Saturday, 31 July 2004

Geordie Frustration

Well, we're getting into the early part of the morning and there's a big yellow disc in the sky. That must be the almost complete blue moon fighting its way through the grey clouds.

I've just come from watching the latest episode of The Smoking Room, a comedy series on BBC3 I generally find amusing. Tonight's episode had a cameo part by someone pretending to be a Geordie, for no reason other than being a Geordie is funny/cool/whatever.

I know that Geordies have become flavour of the moment with the media. Generally, I don't have any objections to that. Christ, I actually watched the mediocre talent on Top of the Pops tonight simply because it was a live broadcast from Gateshead Quays. People said nice things about Gateshead and called it a "City". Which it isn't, but it deserves to be as much as Sunderland did (but then we don't have a Japanese car manufacturer to impress).

My objection to the inclusion of Geordies in tv dramas and comedies is that they keep faking it. There's some voice-over git on Channel 4 who does an absolutely awful Geordie accent. There's also Jane Middlemiss who crops up as much as Wogan did in his heyday and is just awful anyway.

But there now seems to be a desire to put Geordies in dramas because they're cool, not because they have anything to add to the plot. This week's Waking the Dead had much of its action in the North-East, but it was clear that the main character had learned his accent in the Sunderland/South Durham area, rather than somewhere around Alnwick in Northumberland, as suggested by the plot.

This is not parochialism on my part. The problem with the accents is that they're trying to be something they're not. Mostly they're trying to be Tyneside (ie. Newcastle and Gateshead), but for some reason, perhaps to do with acting schools, the actors are mainly from the Sunderland / Co.Durham area.

But if that's where they're from, let them speak like that. Don't encourage them to try to be Geordies. It's a difficult accent.

Obviously I have no idea whether other regional accents are convincingly portrayed on tv. They sound OK to me. But maybe other bloggers can tell me whether they had the same kind of annoyance when their accents went through the Popularity Barrier?

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