I’m out at a birthday dinner tonight, so will be spared the difficult choice between Champions League football and BBC 2’s new reality TV/elimination-contest programme, The Speaker.
Reality TV and elimination contest are two concepts usually enough on their own to make sure I don’t watch, but I hope I’m right in saying this one is a bit different.
For a start, it shows young people in a good light, and there is not a lot of that on modern, middle-aged produced TV. Second, it shows them engaging in a series of challenges related to communications in the broadest sense. People can dismiss all that as spin if they like, but the ability to communicate will be central to their future success and prosperity, not to mention their ability – the desire is clear enough in many of them – to change the world.
I don’t come on the scene until a few episodes in, when much of the whittling down has already been done, and I go through a Barack Obama speech with them to show some of the well-known speech-making techniques he uses so well. I’ve not seen the whole programme yet but I have seen a wonderful clip where you can see how utterly mesmerised these young people are – we were down to a handful by then – by watching Obama in action.
They also confessed to being humbled, and slightly panicked by the idea of trying to learn something from watching him. But learn they did, and I think it was noticeable how some of them improved in the days which followed.
I was mentor for one episode and one of the judges for the final. I can’t say I enjoyed the moment when I had to do The Speaker’s version of Alan Sugar’s ‘you’re fired’ to a departing speaker. But if you watch the series, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as the young people taking part did – as evidenced by how many of those eliminated along the way turned up for the final.
Ps – have vlogged on same subject. Up shortly. Also, if you haven’t seen it already, take a look at the trailer for the series in the archive.