The 2020 Edinburgh TV Festival has selected historian, producer and television presenter David Olusoga to deliver this year’s MacTaggart Lecture.
Olusoga (pictured), who was amongst the festival’s Ones to Watch in 1998, has worked in television in front of and behind the camera for more than 20 years.
His presenting credits include such documentary series as A House Through Time, Black and British: A Forgotten History and the BAFTA Award-winning Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, all for British pubcaster BBC2.
Olusoga will deliver the festival’s keynote address remotely next month.
The 2020 edition was scheduled to take place August 26 to 28 in the Scottish capital. Instead, the conference will be reimagined as a digital event for the industry, with flagship sessions taking place virtually.
The main sessions of the event are expected to take place over the same three days in August, though further details on participants and speakers will be revealed in due course.
Olusoga will join a list of leading industry voices that have previously delivered the festival’s “agenda-setting” keynote speech. Past names include Dorothy Byrne, Ted Turner, Armando Iannucci, Rupert Murdoch, Dennis Potter, Jon Snow, Elisabeth Murdoch and Michaela Coel.
“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,” said Olusoga in a statement. “Like every industry, television faces a moment of reflection and decision.”
“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,” added the BBC’s Patrick Holland, festival advisory chair for 2020. “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.”
“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,” noted Graham Stuart, the festival’s executive chair. “In David Olusoga we have found exactly the right person to map a path forward for the broadcasting industry at this socially critical time.”