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18 September 2014
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Voices


West Yorkshire people

Voices - Then and Now


Everything changes - even the way we speak here in West Yorkshire. As part of Voices2005 we took a virtual trip around our website and listened to how people used to speak and how they speak now. Join us - you might be in for a surprise!


As long ago as 1922 and in far away London BBC radio first took to the air. BBC announcers used an English that was deliberately neutral - supposedly accent-free and definitely no dialect speakers wanted.

When war broke out in September 1939 the BBC found itself with a new role as the country's voice to the outside world. Suddenly it was important that announcers' voices were easily recognisable and West Yorkshire's very own Wilfred Pickles, an actor from Halifax, became the first newsreader with a regional accent.

Wiklfred Pickles
Wilfred Pickles from Halifax - the first BBC newsreader with an accent.

Today the BBC has more than seven radio networks, 39 local radio stations and 42 Where I live websites as well as dedicated broadcasting for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It seeks to reflect the rich diversity of language, dialect and accent found in the British Isles. It is doubtful if many of the thousands of staff who work in today's BBC speak the sort of English which would have got them a job as an anouncer in 1922.

Here on the BBC West Yorkshire website we think there are LOADS of different accents and dialects in our county's cities, towns and villages. You can hear some of these if you look around our website so we hope you'll open your ears and join us on a virtual tour!

old microphone
This is what you would have heard on the BBC in 1922
LISTEN TO THE FIRST WORDS EVER SPOKEN ON BBC RADIO
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Wilfred Pickles
Wilfed Pickles was West Yorkshire's very first newsreader
SEE IF YOU CAN SPOT HIM AMONGST THESE WARTIME BULLETINS!
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J.B. Priestley
Legendary Bradford writer J.B. Priestley looks back to walking in the West Riding in his youth.
J.B.PRIESTLEY TALKSABOUT TEAS FOR SEVEN PENCE!
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Alan from Marsden
Alan takes us on a walk on Marsden Moor where the ashes of dialect poet Ammon Wrigley (1861-1946) are scattered.
CLICK TO LOOK AT ALAN'S VIDEO
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Worker at Whitehead's mill 2001
Workers at Whitehead's in Bradford react to the news that their mill is going to close
CLICK TO LISTEN TO WHITEHEAD'S WORKERS LOOKING BACK
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poets
We joined Bards on The Run during Ilkley's Literature Fest
OUR PUB POETS AND MR DOBSON TALK AT THE SHOULDER OF MUTTON
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Shaun T. Hunter
Shaun T.Hunter is an acoustic singer/songwriter from Cleckheaton.
CLICK TO LISTEN TO SHAUN LIVE IN A BBC SESSION
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Nadira
Nadira Mirza grew up in Pakistan and came to Bradford in 1979.
NADIRA'S FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF WEST YORKSHIRE
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Pupil at Turnshaws School
In 2003 we spent some time with staff and pupils at Turnshaws School at Kirkburton near Huddersfield.
CLICK TO LISTEN TO CLASS 3'S AUDIO DIARY
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Blame t'Vikings!
viking
Bradford language and dialect enthusiast Peter Keane says the way we speak is all down to the Vikings! Find out more here!
Message Board - do you like your accent?
Voices
Listen to how we've been speaking on BBC radio and TV in West Yorkshire over the decades! Find out more here!
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