The Speaker


The Speaker BBC Jo Brand

We’re regularly told that the nation’s number one fear is the act of public speaking. People would rather die than make a speech before an audience – which seems a bit severe. It also beats spiders, confined spaces and heights in the phobia stakes, hands down. This is strange when you consider that speaking in public is something we’re biologically programmed to do. It’s like being frightened of walking down a lane, or becoming terrified when faced with the prospect of going for a poo.

Having said that, if you’d have seen the mess I made in the little boy’s room last night, you’d find yourself utterly terrified of visiting the bog.

Ultimately, there’s no denying it’s a nightmarish experience. All of my adult attempts at public speaking have, without exception, been disastrous. Clammy hands, stuttering delivery and mind-blanks combined and resulted in speeches that seemed, from inside my head at least, to be completely incoherent word-babbles serving no discernible purpose.

As a child it was easier, or seemed to be, thanks to a heady mixture of youthful enthusiasm and childish arrogance. The fact that we were called upon to make speeches semi-regularly at my rural, all-boys grammar school must have helped, and you can’t help but feel that the primary reason most people suffer anxiety when asked to orate is a lack of practice. When called upon to address the public, most people will run a mile. So credit to the teenagers, all state-school kids, who signed up to The Speaker on the BBC – an attempt to find the best public speaker under the age of 16.

So far we’ve experienced the auditions round, in which entrant after entrant clammed up, fluffed lines or hit a mental blank. Those that were deemed good enough by a giant, a kindly aunt and a Quentin Blake illustration made it through to last night’s round, in which Deborah Meaden – that glorious spinster from the Den – wore an extremely-expensive looking hat. In addition to her millinery display, she had the youngsters stand on a soapbox at Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner, riffing on an object they’d pulled from a dustbin tombola she’d set up on the side of the makeshift stage. This resulted in an impassioned speech from Jordan, who aped his own piece from the preceding round and told the gathered crowd that embracing binoculars is the only way forward. Not only for a better tomorrow, but also for a better society (as a whole).

It was incredibly moving.

In case you’re thinking of catching up by watching tonight’s episode, having lost a couple more kids later on, we’re now left with the following youngsters:

Appears to only have one speech to refer to in which he’ll make an impassioned plea for sanity so that we can move forward – collectively – not only for a better tomorrow, but also for a better society (as a whole).

Constantly looking slightly out of her depth, Fahmida is unintentionally amusing. Basing her findings on her extensive world-experience, she hates the notion of love, laughs in the face of romance and stomps on the very concept of companionship.

Shouty Duncan’s foolproof method of engagement is to shout at the audience. His shouting technique is second-to-none and, were this a public shouting contest, it’d be game over for the other contestants. Duncan’s mother appears to indulge his shouty ways, so expect more shouting from shouty Duncan in the future.

Graffiti-loving Haroon comes across as an educated Ali G and displays the kind of confidence when speaking to a crowd that can only come from some unfair evolutionary advantage. Either that or his brain’s been programmed for success by some mysterious, shadowy BBC agent.

Irene strikes me as the sort of girl who’s either grown up around adults who treated her as equals, or the type who stays in her bedroom all weekend watching sitcoms. Her attitude comes straight out of Smack The Pony or Green Wing, and for that she should be applauded.

Like Haroon, Maria totally lacks the negative self-awareness that should make public speaking an alarming prospect, making it possible for her to sail through each round with nary a glimmer of fear. Whatever it is that she and Haroon have pumping through their bloodstream that makes this possible should be bottled and sold.

Old beyond his years, Thomas comes across as having the maturity and wisdom of a 40 year old man, stuck within the body of a 16 year old. When I was his age I was flailing around and shouting at policeman, pissed on cider, so it’s hard not to look at the lad without feeling a deep sense of shame.

Kay Kay
My pick to win it. When he takes the stage, Kay Kay is mesmerising. Like a black Boris Johnson, the self-professed mummy’s boy wins the crowd over with messy charm. He radiates the Churchillian ability to encapsulate Britishness, and I reckon he’ll win the thing. If he doesn’t, he should’ve.

This is a good watch.

If they offered a bigger prize than just the title – perhaps a meeting with The Queen or something similar to stick on their CV – and meddled with the format a little bit then The Speaker could quite easily become as well-regarded as that BBC behemoth, The Apprentice.

