Broadcasting heavyweights descend on Winchester for a weekend of cultural celebrations

Press Release: 29/05/2012

(L-R) Cllr Keith Wood, Michael Grade, Peter Sissons, Lindsey Hilsum, John Miller, Martin Bell, Ian Folger

The Best of British Festival launched on Friday when Michael Grade, Lindsey Hilsum, Martin Bell and Peter Sissons, arrived in Winchester to take questions from an audience of local people in Guildhall Winchester’s Conference Chamber.

The debate took on topics such as the role of social media channels in broadcasting with the panel split between a distaste for the cult of 24 hours celebrity tweeting from newscasters and the impact this had on maintaining impartiality, and the positive role of Twitter and Facebook during the so-called Arab-Spring uprisings.

The panel, Chaired by John Miller, formerly of Winchester Festival, examined what it took to become a broadcaster, with Ms Hilsum noting that the trend for taking on free internships meant that the media was in danger of becoming socially elitist as only those who could afford to work for free would get a foot on the lower rungs of the journalistic career ladder.

Peter Sissons, who was successively an ITN Correspondent, the first presenter of Channel 4 News, then one of the main presenters of the BBC Evening News, said of the evening,

It was good fun being in such distinguished company, and attempting to answer such intelligent questions.”

The weekend continued with Claire Tomalin speaking at the Guildhall about her biography of Charles Dickens and Martin Jarvis reading two Just William short stories to an audience of delighted families at Theatre Royal Winchester. The sunshine meant that the return of Mayfest with its troops of Morris, clog and circle dancers and folk musicians was a confirmed success - this year a procession led by Cllr Frank Pearson, the 813th Mayor of Winchester looped through the Cathedral Outer Close.

Ellen Simpson, Winchester City Council’s Head of Tourism said,

With Robert Hardy reading the Churchill Letters this coming Thursday and P.D.James and Ruth Rendell visiting this Friday there is still time to take advantage of the festival highlights. There are also a number of remaining tickets for the Judi Dench evening on 9 June. The Guildhall’s ‘Jubilate’ evening and their ‘Street Party Fit for a Queen’ on the Broadway also look set to be popular.”

For festival highlight tickets, priced between £10- £15, please call the Theatre Royal Box Office: 01962 840 440. Further information about the Best of British Festival can be found at For Jubilate Showcase tickets please pop into Winchester Tourist Information Centre, or call: 01962 840 500. Standard full price - £10, concessions £7.50