Sir David Attenborough was "a hugely experienced programme maker".

She said that when he was controller of BBC Two - from 1965 to 1969 - "it was a time of incredible change with colour TV being launched".

Sir David Attenborough
Sir David, now 80, oversaw BBC Two as colour TV was introduced
"I think he can bring lots of perspective on today and the changing world we're embracing from his time then," she added.

Ms Sharman said the team behind South Park would be able to offer "incredible insight" as to how they appeal to young people, a social group she described as "the 'lost' audience that TV really finds challenging".

Dawn Airey, who is managing director of Sky Networks and is leaving the festival after five years as its executive chair, said it would be important to reach people unconnected to the TV industry through the big screen outside the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

Showing programme previews was a "first foray" into "opening up the festival for the public", she said, because "the average individual is hugely conversant with television, hugely knowlegeable".

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