Emily Maitlis, the award-winning journalist, author, podcaster and broadcaster, who rose to international prominence after her notorious 2019 BBC interview with Prince Andrew would become a major factor in the royal’s dramatic fall from grace, will deliver the flagship address at this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival.
Organizers of the event on Tuesday unveiled that Maitlis — who over 15 years became one of the most recognizable faces on the BBC News team but left the U.K. public broadcaster earlier in 2022 to sign with Global — would give its prestigious James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture as the festival, set to take place Aug. 24-26, returns to an in-person event.
Maitlis’ lecture — which sees her follow in the footsteps of names such as Elisabeth Murdoch, Shane Smith, Michaela Coel and last year’s speaker, Jack Thorne — will reportedly cover the complex world of modern journalism where the threat to reporting the news and holding power to account across the globe, comes not just with intimidation and outright censorship, but in more nuanced ways with language and normalizing the extraordinary.
“The list of extraordinary people who have given this lecture before me makes this an honor beyond belief,” said Maitlis, whose list of interview partners includes presidents, prime ministers, business leaders and Hollywood stars. “It is a massive privilege — but also a responsibility. To get this right. The need to hold power to account without fear or favor is more urgent than ever before. We are good at documenting censorship and intimidation of journalists around the world. But we are sometimes too slow to recognize how and when it is happening in more subtle ways, closer to home. In many places the political actors, their style of communication and their relationship with the truth has changed.”
The interview for which Maitlis will forever be associated, her bombshell exclusive with Prince Andrew for flagship current affairs show Newsnight, in which he talked publicly for the first time about his links to Jeffrey Epstein and an interview that was later described as “a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion,” is now set to be adapted for the screen with rival projects. Writer Peter Moffat and the production team behind Luther are working on a feature based on Scoop, the book by former Newsnight producer Sam McAlister. Meanwhile Maitlis herself is reportedly behind a project with Blueprint Pictures, the company behind A Very English Scandal and A Very British Scandal.
“Emily Maitlis has delivered the news into our living rooms for over 20 years but could never be described as a news reader. Sharper and edgier than was comfortable for her last employer she is happiest when cracking open a story and not just reporting it,” said the festival’s executive chair, Fatima Salaria. “Fans not just of her Prince Andrew encounter but Newsnight, Americast and her best-selling book Airhead, will want to hear her take on truth, power and impartiality in what promises to be a challenging and insightful MacTaggart.”