Yes we can
There is only one thing to blog about today and that’s last night’s episode of The Speaker. This BBC2 series began last week, following on from a documentary about the art of oration. Has Barack Obama made public speaking ‘cool’ for a new generation? The Speaker is taking on this question by looking for promising orators aged 14 to 18.
I can’t explain the incredible tension I felt as the show began and I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat. As the hour went on I became more and more animated, shouting at the screen, laughing out loud, cringing in discomfort and at one point actually leaving the room from pure viewer embarrassment. It’s compelling television, and so refreshing to watch. In an age of ‘reality’ shows and sublebrities (to quote Luke Blackall from The London Paper) I love this group of teenagers who are putting themselves out there to do something that actually requires talent, and with no prize other than the prestige of being crowned ‘Britain’s Best Young Speaker’.
Earl Spencer was an interesting choice of mentor, (his eulogy at his sister’s funeral has become one of the most recognised speeches of the 20th Century), there was something very endearing about his attentiveness to the development of the young speakers. My current favourite, Haroon, had me worried at the beginning. It seemed that being in Althorp House unsettled him and he was toning down his style to accommodate the surroundings, which ironically disappointed the Earl. But apart from a timing issue, he completely redeemed himself with his stint as a tour guide, bringing back his originality and confidence. On the other end of the scale, I found Duncan almost unbearable to watch, verbally bouncing like an over-excited Duracell bunny. And (spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen it) I think the judges made the wrong decision in the end. Personally, I questioned whether Fahmida should have made it through over Stacey last week, but on the merit of yesterday’s episode she shouldn’t have been the one to go. Her problem (in my humble opinion) is elocution; the style and energy with which she speaks is great, and much nicer to listen to than Jordan, who was my tip to head home. It wasn’t just his grating style of speaking, it was his unbearable arrogance and lack of admission that he needs to learn and improve. All he could say, in the repetitive manner that’s becoming his trademark, was that “the judges got it very wrong” to even put him in the bottom three.
I am utterly hooked to this insightful and important show – roll on next week!