The Nazis, The British Accent, and BBC News

The Nazis, The British Accent, and BBC News


The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
is an institution known and respected the world over for its relative impartiality and
objectivity compared to many other news sources, with numerous surveys showing that the BBC
is one of the most trusted sources of news in both the UK and the US. But we’re not
here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about dinner jackets, Received Pronunciation,
the Nazis, and what all of this has to do with the BBC News. Back when the BBC was first launched in 1922,
the first General Manager of the corporation, Scottish engineer Sir John Reith, was insistent
that the BBC be as formal and quintessentially British as possible, and he created a number
of rules towards this end. (Fun fact: Reith had no experience with anything related to
broadcasting when he applied to manage the BBC). One thing in particular Reith stressed when
he first helmed the BBC is that the newscasters spoke the “King’s English“, known today
as “BBC English” or more technically “Received Pronunciation”, as he felt it was “a style
or quality of English that would not be laughed at in any part of the country”. Reith was
also aware that the broadcasts might be played abroad and felt that a regional accent would
be difficult for non-Britain’s to understand. Reith also noted, We have made a special effort to secure in
our stations men who, in the presentation of program items, the reading of news bulletins
and so on, can be relied upon to employ the correct pronunciation of the English tongue…
I have frequently heard that disputes as to the right pronunciation of words have been
settled by reference of the manner in which they have been spoken on the wireless. No
one would deny the great advantage of a standard pronunciation of the language, not only in
theory but in practice. Our responsibilities in this matter are obvious, since in talking
to so vast a multitude, mistakes are likely to be promulgated to a much greater extent
than was ever possible before. Further, in the 1929 BBC Handbook, it was
noted that their pronunciation guidelines in this matter “[are] not to be regarded
as implying that all other pronunciations are wrong: the recommendations are made in
order to ensure uniformity of practice, and to protect the Announcers from the criticism
to which the very peculiar nature of their work renders them liable.” As for Received Pronunciation or RP as it’s
often abbreviated to, it is defined as: “The standard form of British English pronunciation”
(Though, funny enough, RP is only used by an estimated 2-3% of English people today,
with the number of Scottish, Irish and Welsh users being described as “negligible”.) First defined in 1869 by linguist, A. J. Ellis,
Received Pronunciation basically entails pronouncing your words “properly” as they are written
in the dictionary. Although the general idea behind Received
Pronunciation is to attempt to remove a person’s regional accent, it is nonetheless commonly
associated with the south of England and the upper class. Meaning that although Received
Pronunciation masks a person’s regional background, it says a lot about a person’s
social upbringing and how they were educated. With this in mind, although one of Reith’s
goals in using RP was to appeal to the widest audience possible, many listeners still felt
alienated by the broadcasts being beamed into their homes because of this “upper class”
accent being used. Despite this, newscasters were required to use Received Pronunciation
right up until World War 2. Why did this change during the war? The Ministry
of Information was worried about the Nazis hijacking the radio waves. You see, during World War 2, Nazi Germany
invested a lot of time and money in training its spies and propagandists to speak using
perfect Received Pronunciation so that they could effectively pass as Brits. Thus, the
Ministry of Information became quite concerned that the Nazis could potentially issue orders
over the radio in a voice that would be indistinguishable from one of their own newscasters. In addition,
the then Deputy Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, noted the aforementioned fact that the total
monopoly newscasters with upper class sounding voices had on the news was offensive to the
working class. This image of newsreaders being stuffy, upper
class toffs wasn’t helped by an edict passed down in 1926 from Reith that stated any newscaster
reading the news after 8PM had to wear a dinner jacket while on air, despite that no one could
see them. Former BBC radio personality Stuart Hibberd noted of this, Personally, I have always thought it only
right and proper that announcers should wear evening dress on duty… There are, of course,
certain disadvantages. It is not ideal kit in which to read the News- I myself hate having
anything tight around my neck when broadcasting- and I remember that more than once the engineers
said that my shirt-front creaked during the reading of the bulletin. (This- is London,
1950) In any event, as a result of the concerns
of Attlee and the Ministry of Information, the BBC hired several newscasters possessing
broad regional accents that would be more difficult for Nazis to perfectly copy and
would hopefully appeal to the “common man”. The first person to read the news on the BBC
possessing a regional accent was one Wilfred Pickles, who spoke with a broad Yorkshire
accent. Far from being a popular move, when Pickles was hired by the BBC in 1941, his
accent offended many listeners so much that they wrote letters to the BBC, blasting them
for having the audacity to sully the news with the (smooth, sensual sounds of the amazing
and superior) Yorkshireman’s voice. (Fun fact: The author of this piece has the same
accent… No big deal.) In fact, by 1949, Pickles himself noted that
because of his accent, he had become the “central feature in a heated national controversy”,
during which Pickles was frequently made fun of by various London cartoonists and in other
forms of popular media. Nonetheless, after the end of World War 2,
the BBC continued to loosen its guidelines and with the advent of more localised news,
began to hire more people who spoke with the respective accent of the region they were
being broadcast. That said, the BBC does continue to generally
use newscasters with more mild accents in international broadcasts to make sure they
are as understandable as possible to those audiences.

