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1 August 2014
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Also on Voices
Accent-uate the positive
Multilingualism
Language and place


In Your Area
What do you think about your local accent?
Talk about Voices in your area

Did You Know?
95% of people in Northern Ireland think of themselves as having a moderately strong accent, compared to only 63% of people in the east of England.
Voices poll results


Page 1 of 5
Celebrity voices
What do you think of your voice?
Attitudes towards accents
Languages other than English
Poll methodology

Star quality or public nuisance?

In November 2004, the BBC commissioned a poll to find out how people feel about accents and languages across the British Isles. 5000 people took part in the online poll. Here's what we found.

Participants were asked to rank celebrities in order of how pleasant their voices sound.

Suave Scot Sean Connery swept the board, bowling people over with his dulcet Edinburgh tones. Throughout the UK, his voice was consistently voted the most pleasant in the BBC-commissioned poll.

Fellow Bond actor Pierce Brosnan - who was born in the Republic of Ireland, raised in England and has lived in the USA for over 20 years - was also high up the list. More popular, however, were newsreaders Moira Stewart and Trinidad-born Trevor McDonald. Sir Trevor's appealingly authoritative voice put him in second place overall.

Participants were asked to rank celebrities in order of how pleasant their voices sound

Respondents indicated a preference for accents relatively local to them: Scots said they loved Ewan McGregor's Perthshire accent, the English found Hugh Grant's voice attractive, people in Wales preferred listening to Welsh actor Richard Burton and newsreader Huw Edwards, while those in Northern Ireland found Terry Wogan's Limerick accent irresistible.

Northern Irish participants were the only group who found Ian Paisley's voice acceptable - his was voted 'least pleasant' by all other areas of the UK. In Northern Ireland, Janet Street-Porter's Estuary tongue was declared least attractive, and she fared little better among Scottish and Welsh voters.

It was a red card for David Beckham too, while Billy Connolly, Cilla Black and Paul O'Grady were also given the thumbs down.

next

Your Comments
Rachael, Bristol
I get really irritated when people on the telly try to do a Bristol accent- don't they understand it's totally different from Somerset or generic 'westcountry'? Vicky Pollard is a rare example of it being done right.

Mary from London
Where's Stephen Fry in all this? He has the most pleasant, soothing and beautiful voice in the world.

alan from West Yorkshire
Yes a slight Welsh accent sounds great but the valleys is a bit mumbly - my West Yorkshire accent is described as 'BBC like' by my pal from Barnsley - and my son who lives in Tenerife has lost his regional accent as he mixes with people from all over the world and the UK - - he laughs at my 'pudding' accent now..hope he doesn't sound like tony blair eventually.

Michael from Hants
As a Welshman I think that apart from Huw Edwards there arent enough welsh accents on TV.

Natalie, Glasgow
I LOVE my Scottish accent. I love the fact that it is different and I really wish I heard it on TV more often. It sometimes upsets me that I am judged because of it, but I know that people who assume that I am uneducated, or think I pronounce words incorrectly, are the ones in the wrong. Everyones accent is special! :)

Find more of your thoughts here.

Rachael, Bristol
I get really irritated when people on the telly try to do a Bristol accent- don't they understand it's totally different from Somerset or generic 'westcountry'? Vicky Pollard is a rare example of it being done right.

Mary from London
Where's Stephen Fry in all this? He has the most pleasant, soothing and beautiful voice in the world.

alan from West Yorkshire
Yes a slight Welsh accent sounds great but the valleys is a bit mumbly - my West Yorkshire accent is described as 'BBC like' by my pal from Barnsley - and my son who lives in Tenerife has lost his regional accent as he mixes with people from all over the world and the UK - - he laughs at my 'pudding' accent now..hope he doesn't sound like tony blair eventually

Michael from Hants
As a Welshman I think that apart from Huw Edwards there arent enough welsh accents on TV

Natalie, Glasgow
I LOVE my Scottish accent. I love the fact that it is different and I really wish I heard it on TV more often. It sometimes upsets me that I am judged because of it, but I know that people who assume that I am uneducated, or think I pronounce words incorrectly, are the ones in the wrong. Everyones accent is special! :)

Ken from Grimsby
I thought dialects and accents were something to be listened to rather than read about so I am disappointed.

Jim Jones Dorchester
I hate the way the British accent and dialect is becoming more 'Americanised.' Britain should be proud of the language and not let America rule over the way we speak. Differences are good.

