Alan Yentob presents 'The Lost Art of Oratory' - the art & history of the political speech

7 April 2009

The remarkable election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States has been propelled as much by his exceptional skill as an orator as by any other factor.

From the silver-tongued to the tongue-tied, the sublime to the ridiculous, this programme takes a fond look at the art and history of the political speech.

Alan Yentob joins the crowds at the inauguration in Washington, and traces the awesome power of orators from Cicero onwards, via Cromwell, Lincoln, Churchill, Hitler, Martin Luther King and many others.

Among the contributors are Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Bob Geldof, Boris Johnson, Neil Kinnock, Ted Sorensen, Tony Benn, William Hague, Geoffrey Howe, Diane Abbott, Charlotte Higgins, Alastair Campbell  and Germaine Greer.

What makes a good speech great? How much is content, how much is presentation? And has Obama brought eloquence back to 21st-century politics for good?

BBC 2 Sunday 5th & Monday 13th April 2009

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