Charlotte Moore hails authenticity at the Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture

Charlotte Moore hails authenticity at the Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture

Monday, 18th December 2023
From left: Fiona Campbell, outgoing RTS Northern Ireland Chair; Charlotte Moore; and new NI Chair Sarah McCaffrey (Credit: Andrew Johnston)
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Charlotte Moore hailed authentic, regional programmes, picking out two hit Northern Ireland shows for praise, in her Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture at the Belfast Media Festival in mid-November.

Discussing the BBC’s Across the UK strategy – which seeks to shift creative spend and decision-making out of London – the BBC’s Chief Content Officer praised Blue Lights and Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland.

Moore said: “What both Blue Lights and Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland demonstrate so brilliantly, is that thinking bigger about how we harness and showcase the creativity of the whole of the UK is paying huge dividends – for us and for audiences.”

Blue Lights, which follows three probationary police officers in Belfast, was made by Northern Ireland indies Two Cities and Gallagher Films, and written by Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson. A second series is filming.

“They wanted it to be a distillation of everything they’ve learned from living and being journalists here,” said Moore. “Brilliant drama, but completely inseparable from the sense of place and the backdrop of the Troubles.”

Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland, made by Keo Films and Walk On Air Films, “allowed the stories of the Troubles to be told in a different way … focusing on first-hand testimony, and giving ordinary people who were caught up or impacted by the conflict the space to tell their personal stories.”

She continued: “These two shows – one drama, one documentary – are very different. But it’s their authenticity that they have in common.”

Moore argued that it is the BBC’s role as a public service broadcaster that defines it in the global streaming age: “It’s how we set ourselves apart.

“We know it’s the stories that speak most directly to our lives, that represent and reflect our communities and experiences and sensibilities, that mean the most.”

Namechecking recent regional BBC dramas such as Happy Valley, Guilt and The Responder, she said. “Our job is to… tell the stories that others don’t, and take the risks that they increasingly won’t.”

Moore concluded: “Competition has never been fiercer. And the financial environment could hardly be tougher. But being public service is our superpower…. We’re here to showcase and champion every community.”

The Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture is given in memory of Gilbert, a major figure in Northern Ireland current affairs broadcasting, and organised by RTS NI.