If only they’d lose the Snow Patrol from the soundtrack and stopped trying to play to the X Factor morons, they might mould a hit show from this concept.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

94 Responses to “The Speaker”

  1. Napoleon Says:

    Sounds shit. I’m surprised these hoodies don’t burst out of the screen and stab you up out of your telly. And they’ve got no manners these days. I’d have ’em locked up in borstals.

    Do they still have borstals?

  2. extremelisteningmode Says:

    Let’s just shoot them. it’d be quicker and slightly more humane. And they can play Kings of Leon over the end credits, cos no-one does that.

    I’m grumpy this morning.

  3. Napoleon Says:

    I’d go along with that. Shoot them. Shoot them ALL.

  4. Mel Says:

    I caught a little bit of this, but only half way through. I didn’t find it all that engaging, to be honest. I caught the bit where a girl in a hat had clearly walked off from the talk, but then decided to go back and finish what she had started. It may have helped if i had seen some of these kids, and got the back story.

    Can anyone help me out with the identities of the male judges, and why exactly they are qualifies to judge these kids?

    And SH has done it again with his fantastic descriptions – Quentin Blake illustration is the perfect way to describe that oddity.

  5. indy Says:

    seems to be “two-thumbs-up” for this show… except the soundtrack.

  6. Napoleon Says:

    Put on yer boots! Yer sexy boots! Put on yer boots! Boots!

    I don’t know who these men are, Mel.

  7. extremelisteningmode Says:

    They are all ‘precocious’ (ie TV buzzword for ‘young c<nt) and should be forced to spend hours in front of a braying crowd of semi-literate dicktards accused of being clever. that’d teach ’em.

  8. indy Says:

    anyone can judge a kid i guess. give me a kid and i’ll judge it til it cries. the grown ups tend to be a bit harder to judge. i guess this is more of a kid-judging contest than a kid-performing contest.

  9. Napoleon Says:

    Do they strike the children across the face when they get something wrong? If not, what’s the point of this show? Spare the rod …

  10. Swineshead Says:

    Ta, Mel.

    In my day they’d have been sent up chimneys, pulled out of chimneys, thrashed, seen and not heard, taught to respect their elders, thrashed again then killed.

    Put on yer boots.

  11. Mel Says:

    Pfft, ELM, that has happened to the best of us at many points in our lives. I do not consider that to be a punishment (and yes, i was a precocious child too)

    Indy – they do have to “perform” but these are clearly not kids that have been tutored to do so from birth, unlike the ones that get through on pop idole etc, who i guess have mostly been to stage school and/or have pushy parents. The performance that i saw was nothing to write home about, however.

  12. Mel Says:

    No worries SH, but who is he? And the other bloke?

  13. indy Says:

    i wouldn’t let a that man with the cap “back-to-front” close to children. combine the cap with the striped suit and i wouldn’t let him close to adults either.

  14. Swineshead Says:

    Mel – it should say on the main BBC page…Quentin’s a drama teacher at some high flying school and the tall blokes an ex basketball player and now an accomlished after dinner speaker. And a giant.

  15. indy Says:

    the giant… can he resurrect a mouse?

  16. Do I Not Like That! Says:

    Good grief. There was a football match on last night and what a cracker it was too. Amazing game. Far better than any lame codswallop.


  17. Swineshead Says:

    The performances aren’t going to be anything to write home about yet, they’re being tutored as it goes along…

  18. Napoleon Says:

    Indy’s right. That Quentin character looks like a nonce.

  19. Swineshead Says:

    DINLT – You know the rules, if you want to talk football go to yesterday’s thread.

    (It was shit because those complete arseholes from Chelsea won it)

  20. Swineshead Says:

    By the way Mikey (for it is he), ‘lame codswallop’ The Speaker may be, but this is a TV blog about lame codswallop what’s on TV, so if you don’t like it, go and comment on a football blog. The comments on those tend to be along the lines of:


    You’ll fit right in.

  21. Napoleon Says:

    Football blinkers. A common problem amongst fanatical fans. I love the game, but have never, ever enjoyed talking about it. This doesn’t stop football bores, once they sniff out you support a team, talking football at you until you collapse in a heap of bored misery. On a par with those types who, once they find out you’ve got a driving licence, insist on talking about nothing but the nightmare they had on the M4 yesterday. Or the delays caused by a jack-knifed lorry on the M62. Or the fact Snake’s Pass is blocked due to snow. Or … KILL ME NOW.

