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British Accents on American TV - why so fake?


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#1 Mei Lewis

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 03:58 PM

Why do almost all British accents in American TV sound fake, like they're put on?
Even the real ones.

Maybe it's psychological and they just sound out of place next to American voices in a way they don't next to all the other British voices on British programs, but maybe there's some sound recording style to blame?

Maybe in the US they tend to balance voices differently?
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#2 Tom Jensen

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 05:02 PM

Uh, because they are fake. Next question.
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#3 Paul Bartok

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 05:26 PM

Plus they butcher Aussie accents
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#4 Mei Lewis

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 05:32 PM

The specific accent that prompted me to post this was Jaime Murray's on series 2 of Dexter. And she's English.

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Jaime_Murray
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 06:55 PM

Er, because it's well recorded and properly mixed?

Listen to Keira Knightley in the Pirates movies, it's the same thing. They make it sound nice because they've got decent people with decent gear, while most Brit stuff is shot by researchers with a handycam.

P
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#6 Mark Dunn

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 05:55 AM

For a long time I thought Jane Leeves was an American putting on a Mancunian accent but it's the real thing. I think it's a just the contrast, combined with the actor over-compensating for being British.
But then, John Mahoney is a Lancastrian.
At least we don't get the Dick van Dykey fake Englishmen they used to have on 'MUrder, She Wrote' anymore. Well, we don't get them anyway.
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 08:19 AM

She's certainly English, I don't think she's Mancunian - wikipedia indicates she was born just down the road from me in Essex. She plays Holly in the (awful) American Red Dwarf pilot, which you can find on youtube - I think that's her native accent.
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#8 Rex Orwell

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 08:35 AM

I couldn't possibly comment I haven't watched television in 13 years.
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#9 George Leos

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 09:33 AM

Er, because it's well recorded and properly mixed?

Listen to Keira Knightley in the Pirates movies, it's the same thing. They make it sound nice because they've got decent people with decent gear, while most Brit stuff is shot by researchers with a handycam.

P

Is that a fact?
Are you not aware of Planet Earth; the highest rates TV series on IMDB, an american site, which is a BBC production filmed by British cameramen or 'researchers' and with far better cameras than any of the shows you so blindly defend. Then there is also Human Planet, Life, Frozen Planet.
Make what sound nice? You think the accents sound nicer on american tv? Your post is embarassing.
Only a Hugh Grant accent is allowed and i believe it was said this actress is from Essex which is much more of a commoner/chavy accent and therefore she would need to put on the accent, and thus the accent is fake.
Nice to see a immodest american though (sarcasm). I struggle to see how you can believe that a DVD only release like Dexter was filmed with what you consider decent gear against all the British possibilities you are so unanware of.
Excellent way to dismiss all stereotypes of ignorance. That was sarcasm again. I know you struggle with it.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 09:46 AM

There was a whole season of "Jeeves and Wooster" that mostly took place in Manhattan but was shot in the U.K. -- there were a number of bad American accents by British actors in that. And of course there's that segment in Monty Python's "Meaning of Life" where two Python members play American tourists (I think it was Palin and Chapman) where they lay on the accents pretty thick.

But then there's Damian Lewis from "Band of Brothers", who was so convincing as an American soldier that I was shocked when I saw a behind-the-scenes interview and heard his British accent.
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 10:43 AM

Um, George, d'you want to take a look at my signature? It helpfully reminds you where I'm from.
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#12 Freya Black

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 12:54 PM

while most Brit stuff is shot by researchers with a handycam.

P


heh heh! It's funny because it's true, as Homer would say! ;)
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#13 Freya Black

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 01:03 PM

Is that a fact?
Are you not aware of Planet Earth; the highest rates TV series on IMDB, an american site, which is a BBC production filmed by British cameramen or 'researchers' and with far better cameras than any of the shows you so blindly defend. Then there is also Human Planet, Life, Frozen Planet.


The BBC Natural History unit and related stuff, is right at the top of the tree in UK broadcasting. It is given a status well above drama. To that end they were allowed to continue to shoot on 16mm film even in more recent times and for the shows you mention they had special dispensation to shoot on the varicam, which officially the BBC have banned.
Ironic really.

