Skip to content

👆 Leon Paternoster

For RP: Ditch your accent and your regional pride

/ Thinking / All posts →

The latest Meades was a bit of a mixed bag, with some fairly obvious targets (the law uses jargon, didn’t you know, and the art world is full of pretentious wankers) and some high comedy (Meades as Benny was particularly good). As ever, there was provocative, laugh out loud stuff, including a skit on how regionalism and regional accents are a bad thing.

Meades evoked an age of RP where you could have your Mancunian accent while enunciating “correctly” (note: you didn’t have to sound like a BBC announcer). This meant the Edinburgh solicitor could easily converse with the Swansea surveyor. Regionalism, on the other hand, is, by definition, insular, non-communicative. It reminded me of one of Marx’s great quotes, about the bourgeoisie freeing us from the idiocy of rural life.

Cue clips of Anthony Burgess and JB Priestley discussing literature and history in crystal clear, Northern accents, which Meades riffed on to compare with today’s TV (again, rather obviously, the X Factor). There was a things-we’ve-lost subtext to the programme.

But I think I agree with this. There’s something patronising and deeply conservative about celebrating regions and their accents, which the post-war generation fought to overcome (think Lucky Jim and Merrie England). Regional stereotypes tend to be stupid, the accents often impenetrable: as one great northerner put it Who wants to be in a Hovis advert, anyway?