“I am ridiculously honoured to be asked to deliver this year’s MacTaggart lecture. It's an opportunity I never anticipated, but an opportunity I am determined to use....”

Jack Thorne

Highly acclaimed dramatist and playwright, Jack Thorne, is to deliver the flagship session of this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival brought to you by YouTube and Screen Scotland; The James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture.

A celebrated and multi award-winning creator and writer of TV shows, films and stage plays ranging from His Dark Materials, Kiri, This is England 88,86 & 90 and The Virtues to Enola Holmes, The Secret Garden, Don’t Take My Baby, The Solid Life of Sugar Water and Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, as a disabled professional, Thorne is a vocal champion, campaigner and ally of other disabled creatives both in front of and behind the camera. At a time when questions are being asked about how the industry and society at large treats those who are under-represented, Thorne will put disability centre stage. His lecture will focus on the need for greater representation, platforming the voices of disabled professionals– both visible and invisible – and the role the TV industry has to play in defining a more accessible future, underpinned by his own life experience and drive to use his position and voice to influence change.

Fis forthcoming work includes Help, a film for Channel 4 drama directed by Marc Munden, which is set in a fictional Liverpool care home and tells the moving story of the relationship between a young carer (Jodie Comer) and a patient (Stephen Graham), whose lives are changed forever by the onset and handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Thorne has also co-written (with Genevieve Barr) a new BBC factual drama Independence Day? How Disabled Rights Were Won (w/t) starring Ruth Madeley, based on the remarkable true story of the people behind an irrepressible campaign of direct-action that lead to the winning of disabled civil rights in Britain.

“This country has a glaring problem at the moment and it's in its treatment of disabled people. In the last two years people have died who didn't need to, and those that survived were treated appallingly, ignored and shut out. We lived and live in a two-tier society, those with 'Underlying Health Conditions' (a disgusting term) and those without. Our industry has a record of shutting out disabled voices itself but now has an opportunity to step up and take responsibility, both for its history and its future. We are the empathy box in the corner of the room and we can change things. I am far from the perfect advocate for this but will do all I can to further this vital conversation.”

Jack Thorne

“I’m beyond excited that Jack will be delivering the MacTaggart lecture this year, Jack is a staggeringly talented writer whose words have brought into being some of the most memorable dramatic moments of British television. I can’t wait for him to share his perspective with us all after possibly the strangest and most challenging years in our collective history. He will bring his wisdom, wit and fierce intelligence to the Edinburgh stage – I hope you’ll all join us to hear it.”

Georgia Brown, Head of European Originals, Amazon Studios

“The MacTaggart Lecture is a defining moment in the Festival’s calendar and has the power to inspire and instigate meaningful change. It gives an opportunity for reflection on our industry, to analyse and celebrate the good but also to identify that which needs to change. Jack’s is a voice that speaks from experience and allyship and will give a much-needed platform for those who feel they have none, in the eloquent and powerful way we have so often seen in his work. I have no doubt that it will make for essential viewing and is rightly deserving of the global conversation that the MacTaggart Lecture inspires.”

Fatima Salaria, Executive Chair

Thorne is the latest in a prominent catalogue of leading industry voices to give the agenda-setting keynote speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Those who have taken the stage to deliver the MacTaggart include Dorothy Byrne, Ted Turner, Armando Iannucci, Rupert Murdoch, Dennis Potter, Jon Snow, Elisabeth Murdoch, Michaela Coel and last year’s speaker, David Olusoga.