From this article it looks as though an awful lot of “sociolinguistics” experts have been spending an awful lot of time researching whether we regard people with regional accents as a bit less intelligent than those who talk posher or, to be grammatically accurate, in a posher manner.
We at HarveyLeach lay no claim whatsoever to any kind of expertise on the relationship between accents, class and social status.
What we do know about, however, is broadcasting, clear diction and a natural vocal delivery – regardless of where you were brought up
Where someone comes from is neither here nor there. After all, Sue Lawley, who presented that venerable British institution Desert Island Discs for many years, comes from Dudley in the Midlands (although she seems to have lost any trace of a Black Country accent). Football correspondent Alan Green comes from Belfast. Cricket commentator David “Bumble” Lloyd played for Lancashire.
What distinguishes the three of them is not the accent they have, but the fact they enunciate clearly and use the English language in a way that’s natural on the ear.
I suppose you have to turn to Radio 4 to find a repository of well-spoken English, in particular the newsreaders.
The doyen of them all is Peter Donaldson, who is also one of the nicest people ever to grace a news room. His delivery is not some kind of “handed-down, received BBC pronunciation”. It’s Peter being himself. Nothing is forced. His news bulletins pass the crucial test of any good broadcast – he sounds the same on the air as he would if you were having a chat with him in the pub. (I know this for a fact as I bumped into him in the members’ bar at the Oval last summer!). The same goes for Charlotte Green, Harriet Cass and other Radio 4 newsreaders.
A more recent arrival to the newsreading team is Ulster-born Kathy Clugston, who’s a joy to listen to. I have no problem with continuity announcer Neil Nunes, whose rich Caribbean voice transports the listener beyond W1A 1AA (the post code for Broadcasting House). I know his accent grates on some people but I share the view of one listener who said this to the BBC’s Feedback programme shortly after Neil took to the Radio 4 airwaves: “’I first heard him on the World Service and was enchanted – not only his mellifluous voice, but his delivery and articulation are perfect.”
Sadly, those crucial attributes of clear delivery and articulation cannot be found among a few of the BBC’s current crop of weather forecasters who, whatever their accents, seem to find difficulty in pronouncing some fairly crucial words. One of them can’t pronounce “England” – it comes out as “Ingered”, while another struggles with “gale” pronouncing it “gyal” – which is serious if you’re broadcasting the shipping forecast.
Furthermore, some weather forecasters need to learn the meaning of the word “full stop” and how it can be used in a sentence. That way we might end up with a weather forecast that’s intelligible rather than sounding like a stream of consciousness.