‘His Dark Materials’ writer Jack Thorne to address disability representation in MacTaggart Lecture

English dramatist and playwright Jack Thorne will deliver the keynote speech at the upcoming Edinburgh TV Festival, The James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture, next month.

Thorne is the creator of TV shows such as E4 drama Glue, Canal+ and Sky Atlantic crime series The Last Panthers and channel 4 miniseries Kiri. He is also the writer of BBC One and HBO fantasy drama His Dark Materials, as well as This Is England 86, 88 and 90, the feature film The Aeronauts and the stage play Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

As a disabled professional himself, Thorne’s lecture will put disability centre stage and he will discuss the the need for greater representation in front of and behind the camera, 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.

Thorne’s upcoming credits include the Channel 4 drama Help, set in a Liverpool care home, and he is co-writing (with Genevieve Barr) a new BBC factual drama Independence Day? How Disabled Rights Were Won (working title), based on the true story of a campaign of direct-action that led to the winning of disabled civil rights in Britain.

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

“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.”

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