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Victoria, Succession and Stephen: is drama better at news than journalism?


This is a newsroom ThinkIn. In-person and digital only tickets are available. 

Fake news disguised as real news is one thing, but what happens to ‘the truth’ in the process of dramatising real world events in the name of great TV? Stories of terrible crimes, family dynasties and political scandal have always been rich territory for TV screenwriters, but the sheer popularity of these programmes mean TV dramatisations now materially influence the way we remember what really happened. Does it matter? The creative intent varies from project to project, of course – the Roy family in Succession borrows heavily from tales of the Murdoch family although the characters and scenarios are all fictional; Victoria or The Crown don’t claim to be documentaries, but the pinpoint accuracy of their styling persuades us that the narrative and dialogue are faithful to the truth too. The forthcoming TV drama Stephen, the sequel to The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, which has been developed in close contact with the Lawrence family, will tell important truths about institutional racism in the police to a whole new generation. How do the shifting boundaries between fact and fiction, news and drama reshape our relationship with journalism, and with history? If journalism is the first draft of history, is TV drama now the finished article?

editor and invited experts

James Harding
Co-founder and Editor

Daisy Goodwin
Creator, writer and executive producer of Victoria (ITV), starring Jenna Coleman

Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Screenwriter, novelist and co-writer of Stephen (ITV)