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Jo Brand Fronts BBC Two's Search for Britain's Best Young Speaker

30th January 2009

In this epic elimination show, 14 to 18 year olds will compete in a series of challenges. Judged by comedienne Jo Brand, RADA tutor Jeremy Stockwell, and motivational speaker John Amaechi, the young speakers will need passion, personality and confidence. Week on week they'll be put through their paces to test every aspect of their communication skills. Eventually one of them will become Britain's Best Young Speaker. 

14-18 year olds were invited to apply online, by posting a one minute speech on the BBC website. They could speak on any subject from pop music to politics or hoodies to homework.

Executive Producer Kieron Collins said: "The Speaker is a fresh, twenty-first 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."

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 invites the speakers to Althorp House where they explore the craft of information giving; journalist and newscaster Kate Silverton coaches them in the nuances of storytelling; and Tony Blair's former chief strategist and speech writer Alastair Campbell, 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.

The eight-part series starts in April.

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