English Voice

Emma Clarke, according to her Web site, is known as “the voice of the London Underground,” the voice one hears saying “mind the gap.” She apparently got quite a run of press in Great Britain recently when she published some parodies of her own public announcements on her Web site. The site is pretty cool, well worth a visit. The story is pretty entertaining, too.

Ms. Clarke, whom our neighbors across the proverbial pond are accustomed to hearing when they ride the Tube, published some mp3 pieces advising, for example, “We’d like to remind our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loud” and “Would the gentleman in the pinstripe suit and the £1000 glasses who obviously works in the media please take one step forward onto the track as the train arrives. Thank you.” It seems that Ms. Clarke’s comments about these spoofs got twisted into a slam about her client; here’s part of her account:

Three weeks [after releasing the new Web site with the spoofs] I got a call from a journalist from The Mail on Sunday eager to do a story about the spoofs. He asked for the backstory and also my experiences on the tube hearing my announcements. I told him I hadn’t been on a tube train in which my voice could be heard. He asked why. I told him the thought of being in a tube carriage, hearing nothing but my voice would be a dreadful experience for me, sitting with strangers who were all wishing I’d shut up and give them some peace. I said it’s a bit like when I ring a company only to discover my voice on the on-hold system telling me to “press 3 for accounts” or like being woken up by my radio alarm broadcasting a commercial I’ve recorded about pre-Christmas ample-free-parking retail opportunities. Hearing one’s own voice slammed full in one’s face is a disconcerting experience, let me tell you. You should see my face when I’m in a supermarket listening to me telling me to buy cut-price meat…

The result was a rapid escalation in the press. And it wasn’t just some off-beat sources. The BBC had her sacked and the London Times had a gap opening under her. Ms. Clarke reported that there was even a Facebook Group campaigning for Ms. Clarke’s reinstatement as a London Underground voice and her Web host couldn’t handle the traffic. Ms. Clarke chronicles these events in her blog.

Ms. Clarke clearly has a sense of humor. She also writes comedy and drama. For example, there is a reference to a radio show entitled Get your Ears around my Mouth. What a title!



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