  22. Swineshead Says:

    When I was a kid there was always that horrible point when you’d arrive at relatives you were visiting and immediately the adults would launch into a discussion of the journey, the tailbacks on the M-fortysomething and accidents on the A-thirtywhatsit. These conversations would last at least fifty minutes.

  23. Mel Says:

    Nappers – the trick is to look bored as soon as they open their mouths, then TELL them they are boring you. If that doesn’t work i simply say “ok, thanks for that. I am going to go and stand over there now and talk about something interesting with someone else”

    It is a tactic I emply with my BF whenever he starts talking geek. works every time.

  24. indy Says:

    i frequently use a rolled-up newspaper to stop boring conversation. i’ve reached the point where i just have to raise the newspaper to change the subject of conversation. it’s like a conversation remote control.

  25. Napoleon Says:

    Swineshead – It was the encyclopedic nature of it that got me. It seemed that you only had to start driving to suddenly know, in intimate detail, every single junction on every motorway in Great Britain. Yet when I started driving, I didn’t know my arse from my elbow.

  26. Swineshead Says:

    I haven’t driven since 1999 because I never learned my arse from my elbow when it came to getting my bearings on the road. Driving’s for imbeciles.

    Indy – I like your prevention method. Is this usual in Sweden?

  27. indy Says:

    sh: it’s a personal method that i am willing to share to prevent the rise of boredom

  28. indy Says:

  29. Napoleon Says:

    I gave up driving due to a combination of never looking in my mirrors, ignoring traffic lights and monstrous road rage. That and the fact it costs a bloody fortune to keep a car on the road, and I’ve got nowhere I want to actually go save for the odd country house. And they’re all a bloody rip-off. Eight pounds? Just to get into the gardens? You robbing shithouses.

  30. Nick of the T Says:

    I’ll give it a look later.
    It’s easier to live without a car when one is in a city. Out here, public transport is expensive.
    If I didn’t drive to work (M3, A316 etc about £10 a day) it would cost me around £60.

    *watches Indy’s newspaper*

  31. Swineshead Says:

    True enough, Nick. It takes all day to get from Sleaford to Spalding. A journey, in concept, of enormous proportions.

  32. Napoleon Says:

    That is a pisser about living out in the sticks. Outrageous the cost of public transport in this country. I reckon the owners of transport companies should be dragged from their offices and publicly horsewhipped, the arrogant bastards.

  33. indy Says:

    *reaches out for “maxim”*

  34. Mel Says:

    Therein lies the problem NC, They privatised it all, and thus the prices have inflated above and beyond, not to mention the fact that they take off many rural routes, because they are not profitable, thus creating ‘island villages’. It is a real problem.

  35. Mel Says:

    Not Svenska Dagbladet Indy?


  36. indy Says:

    the swedish government has started to flag for “competition” on our most trafficated railways. there is apparently gonna be auctions where the company that pays the most will get to provide service on those rails. this will create an village archipelago.

  37. Napoleon Says:

    Mel – The only answer, then, is to plow up the villages and force their populations into giant ‘megacities’ controlled by fascist judges who ride about on flying motorbikes. I can think of no other solution to Britain’s transport problems.

  38. indy Says:

    mel: reactionary toff daily? don’t think so… svenska dagbladet has a neoliberal agenda where they are hunting down people on the dole BUT, this is the irony, since SvD is the second largest newspaper in stockholm they are given a yearly state support in order to promote a “healthy media climate”. this means that SvD is practically on the dole itself since there are not enough retired colonels and racists living in stockholm.

  39. Mel Says:

    Fnys. To both of you (NC and Indy). I heard about the rail thing in Sweden. I think it has already started in Stockholm, because i remember reading about Connex getting some franchise or other (then a week later Connex got an entire line taken off them for being rubbish in the UK). I think it is rubbish.

  40. Mel Says:

    I know Indy, but surely that is the most appropriate paper to wave around if someone is being boring??

  41. indy Says:

    mel: yeah, they started with the sthlm underground. it didn’t work out that well. SURPRISE SURPRISE! apparently more people are taking cabs from arlanda airport than taking the highly overpriced arlanda express.

  42. indy Says:

    mel: what is your bf’s swedish newspaper of choice then? dn?

  43. Mel Says:

    Indy – yes DN. or aftonbladet if he wants a giggle

  44. indy Says:

    the speaker, minder, the reader, the listener… what’s next?

  45. Napoleon Says:

    The shitterer?

