‘The Lost Art of Oratory’ by a BBC executive who helped to lose it in the first place

Well, well, well – after decades of showing fewer and fewer speeches (and shorter and shorther extracts from the few that ever do get shown) on television, the BBC is now trailing a programme entitled ‘Yes We Can: The Lost Art of Oratory’ next Sunday night, presented by none other than Alan Yentob – who, in his former roles as controller of BBC 1 and Director of Programmes, was one of the few people who could actually have done something to prevent the ‘Art of Oratory’ from being more or less lost from our television screens in the first place

Having posted a piece entitled ‘Obama's rhetoric renews UK media interest in the 'lost art' of oratory’ back in December, I suppose I should be gratified to see my point being endorsed by the BBC.

But it does seem rather ironic that the programme is being put out on the same channel (BBC 2) that broadcast a half an hour programme of speeches every night during the 1979 election, but where you’ll never see any now – unless they feel it’s time for a bit of speculation about the declining importance of oratory in British politics, helped along the way by authoritative experts like Bob Geldof and Germaine Greer.

Or maybe it’s just their way of trying to justify part of the huge amount of licence payers’ money spent on sending Mr Yentob and the swarms of other BBC employees to Washingon for inauguration day.

Having just heard him plugging the programme on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week, I’m not expecting much in the way of news or insight into the subject. But it should be worth recording in case they play any clips that I don't already have in my collection.

(See also Did the media ignore Hannan because they think speeches are 'bad television'? and Mediated speeches - whom do we really want to hear?)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Love the blog but I think I must be listening to a different Obama to everyone esle as I think his oratory skills are dreadful and his rhetoric is non-existant. It's just meaningless nonesense; all about tone and nothing else. There are no specifics, no policies, no style or grace, just an irritating waste of air.

For my money, whether you love him or hate him, George Galloway is far and away the best orator in the world today.