Olusoga, a popular academic, appears frequently in some of the U.K.’s top factual shows, such as the BBC’s “A House Through Time,” “Black and British: A Forgotten History” and the BAFTA Award-winning “Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners.”
The 20-year TV veteran, who is British-Nigerian, is also one of the U.K.’s foremost historians and ranked among the most influential Black Britons of 2019 and 2020. Olusoga is a professor of public history at Manchester University and the 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.
Olusoga joins the ranks of prominent industry voices who have given the agenda-setting keynote speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Recent lecturers include Dorothy Byrne, Ted Turner, Armando Iannucci, Rupert Murdoch, Dennis Potter, Jon Snow and Elisabeth Murdoch.
“I May Destroy You” creator Michaela Coel, who delivered the lecture in 2018, was the first person of color to take the stage for the MacTaggart in its history, and only the fifth woman to do so. She used the platform to detail her experience with sexual assault while writing “Chewing Gum” in a speech that has become one of the festival’s most enduring keynotes.
On giving the MacTaggart this year, Olusoga said: “I am enormously honored to accept the invitation to deliver this year’s 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 honored to have the chance to contribute to that important debate.”
This year’s Edinburgh will be a virtual event. It will also be free to freelancers in the industry.
BBC Two controller Patrick Holland, festival advisory chair for 2020, 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,” said Holland.
The festival’s executive chair Graham Stuart added: “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.”