Johan Spector Bridgend, south wales
I would say the only accent I don't like the sound of is cockney. I was brought up in London and that accent cannot be nice to me whoever speaks it. My fave accents are the aberdeen accent, bridgend accent, swindon accent is cool aswell. My own accent is a mix of London English/South Welsh/Aberdeen

Ann Williams, Toronto
To think that a person is immediately labelled and put into a "class box" mere seconds after they begin speaking is a real shame. Still, I enjoy all the different speech patterns and accents. I find them all a pleasure to listen to.

Ashley - London
I'm not a fan of this compulsion to "slag-off" other reigonal accents. The point is to promote your own. Personally, I love a girl with a northern Irish accent. - by the way the cockney accent is specific to certain areas of London, Essex and Kent. Not the entire south of England.

Martin from Cardiff.
I am really concious of my Welsh accent, I do get the impression that most English people think the Welsh are thick and uneducated. The Brummie accent seems to get the same sort of comments as the Welsh accent, however I think Brummies sound great and could listen to that accent all day.

sharon wigan
brummie accent is lovley i was talking to someone the other day who comes from there and its really lovley

Nicki from the Black Country
I hate the way everybody appears to hate the 'brummie' accent, and also are unable to distinguish between that and the black country accent. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. people imitating these accents can rarely do them correctly either!! Its usually cockney's who find them annoying, but maybe they should stop and listen to themselves! Black Country is proven to be the closest dialect to ye olde English!! And as for pronouncing fast like farst...if it was meant to be pronounced that way it would have an r in!! Saying all that, I love all dialects in England, my favourite probably has to be a Bolton one or Liverpool...they're ace!!

Heathcliffe
As a Scot living in England, it irrates me that certain people talk 'down' to me, assuming I am less intelligent than them because I don't use RP, although I DO speak standard English (also I have a degree in English language). In my experience, however, it is usually the chattering classes who display this attitude -perhaps they haven't had the advantage of a higher education where they would undoubtedly have met people from across the spectrum and learned to be tolerant of differences.

Jane, West Virginia US
You should enjoy your diversity, especially within the media. Here, there is a standard TV/radio accent. Most people would not recognize an accent from a neighboring state, perhaps only from a large geographical region, such as New England or Texas. Here too a strong accent is seen as a sign of ignorance, unfortunately. Also, I would be very interested to know Brits' opinions of which US accent is most like the Queen's English.

elaine mclellan from glasgow
I don't know why people don't seem to like the welsh accent.Ithink both north and south welsh accents are lovely.our accents are special,I think it would be quite sad if we all had the same accent from lands end to john o groats.

Meg, Sheffield
Just to make one thing clear: In response to Ann from Hertfordshire, Standard English is the dialect, that is the grammatical features of ANY accent (h-dropping in Cockney, deletion of 't' know as glottal stop for example in the word 'butter'). You can still speak Standard English even if you have a Welsh or Yorkshire accent (ie. Huw Edwards). The accent is called Received Pronunciation (RP), and this is the sound of the 'Queens English'. It is this mistake that leads people to perceive accents such as Brummie as negative because it deviates from the RP status. I agree that RP sounds good but I also think accents around England should be embraced.

Simon from Beds
Timothy Dalton and Roger Moore... need I say more?

Ian from Lancashire
I hate the cockney accent, they're so annoying in the way that they think its ace but everyone else hates it!

Feyisayo Anjorin, Cape Town
English is spoken by millions around the world.Its strange that some people still expect the impossibility of making it conform to certain selfishly fixed patterns.

Tom, Swansea
Similar to the first comment, it absolutely infuriates me that when (although not often) a celebrity tries to mimic a Swansea accent they end up doing one of those annoying Welshy valleys accents similar to Daffyd from Little Britain.

steph wigan
the wigan accent is gud but the newcastle accent is well ace my boy friend comes from newcastle and there accent is ded sexy!!!

steven bell devon
i hate it wen ppl who arent frm devon try to dothe accent because its not the way they do it they go ott

Steph, from Wigan
I think the wigan accent is the best accent ever in the universe its so great i could listen to it all day on a cd or my mp3 its so soothing and enjoyable and relaxing and wonderfull

Charlotte from Fife
Oh dear, P Thorpe from the West Midlands. Let me just point something out. I am Scottish and live in Scotland, but do you know how many English accents there are here? There are lots, and if I, being a Scot, can accept that not everyone living in my country has the native accent, then I think you should accept that you are ocasionally "subjected" to our accent, as I hear your repulsive accent every day. Cheerio!

