National Treasure writer Jack Thorne considers making TV drama based on Grenfell Tower fire

“It overwhelms me that it's not being talked about it as much as it should be,” says Thorne, “and I still can't believe this happened in our country”

Grenfell (Getty, EH)

Bafta-winning writer Jack Thorne says he is considering making a TV drama based on the Grenfell Tower fire.


The series would be a follow-up to 2016’s National Treasure – a drama about historic sex abuse starring Robbie Coltrane that won a BAFTA – and his upcoming show Kiri, which centres on transracial adoption and stars Sarah Lancashire as a social worker.

Both series look behind the headlines and examine the way that the media tells a story.

“Grenfell is certainly something we should be working out how to dramatise,” said Thorne, speaking at a Q&A for Kiri.

“It’s really complicated and the longer you spend on it the more complicated you realise it is,” he added. “It overwhelms me that it’s not being talked about it as much as it should be and I still can’t believe this happened in our country.

“In a country which is supposed to have money, I can’t believe we inflicted that on people. And I can’t believe that they were screaming out for help and no one listened. I think we’re all responsible for it and we need to work out a way to come to terms with it.”

Grenfell, Thorne argues, “was at the centre of everyone’s world for a while and then [it] just sort of got forgotten about and disposed of”.

George Ormond, Marc Munden, Jack Thorne and John Chapman, winners of the Mini Series award for National Treasure (Getty, EH)
George Ormond, Marc Munden, Jack Thorne and John Chapman, BAFTA-winners of the Mini Series award for National Treasure

Thorne – who also wrote the stage play for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – said that National Treasure and Kiri are interlinked because they look at the role of the British media, and that he would want to develop that further in his next drama.

He spoke about how he was moved by Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow’s MacTaggart Lecture earlier this year, in which he said the media had become too far removed from ordinary people’s lives and should have been more aware about the dangers of the high-rise block.

“It really stayed with me,” said Thorne. “ The way he talks about it and the fact that he was then there every night, being screamed at.

“He was just like, it’s my responsibility as a journalist to be tackling this now. I suspect that has left a stain on him that he’ll never quite be able to get off, because of his anger at himself for it.”

Thorne went on to say that sometimes dramas can offer an insight into tragedy that news and documentaries can’t. “There’s something about seeing someone’s face going through something which news can’t replicate, nothing can replicate,” he said.

“If you can tell a story that allows those faces to communicate something through the telly to people’s living rooms, then you’re in a really privileged position and you should use that privilege really carefully.”


Kiri will air on Channel 4 in early 2018