Many were in attendance for RTS NI’s annual Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture. This year’s edition (for the Belfast Media Festival 2023) featured BBC’s Chief Content Officer, Charlotte Moore.
Speaking of the importance and success of such local productions as Blue Lights and Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland, Charlotte highlighted the impact of these two very different, yet equal parts similar, productions resonate with Northern Irish audiences. Both productions show a dark but true side to Northern Ireland and its history that many are aware of but not in the finer detail via the stories of ordinary people across the country.
The BBC also recently launched its new BBC Comedy script partnership project, with places secured for Northern Irish talent. A Northern Irish Female Comedy Writers development award in association with Hattrick is also planned. With the global success of Derry Girls, this scheme is welcoming news to new and emerging writers. Charlotte noted the cultural impact of Northern Irish comedy has had over the past years with such hits as Mrs Brown's Boys being the highest rated comedy in Northern Ireland. However with the launch of these new projects, the BBC aims to look to the future and continue to nurture new creative talent.
Charlotte continued to focus on the importance of developing new talent, with BBC Northern Ireland co-funding the new Creative Industries New Entrants (CINE) scheme. This programme focusses on securing placements for new entrants into the film and television industry, prioritising those from underrepresented communities.
Charlotte also discussed how vital Northern Ireland is in contributing to the television industry across the UK and wider world, making note of such hits as The Woman in the Wall, CBBC’s Nova Jones, and Wreck. The representation of Northern Ireland and its people is important, and Charlotte made sure to continue to represent the country through impactful and authentic storytelling. Charlotte continued to inspire as she spoke about her own successful career in television and how important storytelling is at the forefront of her approach to work.
“Our job is to be bold and fearless… To tell the stories that others don’t and take the risks that they increasingly won’t.
And it’s our public service mission that allows us to do just that.”
This year’s memorial lecture would have been one that Dan Gilbert himself would be proud of, focusing on how important the BBC is as a public service superpower and why now, more than ever, they continue to push creative boundaries.