Tom from Suffolk
Why can nobody do the Suffolk/Norfolk accent on TV? When people try and do our accent it comes out sounding Cornish/Devonshire! Our accent is definitely not broadcast enough and not many people outside of East Anglia really know what it truely sounds like.

Ghislaine Dundee
My parents are always on to me to speak in the "Queens own English" which I am perfectly capable of doing but I prefer to speak natuarally in the colloquial scots my husband and I converse in. My parents and many other people refer to colloquial scots as slang but its not, its a complex native language spoken in the most beautiful accent in the world as proved by your poll. Get in there Sir Connery!!!

alex west midlands
why oh why have i in the last few years been bombarded with a succession of radio and tv presenters with accents from every part of the uk.why do i have to see a news broadcast from tragedy in cornwall conducted in a northern irish accent that I find grating.or what about a scottish news item with a presenter from geordyland.Who consulted us on this forced multi- accentism.can we not stick to r.p or is rp dead or nearly dead?

Ann from Herefordshire
I enjoy listening to the genuine regional accents of many of the BBC presenters (especially the lovely friendly weather forecasters), but what really annoys me is when those who speak otherwise "standard" English pronounce words such as "demand" to rhyme with "hand" and "France" to rhyme with "ants". It sounds really odd. Will we soon be hearing "glass" only rhyming with "mass" and "fast" only as in "pasta"? There is nothing wrong with those sounds in a genuine regional or local accent (and I'm proud that I've still got a bit of my Welsh accent left) but to apparently make speakers of "standard" English change the vowel patterns they probably grew up with seems misplaced.

Stuart J Smith
I love celebrity voices and i have been impersonating them for 20 years now and even named my company after them. Voices are very special to me it is the persons signature tune and what makes them express, at the moment I think Chris Tarrants voice is one that I have always liked, but I am swinging to Morgan Freeman now he has an amazing voice.

Charles, in Cheshire
We should all be able to speak in something approaching standard english AS WELL AS in our local accent.Don't deride this as "telephone voice" .Keep your strong dialect for your mates but be able to moderate its intensity to show your education when speaking in a broader context.You will benefit. Now, presentation- that increasingly universal sloppiness ,missing the H,(for years a sign of ignorance), dropping the T as in goh ih for got it-I just switch off . I don't wish to hear such commonness.We can all improve.Just listen to the current John Prescott or the brilliant new Michaelm Atherton-- tons better than a few years ago.Our current sporting heroes may be great in their field but most shouldn't be allowed near a microphone as the voice of our country.I cringe. I could go on..and on...

Dave, Halesowen.
Has the rest of the UK heard of "The Black Country" ?? Only to a "native", is the Black Country accent, different to a Brummie one. The Black Country Dialect was fashioned from the Saxon tongue, it's the oldest Saxon dialect in the world, still containi, we pride ourselves on working hard, and playing even harder, we have over 200 Saxon and Viking words and expressions( Study: Aston University), Our , heritage is the seat of the Industrial Revolution. No air but smoke, hence the accent is slightly nasal due to 200 years of chewing smoke,coal dust and furnace "sweat". (Charles Dickens et al). We have an immense bond with each other as a community and share no particular history or any traditions with Birmingham. There has never been a correct, accurate portrayal of either a Black Country or Brummie accent on TV or Radio 4 from my recollections. (I listen every day).It seems that if you talk slightly nasally, and say "oorite mayte". Then that is near enough. You have missed the point of a small region of the UK that has had a REAL Accent / Dialect, and not a "made up one " apples and pears, whistle and flute etc. I speak Black Country. I speak History.

lily men from grimsby
i don't no how to understand other accents but i don'tthink it is a nuscense because none of us can help our accents lily

John United States
Sean Connery's voice is so soothing I could listen to it all day on a cd.

Feyisayo Anjorin.......Cape Town
the various regional accents are the beauty and peculiarity of English language which is the world's number one language.There's a tendency for the prepodenrant accent to masquerade as the 'standard' accent is there, but we have to be proud of our accent and accept other accents as they are provided we understand what they say each time they speak.

June Blackburn Huddersfield
I find it amusing how when the Yorkshire accent is portrayed in drama's and comedies...that a mix of poor Lancastrian and abysmal Yorkshire accents are used!....thankfully most Yorkshire people have the ability to laugh at the shameful take-offs by actors trying to speak in a Yorkshire dialect...I find it sad that the Eastenders slang is becoming part of most areas north and south or is that norf and sarf!...and since when did the word ask transform itself into the word arks?...very confusing!