  46. indy Says:

    np: most probably.

  47. Swineshead Says:

    The bummerer.

  48. Mel Says:

    SH – they did that one, it was called Queer as Folk.

  49. Mr H Says:

    I’m reasonably convinced that I’ve beaten up every one of these children’s parents at some point in the past. And if I haven’t, then I would be happy to make up for it now.

    And, what the hell has happened to all this problem bullying, that the hippy, left wingers have been bleating on about for years? If there really was a problem, then this lot would be too busy hanging by their pants from the school railings to enter speaking competitions.

    If, however, it turns out that the credit crunch has caused a shortage of bullies, then I’d be happy to offer up the services of some younger relatives of mine.

  50. Napoleon Says:

    Surely that’s a listing offence?

  51. Napoleon Says:

    Mr. H – The bullies are too busy trying to be singers on Simone De Cowelle’s ‘Le X-Facteur’. This leaves the field open for these young ‘uns to go public speaking out in public for the benefit of the public, a female John Sergeant lookalike, a paedophile and a giant basketballs man, the pack of nerds. This show is basically Dave x 100.

  52. Mr H Says:

    Perhaps we could combine The Speaker with a new programme called The Bully, in which teenage thugs and ne’er do wells pick on the citizenship teachers of the future through such activities as;

    Oh No, He’s Stolen My Trousers
    Sorry Sir, But I Ate My Own Homework

    and that old favourite, Sorry Sir, But I Ate My Own Trousers.

    It’s got BBC3 written all over it.

  53. Napoleon Says:

    BBC3’s too busy filming people pretending to animals for no reason wahatsoever. I’m thinking of writing to the BBC to ask if I shouldn’t just set fire to my licence fee money next year to save them the bother.

  54. Napoleon Says:

    Wahatsoever? That’s right! Wahatsoever do you mean, you’ve never heard of the word ‘wahatsoever’? Have you never heard of a dihictionarary?

  55. Nick of the T Says:

    It’s all Thatchers fault….

  56. Mel Says:

    Everything has been thatcher’s fault since the 80s nick. I would have thought that you would have noticed (well, so says Mr G Brown)

  57. myopiniononstuff Says:

    I hope they put bin liners down before Jo Brand sat on her chair, what with the amount of times she must menstruate, despite going through the menopause several dozen times. And she’s fat, as she always likes to point out.

    A witch!

  58. indy Says:

    myopiniononstuff: line crossed.

  59. myopiniononstuff Says:

    It’s her material, not mine.

  60. indy Says:

    so whose fault was it before the eighties? ‘itler’s? and before 1939? der kaiser? and before that?

  61. indy Says:

    myopiniononstuff: are you a fat, menopausal “comedienne”?

  62. breeks Says:


    i remember reading some other review of this show, can’t remember what it said.

    i’ve been too busy watching antm cycle 12 on youtube. BRILLIANT way to spend a tuesday, it was.

    now i am eating giant cous cous. it’s like cous cous but giant.

  63. Napoleon Says:

    Indy – Before Thatcher, it was Callaghan’s fault. After her, it was John Major’s, then Tony Blair’s fault. Before Callaghan, it was Wilson’s fault. And before that twat, it was Ted Heath’s fault. It’s been every serving British prime minister’s fault since 1945, when the country had the brass neck to vote out one of the few PMs that’s ever been any good.

  64. indy Says:

    np: you mean the loser from gallipoli?

  65. indy Says:

    breeks: antm 12 – is that the one with the tranny in it?

  66. breeks Says:

    no, indy, that was 11. cycle 11.

    cycle 12 is brand shiny new (well, up to episode 9 or so).

  67. Napoleon Says:

    Indy – How dare you! He was finding his feet back then. And anyway, it was only Australians … and they’re ten-a-penny.

  68. breeks Says:

    they were back then, naps, when the english sent them over the tops of the trenches to certain death because of pompous ego and disregard for the colonials.

    after gallipoli of course there were a lot less australians and their value jumped to a good sixpence per head.

  69. Napoleon Says:

    Breeks – I keep thinking it’s Tuesday. Anyway … sixpence? For an Australian? Bit expensive, ain’t it?

  70. breeks Says:

    not really, naps. for sixpence you get a balanced, healthy hard worker with a good sense of humour and a way with prawns and bbqs. much better value than your tuppence-a-bag-poms who can’t talk their way out of a damp council estate or into a job, yeah.

