BBC searches for Britain’s Best Young Speaker

BBC Two is embarking on a nationwide search to find Britain’s Best Young Speaker. Speak Up (working title) is a new eight-part primetime series that brings the traditional school public speaking competition into the 21st century.
The series 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 issues that matter to them. Their journey to battle nerves, overcome obstacles and discover how to communicate and celebrate who they are and what they have to say will be inspirational television. Young Britain may have lost its voice – Speak Up will give it back.
The series will be made by BBC Entertainment Manchester and the Executive Producer is Kieron Collins. He says: “Forget the public speaking stereotypes of nervous kids in school uniforms, shuffling notes and talking about dull, worthy things. Speak Up is a modern and truly nationwide take on the speaking competition. It’s about communication, confidence and giving British teenagers an opportunity to be heard.”
Due to air in early 2009, Speak Up will follow a group of 14 to 18-year-olds as they battle to win the title ‘Britain’s Best Young Speaker’.
Teenagers from across the UK will be invited to record and post their own short speeches on to the Speak Up website. From those initial entries, 300 will be invited to audition in front of a high-profile judging panel.
The judges will select 20 semi-finalists, who will then be split into teams to argue for and against a range of engaging topics in a special debate.
Only the best speakers will go through to the next stage, in which celebrity mentors will train the eight finalists and provide them with expert advice and inspiration. The teens will then take on a variety of challenges to test their powers of communication, focusing on different areas where public speaking is essential, such as radio, politics, entertainment or business.
In the last episode, four finalists will have two minutes each to make the most persuasive, commanding and passionate speech of their lives. They will need to put into practice all the skills and advice they have picked up over the course of the competition. The judges will then pick their final winner.
Interspersed with compelling archive footage showcasing moments from the greatest speeches in history, this is a programme about growing up, growing in confidence and proving to yourself and others that you can change your life if you speak up.
Speak Up will have an extensive multi-platform offering, aiming to understand and connect with younger audiences. Schools, youth groups and social networking sites will be targeted to encourage young people from a wide range of backgrounds to submit speeches to the Speak Up website, and to share their speeches and ideas with each other.
BBC Learning Campaigns will also work with schools and youth groups to produce a free Speak Up teaching resource, available after transmission, that makes it easy for teachers and group leaders to address the key skill of public speaking within their classes or groups.
Clare Laycock, Head of BBC Learning Campaigns, said: “Giving young people the skills and confidence to speak out for what they believe in can be a very powerful thing and will be of value to them throughout their lives.”

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