How the voice-over men took over talk radio. 


It appears they have decided that consumers can be easily slotted into one of the social demographic types, according to the radio station they listen to. (Radio 3? Introverted intellectual, Radio 4? Upper middle class Archers fan, etc etc). So whither BBC Radio 5 Live, the hybrid interactive talk station dedicated to news, politics, sport and opinion? Using what I assume to be the same demographic criteria, The Corporation appears to have decreed that it takes 3 or 4 voice-over ‘artists’ (all of them deeply in love with the sound of their own barking), to inform us at every possible opportunity that Radio 5 is available “on smartphone, tablet and computer” – and when I say regular intervals, I mean regular short intervals. If there is an important sporting event like cricket, golf, football, or, god forbid, Formula One taking place, the gloves are off. The nursery rhyme singsong cadences of these dreary people – whose sole job is to promote some of the least radio-friendly events imaginable with “enthusiasm” – defies description. 

Occasionally this pseudo excitement results in a sort of group orgy voice-over where we are buttonholed by several of these oddballs at the same time. Each moron takes a line in turn, and attempts to mangle its syntax” “Radio Five live” shouts one from a ceramic tiled bathroom, “Home of football” screams another as if through a cheap megaphone. “Premier league action” yells someone else who appears to be wearing one of those Star Wars helmets which makes you talk like R2D2. And so on. Each pointless syllable of this rubbish is ruthlessly compressed by the recording engineers so that every morsel of phlegm rattling around the speaker’s larynx is clearly audible. Sexy. 

Depessingly, in voice-over land, nothing escapes this juvenile mis-emphasis, so we also have Radio Five live – The General Election. Earthquake in GuatamalaDeath toll rising. 

So, to what demographic is this nonsense supposed to appeal? Even the uber youth-oriented Radio 1 does not resort to such rank, patronising guff. The answer brings us back to the main thrust of this piece; what we have here is the infantilisation of adulthood. As the traditional outlets for entertainment multiply like rabbits, the quality of the ‘entertainment’ manufactured to fill them becomes exponentially thinner and thinner. 


Barking Boris, our alliterative prime minister (no, it wasn’t a horrible dream) has decided that the electorate all share with him a mental age of seven. He wants us, tragically, to “Bung a Bob for the Big Ben Bongs” so that we may celebrate our B-Day street parties (aren’t YOU having one?) with the proper degree of smugness. 

This is my message: 

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