Thorne’s credits include the West End play “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child,” Netflix film “Enola Holmes” and TV series “His Dark Materials.” As a disabled professional, Thorne is a vocal champion, campaigner and ally of other disabled creatives both in front of and behind the camera.
Thorne has co-written with Genevieve Barr an upcoming BBC factual drama called “Independence Day? How Disabled Rights Were Won,” starring Ruth Madeley, based on the true story of the people behind a campaign that led to the winning of disabled civil rights in Britain.
Thorne’s 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.
Thorne said: “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.”
Those who have delivered the MacTaggart lecture in the past include Armando Iannucci, Michaela Coel and Jon Snow. Last year’s speaker, historian and TV presenter David Olusoga, electrified the media world with his speech.
“I’m beyond excited that Jack will be delivering the MacTaggart lecture this year,” said Georgia Brown, head of European originals, Amazon Studios and the festival’s advisory chair for 2021. “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.”
The festival’s executive chair Fatima Salaria said: “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.”
Edinburgh TV Festival is sponsored by YouTube and Screen Scotland.