Saturday, February 07, 2009

Why does Hollywood like 'Manchester' so much?

Charlie: Never disrespect a fellow Mancunian.
Naomi: You're from Manchester then?
Charlie: I am. The band got its start at the Night and Day Bar on Oldham Street.
I've been watching Series 3 of Lost - it's what you do when you're too much of a vegetable to read books - you lie around in bed and watch dvds of tv series you never managed to watch first time round. Well, it's either that or watching property & antique valuation programmes on BBC1 - and spending your time like that is likely to make you sick. Mentally damaged.

But for those that don't know (and there's no reason you should) one of the main characters in Lost (a programme about a bunch of people who crash in a plane and are lost on a desert island bla bla - if you don't know now it's too late for you - but then with box sets - it's never too late...)

Anyhoo, back in the real world Charlie was in a briefly famous rock band from Manchester. Y'know the type, his lead singer brother was completely hedonistic and was always getting wasted on drink and drugs. Charlie was the more sensible and creative one. Yeah, that's right, Charlie is Noel Gallagher without the eyebrows. So that's fine, that's amusing and the actor Dominic Monaghan's Manc accent is pretty convincing for someone from Stockport...

And I love the slightly cartoonish flashbacks to the silly band and his silly brother and occasionally accurate references to learning to swim at Pontins and playing gigs in Blackburn, but then he has a flashback to his dad teaching him to swim - his supposedly Mancunian father...

Listen for yourself (ignore the mawkish Elton John song in the first 10 seconds) and wait for dad to appear - where does he come from?

a) Manchester
b) Scotland
c) Canada

Hmmm, I have no idea. Is his dad meant to be Scottish/Manc? Just odd. But why do Mancs turn up in these tv series? It seems like they only do about 4 British accents in Hollywood:
  • Posh - usually a handsome Prince, or else he's a cad, possibly an evil villain
  • Scots - amusing Willy from the Simpsons or someone noble and down-to-earth
  • Mockney - almost always a pathetic American impersonation - from Dick Van Dyke to Don Cheadle's cheesy effort in Ocean's Eleven.
  • Then you've got the random Mancs.
There's never any Brummies (too weird and hard to understand, I guess), no Geordies (ditto), no Northern Irish (umm ditto?). And not many Scouse - as far as I can remember. All would need subtitles in Ohio. But a vaguely Northern, nominally Manc accent - that'll work, right? And it signifies a certain down-to-earthness that probably goes down well in the mid-west. Well, it's a theory. Even if it isn't an interesting one. But it is a good excuse to post a clip of Anthony La Paglia (an Australian actor) as *Mancunian* Daphne's brother in Frasier. It's very hard to watch. It'd be funnier if he was trying to be a Brummie, that'd be really hilarious...


  1. I hear ya! totally. I laughed at that accent when I first saw that episode of lost... but what is with the generelisation of England and its accents? although, sometimes nice to be able to say 'I know where that is' when they reference places! hehe.

  2. Do not forget the North of England's token male. The one and only Sean Bean :)

  3. I enjoyed your blog, thank you :)

  4. 24's good for that, anyone from Europe has the posh English accent no one actually has. Including Germans.

    Though we don't do Parisian/Bordeaux accents, nor do we do Perth/Darwinian, or Tokyo/Kyoto, or LA/New York. We do generic French, Australian, Japanese or American accents. And for some reason they never get people from the right country to play the parts, English is mostly done by Australians, English people play Americans and the scots are usually cast as eastern Europeans.

    I do a great Manc accent. You'd agree, I'm sure.

  5. Ok I listened hard and then involved a friend.. we decided he is Scottish, and attempting do do a mid atlantic accent, with shades of Irish..........


    He sounded like a twat if that helps!

  6. I had forgotten about Sean Bean, Sheffield's finest. And Pete Postlethwaite would be a scouser if he was allowed to be.

    And it's true in British tv we do have generic Frenchy accents etc, but they're usually rubbish as well, but amusing. The Dad in Lost is just bizarre....