Is There Still A Bias Against Northern Accents?

One of the wonderful aspects of UK life is the sheer variety of accents we have on our small island. Even travelling between towns can mean you start hearing different accents in some parts of the country.

There are plenty of northern English accents and these are getting greater representation on both screen and the radio, but actors from this part of the country are still concerned that they’re being typecast as a result of their accents.

The Manchester Evening News recently highlighted comments made by actor Maxine Peake, who was born in Bolton. In an interview with Poet Laureate Simon Armitage on his podcast, she said that there have been occasions where she has been typecast because of her northern accent.

Ms Peake also cited Downton Abbey as an example of a programme where having a northern accent meant you would have a ‘downstairs’ role.

Talking about her experiences of working in London, she said: “People cast you for your accent. You are only one personality if you’re from the north, you’re not particularly complex, you’re a northerner and sometimes that’s used as a character description.”

She also revealed that when she won the part of a barrister in Silk, the director asked what she was going to do about her accent because the character “was educated”. “You’re put in a socio-economic bracket [when you have a northern accent],” Ms Peake explained.

Ms Peake also revealed that, when she first started out, she believed her accent would help her win roles in TV dramas, but she found that she was “cast as maids in various guises”.

Actor Mark Newsome, who was born in Oldham and attended the Oldham Theatre Workshop as a youngster, told the newspaper that he’s concerned about the lack of role models for youngsters like him, who are growing up outside London with an interest in acting.

“I’m also worried about the lack of training for these kids, especially in rural areas. Oldham Theatre Workshop was not just about performing, but it was instilling confidence in yourself and had a great northern power which made you feel strong,” he enthused.

Mr Newsome also stressed the importance of more youngsters from the north fighting for their place on the stage or in TV dramas.

“My message for any working class inspiring artists out there is to be true to yourself, you’re brilliant and we need you,” he added.

However, there is plenty of hope that northern accents, and indeed those from other parts of the UK away from London and the south-east, are getting greater exposure.

Nicola Shindler, chief creative officer at StudioCanal UK, told the news provider that there has been progress, although it isn’t always fast.

“We are seeing more voices on radio that are not received pronunciation. It is a gradual process,” she said.

The BBC recently announced that its voice assistant, called Beeb, will have a northern English accent that is based on the voice of a northern actor. The voice assistant is currently in its beta testing phase, and when a user downloads it they will be asked what accent they have so that their voice can help train the assistant.

If you need the assistance of a voice over agency in Manchester and across the north of England, get in touch with us today.

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