Richard Ingrams, a man of few words said with a drop dead gorgeous bear voice (who wouldn’t want a bedside story read by him), has been writing about female voices:
“I find it odd how few women on TV pay attention to the all-important voice factor. I recently instanced the distressing case of Janet Street-Porter, comparing her voice – harshly, I will admit – to the squawking of a sick corvid. Now it is the turn of Channel 4’s Cathy Newman. Recently Michael Crick defected from Newsnight and replaced Ms Newman as political correspondent. She now presents the hour-long news programme alongside the distinguished grey-haired veteran Jon Snow. Uncompromisingly blonde, like ninety per cent of young women on TV, Cathy is easy on the eye, but her distorted vowel sounds and rasping delivery are the last things one wants to listen to after a hard day at the office. Yet all this could be corrected with the assistance of a voice coach. Why isn’t it?”
Why isn’t it? Cathy Newman’s FactCheck blogs are witty and astute and her insider knowledge is of long standing. Newsreaders’ voices are key. Kirsty Young’s voice was a main contributor to the success of Channel 5 news when it first began.
At the beginning of the year we asked our clients who they thought was the best newsreader (male and female categories). Sadly, most of the feedback we received was about newsreaders’ voices they didn’t like. We’ll announce the results at the end of the year.
Richard Ingrams founded the satirical Oldie magazine in 1992. It was originally begun as an antidote to youth culture, but its circulation is soaring among grumpy people of all ages.