Jack Thorne, the prolific British writer behind His Dark Materials and Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, is to deliver the prestigious James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival next month.
Thorne, who has been diagnosed with a condition called cholinergic urticaria, which means he is allergic to heat and his own body movement, will spotlight the representation of disability on British TV during his address.
He said: “I am ridiculously honoured to be asked to deliver this year’s MacTaggart lecture. 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.”
Last year’s MacTaggart lecture was given by historian David Olusoga, who laid bare British TV’s racism problem in a blistering speech. Previous speakers include Armando Iannucci, Rupert Murdoch, and Michaela Coel.
Thorne’s upcoming projects include Channel 4’s coronavirus series Help, starring Stephen Graham and Jodie Comer, and the BBC’s factual drama Independence Day? How Disabled Rights Were Won (working title), which he has co-written with Genevieve Barr.
The Edinburgh TV Festival takes place August 23-26.