Has there ever been a more pointless show than ‘The Speaker’?

The Speaker

I didn’t see the first episode of The Speaker, and having seen the second, I’m very glad I didn’t – it would’ve been another hour of my life that I’d never get back…

From what I can gather, it’s something along the lines of the ‘Idol’ series of shows but this one focuses on the oratory abilities of 14 to 18 year olds which, according to Aunty Beeb’s blurb, “sees tough-talking teens, class jokers and shy, sensitive types go head to head as they learn to talk publicly and passionately about the things that matter to them.”

Why?? What for? What’s the point?

The premise of The Speaker is that 160 youngsters have been chosen from thousands of applicants and are “put through their paces in front of judges Jo, Jeremy and John” in four regional auditions. Only 20 will make it through to the next stage where they’ll face a series of “communication challenges” set by a team of mentors…

The Speaker judges

At the end of the series, the three best candidates will face a final showdown where they must make the speech of their lives and helping the finalists rise to the challenges from week two are a group of guest mentors who will apparently offer “expert tutelage and inspiration”.

They are to be Dragons’ Den, Deborah Meaden, who’ll coach the speakers in the art of Conviction; Earl Spencer, who’ll invite the speakers to Althorp House where they will explore how to deliver Information; journalist and broadcaster Kate Silverton, who’ll coach them in the nuances of Storytelling and Tony Blair’s former Director of Communications and speech writer Alastair Campbell, who’ll demonstrate the subtleties of Persuasion.

What an absolute load of BS this is… and again, what’s the point of it? Is it to somehow suddenly encourage hoards of teenagers to think public speaking is ‘cool’ and take it up as a hobby? Are we to see gangs of teenagers on street corners orating from atop the wall outside the offy issuing forth on the relative merits of Vodka over White Lightening from beneath their hoods?

Anyway, last night, the judges travelled to Manchester and Cardiff to put more teenagers through their paces and chose five youngsters from each venue to go through to the next round.

The subjects the kids chose to speak about ranged from gang warfare,  geeks, civil rights and cereals; speaking of which, Coco Pops came in for a right blasting. What goes on in that bowl? A lot of bad things apparently…

Some were excruciatingly lost for words giving rise to those toe-curling horrid moments where if one’s underwear cost £5, £2.50’s worth had disappeared somewhere it simply shouldn’t be; it was just that awkward.

And I personally know how they feel because many eons ago, I took an exam that earned a Spoken English qualification from The Public Speaking Board during a college course. I had to stand up and talk for I think it was a full five minutes on a subject of my choice and any sign of an “er” or “um” lost points. It was horrible and at that time, I dreaded the exam for weeks so I felt those kids’ pain as they suddenly lost the ability to speak…

Some of the kids were passionate and inspired but all were desperate to impress, and sorry for the repetition, but I still don’t get it, unless it’s simply that the young people who applied for the show just saw the chance to be on TV. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

Apparently, when filming began there were massive queues for the auditions but rather than those queues being full of unfulfilled orators desperate to express themselves, as I just mentioned, I suspect the teenagers simply saw the words ‘reality TV’ and dreams of Big Brother-esque fame and fortune filled their heads, irrespective of what the show was actually about.

What did you think of it and please, if you know, tell me what the ultimate point is? I mean, with X Factor, you get a recording contract, so what do these kids get when the ultimate winner is decided upon? I must’ve missed that bit. Is it a job as a Master of Ceremonies or something?? If you know, please do let me know!

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.