Channel Four News and Current Affairs chief, Dorothy Byrne will be honoured with the prestigious BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award at the 2019 British Documentary Awards, presented at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Thursday 14th November.

Byrne, who will be speaking at this month’s Televisual Factual Festival, is a former World In Action producer (1992 – 1995) and then editor of ITV’s The Big Story (1995- 1998), she also produced arts programmes and executive produced history series before making the move to Channel Four in 1998 when she was appointed Commissioning Editor of Current Affairs and Editor of Dispatches .

Now Head of News and Current Affairs, she has presided over a multi-award winning team creating the channel’s news and current affairs programmes since 2003, winning numerous BAFTA, RTS and Emmy Awards plus others along the way.

Known for her passionate and vocal outlook Dorothy has a reputation for tough talking and brilliant programme making. This summer she used her MacTaggart lecture as a call for the industry to unite in "making big controversial programmes about the UK which put us back at the heart of public debate as we used to be", to use the power of television to protect democracy and for the bravery to make programmes with big, bold ideas – with serious analysis by "big, brainy people."

Announcing the Trustees’ Award, Chairman of The Grierson Trust, Lorraine Heggessey says: "Dorothy Byrne is a force to be reckoned with. Never afraid to take a stand, she has been at the helm of four decades of extraordinary current affairs programming. The self-professed ‘old lady’ of television, she was one of the very few women in a man’s world for years. Rising above the endemic sexism of the industry at the time, she put women’s issues at the heart of her programme making taking on subjects such as marital rape, breastfeeding and most recently influencing Channel Four’s new menopause policy.

"She is a vocal advocate for the important role that television journalism plays within our nation’s democracy, holding politicians and big businesses to account. She opens up the world to viewers here through international collaborations and champions the next generation of viewers and filmmakers be it through partnerships with new media platforms or mentoring young filmmakers. I’m thrilled that her passion and achievements in factual filmmaking will be recognised at this year’s Grierson Awards."

Long term collaborator, colleague, and the face of Channel Four News, Jon Snow says: "Dorothy Byrne is the power behind the egos, mine included. You know what she wants, you know full well what she certainly doesn’t want. Yet her leadership at Channel 4 is more subtle than she pretends. She is ever present, somewhere in your head while you work. The formula works – witness the awards her department has won down the years. Dorothy is a one-off and richly deserves this wonderful award."

Dorothy was made a Fellow of The Royal Television Society for her “outstanding contribution to television” and received the Outstanding Contribution Award at the RTS Journalism Awards in 2018. She has received a BAFTA Scotland award for her services to television and has also won the Factual Award given by Women in Film and Television. She is the Chair of the Ethical Journalism Network which supports the development of ethical codes in journalistic organisations across the globe. She is a Visiting Professor at De Montfort University where Channel Four supports an MA in Investigative Journalism, founded in part to increase industry diversity by taking half its students from diverse backgrounds.

Byrne follows in the footsteps of previous Trustees’ Award winners including documentary luminaries Sir Trevor MacDonald OBE, Alastair Fothergill, Louis Theroux, Sir David Attenborough, John Battsek, Molly Dineen, Nick Fraser, Alex Graham, Kim Longinotto, Kevin MacDonald, Norma Percy, John Pilger and Penny Woolcock. Acknowledged as the Oscars of the documentary world, the Trustees’ Award crowns the crème de la crème of the industry, recognising an outstanding contribution to the art or craft of documentary making.

Now in their 47th year, the Griersons celebrate the best in documentary filmmaking carrying prestige and allure for factual filmmakers from across the globe.

The winners of Grierson 2019 will be revealed at a star-studded ceremony hosted by Robert Rinder at Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank on Thursday 14th November, 2019.

Staff Reporter

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