Who knows why top TV writer will miss festival?

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DOCTOR Who writer and producer Russell T Davies has pulled out of the line-up of the Edinburgh International Television Festival, after speculation that die-hard fans would pay £500 to see him.

Famous as the man behind the revival of the series and its spin-off Torchwood, Davies pulled out due to "work commitments", the festival said. He was due to give a masterclass on 23 August.

The festival is an industry event aimed at professionals, with a line-up of speakers ranging from television hosts Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan to the director of the Arabic TV network Al Jazeera.

But the planned appearance by Davies spurred the festival to say it would open the event to members of the public who wanted to join a masterclass from a man who is an icon for Dr Who enthusiasts.

However, they would have had to pay 500 for the three-day festival pass.

The festival website says any application for a refund had to be made in writing by 18 July or within seven days of purchase.

A festival spokeswoman said: "We have had a look at the delegate list and as far as we can tell only members of the industry have bought tickets.

"As with all festivals, the line-up is subject to change."

She said Davies had pulled out because he is working on the scripts for a new season of Torchwood.

Alexandra Looseley-Saul, who owns The Who Shop in London, said: "Whatever the reason for him pulling out, I am certain a man of his integrity wouldn't really want to see Dr Who fans charged this much to go to an event.

"Whoever came up with that idea was a little short-sighted."

"He's just finished one major project, he's recently been in America, and he perhaps has come back to immediately find himself a much sought-after individual."

However Ms Looseley-Saul said it was unlikely many people had paid to see him in Edinburgh.

"It didn't hit any of the Dr Who websites," she said. "I don't think people got to hear of it, which was a good thing. It was not widely circulated."

The hour-long masterclass had promised Davies would reveal his "influences, his loves, and hates" and plans for future projects.

Davies is credited as the man who saved Dr Who, relaunching it for the 21st century after 15 years off the screen. He tends to avoid conventions or book signings. He was lead writer and executive producer on the relaunched Dr Who from 2005 until earlier this year and is officially leaving to pursue other projects, although he will oversee the show's Christmas programme and four other specials in 2009. The Bafta-winning writer Steven Moffat is taking over for the fifth series.

But Antony Wainer, spokesman for the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, also said he knew of no fans who had bought tickets.

One reason may be that they can wait until November to see Davies for considerably less money in London, where he is to give a Platform talk at the National Theatre, with tickets priced at 20.

The keynote speaker at this year's television festival is the former BBC 1 controller producer Peter Fincham. Past speakers include Dennis Potter, Michael Grade, Rupert Murdoch, Janet Street-Porter, Ted Turner and, last year, Jeremy Paxman.

The television festival runs from 22 to 24 August.

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