100 thoughts on “The Nazis, The British Accent, and BBC News

  1. I guess the Rothschilds control the BBC just as they control our politicians,well most of them, https://youtu.be/-B3k8EPMluk

  2. The BBC impartial… Amazingly this was true when this video was made but now it's just as bad as CNN.

  3. Right know in the US your literally like the only source that’s trusted for political things and than I’m like, wtf. He could just make this shut up. But you don’t.

  4. Most English words are not written as spelled, regardless of dialect. Gh = f? Without reference to the history of the English language, modern orthography simply makes no sense.

  5. I'm not surprised John Reith had no broadcasting experience, since before the BBC there were virtually no broadcasters in existence!

  6. Wilfred Pickles was my Grandad's FIRST COUSIN. A wonderful man who went on to do so much for the war effort, had his own Prime Time TV show on BBC1 and opened the first school in the UK for children with physical disabilites. My name is Henrietta Pickles – born in Bradford – now living in South Africa and I am a Zulu specialist!! 😂😂😂😂

  7. Strange, do all residence of the U.K. have names based common items lying around?
    Charles W Eraser
    Walter dog lead
    Eleju T bottle cap
    Sirus Johnson
    Its strange to me.
    Okay, im having a bit of a go, But man alive!

  8. The BBC's not unbiased its
    Run by a bunch of leftist liberal,atheists amoral twats ! The only one who
    Believes it's not biased is the leftist cunt in Charge!

  9. Ready to learn more fun facts about British television? Then check out this video and find out about That Time the BBC Deleted Almost Every Episode of Doctor Who:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m8KAGWQgzY

  10. Who else finds it odd, the front image on the 1929 BBC handbook, closely resembles the stylized SS of Germany's Nazi party thugs? I'm assuming it had little, or nothing to do with the Nazi party, which was officially formed in 1920.

  11. Lord Hawhaw was British as well, he was hung for false propaganda, whats the BBCs excuse. It doesn't matter what accent you use, the public will always see through your fear mongering and left wing propaganda lies. The BBC has become it's self no better than the Nazi propaganda machine with Lord Hawhaw news readers. The BBC aren't soley to blame, the ITV and most of the rest of the British media have been corrupted by our treacherous EU left wing government and the majority of the British people see right through all the lies and manipulating propaganda, especially over Brexit and your project fear of doom and gloom. So climb down off your pedistal and stop blowing your own trumpet because the British public don't believe or trust a word you say anymore. You need to stand up to the goverment and start telling the people the truth, goverments change, the people don't and history proves you don't want to be on the wrong side of the people when the change comes, as Lord Hawhaw and Tokyo Rose did to their own demise, and the people always win, history dictates this also, time and time again.

  12. "pay your licence of go to jail", said the BBC……………. a disgusting outfit with no integrity, spends all week protecting terrorists, bankers and politicians who have sex with kids….. good lads……..

  13. You should have played samples of the accents you referred to. As it is, I didnt get much out of this episode. English people who listen to this may know the accents of which you speak, but I have no idea. I find the subject of language very interesting and like to understand the details. I think I know the Received Accent and if Im right, like it quite a lot. BTW , why is it called "Received"?

  14. The BBC told Alex Jones when he applied for a job there. You can only work here if you promise never to criticise ISRAEL. he stormed out and joined RT. Who controls the BBC ?

  15. My hope, as an English teacher's son, is that some day, somewhere, some announcer will pronounce both of the "R"s in "February". I'm 64 and still waiting.

  16. Went to university with a girl who thought she didn't speak with an accent because she spoke RP – I laughed at her and asked what an American or Australian would say to that statement – the look on her face – puzzlement and dawning horror – was priceless…

  17. “With the (smooth, sensual sounds of the amazing and superior) Yorkshire accent” 😂😂😂

    Caption-Guy has to have his fun, too! Hahaha

    Edit – just noticed the fun fact 🙃

  18. My problem with the English accents is the blatant silencing of whole swaths of letters in certain words… If these are "English" words, why do English folks leave out as much as half of the word when pronouncing them? Example: Dictionary. American – Dict – Shin – Air – Re, English: Dict – Sean – Ry". Also, some English accents over exaggerate the L sound, like "Brittle" or "Bristol" where the L is dragged out for no apparent reason. I guess English folks love to smash their tongues into their teeth.

