With stunning scenery and fascinating stories, More 4’s series Devon and Cornwall should have been a winner. But every week the voiceover triggers rage and fury from viewers.
Last night’s episode was no exception. Why? Because every letter ‘h’ is dropped. Harbour becomes ‘arbour, hills ‘ills and home ‘ome.
— Steve Griffiths (@DobbyWantsASock) May 13, 2019
Every week’s episode seems to send our collective blood pressure soaring.
I really cannot stand the appalling voice over on the Devon and Cornwall show. What should be a celebration of this beautiful part of the country is overshadowed by this insulting attempt at a West Country accent. Why was it needed? Speak normally! @Channel4 #devonandcornwall
— Amanda Uffendell (@MandUff) May 13, 2019
Narrator of the imaginatively titled 'Devon and Cornwall' show on More 4 has the worst affected 'oo aarr' accent I've ever heard including Dick van Dyk
— Steve Thomas (@stevejthomas) April 29, 2019
#Devonandcornwall Just watching Devon and Cornwall on More 4 @Channel4 It's a beautifully filmed and edited programme looking at both Counties But please, the narrator is talking in a posh accent but dropping H's inappropriately trying to sound local. It's awful. No need for it.
— Charlie & Nige (@CharlieandNige) April 2, 2019
In this case, the narrator is so distracting that some viewers are simply turning the telly off.
As filmmakers, we need to take note. After months of careful planning, researching, budgeting, scheduling, filming and editing, the voiceover alone can make or break a film.
Regional accents in other languages
We recently created a set of films for Caterpillar and recorded five different language voiceovers. The ads were released online in English, French, German, Italian and Dutch.
Caterpillar have brand guidelines in place for the kinds of voices that should represent them. For the UK version, narrator and actor Dean Andrews was the perfect fit. Listening to him read our script we knew he sounded genuine and warm.
But when it came to the other languages we weren’t so confident in finding voiceovers. We didn’t know enough about regional accents to say which voices sounded right or wrong.
We used the brand guidelines to choose the tone, texture and timbre of the voices. At the recording sessions, we worked with directors and voiceover artists who were fluent in each of the languages to make sure the accents and the emphasis were correct.
We had to trust that these teams would get it right for us and our client. We double-checked the results with Caterpillar’s Europe teams before we launched the ads in a digital marketing campaign.
We wanted to make sure the focus of our films was on the story we were telling – and not the storyteller.
Got a film project in mind?
We’d love to ‘ear from you! Contact us for a chat about your requirements.
Author: Rosalind Knight
Ros is an editor and copywriter with experience in both print and digital. Her experience includes tone of voice development; interpretation for cultural sites and venues; content marketing, design and strategy; and managing an award-winning content team at a major UK charity. Ros enjoys writing about topics and industries in ways that people can relate to. She has written copy to inspire people about blanket bogs, garden birds, orchestras and refugees, among other topics!