Get the accent right in films!

I’ve just seen a film which brought out this ongoing bugbear. Would we put up with Irish being confused with Scots in a drama?! Accents are part of a region’s identity, as much as a nation’s. It is insulting that for every rural English location, film characters have the same generic poor West Country accent. It’s usually small supporting roles of people who are workers – the farmers, the lady in the shop, the guesthouse owner, the servants. And it serves to make idiots out of all rural people – a bit like American south often comes across. Whereas other parts of Britain have reclaimed their accent with pride, it still seems that those of us with a country voice are considered rustic and thick and a little bit amusing. Dialect coaches are employed by film companies and yet they get this so badly wrong -how do they get work?! I had been in Bristol a few weeks and I could hear the difference between North (Gloucs) and South (Somerset) and that people in Devon spoke differently again. So how can a dialect expert not hear that East Anglians have quite a distinctive accent, and that Norfolk and Suffolk do not sound the same as each other, let alone the whole of south and middle England! I also am surprised the actors can’t pick up on accents more, especially when they even film in the area – can’t they hear how people around them are talking? Can’t they consult someone who can? It spoiled the film. And it’s not just an accuracy issue, but a ruralist one, and about not seeing the East as a real region worth respecting.

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Filed under cinema, society, television

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