Lancaster student selected for TV industry crash course


Collage of Stuart Nolan

A Lancaster University Art PhD researcher, who specialises in mindreading and telepathy technologies, has been selected for a talent scheme linked to the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

Stuart Nolan is one of just 15 successful candidates recently announced by the charity arm of the UK’s most prestigious TV industry event, ‘The Edinburgh International Television Festival’, for its talent scheme, ‘TV PhD’, following an application process and a series of interviews delivered over Zoom during the UK-wide lockdown.

‘TV PhD’ was born from a partnership between the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation which funds internationally outstanding independent researchers across the whole range of the arts and humanities, and The TV Foundation, the Festival’s charity with a mission is to identify and nurture the next generation of talent from all backgrounds.

Now in its third year, ‘TV PhD’ gives AHRC-funded PhD students the chance to take part in a programme of exclusive sessions, and receive training to help them to develop skills, make contacts and increase their knowledge of the television industry, as well as benefiting from a Festival pass.

Stuart, a former cell biologist in cancer research, focuses on telepathy and mindreading technologies from 19th-century theatrical mentalists to present-day neurotechnologies.

His PhD looks at how the debate surrounding mind-reading neurotechnology relates to theatrical performances of mind-reading. 

Stuart, whose own show, ‘Season of Sleeps’, premiered at the Venice Biennale, is co-founder of the Magic Research Group and co-editor of The Journal of Performance Magic.

His work combines traditional disciplines of deception, such as theatrical magic, conjuring, mindreading, stage magic and illusion design, with innovative and questionable technologies such as a mindreading robotic bird, machines that believe in magic and a device that makes a person’s arm invisible.

Said Stuart: “The TV PhD scheme is a wonderful opportunity for me develop skills, make contacts, and to explore how theatrical mindreading could be used to create compelling factual TV that explores how current neurotechnologies feed both our dreams of telepathic communication and our fear of having our private thoughts exposed.”

This year’s delegates are drawn from a wide range of institutions and have a diverse range of specialisms including mindreading, library music and fashion.

Dr Paul Meller, Associate Director, UKRI’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, says: “This is a fantastic opportunity for AHRC-funded students, either with plans to work in the TV industry or whose research focuses on that industry. This year the selected students will have the unique opportunity to access the full digital programme, including specific sessions and training, and hopefully the physical festival next year.

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