A strange phenomenon has occurred while I've been across the pond - namely, that Northern accents have become suddenly in vogue. Let me see if I can explain this. Back when I was growing up, TV presenters had that standard Home Counties accent that became known as BBC English. This is the one aside from the Dick Van Dyke chimney sweep accent that all Americans try to emulate when talking about English people. Apparently there are no other English accents. At least not until a few years back when they started to hire people who sounded like they'd just come from Preston or Leeds for commercials etc. I really started to notice this a couple of years ago when you could not turn on the TV in America without seeing the ultra-annoying infomercial for the "Magic Bullet".
I then started to hear Northern voice-overs for the Pledge commercials. Little did I know that the few I was hearing in the States was merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Almost as soon as I get here, I start to hear them. Used to be you'd hear northern accents on TV quite often, usually comedians etc. or in commercials for things that were traditionally Northern, for example, the Tetley tea folk with their flat caps, the two old geezers in the pub who advertised John Smith's Bitter, the Hovis commercials, Last Of The Summer Wine, Wallace and Gromit etc., but the announcers and newsreaders and weathermen all had distinctly Southern accents. But now they're cool, apparently, or at least to the ad men and TV producers.
Don't get me wrong. I am all for diversity. It's actually nice to hear different accents. Generally speaking, the accents up North are fine. But the plummy Southern ones have all but disappeared with this influx of 'ee-by-gum-I'll-go-to-the-foot-of-our-stairs' voices. It seems that in order to jump on this bandwagon and prove their cool to all the young people (and by 'young people' I mean people younger than me) the ad companies have to provide us with seriously over-the-top Northern accents just to make sure we notice them. Case in point - Foxy Bingo. For some obscure reason, Bingo the game, which used to involve going out in the evening and playing socially with friends at club or pub has gone the way of online poker, becoming a solitary game you don't even have to get out of your chair to play. No wonder we're all a bunch of fat bastards. The commercials are on the TV constantly. Foxy Bingo's commercials are not only scary, involving a human upon which, through the (ahem) magic of CGI computer animation, a fox's head has been placed, but annoying too, involving the fox having just about one of the most irritating Northern accents ever heard. I am a tolerant man. I can usually sit through any old pile of shite. But as soon as this bloody fox starts up with the line "I've got balls, they're multiplying" (in itself a worrying statement) and then the way he says the word "Bingo".... well, see for yourself. You'll understand.
I am not saying I would like to return to the old days, when BBC announcers wore dinner jackets and spoke as if they were John Mills in This Happy Breed. But there are other accents in this country. When's the last time anyone heard a Dorset accent or even a Scouser announcing something or reading the news? Never. Usually one hears a Dorset accent in a comical vein (oh, they are so funny the way they say 'bain't' and 'thank'ee' aren't they?), and Scousers usually get to play unsavoury types on soap operas.
Well, at least they are still "English" accents. Could be worse. Could be French.