Youth debate show BBC Free Speech has not been cancelled according to BBC3, despite a tweet from presenter Rick Edwards saying that the show “probably won’t be on TV again”.
The series’ presenter Edwards said on Twitter that he didn’t expect the show, which has held regular discussion forums between politicians and young people since being commissioned in 2012, to be renewed.
However, a BBC spokesperson later insisted that the show had “not been cancelled”, and that BBC3 was working with the programme’s producers on ways to encourage debate among its target 16-34 year-old audience.
“Free Speech has not been cancelled by BBC Three and we are working with Mentorn Media – the show’s production company – to look at ways to continue bringing meaningful topical debate to a young audience,” the spokesperson said. “As soon as we have news we will announce it.”
Fronted by Edwards and Newsbeat presenter Tina Daheley, BBC Free Speech has featured debates with Labour leader Ed Miliband as well as representatives from every major party in the run-up to this year’s general election.
Sky News reports that around 58 per cent of voters aged 18-24 turned out in this year’s election, up from an estimated 52 per cent in 2010.
Edwards followed up his original tweet by saying that he was “thinking about how to do it outside of the BBC,” claiming that the broadcaster would not “let/fund any debates” targeted at young voters.
@matlock they won’t let/fund any debates. I’m thinking about how to do it outside of the BBC.
— Rick Edwards (@rickedwards1) May 8, 2015
Edwards also presented breakfast show T4 for Channel 4 before it was cancelled in 2012. Following news of BBC3’s proposed closure he joked in August last year, “There’s a slight feeling that I might be a curse. I’m really sorry.”