Casting directors are lost for words because the next generation of British actors just cannot speak proper. The rise of “Estuary English” has left children with the intonation patterns of Lily Allen and Jonathan Ross, regardless of their background.
The decline in Received Pronunciation has not just transformed the presentation of BBC News. Film and drama producers are struggling to fill period roles that require unrepentantly middle-class vowels. BBC One is holding an open casting session tomorrow to try to find two girls to star in a film-length adaptation of the classic children’s novel Ballet Shoes. Victoria Wood and Marc Warren have signed up to star in the story, by Noel Streatfeild, set in 1930s London. But the challenge of finding two ballet-dancing leads who can act, twirl and – most importantly – speak in middle-class accents has defeated the producers.
"We’ve been to drama schools, ordinary schools and children’s agents, but we still haven’t found the right girls," said Susie Parriss, the casting director.
"It doesn’t matter whether you go to public schools or comprehensives, children just speak common estuary now."
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