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To continue the question started in identifying accents of British actors, there is one popular current cultural artifact with an excess of non-standard British accents, and that is The BBC series Downton Abbey.

For one very specific example, Anna Smith pronounces the word 'money' not as in standard English 'MUH-nee' (IPS /'mʌ nij/) but instead says something like 'moo-NAY' (IPA /mʊ 'ne/).

'Upstairs' I figure the accents are entirely RP except for Lady Grantham (with the well discussed General American/RP mix).

But I'd very much like to know what each of the 'downstairs' characters' accents are.

A google search says nothing more than what the IMDb FAQ about the show says:

Some of the servants (eg Mr Carson, Mrs Patmore, Anna and Sarah O'Brien) speak with northern accents (either Yorkshire or Lancashire).

And there is dialog and/or plot that identifies Branson as Irish and John Bates as Scottish.

What I'm looking for is something more definitive.

So, excluding the upstairs characters, what are the regions/accents of the following? (if possible please be specific, that is if you can tell the difference between, say, Mancunian and Yorkshire).

(for identities, consult IMDb )

  • Charles Carson - butler
  • John Bates - the earl's valet
  • Sarah O'Brien - the countess's maid
  • Anna Smith - Lady Mary's maid
  • Thomas Barrow - footman
  • Mrs. Hughes - housekeeper
  • Daisy Mason - cook's aid
  • Mrs. Patmore - cook
  • Tom Branson - chauffeur
  • Joseph Molesley - footman
  • Dr. Clarkson - physician
  • Ethel Parks - maid
  • William Mason - footman

A simplified answer is sufficient. If all are Yorkshire (whatever that is) except for Branson and Bates, then I'd like that confirmed. But if more can be said then so much the better. (e.g. Dr. Clarkson sounds 'different' to me, but I just can't tell.)

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I think this is Not Constructive. Few if any of the cast speak in their "natural" accents, but those will normally influence their delivery. Also bear in mind they'd be attempting to reproduce accents from a century ago. It's unlikely any of them are truly "authentic", nor would that be a particular goal for either the cast or the production crew. – FumbleFingers Feb 27 '13 at 19:50
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@Mitch: To quote John Lawler's comment here There's far more phonetic variation in any hundred mile square of Great Britain than there is in all of North America. But to paraphrase tchrist, ELU can't be doing with guessing who was raised on the sunny side of the Pennines a century ago, as interpreted by TV production crews and cast members seeking ratings rather than historical linguistic accuracy. – FumbleFingers Feb 28 '13 at 3:27
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You can consider asking this on moviesSE (which also accepts questions on TV shows). While I don't think that this is expressly off topic or too localised, I reckon that it's a overbroad and time-consuming. It would make for a good blog post :) – coleopterist Feb 28 '13 at 12:48
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Though the question has to do with dialect, it is not a request to explain anything about dialect. It's a trivia question about a TV show, interesting but out of scope here. But you are welcome to recast as a request to explain something about dialect, if appropriate. – MετάEd Mar 1 '13 at 20:30
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@coleopterist: yes, that was one of my references (pardon the ommission). And it addresses upstairs, dismissing downstairs with the ubiquitous "the servants (who mostly speak with local Yorkshire accents)"; the 'mostly' is exactly what I'm trying to elucidate. Who is left out of 'mostly'? Can anything more accurate be stated? – Mitch Mar 2 '13 at 17:10
up vote 4 down vote accepted
  • Charles Carson - butler: Yorkshire (ref)
  • John Bates - the earl's valet
  • Sarah O'Brien - the countess's maid
  • Anna Smith - Lady Mary's maid
  • Thomas Barrow - footman: Mancunian (ref)
  • Mrs. Hughes - housekeeper: West Scots (ref 1, ref 2)
  • Daisy Mason - cook's aid
  • Mrs. Patmore - cook: Mancunian (ref)
  • Tom Branson - chauffeur
  • Joseph Molesley - footman
  • Dr. Clarkson - physician
  • Ethel Parks - maid
  • William Mason - footman: Yorkshire (ref)
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3  
Here's an attempt to answer the question based on references (some possibly of questionable reliability) around the web. I've marked it as a community wiki in the hope that others will also chip in. – coleopterist Mar 2 '13 at 18:14
    
Sophie McShera who plays Daisy is from Bradford, West Yorkshire. Joanne Froggatt who plays Anna is from Littlebeck, North Yorkshire. It shouldn't be too hard to find interviews with them to check if they act with their normal accents (and to do the same with the others). – Hugo Apr 15 '13 at 12:05

Miss O'Brien regularly speaks in a gently scouse accent from the Liverpool area, West Midlands. This would also be consistent with her Irish surname.

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Liverpool, West Midlands?! That's like saying Chicago, New England. – David Garner May 31 at 6:34

I believe Daisy's accent is from Bradford. Watched an accent tag of someone from Bradford and they sound really similar! And I remembered when Daisy says: "daredn't" instead of "dare not" in the first episode and I found this.

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protected by Rathony May 31 at 6:58

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