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This question stems from pure idle curiosity. It seems to me that British newsreaders use a special accent, especially when reading out the headlines or introducing a particularly serious story. Perhaps it would be more properly termed a tone of voice rather than an accent, but in either case I've never known anyone to speak in that way in any other situation.

I'm not referring to recieved pronunciaton, but to something much more specific that seems to be only used for news and not other announcements. Similarly, I'm not referring to the mid-Atlantic accent, which also seems to be mostly associated with news readers but is no longer in use. The voice/accent I'm referring to combines a kind of exaggerated seriousness with perhaps a lower pitch of voice than usual. It's difficult to describe but anyone who lives in the UK should be familiar with it. Does it have a name?

Edit: an exaggerated example can be found in this classic parody clip from The Day Today. Most of the characters use their normal voices at first, but once the situation changes around 2 minutes in, all the broadcasters start using the special "serious" voice that I'm asking about.

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    Uh… which newsreaders, please? Two generations ago, pretty-much every British newsreader used the same accent. Today, it seems to depend where they were born and there is certainly no single accent that modern British newsreaders use, nor anything like one. – Robbie Goodwin Sep 4 '17 at 22:48
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    I did my best to explain it in the question. Please read it completely and let me know if anything is still unclear. – Nathaniel Sep 11 '17 at 8:19
  • Sorry, Nathaniel. I've only been listening for 60 years. British newsreaders used to speak with one voice, as it were, but for a least a generation, they haven't. Their diversity sounds to be getting greater, too. Could you find someone else who's heard this… or could you name a few culprits? Say four or five? – Robbie Goodwin Sep 11 '17 at 21:01
  • I did mention RP in the question, and specifically noted that it's not what I was talking about. The word "accent" might be a red herring. I'm talking about the voice they put on when reading the headlines or introducing a particularly serious story. I would say most newsreaders do it, regardless of their accent. It might be marginally less exaggerated now than it was about 5-10 years ago. – Nathaniel Sep 11 '17 at 21:56
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    This is a parody but might help get the point across. He uses something close to his normal voice when speaking to camera but puts on the "serious" voice for the voiceovers. youtube.com/watch?v=aHun58mz3vI (Even though it's a parody the difference isn't very strong, but it's there. If I can find a more obvious example I'll post it.) – Nathaniel Sep 12 '17 at 7:32
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To be honest, these days there are nearly as many news presenters with regional - particularly Scottish - accents as those using RP, which is the dominant form.

Regional accents are often deemed to be "from somewhere real" and so appparently are judged to have integrity. RP is respected and seen as educated, but doesn't have a specific area of origin tbat people can relate to; at best it's the South East of England accent.

There are some interesting stats in this report about how various British accents are perceived: 1) how friendly; 2) how intelligent; 3) how trustworthy http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2433201/Scousers-intelligent-trustworthy-accent--Devonians-friendliest.html

50 years ago, there was a predominance of the cut-glass upper-class accent on the BBC, the way the queen speaks. But that has almost completely gone now, and old clips with presenters speaking in that way are hilarious today, for the deference to the aristocracy and royals they represent.

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The word 'portentous'springs to mind.

protected by tchrist Aug 23 '17 at 15:13

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