Rick Edwards Tells Us Why You Need To Watch Free Speech This Evening

TV for your brain


by Jess Commons |
Published on

ICYMI, Free Speech is basically the Newsnight for our generation. Presented by Rick Edwards and Radio 1’s Tina Daheley, the show presents political topics as suggested by young people to a panel made up of politicians and experts. It returns tonight from Edinburgh, and promises to look at anti-semitism in the wake of the conflict in Gaza and, of course, the issue of the moment: the Scottish Referendum.

We spoke to Rick about why we need to tune in tonight…

The Debrief: Hello, Rick Edwards! Tell us about Free Speech in case anyone’s missed the past few series….

Rick Edwards: It’s quite similar to Question Time, although now it’s moved away from it's illustrious father a bit so the way that we structure the show and source the topics is different – we do it from our online audience as much as we can so we’re not just dictating the issues that we as TV people think that young people should be talking about. We try to put that in their charge. Essentially it’s political debate show for young people with a panel of speakers.

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DB: What are some of the subjects you guys are going to be tackling this time around?

RE: We try and decide as late as possible. We have a

that people submit questions to and then we try and go with whatever gets most likes. We also take questions from our live studio audience.

****DB: Is it scary doing it live?

RE: No. I think it makes it a more engaging show. I think as a viewer you can sense when it’s live and sense when stuff is planned and rehearsed to death. There’s probably arguments to say that does make my job more difficult but also more fun.

****DB: Have you been impressed by how much younger people care?

RE: I don’t know if impressed is the right word. I guessed ‘heartened’, because I think it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of thinking young people are apathetic or don’t care about politics, and there’s statistics to show that that’s nonsense that my first hand experience also backs up.

****DB: What’s the biggest thing you’ve noticed our generation giving a shit about?

RE: The education system – how much they’re paying to get on to higher education, getting a job, getting somewhere to live. They care about hopefully earning enough money one day to have a family. Youth unemployment is definitely a problem and tuition fees are obviously very high. I read a terrifying statistic the other day that said if you do an arts degree you will earn on average 4% less than someone who didn’t do a degree at all. Which feels like a damming indictment of higher education, because if you’re charging people a lot of money to go to university and that’s the result, then how can you justify spending the money in the first place?

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****DB: You did an excellent TEDX talk recently on how to get young people to vote – what sort of feedback have you had from that?

RE: I just had a meeting today with an MP today who’s going to try and push the ideas I had, so they will heard in House Of Commons, which would obviously be amazing! And I’m going to keep trying to encourage people in power to think about the stuff I was saying. I’m not saying I’m right about everything, but I think it’s at least worth having a conversation about this problem. Because it is a huge problem and if we don’t do something about it soon, then it will just grow into an even bigger problem

****DB: Yeah, I feel pretty disconnected from any politician at the moment....

RE: There are politicians out there who genuinely care. The guy I met today is probably 60-odd, but he didn’t seem old and out of touch, he seemed like a guy who wants to help young people. I think having some younger people in power would help, too, because they’re that much easier to identify with. But it’s just as important making sure that everyone who is in power understands why it’s so vital that they pay heed to the needs of young people.

Free Speech is on BBC Three tonight at 8pm

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Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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