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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Speaker, BBC2


Did we like it?
Inspired by the great and most persuasive public speakers in history: Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, err, Adolf Hitler etc, "Britain’s teenagers all have something to say." squawked Jane Horrock’s nasally voiceover ‘So we invited them to submit their speeches in a bid to become Britain’s young Speaker’ Alright, but what else? It’s nothing but a title. Apparently, there is absolutely no prize at the end of this.

This was a mostly pointless hour of X Factor-style audition pieces, with contestants requiring even less talent yet a sufficiently strong sob story to progress to the next round.

What was good about it?
• It’s so difficult to give a fair and balanced argument, seeing as we loathed this piece of television. Even having to discuss it is causing our blood to boil. However, we will try our very best...
• Although touched upon slightly, hints and tips on how to improve one’s own speaking via judges’ comments were so appealing to us that we almost began taking notes. It would have been pleasant to hear more of these; instead we were directed to the website. Laziness.
• The destruction, aggravation and disappointment on each child’s face as they stumbled on their words... and just to rub it in, the audience’s collective ‘awwwwwwwwwwwww’.
• The Speaker could probably work well as a Radio 2 or 4 competition, re-imagined for an older audience, naturally.
• The set was quite funky. Oh dear, we give up! And on to the bad stuff.

What was bad about it?
• We just can’t seem to determine the point of this programme. There is absolutely is no prize except winning, and no doubt half of the stage school brats who walk away even more empty handed from this competition than the winner does (yes...we know that’s not really physically possible) will be consoled by their pushy parents.
• The dull speeches bleating on about hoodies, teenage pregnancy. lovely grans, the Welsh language etc
• Jane Horrocks’ voiceover shedding little light on the concept of the show and what the winner stands to gain from it: ‘The challenge, to prove that they can speak confidently on any subject. But only one of them will show that they have the passion, personality and a conviction to become The Speaker!’ Yeah... and?
• If anyone needs lessons on how to speak properly, it’s Jane Horrocks, so her narration on such a show was rather disconcerting.
• From the parents standing outside the audition room proclaiming their pride, to the teenagers' sob stories and dedications to deceased family members, all the way up to staged dramatic cutaways of the judges, this was a barrage of X Factor clich├ęs.
• The judges...
• Jo Brand. Jane Horrocks’ V/O said: ‘Jo Brand, an established stand up comedienne...’. Talk about false advertising, she could at least try and be funny first before having the audacity to accept this compliment. Brand is the comedic equivalent of kryptonite to 99.8% of all television programmes she has been on, in our humble opinion.
• John Amechi, the former American basketball player who is now an internationally celebrated speaker. Wow, a sportsman who can vary between tenses, which is an achievement.
• Jeremy Stockwell. A performance expert and tutor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Surprise, surprise he is a drama teacher AND is explicitly camp. Someone needs to pull this chap aside and explain that copying the hair style of Jim Carrey’s character in A Series of Unfortunate Events was not a good idea.
– Liam Smedley

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