How do my characters talk?

I’m sure there are plenty of men out there with the right skills and equipment to do a fantastic job, the difficulty is finding them. I’m talking about narrators, get your mind out of the gutter!
I know I’m not alone, I’ve chatted to other authors, WE are struggling to find the right narrators for our books if we need a British accent.

If you just want to know what construction workers in southern England sound like, then scroll down to Ricky Gervais near the end of this blog. This is how the SHS men would actually talk. But it’s not the only accent for a narrator.

Actors the world over are taught Received Pronunciation as the standard accent of England, also known as BBC English. It’s a particular accent that hardly anybody actually speaks. Here in southern England, we don’t speak like Hugh Grant.

Don’t get me wrong, RP (or BBC English) is perfect for many things and many characters. And I love listening to it on Radio 4.
BUT it often sounds arrogant, pompous and POSH.

So the vast majority of people do not speak RP, even if they can. It is more commonly heard among older people and rarely heard among young people. I’ll repeat that because it’s important:

Even if they’ve grown up speaking RP, teenagers and young adults RARELY speak RP.

British people call the RP accent POSH.
American friends have told me they don’t know this word posh, so let’s say aristocratic. It implies high social class, wealth, and education and the type of people who drink tea out of cups WITH SAUCERS and not just mugs.

What sort of average-bloke-English accent might authors seek?

You may well have learned RP as standard English so how can we work with what you know?
Please do not speak like heirs to the throne Prince Charles or Prince William, they are far too posh. The son and brother to the future monarchs, however…

Prince Harry (age 32) sounds like a propa English bloke. His accent is classless and ageless. He could be anyone talking to anyone. He doesn’t sound too posh. Here he is (with his posher older brother):

Let’s consider some famous British actors who’s voices and work is so familiar to all the world. I love Martin Freeman as an actor and he’s played great roles:

He’s not a Hobbit, he was the most typical English man in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. And has played loads of English characters.

His accent is very ordinary South England, listen to him in an interview:

There are of course other WORLD famous English actors who don’t sound too POSH.

Daniel Radcliffe is VERY famous. He’s 27 years old. Only a hint of poshness, he can pass as an ordinary bloke in this interview:

While this blog is turning into a list of MALE BRITISH actors who’s work I admire, I can’t miss out Simon Pegg. I love the (very British) Cornetto trilogy films.

And here’s Simon in an interview (his background isn’t particular posh).

On the other hand,

A good example of UNPOSH English spoken across South East England is Estuary English. It’s something between RP & cockney. It is not Cockney and it is widely spoken.

How do Construction Workers speak in southern England?

Ricky Gervais is perhaps the most famous speaker of Estuary English.

To be honest, the sound of it is what I’d describe as A Bit Common. And I probably shouldn’t say it in public, but I hope my children don’t grow up to speak like this. (Yes, in real life I am an accent snob, but not at all POSH).

This is probably the closest example as to how real construction workers in southern English actual speak.

Here’s Ricky Gervais. This is it. The truest example of SHS Construction Worker accents:

Other speakers of Estuary include: Jamie Oliver, Michael Caine, David Beckham and Tony Blair.

Estuary is NOT cockney.  “However, unlike Cockney, EE does not involve, for example, • h-dropping; or • th-fronting.”

Even though the manual workers in my fiction would (really) speak Estuary, like Ricky Gervais, this accent is not essential for narration. And any normal English bloke accent could work with the right voice.

James Corden’s accent is another example of Estuary. Here’s the example of his character Smithy the plumber with George Michael.

Obviously, there’s far more to listen to than just accent.

I can’t mention Gervais without mentioning another famous British actor/writer who I admire. Stephen Merchant’s accent is typical for the WEST of England, Bristol, West Country.

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