I struggle to see how you can believe that a DVD only release like Dexter was filmed with what you consider decent gear against all the British possibilities you are so unanware of.


“On the first two seasons of Dexter, we shot with a Panavised Sony F900 and used an Arri 435 film camera for ramping and slow-motion work. For season three, we switched to a Sony CineAlta F23, and I was able to do speed changes in-camera, which allowed us to eliminate 35mm altogether. Thanks to its four preset hyper-gamma settings, the F23 is a vast improvement over the F900, especially in terms of being able to shoot outside and in high-contrast situations."

That was sarcasm again. I know you struggle with it.


Are you talking about Phil?!! Mistaking him for an American is one thing but...

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 19 May 2012 - 01:06 PM.

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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 03:56 PM

Well I mean honestly. Is my name Bubba? Do I drive a pickup truck? Do I put cheese on everything?
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#15 Chris Keth

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 10:32 PM

I think a lot of it is because Americans tend to think of the UK having one homogenous accent. If it's not a very gentle Hugh Grant accent, as somebody above put it, it's not acceptable on American TV. The actor or acress may be English but if they don't sound like that- they could be Welsh, from the north, Liverpool, anything- they will be asked to imitate that accent for fear of not being understood.

This falls right in line with something I was discussing with my wife recently. We both like Anthony Bourdain's travel show. On that show they will subtitle nearly anybody to a point I find a little bit insulting. They will be in India talking to people that speak very good English, better than a lot of native speakers in America can muster, and it will be subtitled.
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#16 Fenn Penridge

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 07:53 AM

I think the American English accent is nicer than the English English accent. I am English English by the way.
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#17 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 06:07 AM

Accents came up in a hotel I was staying at in Hollywood and a member of staff said she hadn't an accent. Everyone has an "accent", she just had a soft I assume Californian one (possibly, given the location, she had vocal training).. Dictation will make a voice easier to understand. People from non English speaking countries can have sound great spoken English, although some countries don't sound as good as others..Accent can change from region to region in many countries, not all French people sound the same.

Good dialogue coaches can get assist in getting the right accent.
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#18 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:11 PM

Well I mean honestly. Is my name Bubba? Do I drive a pickup truck? Do I put cheese on everything?


You know Phil, you got some real strange notions about Americans. :lol: Have you ever been here? I live in El Paso, Texas and I don't know anyone named Bubba, Most people I know, only occasionally put cheese on something. (I'm thinking tacos which are gross without cheese) I guess you got us on the pickup, I mean I have one well 2 really which I use all the time but most people I know have a car as their second vehicle or vise-versa Actually, most people I know have several cars. I personally have 3, a "63 Falcon close to restored, an '80 Jag XJ-6 and an '85 Porche 944. I also have a very rare '69 militarily version Vietnam era International Scout and a big cargo van I use for small productions as well as an original 74 Dodge custom Disco van that I need to restore after I finish the Falcon. I plan to use that as a production vehicle just to show off a little style but then again, I like cars.

BTW, which British accent are you referring to? You folks have like a hundred of 'em. I'll tell ya the guy that impressed me with an American accent is that guy from Avatar. I did realize he wasn't American until I saw him in a interview.
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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:39 PM

It's a Top Gear reference, for which I may burn in hell. James May to Richard Hammond, who is constantly ribbed for liking all things colonial:


You've got a stetson, you've got cowboy boots, you've got chaps, you've got a Harley Davidson, you've got a Mustang, you'd like to get a beer, and you put cheese on everything!




I actually thought Sam Worthington's accent in Avatar did leak traces of Aussie through, but based on a recent experience I think it's easier for Australians.

The main difference in my view is that American productions which want to have an American be British tend to be well-funded enough to send that person to London for a few weeks. I think they did that with Bridget Jones, with the result that she's doing a really very good impression of what actual Londoners actually sound like.
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#20 James Nelson Smith

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 01:44 PM

I believe that American directors deliberately go for thicker than natural accents, the same as they do for regional American accents, because they believe if the accent is not overdone the average American viewer is too stupid to realize that the story takes place somewhere that they may not have been.  This is why everyone depicted as coming from the south has a thicker southern accent than any typical southerner you're likely to run across.


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