As a MIPTV virgin, I didn’t know quite what to expect from Cannes this April. Over the past couple of years I’ve been so caught up with the day-to-day running of TTV it means I don’t get to jet set around the world as much as I used to, a fact shown up at the airport when I caused an international incident with my bag of toiletries which were all more than 100ml. Not a great start, especially with 300 irate fellow travellers glaring at me as I held up security.
If I’m honest, I did approach Mip with a bit of trepidation. Where to start? Would anyone like our programmes? Would I cause another international incident with our clip of a dodgy designer vagina on Botched Up Bodies and would my hotel be one of those 300 Euro a night rabbit hutches everyone seems to end up in?
In the end I had nothing to worry about. The Hotel Colette was charming and I was in safe hands with the pros at Argonon International – Lynn, Bea and Jen – who had their schedule organised to military precision. And then, Monday morning, it started. The constant stream of acquisitions buyers, producers and commissioners all looking for something that was going to be their next big hit. And I loved it. Selling my own shows felt totally natural and by about 10.30am on that first day I had it down to a fine art: ‘Botched Up Bodies … it doubled the share, doubled the viewing figures, and was bigger than Bieber on Twitter … trended in the top 3 Globally at 10pm’. That got them. There’s no arguing with that one. And they seemed to like it. A lot.
But there were also a few surprises. Our food/challenge series Great Northern Cookbook, has a distinctly Northern British feel, but people wanted it. Finland loves a bit of Northern grub apparently, and as I found out, big fishing challenges, quirky local traditions and strange inedible foods are pretty much a universal theme. And the fact that I’m now in the Guinness Book of Records for having the world’s largest sausage is not lost in translation with anyone.
By 5pm on the first day, I wished I wasn’t wearing a pair of tight Cheaney brogues, and was looking enviously at all the well-dressed Scando men who’ve learnt from experience to combine a practical pair of trainers with great jeans and a fitted jacket. Thank goodness for Zara, the only shop in Cannes which seemed to be open 24/7.
And then it was off to the second most important aspect of the week, depending on your priorities: The parties, the dinners, the cocktails and the general good fun bit. Now, I’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment, so I was watching the rose, an almost impossible task in a town where your glass is never empty for more than a second and dinner consists of fish cooked in beurre blanc, with a bit more butter on the side, bread with more butter and a huge plate of French fries, and that’s just for starters. People really know how to enjoy themselves in Mip and it was a constant stream of new introductions, familiar faces and never to be repeated gossip.
So what have I learnt from the whole experience? There’s real value having a producer down there, selling their own shows. It reinforced just how important it is to think commercially at all times. The international market is desperate for content and if you’ve got it you can flog it. And my tips? Take at least two boxes of business cards, wear a pair of comfortable shoes and if your arteries start spluttering on all that rose wine, biere and butter, check out the fantastic salad bar on Rue d’Antibes.