Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh, Anita Rani and Jonny Bairstow back BBC talent search for voice of Bradford City of Culture 2025

Kimberley Walsh, Anita Rani and Jonny Bairstow are backing a BBC talent search to find the next ‘voice of Bradford’ to report on the UK City of Culture 2025.

The Bradford-born stars are encouraging the public to record their own 45-second demos describing what the city means to them and why it’s such a special place.

The West Yorkshire city, one of the most diverse places in the country, has been named the 2025 UK City of Culture.

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"There’s something big coming to our city and it could literally change your life in just 45 seconds,” said Girls Aloud star Walsh.

Kimberley Walsh. Credit: BBC Studios and James Stack.Kimberley Walsh. Credit: BBC Studios and James Stack.
Kimberley Walsh. Credit: BBC Studios and James Stack.

She adds: “The only thing you’ve got to do, and really show, is that you love the place we call home – Bradford.”

More than 1,000 new performances and events are in store during the year, including 365 artist commissions, a series of major arts festivals as well as national and international collaborations.

With BBC Radio Leeds spearheading the coverage, the channel will pick the New Voices Bradford winner or winners, who will join the team to help report on the special year for the city. They will be a new voice alongside presenters like Rima Ahmed and Gayle Lofthouse.

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And it’s not just broadcasters of the future that are invited to apply – the team are also keen to hear from bloggers, influencers, poets, podcasters and anyone who feels they have something to say about Bradford.

Katrina Bunker. Pic: BBC.Katrina Bunker. Pic: BBC.
Katrina Bunker. Pic: BBC.

No prior experience is needed and anyone who would like some tips or wants to know more can meet the BBC Radio Leeds team in person when they’re in the Broadway Shopping Centre for four days from March 25.

Anita Rani, who will be a head judge, says: “Bradford is a vibrant city full of energy, personality and talent. Now is the time for that talent to find its voice and forge new paths in what is going to be such a transformative year, as we head towards the UK city of culture 2025.“This talent search is a fantastic opportunity for someone who loves the city to join the BBC and celebrate everything it has to offer. I encourage everyone to send in their audition videos, as you can be right at the heart of the BBC's coverage. Bradford 2025, UK City of Culture gives us the chance to shine a light on the city and tell the stories which matter to us. These opportunities don't come around too often, so now's your chance to make a difference and represent the place I call home.”

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BBC Radio Leeds breakfast presenter Rima Ahmed, another judge, won a New Voices talent search in 2019 and now presents the station’s flagship show.

She says: “I’m so excited to be on the panel for New Voices Bradford - what an honour. I know Bradford is a city brimming with talent just waiting to be unleashed and I can’t wait to witness the magic… Bring it on, Bradford!”

Katrina Bunker, Senior Head of Content Production for Yorkshire, says: “We can’t wait to cover the events of Bradford 2025 across TV, radio and online. It’s going to be such an exciting year for the region.

“Bradford is a city that has heaps of creative talent and this is a great opportunity for authentic local voices to showcase their talents and get a foot in the door at the BBC.”

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Shanaz Gulzar, Creative Director of Bradford 2025, says: "I’m delighted that BBC New Voices is coming to Bradford, just one of the many things as a result of Bradford 2025 UK City of Culture. This really is a brilliant opportunity for those interested in, and with a passion for presenting.

“Bradford is full of talent, and we want to see people from all corners of our district submit applications. We're looking for people who are full of energy and personality - which is what being from Bradford is all about."

The search launches today and will be open for four weeks before the shortlisted finalists are invited to a finale at Sunbridgewells on April 28.

You must be 18 or over to enter and submissions have to be received before 11pm on April 7. All submissions must in English, but English doesn’t have to be your first language.

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