NEWS FLASH: THE SPEAKER IS ON THE LAUNCHPAD
BBC Two has announced that it will begin transmitting a new reality series about learning how to speak in public. The Speaker has been scheduled for broadcast in April on BBC Two, airing twice a week for eight one-hour episodes. As an active member of Toastmasters International in the UK, I believe it will spark an increase in learning how to speak in public. All our clubs are happy to receive new requests from would-be members, and welcome them to our clubs as guests. If you would like to enquire, please contact me, Brian Bollen or Margaret Bollen, on 01908 234952, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
Comedienne Jo Brand heads the judging panel of The Speaker, BBC Two's search for Britain's best young speaker. Alongside fellow judges, performance expert and RADA tutor Jeremy Stockwell and motivational speaker John Amaechi, Jo travels to every corner of the UK to find the country's most talented young speakers in the BBC's new, primetime entertainment series.
Featuring 14 to 18-year-olds, The Speaker will see tough-talking teens, class jokers and shy, sensitive types go head to head as they learn to talk publicly and passionately about the things that matter to them.
Executive Producer Kieron Collins said: "The Speaker is a fresh, 21st century take on the traditional public speaking competition. Our teens are a disparate, diverse group of youngsters but they are united by their passion and their desire to speak out on what matters most to them.
"Britain's youth often get a raw deal in the media. This show redresses the balance; it's about communication, confidence and giving British teenagers an opportunity to be heard.
"Each week, our mentors and judges give a masterclass in a different aspect of speaking, so there will be plenty for people to learn at home, too. Whether it's going for a job interview, preparing a business presentation or getting ready to make your father-of-the-bride speech, there should be something here for you."
Long established for her stand-up comedy, Jo Brand is a leading light of the entertainment world with regular appearances on panel shows and undertaking a range of challenges from Question Time to Mock The Week.
This is the first time she has acted as a judge and she will be drawing on all her performance experience to seek out those young speakers who have a talent for getting their message across and who really connect with their audience.
Having appeared on stage with his family's vaudeville show from the age of four to 17, it could be said that Jeremy Stockwell was born to perform.
From playing the ukulele to tap dancing and then on to stand-up comedy, devising theatre, improvisation and mime, Jeremy is one of nation's leading drama coaches, working as a RADA tutor and behind the scenes on top TV shows such as How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? and Strictly Dance Fever. So who better to help the speakers improve their performances, use their body language effectively and inspire their audiences?
John Amaechi is a multi-faceted speaker having travelled globally to speak on topics wide-ranging and influential. He is a champion of young people and passionate about their rights and needs in an ever-changing world. John started his career as the only Brit to make a successful American basketball career in the highly competitive NBA. Whilst playing he undertook a degree in psychology and, since his retirement from the game, has focused on offering training, development and mentoring to a range of corporate and young people's projects as well as commentating on basketball for the BBC at the Beijing Olympics and acting as an Ambassador for London's 2012 Games. John will be aiming to fire up the speakers, encouraging them to speak with passion, commitment and personality.
On The Speaker, Jo, John and Jeremy travel the length and breadth of the UK, putting youngsters through their paces at the regional auditions. Only a select 20 make it through and then the contest gets underway in earnest with a different challenge and a different communication skill to tackle each week.
Helping the finalists learn and rise to the weekly challenges is a group of guest mentors who offer expert tutelage and inspiration to draw on.
The four guest mentors are: Queen of the Dragons' Den, Deborah Meaden, who coaches the speakers in the art of improvisation; Earl Spencer, who invites the speakers to Althorp House where they explore the craft of information giving; journalist and newscaster Kate Silverton who coaches them in the nuances of storytelling; and Tony Blair's former chief strategist and speech writer Alastair Campbell, who demonstrates the subtleties of persuasion.
Each week, their speeches are evaluated by the judges and their mentor. Then the three speakers who don't meet the very high standards set have to go head-to-head in a final speaking challenge, The Last Word.
One hopeful youngster is then eliminated from the contest. All of this builds to one final showdown at the end of the series in which the three best candidates make the speech of their lives.
Launching closer to transmission, The Speaker will have an extensive multiplatform offering encouraging adults and young people from a wide range of backgrounds to submit speeches to the shows website, and to share their speeches and ideas with each other. There will also be a whole host of practical advice and downloadable tips for everyone to use plus a behind the scenes look at the series.
The Speaker is a factual entertainment series produced by BBC Entertainment Manchester and due on air in April 2009. The Series Producer is Ian Carre and the Executive Producer is Kieron Collins.
The series will be 8 x 60 minutes, and will transmit on BBC Two in April 2009.