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Jack Thorne launches passionate defence of "essential" Channel 4

Jack Thorne launches passionate defence of
© Channel 4
Acclaimed screenwriter Jack Thorne discusses the 'necessity' of Channel 4 amid questions over its future.

Acclaimed screenwriter Jack Thorne has insisted that the UK broadcasting industry "needs" Channel 4 amid questions over its future.

The government is currently consulting on the future ownership of the publicly-owned broadcaster and could make the decision for it to be privatised - a move which could have serious ramifications for independent production companies in the UK.

Thorne has a long history of working with C4, having made shows including This Is England, National Treasure and Glue, and later this month the channel will broadcast his latest effort - the evocative drama Help, set in a Liverpool care home during the pandemic.

"Channel 4 is a privilege and it feels like it's a privilege that we're not taking seriously," he said at a press event for the show this week. "TV's going through a very weird moment - obviously there is a lot of TV being made.

"Local realism is really under threat in relation to that because there's been an inflation in the price of television. So it costs more to make because crews quite rightly are being remunerated more highly. So if you want to make an hour of something you need more money. And to get that money you need to look abroad a lot of the time and as a result of that, you need shows that are global and the local misses out.

"The local is what we used to be brilliant at - the local is still what we're brilliant at - and I'm not worried about Jimmy McGovern, but I am worried about the next Jimmy McGovern, in terms of these poets that we've got in this country who tell stories about the country we live in and force us to look at it in a different way.

"Channel 4 is essential for that. This is the only place that would have made this show, because Channel 4 has a unique remit in that it's a public service broadcaster and one that is prepared to question the government.

"That's a tough thing to do, and they do it over and over and over again, and we need them. The government needs them.

"Everyone needs an opposition and a supporter, and Channel 4 can be all of those things. We need it desperately."

Help airs Thursday, September 16 at 9pm on Channel 4.

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