“My voice was too posh for TV”
Ben Fogle turned down elocution classes to make him sound less well-spoken when presenting.
Ben Fogle’s easy to watch because he looks “all of a piece” or “hé adapte sa peau.” – as the French would describe someone being completely happy with themselves. I don’t notice his upper end standard English accent because he’s so clearly engrossed in the subject that he’s presenting – and I just want to listen to what he’s saying rather than how he’s saying it. It’s a bit of a laugh that when he’s interviewed, he sounds more old school upper class than Prince William and Prince Harry but so does Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
He had to make choices earlier in his career:
“The class thing is interesting. I’ve lived with it for 12 years. When I started in television I was told I wouldn’t get anywhere unless I changed my accent, because I was too posh.”
The BBC was keen to have young presenters with regional accents back then because regional accents were considered to be more “socialist” and representative of the BBC and there weren’t enough of them within the organisation. I can understand the BBC asking him to consider dumbing down his accent because if you look at a still picture of him, he looks like he may be a Geordie or a Scotsman. He probably got sound advice from his mum, the actress Julia Foster, who wouldn’t have wanted him to throw away his public school accent and try to become someone he clearly isn’t. A presenter isn’t acting in the true sense of the word. It would have been like putting the Made in Chelsea cast in TOWIE. It was perhaps a bit cheeky of the BBC – as a former picture editor at high-society magazine Tatler – Ben Fogle isn’t exactly unconnected. He’s now married to Marina Hunt a former girlfriend of Prince William.