We are delighted to announced that David Olusoga – historian, academic, broadcaster, writer and producer – will deliver the Festival’s prestigious keynote speech: The MacTaggart Lecture.
A regular face on our screens as presenter of shows such as A House Through Time, Black and British: A Forgotten History and the BAFTA Award winning Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, Olusoga has worked in television in front of, and behind, the camera for over 20 years. A British-Nigerian, Olusoga was born in Lagos, Nigeria, grew up in Gateshead, North East England, and studied history and journalism before starting his career in broadcasting.
One of the UK’s foremost historians and ranked amongst the most influential Black Britons of 2019 and 2020, Olusoga is a professor of Public History at Manchester University an award-winning documentary maker and a celebrated and award-winning writer; author of The World’s War, co-author of The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and The Colonial Roots of Nazism, and a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Black British History.
The TV Industry, as well as the world at large, has experienced unprecedented times as 2020 continues to throw challenges at the television community, which is processing the structural and practical changes required to deal with the effects of a global pandemic. It is also a moment, for the industry and wider world, of serious soul-searching and acknowledgement of the need for Black voices to be heard after the death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests.
“I am enormously honoured to accept the invitation to deliver this years’ MacTaggart Lecture. We are living through an extraordinary moment. The pandemic has exposed deep economic and racial divisions and demands for profound and systemic change are louder now than they have been for half a century. Like every industry, television faces a moment of reflection and decision. I’m honoured to have the chance to contribute to that important debate.””
Olusoga, who is a TV Foundation schemes alumnus having been amongst the Festival’s TV25 (now Ones to Watch) in 1998, 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 and Michaela Coel.
Festival Advisory Chair for 2020, Patrick Holland, said: “I could not be more delighted that David has agreed to be our MacTaggart lecturer. As the preeminent historian working in British television today, David has devoted his working life to telling the stories we, as a society, have collectively chosen to forget, or ignore. As an industry we need to ask what stories we are going to tell now, who is telling them and who gets to choose what gets made. I have every expectation that David’s MacTaggart will be a lightning rod for debate, offering deep insight and understanding, challenging us with a powerful vision of what needs to change.”
The Festival’s Executive Chair, Graham Stuart said: “As the defining element of Edinburgh’s far-reaching voice in the global conversation the MacTaggart Lecture needs a powerful, eloquent and intuitive speaker to seize the moment. In David Olusoga we have found exactly the right person to map a path forward for the Broadcasting industry at this socially critical time”.