    *gets tattoo of aussie flag on left cheek*

  71. ugeine Says:

    Churchill couldn’t stand the Irish.

  72. Mr H Says:

    Australia, as any fule kno, is a made up place, full of made up stuff.

    For more details, read my best selling (and award winning) book – “Oztralia – Alien Prison Shop or Portal to Agharta”.

  73. Nick of the T Says:

    Thatcher sold off the transport system, which was what was being mentioned at the time.

  74. breeks Says:

    churchill’s statue is the only one of those perched before westminster abbey which isn’t covered in pigeon shit.

    that’s cause it’s been electrified.

  75. indy Says:

    np: you’re right. it’s just envy. the only swedish WWII veterans were joining up with the axis fighting the russians in finland. it’s hard to celebrate those men as heroes.

  76. Napoleon Says:

    The mistake we made at Gallipoli was sending in the useless Aussies. We should have sent in the Scotch. That pack of animals would have reduced Turkey to a pile of smouldering rubble.

  77. Mel Says:

    Indy – didn’t the swedes abandon the finns to their fate against the russians? there is a memorial about the few that decided to go and fight anyway in a church in Sodermalm in Stockholm

  78. breeks Says:

    wonder what the gallipoli memorials would look like if hosted by the scotch. prob the same as now but with more skirts.

  79. Mr H Says:

    Yup, we’d have sorted the Turks out at Gallipoli. I mean, for fugs sake, if you cannae sort a few kebab munchers out, you’ve no place in a proper war.

  80. indy Says:

    mel: well, we did take care of their kids during the war and sent them some food and clothes but joining up with the nazis didn’t seem like a good option.

  81. breeks Says:

    haggis swords VS kebab spikes at dawn?

  82. Mel Says:

    Indy, i wasn’t suggesting you should have joined the Nazis. I thiought that there was an agreement that you would go and bail out the finns if they got invaded, although the more i think about it, the more i actually think that this was just a routine invasion, and may have predated the war. The finns were abandoned to their fate then too.

  83. Mr H Says:

    If memory serves, the Finns fought just about everyone.

    The Winter War began in 1939 when the evil Russkies attacked Finland. Then they signed a peace treaty which everyone ignored, hence the Continuation War in 1940. That was the one where they signed up with the Huns, leading to His Majesty declaring war on Finland in 1941. The Russkies won, which led to the Lapland War, as declaring war on the Huns was one of the conditions of the peace agreement. The Finns didn’t want to, and were quite happy to let the Huns sneak out the back door to Norway. When Uncle Joe found out, he wasn’t happy and forced them to fight properly, something that led to the Huns setting fire to the country on their way home.

    Which is why the Finns were treated as fascists, post war, and forced to pay reparations and what not.

    Lesson over.

  84. The Friday Question: Speak Up! « Watch With Mothers Says:

    […] celebrate BBC2’s new series The Speaker, we at WWM want to hear YOUR public speaking horror […]

  85. Haroon Says:


  86. Swineshead Says:

    I like it Haroon….

    Everyone else – YOU’VE UPSET HAROON!

  87. Haroon Says:

    nah i’m not upset, not surprised actually lol

  88. Sim and Ameerah Says:

    hey haroon, my mate thinks your quite good looking, would you agree? LOL

  89. Sim and Ameerah Says:

    btw, ameerah loves the programme, i find it quite interesting… so does she – do you get a lot of female attention now that you are on a sophisticated tv show LOOOL

  90. Lailah Says:

    i dnt fink haroon shud hav Been tken out.

    I fortt he was D Best Out Of Em All…

    Dey Shud Of Kikd Out Irene..

    Ive Stoppd watchin the speaker since Theres no point koz d best contestant not der no more..!

  91. Haroon Says:


    “Ive Stoppd watchin the speaker since Theres no point koz d best contestant not der no more..!”

    i like this 😀

  92. Swineshead Says:

    Flirting on my blog, is it?

    Can’t say I approve.

    New Speaker article (covering Haroon’s ejection) tomorrow afternoon!

    Jordan should’ve gone, he’s not very good.

  93. SiMRANNNNNNN. Says:

    haroon personally i thought u were the best,
    i just dont understand why u went out,
    and LOL
    u didnt have much of a reaction when u got taken out.
    was u upset?
    awww; dont worry ill give u a big hug to make it better.
    good luck in the future though (: all the best.

  94. Abir Says:

    Haroon and dem gyaldem all the wayy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: