Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at UK broadcaster Channel 4, will give the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at this year’s Edinburgh Television Festival, becoming the sixth woman to do so.
Byrne is a former producer on UK current affairs show World In Action and was editor of The Big Story for commercial broadcaster ITV, and became head of news and current affairs for Channel 4 in 2003.
Prior to that she edited shows including Dispatches, as well as producing an array of arts and history series for the channel. She was made a fellow of The Royal Television Society for her ‘outstanding contribution to television’ and received the Outstanding Contribution Award at the RTS Journalism Awards in 2018.
She has also received a Bafta Scotland award for her services to television and has also won the Factual Award given by Women in Film and Television.
Byrne said: “I am immensely honoured to be invited to give this address which is normally delivered by much taller people.
“I believe British television has lost the confidence to think big about society. Naturally I will also be reflecting on how male behaviour has changed over my decades in television and will have some tips for men in our industry.”
Advisory chair, Kelly Webb-Lamb, said: “No-one will be spared when Dorothy Byrne takes to the stage for this year’s MacTaggart lecture.
“A formidable journalist, producer and commissioner, she is one of the most respected – and dare I say feared – people in the industry. She’s astute, honest and completely unafraid – a dangerous combination as many a politician, business leader, TV exec and crook will attest to.
“She is also one of the funniest women I know whose anecdotes, observations and no-doubt industry call to arms will make the 44th MacTaggart one to remember.”
Lisa Campbell, CEO and festival director, added: “Frank, fearsome & fearless, Dorothy Byrne has achieved legendary status in TV. With her decades of experience, ascerbic wit and sharp mind, everyone from media execs to politicians can expect to be challenged, outraged, amused and surprised – with plenty of headlines to follow.”
The MacTaggart Lecture has formed the centrepiece of the festival since 1976, with Dennis Potter, Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner, Elisabeth Murdoch and Armando Iannucci among previous speakers.
Earlier this week, the festival revealed documentary maker Louis Theroux would be joining writer and journalist Dawn O’Porter in a discussion about his career at this year’s event.
In June, festival organisers unveiled the nominations for its annual Edinburgh TV Awards, which has expanded its categories to recognise online content as well as smaller production companies.