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Edinburgh TV festival diary: BBC, British Bake-Off, Breaking Bad and beyond

Jason Stone, editor of David Reviews and The Drum's televison expert, reports from behind the scenes at this year's Edinburgh International TV Festival.

A panel gathered to discuss the tricky decisions faced by the BBC's new Director General was wrong-footed by the arrival of the man himself. It might not have been too bad if chair John Sergeant had treated Tony Hall as though he were just another panellist but - as fans of Strictly Come Dancing will recall - nimbleness of foot is not the former political reporter's greatest strength and he squashed lots of toes when he opted instead to simply ignore the other four contributors.

Sergeant had already earned the ire of BBC big beast Alan Yentob by repeatedly referring to him a corporation 'lifer' and forgetting to ask his opinion on one of the issues discussed prior to Hall's unexpected arrival.

As Yentob glowered like a lion whose kill has been dragged off by hyenas, Hall deflected questions about six-figure pay-offs and cronyism in a fashion that would have benefited his predecessor - George Entwistle - when he was dragged over the coals about what he did and didn't know about the Newsnight fiasco.

I stayed in the Pentland as it emptied at the end of this session because the next event was one of the most eagerly anticipated of the whole Festival: Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan's Masterclass.

The audience for 'The Great British Bake-Off' hadn't filled the room but it soon became clear that Breaking Bad would, and I pulled my stuff off the adjacent seat to allow a young man to sit down.

He thanked me profusely and introduced himself as 'Joe' before handing me a small sealed bag of 'blue meth'.

Joe had such a strong West Country accent that talking to him was like listening to The Archers. He was a plumber and he and his friend had travelled to Edinburgh from Bristol just to hear Vince Gilligan speak.

"How much did you pay?" I asked. Even the 'super early bird' rate is £475.

He laughed. Either he'd paid an embarrassing amount of money to attend... or he and his mate had used their inside knowledge of the Conference Centre's pipework to sneak in through the sewers.

Towards the end of his conversation with Charlie Brooker, Vince Gilligan remembered that the man who would be giving this year's MacTaggart lecture - Hollywood's Kevin Spacey - had appeared in a TV series in the late 1980s but, embarrassingly, he couldn't recall the double Oscar winner's name and referred to him instead as "the MacTaggart guy".

When last year's "MacTaggart guy" - Elisabeth Murdoch - delivered her lecture, the delegates were herded into the Pentland Suite, but someone had decided that this room isn't grand enough for Hollywood's Kevin Spacey and the whole festival had to relocate to the McEwan Hall in Bristo Square to hear his address.

As no transport was provided, those who hadn't booked a taxi were obliged to walk and not everyone was happy as they shuffled into a foggy Edinburgh afternoon.

Given the average Londoner's knowledge of the local geography, it's not surprising that a 'follow the leader' mentality prevailed and it probably would've been possible to lead this fulminating phalanx into the middle of the Meadows and leave them there.

At last year's MacTaggart, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger slipped into the seat beside me. At the end, I saw that his phone had fallen out of his pocket and landed on the floor so I chased after him and returned it.

I had already decided that if the same thing happened this year I would destroy his device in the interests of national security... but the need didn't arise as Rusbridger obviously couldn't find me in the crowd.

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