Emily from California
It really bothers me when people complain about certain accents on whatever silly basis. Usually that basis is the amount of education the accent conveys - if someone's been to more school, it seems that they're more likely to speak in standard British English with less regional variety, and those are the accents that seem the most "pleasing". I just find this plain annoying, because it's not as if people can really help how they speak. Besides, listening to the many different accents on BBC Radio is, to the American that I am, pretty cool. I'd get quite bored if it was all just in Standard British English. It does homage to the incredible diversity of your land!

Jenny Peel, Bucks
Sally traffic on Radio 2 has the most wonderful tones, warm and enveloping.

Ama from Enfield
Pronouncing english word right just make you sound beautiful.The tone in addition just make you sound sweet and lovable.

jemima from warwickshire
How can you say that one variety/ accent of english sounds nicer that any other?

shakir, grays.,essex
Well... I think Sean Connery's accent is sweet & charming.I also enjoy Tony Blair's English - juxtapose it with David Beckham's and you feel like freaking out-is it because of the education? However, for a doctor used to being serenaded by the sublime hypnotising cadence of BBC English,having just arrived from Nigeria, I dread moving n North to be assaulted by their strange lingo.I'd sooner get ensconced in the familiar tones of Greater London & the Southwest.

John from Belfast
What about the beautiful voice of Hannah Gordon? Surely one of the loveliest voices on Radio.

Beth from Bangor Co. Down
Hannah Gordon has one of the most beautiful voices on Radio or Television. It is so warm and clear and expressive.

A White from Hants
Isnt it funny that this is such a small country, yet we have so much variety in our language. Definitely something to be proud of. We should try to abandon our stereotypes of accent (after all, this is what leads us to find the 'pretty' or 'ugly') and embrace the lot!

ALAN, EDINBURGH
To p thorp from the west midlands. I find it hilarious that someone from the west midlands finds the Scottish accent annoying and offensive. I think they should look closer at home and remember that our accent is closest to the queens language. I wonder, does he find the queens accent offensive?

David Spencer from London
Fran Godfrey of BBC radio two... how pleasant to hear the English language spoken properly . No colourful regional accent ,thank goodness, just correct pronociation clearly spoken. Regional 'words'..SAARF(south)KLAARDS (clouds)etc, as with all other dialects ,whilst intially amusing, eventually only irritate and distract the listener

Sophie and Jess, Staffordshire
where is Johnny Borrell in this? he clearly has the most charasmatic and enchanting voice we have ever heard. he is a catch. just wait till you hear him sing!

Natalie White, Larbert
The Scottish accent is the most diverse in that people from the west of Scotland find it very difficult to understand the Aberdeen accent, whereas the Inverness accent is closer to the Queens language than any other local lingo.

John from Londonderry
I think one of the most beautiful voices around is that of the actress Hannah Gordon. It is so rich and warm and clear.

Jenny Franklin
I have a geordie accent. I quite like my accent but i really can't stand strong geordie accents! I absolutely love liverpool accents but i just can't do them! I find geordie dialect rather funny because whenever i speak to someone who isn't geordie they can't understand a word of what i'm saying!

Jane Arrowsmith from Canterbury
I'm from the Kingdom of Northumbria, have lived and worked in London and now in Kent. My accent is more to the fore after every return to the North but I've never lost it entirely & am very proud of it. What I do find amusing is listening to people - especially so-called personalities - trying to cover up their accent. No names no packdrill but I'm sure most people know who I mean! Long live the glorious rich variety of British accents.

Robert from Enfield
One of the most pleasant accents I ever heard was that of the late radio presenter John Dunn. He had a warm rich tone to his voice with excellent diction and I was much surprised to learn that his early formative years were spent is Scotland.

Raluca, currently in Orlando, Florida
As a non English native speaker who lived 10 years in the UK, I tune into the BBC mostly to hear those lovely British accents (well, to get some proper news also). Standard English remains by far my favourite accent, but I also like Scottish and Southern Irish.

BETHAN K From South Wales
I luv Tommy Pearce and Gaz and they are very nice! U should hear their accents! Strong welsh accents! I think that if you think that Welsh accents are rubbish, welll you should be jailed for racistism!

