Just returned from this soiree, which was held at the flash C4 building on Horseferry Road. A three-hour shindig ostensibly celebrating the re-launch of the 4Talent website but also feeling like a morale-boosting taster for C4's 25th anniversary celebrations coming in October, it kicked off around 6.30pm with speeches from such bigwigs as the channel's chief exec Andy Duncan and Labour MP Shaun Woodward (in the May 2006 reshuffle, Tony Blair appointed the latter Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with responsibilities for the digital handover for TV - thanks, Wikipedia!). Woodward's smoothly delivered address was particularly interesting, in that he directly tackled the channel's "recent hiccups", noting that only that morning, he had been defending C4 in the House of Commons, over the recent controversial Princess Diana documentary and of course the Shetty-vs-Goody fiasco of this year's Celebrity Big Brother. After praising the assembled staff for the way they handled both difficult patches, he also spoke slightly ominously of the question-mark which hangs over the channel's funding in three years' time.
Speeches complete, it was naturally time to press the flesh. I initially froze somewhat, gazing around the large, well-populated room and not recognising any faces. Of course, schmoozing isn't strictly about hunting out people you already know. Within a minute or so, director Klaus Fried sidled over with a smile and randomly started a conversation. I was thankful. Klaus handled the opening documentary in C4's New Shoots series earlier this year, which presented debut docs from disabled directors (try saying that after a few free champagnes). I also briefly met Daniel, another director from that series.
After that, I bumped into director/writer/editor Tim Mewton, who I'd met for the first time a mere five days ago when we both attended Living Spirit's Make It In Hollywood day-class (notes for which I must write up soon). Then I decided to just walk around and randomly chat to people who seemed approachable. Strolling through a crowd including the odd celeb like the lovely Kirstie Allsopp (who I once interviewed for heat and bonded with over the fact that our surnames both arguably have a superfluous 'p'), I met people from various far-flung corners of C4: someone from the library, someone else from advertising, two people from the On Demand division, an in-house contract lawyer and a personal trainer who was here with his documentary producer pal. I also chatted to an aspiring producer named Nick, and a nice lady from White Storm Films, who recommended David Hyams as a fine agency to aim for. Last but certainly not least, I met Carole Sheridan, Head Of Talent & Creativity at Scottish Screen. As you'd expect from a true professional like Carole (who has worked with Adrian Mead on most of his projects, including Night People which Lucy Vee recently saw screened in Edinburgh), she was the only new contact I met all night who had a business card. What is it, with people and business cards, or rather the lack of them? Then again, thinking about it, maybe Ms Sheridan was the only person who wanted to give me a card...
On the way out, somewhere around 10pm, everyone was handed a special commemorative hardback book, celebrating two-and-a-half decades of C4. Entitled 'Thank You!', it's actually a really nice, collectable item, colourfully cataloguing the channel's finest luminaries, moments and shows. One of the more amusing pages is devoted to a fax from LA's Chateau Marmont hotel. It simply reads: "Channel 4?! Is that still going? How sweet!! Simon Pegg".