I was sad to learn of the death of Tim Gudgin earlier this week. Who he? Well his was the voice reading out the footie results on a Saturday evening on the BBC’s Grandstand programme. And if you were a footie fan ahhh; his mellow mellifluous tones were just wonderful. You could guess the result simply from his lyrical delivery. Blackpool winning at home against Man City would be delivered Blackpool 4… in a rising tone – you knew already they’d won – Man City 0… in a deeper more depressing and lower tone. Glorious. I can hear him now. Though I have to admit it’s been a while since I’ve actually heard that scoreline.
And this got me thinking about voices that have had made an impression during my life. A bit like the spoken equivalent of the musical tracks of my years. OK a bit cheesey but if you think about it there are many disembodied voices that we’ve heard that are memorable and you may never know or appreciate who is delivering them. And it doesn’t matter because their voice is everything. Examples? Well what about the guy with the Geordie accent who tells you about Day 13 in the Big Brother house? His name is Marcus Bentley but have you ever seen him? Nah.
Then what about the voice of the speaking clock? Brian Cobby’s is the most memorable to me. Who cannot recall his dulcet tones announcing that ‘the time sponsored by Accurist is…’ Now here’s a thing you might not know. Brian Cobby, a former actor, was selected when BT launched a search for a new voice from among its employees. More than 5,000 staff entered the “Golden Voice” competition, which ended on 5 December 1984 when Cobby, an assistant supervisor at a telephone exchange in Withdean, Brighton, was selected from 12 finalists. One of those finalists was Ann G who worked opposite me in our little 6th floor office in Holborn Centre, London. And what a lovely colleague she was.
Here’s another voice for you. Anyone living in or visiting London must have heard the deep brown voice of Phil Sayer asking millions of tube customers to ‘Mind the Gap’. Sadly Phil died last year of cancer at the age of 62. His voice was also used extensively for train announcements elsewhere on Britain’s rail network. The iconic voice of train travel.
Back to something frivolous and tv-related if that’s not tautologous. One of the great voice-artists of our time, Peter Dickson, is best known as the voice of E4, and he is the brand voice of The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, The Price Is Right, Family Fortunes, All Star Mr & Mrs and Live at the Apollo. All massively popular and uttery crap shows apart from the last one which I occasionally enjoy. What do I know eh? But I do know that Peter’s voice is a key element in the success of the shows. It’s strong, powerful and compelling. And the bloke looks like one of the fey dealers on the Antiques Road Trip.
There are dozens of radio voices I could mention, well 3 or 4. Presenters like the two women who do the traffic reports on Radio 2 – Lynne Bowles and Sally ‘Traffic’ Boazman. I have no idea what they look like but know they will always cover some major traffic problem between junctions 15 and 19 on the M6. And how about one of the prime linkmen on Talksport, Ian ‘the Moose’ Abrahams. Never seen his image but just have a feeling he’s a bit of a porker.
So there you go. Recognisable, memorable voices but unrecognisable faces and features. Any that mean something to you?
Before I go a link to a final memory of Tim’s lovely voice on his last-ever broadcast of the Saturday afternoon scores. Enjoy…