In 1960, Beyond the Fringe was part of the official programme of the Edinburgh International Festival. It was a late-night satirical revue performed by four young graduates of Oxford and Cambridge universities, Jonathan Miller, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett. Sir Robert Ponsonby, artistic director of the Festival from 1956 to 1960, had written to each individually, and brought them together for the show. To some the decision to present a show called Beyond the Fringe on the Festival programme was official recognition of the popularity and success of the late-night revues that had appeared on the Fringe since the early 1950s, a compliment, if you like; to others, it represented the EFS's attempts to reclaim some ground from the increasingly popular and well-publicised Fringe festival, whose influence was being more keenly felt by the organisers of the official Festival.
Other changes were afoot. In 1962, an international writers' conference brought around seventy writers from all over the world to Edinburgh to debate, over five days in front of a paying audience, five key themes: contrasts of approach, Scottish writing today, commitment, censorship and the future of the novel. One of the organisers, the publisher John Calder, told the press: ‘We are imposing no prohibitions on the free expression of opinion, however controversial or unusual.’ The frank discussion of love, sex and homosexuality (as well as drug-taking) at both the conference and its daily press briefings caused shock.