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C4 Education commissions Colin Firth to inspire young public speakers

Channel 4 Education has commissioned Colin Firth to appear in Young People Speak (w/t), an inspiring project that will focus on a group of teenagers as they prepare for - and make - an important and challenging public speech. The Oscar winning actor is a fervent believer in the crucial role of public speaking as a force for change and empowerment.

The project, which will include both video and web content, is the first original commission for 4OD and part of a collaboration with Canongate Books who have published an anthology The People Speak, co-curated by Firth, of some of the most influential words and speeches in British history.

Viewers will follow the highs and lows of the teenagers' individual journeys, exploring their motivations, hopes and fears as they prepare a speech that is important to their lives, friends or family, an address that will test their views and values as young people. Although their reasons for giving the speech are diverse, what unites them is a passion for their chosen topic and the knowledge that their audience will be the largest they've ever confronted. Firth, who won an Oscar for his role in The King's Speech, will offer invaluable advice in the art of speechmaking and rally young people to have confidence in their own voice and opinions.

This is the first Channel 4 commission for Edinburgh-based Peachtree Films, a new company set up by former directors of Nobles Gate, Andrew Abbott, Russell Leven and Craig Collinson.

Colin Firth said, "Making a speech is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have. I'd say to these young speakers that you'll discover that your voice, just your own voice, has extraordinary powers. It can change things, as many speeches have. The value of speechmaking is to show us that we all have something to say if we can just find the confidence to say it."

Stuart Cosgrove, Channel 4 Director of Creative Diversity said, "Channel 4 are always keen to connect with young people in ways that challenge them and enrich their life skills and experience. It would be difficult to think of anyone more relevant and well-known to mentor young people and lead a project about the power and relevance of speeches than internationally respected actor Colin Firth"

Prod/Dir: Andrew Abbott

Prod co: Peach TreeFilms

Commissioning Editor: Gemma Brady

Notes to editors:

Young People Speak (w/t) is a commission from Channel 4's Education team who have a focus on life skills for young people.

Other recent Education commissions include:

  • Daredevils: Life on the Edge -a one hour documentary from Christie HQ following extreme biker Danny MacAskill as he sets out to understand why young people take risks. Now available on 4oD.
  • The Human Mannequin - a one hour documentary from Nine Lives Media following 19-year-old Louise Wedderbuun as she takes her first steps towards finding her dream career in the fashion industry whilst suffering from an extreme condition Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, which is slowly freezing her bones into place.
  • Battlefront - the fourth series of its Emmy award-winning campaigning project from Raw Television, which profiles the journey of young campaigners on a mission to change the world - this year focusing exclusively on youth unemployment: www.channel4.com/battlefront

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