Lousy accents

A bit off the books trail, this, but I’ve got a bee under my bonnet at the moment about actors’ accents. A few years ago I was involved in some amateur dramatics productions. I was no great shakes as an actor, but it was a lot of fun, particularly when I got to try out a new accent (they included New York, Lancashire and London Cockney; the last was a success, I think, the first two less so). Bear in mind, though, I was strictly an amateur.

Having grown up in South Africa, I have a finely tuned ear for a Saffrican accent. Whether it’s because of this or whether there’s something inherent in the South African accent that’s difficult to reproduce, I don’t know. But there have been some truly atrocious stabs at it in film and on television, by people who should know better. I dare say you’ve come across similarly awful renditions of accents you’re familiar with.

Here’s my countdown of the worst three attempts at accents ever committed to screen.

3. Patsy Kensit in Lethal Weapon 2. She takes normal human speech, drenches it in vague Australianisms and comes up with nothing that’s ever been heard before or since. And it’s inconsistent, as any really bad accent must be.

2. Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot. Great, classic film, shame about the woefully misguided ‘upper-class Briddish’ Curtis regales, indeed flails, us with. Even worse than Dick van Dyke’s Cockney in Mary Poppins, considered by many to be the benchmark of bad film accents.

1. And the number one spot goes to…. drumroll… none other than Daniel Craig, James Bond 007 himself. Not in the Bond films, but in Steven Spielberg’s Munich. Mr Craig tries to pass himself off as a Jewish South African and produces something barely recognisable as human speech, let alone remotely intelligible.

Go on, then, tell me yours.

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