Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another conversation with a (this time non-BBC) producer

The problem is, you see, after spending my formative years in Lancashire, then moving down to Cornwall, my accent's sort of levelled out at BBC Received Pronounciation. So sometimes people make assumptions (that I didn't go to a comprehensive, for example).

PRODUCER: Yeah, the problem doing shoots in (Northern European country) is that they're a bit, you know, egalitarian.

ME: ?

PRODUCER: Well in this country, you see, if you hear someone speaking with a regional accent, you know they're not going to be the producer or the director, so it's okay to tell them to get a car for you, or a cup of tea or whatever. But over there, they all speak the same way. So you might be chatting with someone about the light, and they're just a driver! Or you could tell someone to get you a sandwich, and they're the director!

ME: Night. Mare.

PRODUCER: And, by the way, the director gets paid the same as the guy who patrols the carpark in the evenings!


PRODUCER: Although, actually, here, the only other person on set who's likely to have gone to public school is the location manager, because they're all ex-army. But at least they understand the chain of command. So what were we going to talk about?

ME: Do you know, my mind's gone completely blank.


Adaddinsane said...

That's fairly surreal.

Mind you, there's this guy I'm sitting near at Paramount Comedy. A "real" Londoner (though I'm more London than he is) going on about "the North" in his coarse, no doubt practised, London accent.

I was so tempted to tell him to just "shut up". Seeing as I've lived in the Manchester area for 30 years (having been born a cockney, a real one) and he's just a twat talking bollocks.

Unfortunately I have similar problem in the accent department - people don't believe I'm from the north, or an East End boy.

jill said...

Sounds like someone failed both Perception and Sarcasm 101.

This side of the Atlantic we don't necessarily make broadly based assumptions about class based on accent, but I have met people who were really surprised to find out where I came from. Based on where I grew up (New Hampshire), I'm supposed to sound like a Kennedy, but my parents are from the middle of the country, so I sound more like a news presenter.

Jayne said...

I sound like an Essex Girl. But then I am. Bummer.

Neil said...

Oh no!!! My Yorkshire accent is clearly going to prevent me from being anywhere near successful in this biz. Time to bail out and go run a farm...

Seriously - what an idiot that guy is!

james henry said...

To be fair, he's a smart, very successful producer - and a perfectly pleasant person. This conversation happened a good few months ago, or I'd be feeling terribly guilty about blurting it straight out on the internet.

And yet an awful lot of people who work at the producer/commissioner level of UK telly are like this: living in a bit of a bubble in which everyone went to the same few schools, and regional accents are something that happen to other people (apart from Estuary English, of course).

Fortunately, of late I've met a lot more that aren't like this than are, but this kind of opinion isn't rare, by any means.

Anna Pickard said...

No. Titting. Way.

Good lord, that's unbelievable. See, what we clearly need to do is bring proper accents to Eastern Europe. Maybe we should export them some flattened vowels...

The thing I find in Journalism, which I am still quite new to - is similar, having grown up in inner London and then moved to Manchester, Scotland etc, my accent's flattened out to nothing. So generally you'll start talking to people at a party or in the office and they'll say 'So which college were you at?' - and you look at them slightly vacantly, and the broaden the question and say 'Oh, were you Oxford, not Cambridge?' and you say 'I went to Manchester Poly.', and they start looking over your shoulder for someone safer to talk to.

james henry said...

Sounds about right. I actually have a lot of respect for people who talk with a good old-fashioned posh accent, as in haven't tried to dumb it down into Mockney or anything.

I went to Derby Poly, you know.


mg said...

I get round the whole accent thing by communicating exclusively in mime.

Though I have been known to yodel on special occasions.

kirsten said...

I find that hilarious.

When I stayed with a host family three years ago and answered the phone I was mistaken for a extraordinarily well-educated housekeeper. The lady ACTUALLY said, "Wow, I didn't realise your housekeeper spoke such good English!" Because, obviously, Asians aren't supposed to be able to speak English at all.

Okay, maybe that's most racism than anything, but I found that as funny as I found this.

Antonia said...

Well, good job we don't write in accents then, eh? Snobs.