  19. Trusted is what the BBC once was…before if got taken over by feminists and SJWs. And from the comments I see I'm not the only one who feels this way.

  20. The BBC News is not respected.

    It takes millions of pounds from the European Union and pushes the EU agenda.

    The BBC political programmes are Left wing liberal hi-jacked.

    The BBC protected the pedophile Jimmy Saville for decades and does the same even now with Pakistani Muslim rape squads.

    The BBC also pushes feminist and Muslim agendas.

    The BBC.

    B – Building.
    B – Britains.
    C – Caliphate.

    ….and this is just for starters.

  21. At present in the year 2019 the only realm in which the BBC is considered a trusted source is regarding historical material it is still considered an acceptable citation in American University work. And that's about it

    It's always an immensely more entertaining to watch a BBC documentary about whatever I'm supposed to be learning and then look up the names of the experts cited and find out what else they've done on a given topic.

  22. A lot of us Americans don't trust your news we found bias in it. But we do love some of your TV shows William s.

  23. As an American half the time I can understand what the hell you saying. I. Have to put on the subtitles William s.

  24. Just out of pure curiosity, as a south eastern American, do y’all use “the queens English”? Honestly, when i hear y’all i just figure that how Brits speak.

  25. Well goodness, Simon, you certainly opened quite a can of worms with that one, aye? Little did you know……

  26. As an American, I just can't get over how so many regional accents can persist in a nation the size of the UK, especially in the era of broadcast. I guess it just speaks to how much less Britons moved around historically. How do your kids growing up routinely hearing so many different accents not merge them? The regional accents must be slowly converging due to this and increased movement. I wonder: is the change since TV actually noticeable to the elderly?

  27. You lost me at "impartial" and one of the most trusted news sources in both the UK and US……….. Sorry Simon, I usually love your videos but this is blatant propaganda and not true.

  28. My great-grandfather came to the US in 1911 and homesteaded in Montana. He spoke with a brummie accent until the day he died at age 96 in 1976.

  29. It is error to assume that common-as-muck persons wish to hear their peers on the BBC. I for one wish that only toffee-nosed persons were permitted to broadcast. I find posh voices both credible and soothing; the tones of the Great Unwashed both unworthy of belief and conducive to anxiety.

  30. Können Sie empfehlen Medikamente für Furz und Durchfall? Ich Furz wie eine große Trompete. Vollen Klang, wie ein Kaiser Furz. Mein Durchfall fließt wie ein Fluss.

  31. As an American who has worked near the border between Vermont and Quebec, I usually chose to listen to the BBC World News from Canadian stations rather than most American newscasts. This was partly because the accent was always understandable and, as was mentioned, I was receiving much less biased content.

  32. "RP" cannot be "How the word is spelled" because words like "military" and "dictionary" and "aluminum" are pronounced "militry" and "dictionry" and "aluminium."

    AMERICAN pronunciation is closer to standard spelling than British English.(!) This is largely because American children are taught to say words by reading them out loud. American Teachers say "sound it out", and deviations from the dictionary spelling are sanded away by constant practice. In fact, American pronunciation of some words has changed over the years because of spelling. Moreover, some Americans insist that "Thru" and "Nite" are correct spellings because they are used by businesses (where is the "i"?) and they clearly match the pronunciation better than "through" and "night."

  33. The BBC News is not impartial nor objective. They are fake news. They especially select propaganda to influence India and South Asia. Stock photos are often used and collaboration with other news sources. It's absolutely crazy endevour to influence so many people with fake news.

  34. Here in America, we don’t really want regional accents on our news, in fact someone broadcasting news in the deep south has pretty much the same accent as someone from California. Add to that when people do come on “reality TV” shows from the south, there is rarely a southern accent. This has crept into our call centers too, one of my trainers was from the deep south and intentionally refused to speak in her native accent.

  35. Originally newscasters were anonymous. They were told to use their names during WWII so listeners would know they were hearing a trusted source.

  36. It's unfair to Lord Reith to criticise him for having 'no experience in broadcasting' when before the BBC there WAS NO BROADCASTING IN THE UK . I know the phrase is included in his Wikipedia page, but the fact is that the criticism is entirely unjustified as there was nobody 'experienced in broadcasting' at the time he took up his job at the BBC.

  37. Great vid!
    You mentioned German perfectly copying the English accent and it reminded of a story my father told me.
    When Americans caught a suspected spy, they’d ask the suspect to sing the U.S. national anthem. If they knew to second verse, they were a spy ~ no one knows the second verse!
    😂

  38. I heard that RP was preferred in the early days of the wireless (broadcast radio) because it fitted into the frequency range of the (then) primitive microphones and the a.m. wavebands.

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