Anita Rani, Kimberley Walsh, and Jonny Bairstow throw their weight behind a BBC initiative to unearth the next ‘voice of Bradford,’ primed to cover the UK City of Culture.

The trio, all hailing from Bradford, are rallying the public to submit their own 45-second demos, articulating what the city signifies to them and why it holds a special place in their hearts.

Bradford celebrated as one of the nation’s most diverse locales, clinched the title of 2025 UK City of Culture, a distinction that magnetizes droves of tourists and pledges substantial investment.

The upcoming year promises a plethora of cultural extravaganzas, including over 1,000 novel performances and events, encompassing 365 artist commissions, an array of major arts festivals, and exciting collaborations on both national and international fronts.

BBC Radio Leeds, at the forefront of the coverage, will cherry-pick the New Voices Bradford champion or champions, granting them a spot on the team to aid in narrating the city’s momentous year. They will join esteemed presenters like Rima Ahmed and Gayle Lofthouse, injecting a fresh perspective into the mix.

But it’s not solely aspiring broadcasters who are encouraged to vie for this opportunity; the search extends to bloggers, influencers, poets, podcasters, and anyone impassioned about Bradford.

No prior experience is necessary, and those seeking guidance or further details can rendezvous with the BBC Radio Leeds crew in person at Broadway Shopping Centre for four days starting March 25th.

Anita Rani, designated as a head judge, enthuses, “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.”

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.”

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, slated to kick off on March 11th, will run for four weeks until the shortlisted finalists convene for a finale at Sunbridgewells on April 28th.

Applicants must be 18 or above, with submissions due by 11 pm on April 7th. Although submissions must be in English, English need not be the entrant’s first language.

Interested parties can submit their entries through this link.