The adage goes, ‘he who laughs last, laughs longest’. Over the years, I have howled at Dick Van Dyke’s excruciating attempt at a Cockney accent in Mary Poppins. No list of the worst movie accents ever is complete without it. "’Ello Me-ary Poppinz, ‘ow arrr yow?" Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, it was not. After such an insult, it’s a wonder Anglo-US relations weren’t set back a hundred years.
Fast forward to today, and any Americans who’ve caught ITV1’s new drama Demons must be bustin’ a gut laughing at us thanks to Philip Glenister (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes). Demons, the fantastical series bearing more than a slight resemblance to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, is a contemporary spin on the legacy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula set in modern-day London. Philip Glenister plays Rupert Galvin, a larger-than-life American. He tells his teenage godson Luke (Christian Cooke) that he is the last descendent of the Van Helsing line. In short, he must assume his destiny and destroy the ‘half-lives’ (demons, vampires, zombies) stalking the streets. I don’t know about you, but I am still mopping up the blood after subjecting my delicate eardrums to Philip Glenister’s inflection bastardisation. Have a listen here.
Firstly, the crucial acknowledgement: there is no such thing as an ‘American’ accent. In the same way that there is no such thing as an ‘English’ accent or an ‘Irish’ accent. We all know that there are regional variations within the geographical umbrella – Scouse, Brummie, Cornish etc. However, I haven’t got a bloody clue which part of America Demons’ Rupert Galvin is supposed to be from. Hugh Laurie’s House? North-east of America I’d say. Dominic West who played Jimmy McNulty in The Wire? Born and raised in Sheffield, I’m told that his Baltimore accent is spot on. But Philip Glenister? Stick a pin on a map. That’s as good a method of determination as any.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but after the first episode, I resolved to watch no more. I just can’t take that accent. Perhaps there are like-minded people out there as early figures suggest Demons lost almost a million viewers. It made an encouraging start last week with 5.75m watching, but the second episode averaged 4.83m. Not good.
On the subject of his character, Philip Glenister said: "I was quite nervous about the American accent at first. I came straight off the back of Ashes to Ashes, but thought from the off that Galvin would be a nice removal from playing Gene. I did have a voice coach. A very nice lady called Judith who was very expressive with her language. She was on set for the first week and after that I was OK. I’ve swapped ‘Huntisms’ for Americanisms." Or so he thinks.
Now I ask ya, would it really have been so bad if Rupert Galvin had been English rather than American? Wouldn’t you prefer not to cringe as Philip Glenister attempts to sound like he’s from the other side of the Atlantic? Can’t you just see him going up to some zombie and saying: "You great, soft, sissy, girlie, nancy, bender, half-life! Get smited gobsh*te!"
Today I am mostly lovin’ – I am absolutely cracking up laughing watching Celebrity Big Brother. There isn’t anything major going on – no ‘race row’, no ‘Prestelle’ romance, no madness of Michael Barrymore – but it’s ticking along nicely all the same.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – I tuned into the Golden Globe highlights on Sky1 at 8pm. I’d barely reached for my cup of coffee when the first set of adverts popped up at 8.05pm. I turned over in disgust. What’s the reason for this, pray tell? It wasn’t a live broadcast, where UK channels are often at the mercy of US commercial ad slots. If I want to watch TV in America, I’ll fly there, thank you very much Sky1.
In addition, I think we have just reached a nadir as far as TV adverts are concerned. Tonight, during Corrie, I caught an advert with a child repeatedly saying that he wanted to do a poo and that he wanted to do this poo at his friend Paul’s house because they’ve got some kind of air freshener thingie. If I hadn’t heard and seen it for myself, I would never have believed it.
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