Rebecca Evans, South Wales
I think it's sad that people are debating over ACCENTS! i mean accents! at the end of the day, who cares what people sound like or how they pronounce things!!!

m walters milton keynes
I agree with Ian Wood, everybody on tv who tries to imitate the black country accent fails miserably, even Noddy Holder in the Grimleys was abysmal for a Wolverhamptoon born mon, the rest of the cast had no accent at all. I am originally from Rowley Regis and am proud of my accent, even though it seems to be dying out with a lot of the young folks up there now, a great pity as ther's ony us as understonds et.

Barbara Buss, East Sussex
I believe all accents should be encouraged as they show diversity,individuality and a sense of self. It would be a sad world if we all talked the same.

S Keane from London
I'm not against regional accents, but when the TV and Radio are using so many different ones, it's a nuisance having to "re-tune" all the time. Bring back standard English!

Jane from Herefordshire
You voice may get you to where you want to be, but will it let you down when you get there? Lets here it for good old fashioned elocution lessons,and put the "Great" back into Britains language-especially for presenters and high profile media Perhaps they could lead by example.

P.Thorp from West Midlands
I find it quite offensive that I am subjected,so often,to the Scottish accent in the Midlands area.There are frequent occasions when I have to listen to a succession of presenters and/or newsreaders with varying degrees of the Scottish accent and by the way who is President Booosh ?If people cannot pronounce words correctly why are they given jobs in the media ? Sometimes it annoys me so much that I have to switch off the television just to remember in which part of the country I am residing.

Carol Parker from Leek Staffs
I think that Roger Mcgough has the most attractive voice on radio

Graham Williamson, Dundee
One diffculty with voices in the media is the narrow range given. It would be good to hear a London voice that is not marked by estuaryese, a Glasgow voice that is not a la Rab C Nesbit or conversely an Edinburgh voice that is decidedly working class. So often voice in media is an aspect of stereotyping

kathryn M
I think that voting for the best accents is RACIST!!! It isn't fair that you've voted Welsh accents in the worst 10! In my opinion the Welsh accent is AWESOME and it's completely unfair what people have done! I have nothing against English accents but it's obvious that you HAVE!

John SE London
Your use of celebrities in the survey adds confusion to the results. What are you really testing the accent or the celebrities popularity?

Chris (formally Wales, now Liverpool)
Is it me or does the Geordie accent really iritate. I find it much worse than scouse and Brummie! The same can be sad of Bristol too! The welsh accent is pretty bad too. The problem with places like Liverpool, Manchester and Brum is the variation between a strong and mild accent. For example I think a 'posh' Liverpool accent is one of the nicest in the country, while the famous one - that spoken by J Ellison or Cilla Black is one of the worst! The only accent I really like, as a whole, has to be the Leeds/ West Yorkshire one - it sounds really warm and homely for some reason.

Bob Farrer from Berkhamsted
The posher radio 4 early morning presenters have wonderful voices, Sarah Montague and the Saintly Ed S. They are warm, fun AND authorative. Jim N is a superb person and I think I would spot his integrity hiding behind any accent. John H is smart, certainly, but sounds too combative, like Paxman, and they have very different accents.

Faye Herdman from Brecon
whats wrong with the south wales accent? to me tony blair's voice is more annoying.

David summers from south wales
i think its sad that peoples accents are being judged. Every country has their own accent and it is not fair to have their accent joked at and said to be unliked, and least pleasing its simply pathetic

neil from motherwell
everyone must keep their accent. Lose your accent/dialect then you lose your culture and in the end everyone is the same.

Barry Clarke: Brixton Hill
I think the most superb celebrity voices have to be those of Dame Diana Rigg and Joanna Lumley but to name two.

Thom from Edinburgh
I think you have to be careful to distinguish between accent and style. Some of those who fared badly in the poll are poorly received because of their vocal style - they shout (eg Connolly), or squeak (eg Cilla), or have unpopular views (eg Paisley). In these cases it is wrong to attribute their scores only to their accents.

Stuart Hood, Glasgow
Worst accent- cockney Most annoying mispronunciation - words such as law and draw having R's put on at the end. Especially common in South of England

george cobbiah
what about Judy Swallow, McPearson, Jullian King of BBC? Great Voices & to the point & understood fast. even able to predict the question they will put to people on various issues

Ian Wood from Birmingham
A lot of people from Birmingham don't talk in the way they are portrayed, especially by actors "doing a Brummie". Cat Deeley and Jamelia are both Brummie girls yet no-one mocks their accents.

Keith Rodgerson Selkirk
I love the wey that Scots assume that the English always miss the "R" from words and so put them in. Ewan McGregor is one example when he and I say "GhicaRgo" etc.





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