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Northern Ireland-born director's Paris terror attack programme on Emmy shortlist

Published 11/09/2016

The Bataclan Theatre in Paris was stormed by gunmen during a concert in November last year
The Bataclan Theatre in Paris was stormed by gunmen during a concert in November last year

A Northern Ireland-born director is vying for America's top television award for his programme on the Paris terror attacks.

James McGrath, 47, from Saul, near Downpatrick, produced US broadcaster CBS's 48 Hours - Paris Under Attack one-hour special the day after the tragedy in which 130 people were killed by extremists .

It is shortlisted for an honour at this month's Emmy ceremony in Los Angeles.

Gunmen had stormed the Bataclan Theatre during a concert in the French capital last November wearing suicide vests. It was part of a co-ordinated assault around the city which left the country in a state of emergency and prompted heightened security across Europe.

Mr McGrath said it was often the story which propelled programmes like his into the limelight.

He added: "If we were to win that would be the cherry on the top."

Normally a weekend director, he took charge of the week night programme because the normal director was in Cleveland preparing for a special presidential debate.

The day after the Paris attacks Mr McGrath oversaw a special anchored from New York. It went through the events chronologically and looked at French society and the place of young out of work Muslim men in France.

It investigated encrypted apps which helped the attackers stay below the radar of the authorities, relayed survivors' dramatic stories of escaping the chaos and considered whether it was time for a new strategy to fight terror.

The programme is competing for an Emmy, the television industry's most prestigious honour, with five other broadcasts, one from the New York Times, others from the enduringly popular 60 Minutes from CBS, Al Jazeera and other rival news shows.

Mr McGrath graduate d from the Ulster University with a mechanical engineering degree and moved to London to work for The Disney Channel.

After leaving Disney he went to America to meet some university friends in New York and San Francisco. He decided to stay on because of the better social life he had there.

A bartender in an Irish pub in New York gave his CV to some senior CBS staff and he was invited in for an editing test and has spent the last 20 years there.

The Emmy awards is one of the main award ceremonies of the year.

Game Of Thrones, much of it shot in Northern Ireland, is also in the running for recognition.

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