Broadcaster, author and podcaster Louis Theroux will deliver the flagship address of the 2023 Edinburgh TV Festival, brought to you by Screen Scotland, The James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture.

Theroux’s lecture will cover the challenges facing broadcasters in the multi-platform universe, how he has maintained longevity and relevance in broadcasting after 25 plus years, and the reasons for both fear and optimism in a world beset by populism, social media, AI, and virality in all its forms.

Documentary-maker Theroux has entertained audiences for over 25 years with his uniquely incisive interviews and insightful take on often hard-hitting human stories. From Weird Weekends to When Louis Met…, and more recently, Forbidden America and Louis Theroux Interviews… Theroux has become one of the industry’s most acclaimed filmmakers and lauded interviewers.

His encounters with the likes of Jimmy Savile, The Hamiltons and Max Clifford have become TV legend, but his natural curiosity has also unearthed the most extraordinary stories from more off-beat areas of human experience. Theroux’s examination of communities from Scientology and the Westboro Baptist Church to porn stars and Neo-Nazis, delivered with his trademark intelligence and humour, have brought a fresh approach to the documentary genre and proved a huge hit with audiences and critics alike.

Having worked within the BBC for 20 years, in 2019 Theroux emerged as one of the powerhouses of the non-scripted world with his production company Mindhouse, continuing his work in producing thought-provoking series as well as finding new voices and searching for the next generation of documentary makers. He has also found ways to engage with new audiences, from unexpected viral success on TikTok to his new Spotify show The Louis Theroux Podcast, helping to drive young viewers to discover his back catalogue of documentaries on iPlayer and Netflix.

Theroux said: “I am beyond thrilled to be asked to deliver this year’s MacTaggart lecture. The old Chinese curse runs, ‘May you live in interesting times.’ But I also believe interesting times – to those of us whose job it is to report on them and reflect them, while also providing an occasional distraction from them – can be a blessing. 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 joins an esteemed rollcall of renowned speakers in this most prestigious of agenda-setting keynote spots within the broadcasting industry. Previous lecturers include Michaela Coel, Ted Turner, Armando Iannucci, Rupert Murdoch, Dennis Potter, Jon Snow, Dorothy Byrne, Elisabeth Murdoch, David Olusoga, Jack Thorne and last year’s speaker, Emily Maitlis.

This year’s Advisory Chair, Kiran Nataraja said “Louis is 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.”
The Festival’s Executive Chair, Fatima Salaria said: “Louis is one of the most thoughtful and pointed figures in TV with a wide range of cultural interests and a broad appeal across generations. I can’t wait to hear his take on where TV is, where it’s come from and where it’s going.”

Pippa Considine

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