Celebrated UK documentarian Louis Theroux is to deliver this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival MacTaggart lecture.
Theroux, who has been a leading light of the doc landscape for more than a quarter of a century, will speak about the “challenges facing broadcasters in the multi-platform universe, how he has maintained longevity and relevance, and the reasons for both fear and optimism in a world beset by populism, social media, AI and virality.”
On the latter, he may touch on similar themes to Emily Maitlis, last year’s deliverer of the prestigious annual lecture, who warned that populism had overcome the power of the mainstream media to hold politicians to account in the wake of Donald Trump’s popularity and Brexit.
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Theroux said: “The many years I’ve spent reporting on the fringes have been an ample education on the nature of human psychology and the strange place the world now finds itself in. I look forward to sharing some insight into what I think I’ve learned.”
Theroux broke through in the late 1990s and went on to helm dozens of episodes of Weird Weekends and When Louis Met …, tackling subjects including Jimmy Savile, Max Clifford and the Hamiltons, along with fringe groups such as scientologists and the notorious Westboro Baptist Church.
In recent years he has helmed new shows and podcasts while moving behind the camera by launching Mindhouse Productions, which has seen him start produing shows that he doesn’t present. He spoke to Deadline for the May Disruptors magazine, raising awareness for his producer-first reincarnation.
He also told us that “it’s always been more helpful for my work if my true opinions are kept slightly ambiguous.”
Channel 4’s Kiran Nataraja, the Advisory Chair for this year’s festival, described Theroux as “one of the defining documentary filmmakers of our times.”
“Now also running an indie, nurturing breakout talent, and expanding into new areas, his 2023 MacTaggart Lecture will be a centrepiece of the Edinburgh TV Festival,” she added.
Recent MacTaggart lecturers have included Michaela Coel, Jack Thorne, David Olusoga and former Channel 4 news boss Dorothy Byrne.
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