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What’s in an accent? Choosing the best English voice over for your business

Revised: May 2021

What is a “neutral” English voice over?

Casting and recording UK English voice over is one of the primary services we offer at Matinée and we’ve lost count of the number of times clients have requested a neutral English accent for their voice over – there is actually no such thing! In fact choosing the perceived neural accent could give the audience the wrong impression, and it’s important to choose a voice over artist with an accent that will amplify your message and resonate with your audience.

What’s in an accent?

In the past the British accent was synonymous with “Received Pronunciation”, also known as RP or the Queen’s English. For many years, speaking with RP was considered essential for anyone speaking in public, so it’s understandable to know now how outraged the British public were in 1941 to hear the BBC news being read by a Northerner with a slight Yorkshire accent – some listeners even refused to believe the news he was reading!  

Although you may think this an early attempt by the BBC to appeal to a broader audience, it was actually a government ploy to make it harder for Nazi Germany to imitate British newscasters!

Nowadays, in both television broadcasting and marketing communications, there has been a shift to using presenters and narrators from all regions of the UK, perhaps in an effort to widen appeal or to use the public’s pre-conceptions of accents to add value to their brand or programming.

For example, Cheryl Cole’s northern accent strikes a friendly, warm tone for L’Oreal; Paddy McGuiness’s Irish accent is jovial and lively for Gregg’s sausage rolls; while Ewan McGregor’s Scottish accent reinforces the daring side of Davidoff’s Adventure aftershave.

When it comes to using accents in TV broadcasting and communications, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and studies show that opinions on different accents vary from place to place. Whereas some regions prefer receiving information in their own accent, others would rather distance themselves from their native accent and listen to RP instead. 

We will be publishing the second part of this blog article tomorrow where we will be letting you know how a regional accent can help (or hinder!) your business…

EDIT (06/05/2013) – part 2 can be found here: