Saturday, 25 January 2020

Ee ba gum

A Yorkshireman

Many people were taken aback by the appointment of Chris Mason to replace the younger Dimbleby as host of Any Questions? 

People were expecting a 'diverse' person to be appointed. 

A headline at The Conservative Woman summed it up: White man gets BBC job. What went wrong? 

If. however, you thought this was a rare example of the BBC not following its 'diversity'/'identity' obsession, you were a bit premature. Today's Times interview with Radio 4 controller Mohit Bakaya confirms that The Great Chris Mason (™ Andrew Marr) wasn't just chosen on merit. He was chosen because of his Northern accent:
One of the reasons I put Chris Mason in on Any Questions was just to start to see if we could get more voices from around the UK on the network.

2 comments:

  1. Yes, I thought that's why he got the job. Am not saying that he's not able but suggesting how the appointment system possibly works. Does it signal the end of an era as the posh southern Dimbleby boys shuffled off? Looks as if it might but we'll have to wait and see.
    People noticed and commented that while the BBC prioritised foreign and Scottish announcers as tokens of colour or minority status, there was no chance of getting a prestigious role on the radio flagship if you were English and with an accent from the north or midlands. So the BBC belatedly gave in and gave us a token northern accent. Isn't life grand?

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  2. There's never been a shortage of voices from around the UK. Scottish accents have thrived handsomely, as have Irish ones. There has been some niche Welsh accents. Michael Parkinson's clipped Yorkshire accent was no impediment to advancement.

    Chris Mason's accent has an element of "cheeky chappy" Northern comic about it (not helped by the Brexitcast comedy routine). It's not just accents but tempo, timbre, volume and vocab that are important as well. On Any Questions his voice sometimes seems to get lost...he speaks too quickly and with insufficient volume or clarity. Something's not quite right.

    Wilfred Pickles - a music hall entertainer - famously read the news during the war and his Northern accent came as something of a shock! But I think really the nation likes its news read by people using accents that they associate with serious intent, gravitas and an educated background.

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