Entertainment & Arts

Talking Shop: Big Brother's narrator

Marcus Bentley

He has one of the most famous voices in the UK, but not many people would recognise his face.

Marcus Bentley has been the Big Brother narrator since it began in 2000.

His Geordie accent, which documents the housemates' daily movements, has become one of the most distinctive on British TV.

Does your voice get recognised a lot?

Well on a normal year I just keep my mouth shut and occasionally I'll let something slip to a shopkeeper or something and they get very excited - which is really nice.

But this year I've sort of appeared in a few things, there's a Big Brother promo out there and people have started to recognise me which is a little bit uncomfortable.

It's really good, I was apparently voted by somebody as the voice of the decade which was funny - but it's nice to be recognised and I've really enjoyed my time on Big Brother.

When you started the job did you have any idea how big the show was going to be?

Of course not. I'm an actor originally, but also did voiceovers. When I got the job I thought that I could do with the work.

When it started I think it took everyone by surprise with the whole Nasty Nick thing 10 years ago and I think five weeks into it I thought: 'This is massive.'

The press were ringing me, people wanted to photograph me, get me on their radio and TV shows, and I thought there is longevity in this so I hung on to its coat tails as it were.

Do you worry being so closely associated with Big Brother that it might prevent you getting an acting job?

Image caption Series 5 is Bentley's favourite series

Not really because I've been behind the camera, I've never really thought of that. Now it's coming to an end I'm thinking I'd better start getting my toe out there and trying to get an acting agent again. I want to do serious drama now, but I've got no regrets doing Big Brother and I'd do it all again tomorrow.

Have you continued to work while doing Big Brother?

Because the show has been so popular and because people seem to like my voice I get quite a lot of voiceover work.

At one point I had my own quiz show on Sky 1 which was called Dirty Money. It was made by the people who made Coach Trip and Anne Robinson's Weakest Link and it did really really well.

But there were these weird contractual obligations, so it never got re-commissioned which was a shame. I do lots of commercials and documentaries.

Have you ever used your voice to gain a perk?

Of course not.

No chance I couldn't look at myself in the mirror if I did something like that and anyway they'd look at me rather strangely and tell me to get to the back of the queue.

What has been your favourite series?

It's very, very difficult to answer. Last year's Big Brother was really, really good, but it wasn't getting talked about, for whatever reason.

It seemed to just sort of hit a brick wall in terms of press coverage, but it still had its hardcore fans out there

After Nasty Nick left in Big Brother 1, it actually got rather dull, but Big Brother 3 was off the charts in terms of popularity.

I thought series 5 was good too. I could go on and on. In fact when I look back I think it was Big Brother 5 when Nadia won.

How will you feel when the show comes to an end?

It's going to be very sad for me, but I can take a proper holiday next year and I'll be able to enjoy my summer in the more classic way.

There are hundreds of people who work on the show and they put lots and lots of effort in and create lots of golden moments of TV, no matter what certain critics may say.

Big Brother has created some of the greatest TV moments ever and that's including dramas and soaps. Some really iconic things have happened and I'm really proud to be part of it.

Why has it been a success?

I think it's an organic thing. The producers pick certain people who they think will have certain reactions, which very rarely comes true as to what they think will happen.

But it's all down to the housemates. I mean you might get some cliched girl with big breasts or boffin, but invariably we're all individuals and that big melting pot will throw something up no matter what.

People just like watching people. I'm one of them - we all learn a lot good or bad.

Image caption Rachael was the first evictee of this series

Do you help write your script?

I'm just the voice, although I am always in the final edit with the people who make the programme.

But if there's a new producer on board I do sometimes suggest things because there's a certain Big Brother style - so I suppose I do sometimes edit the final voiceover.

If the show went somewhere else would you go?

Absolutely. The thought of somebody else doing it would break my heart. I'm such a fan of the show - I'd do it hell or high water.

Do you want it to come back?

Yes. Of course. Think about it, Coronation Street has been going for 50 years and hasn't run out of steam, so I don't see how Big Brother can when there are new and fresh stories every year.

If you were asked, would you appear on Celebrity Big Brother?

Well it would be nice to be considered a celebrity. Yes I'd have a good think about it.

I've turned down quite a few things in my time, which I'm now thinking if I got asked again I might do.

As you get a bit older you think 'why not, who cares?' It's an experience so I think I would be willing to think about it.

Marcus Bentley was talking to BBC entertainment reporter Fiona Pryor.

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