Monday, 20 February 2012

“That has got to be the worst pirate I have ever seen”

No that isn’t a rebuke for a dodgy download.

The famous quote from Pirates of the Caribbean, is one which guest of the week, Tom Hollander, knows only too well having played Lord Cutler Beckett in the famous franchise.

At Cambridge Tom studied English. It is also where he took the title role in a memorable production of Cyrano de Bergerac that brought together an interesting assortment of talent. Sam Mendes, a childhood friend from Oxford, was the director, their pal Tom Piper was designer, and Nick Clegg played Carbon de Castel-Jaloux.

So more the thesp, director and politician than the lion, the witch and the wardrobe!

Moviegoers will have seen Tom as a penniless aristo in Gosford Park, as hapless minister Simon Foster in The Loop, and as creepy-sounding choreographer/child catcher in the fairytale movie Hanna.

From December to March of this year you can catch him in Richard Eyre’s production of Flea in her Ear at the Old Vic.

However it is Tom’s latest TV performance in Rev that is winning him all sorts of new fans.

Lily Allen tweeted her love of Rev, which sees Tom playing the embattled leader of a tiny, rackety congregation in grimy East London:

“Tom Hollander is my favourite British actor, very very funny”

This coming from someone with an often acidic cyber-tongue is high praise indeed!

So Tom packs quite an a-list punch, but at just 5ft5in let’s hope he doesn’t get into a real fight!


So after an extensive session, recording a myriad of foreign voices, we asked resident A1 VOX engineer Chris“how do you go about organising such sessions?”

Our intrepid audio goon had this to say on the matter:

Rule 1 of foreign voice over – we don’t talk about fore…oops, sorry, wrong list. What I mean to say is that the translations will be picked apart by every language artist that comes in.

Never assume you will be able to start a session without a voice artist pointing out the inadequacies of the translation they have been given, and how to improve it – which of course is very helpful, apart from when you’ve been asked not to deviate from the given script; as it has been approved by clients.

Always record two versions – one that is exactly as written, unless the artist say’s that it’s complete gobbledygook, and one translated as the voice artist wishes. Send both to the client and diplomatically ask if they think the new translation is an improvement.

Rule 2 of foreign voice over – LABEL EVERYTHING!!!! If you don’t know your Turkish from your Kurdish, your Thai from your Taiwanese; then you will be kicking yourself if you don’t have everything clearly labelled!

Rule 3 of foreign voice over – if you have time, play everything recorded back to the artist, and make sure they are confident that they haven’t fluffed or mispronounced anything.

Rule 4 of foreign voice over – If you feel that something sounded hesitant, it probably was. The voice artist might assure you it was ok, but when they do it again, you will notice that it didn't sound hesitant the second time around.

No matter what the language, the human ear can pick up on unfamiliarity and beat pauses that were not meant to be included.

Trust your judgement, even when someone tells you it’s ok.

Rule 5 of foreign voice over – copious cups of tea are essential to recording any language, but especially ones you don’t understand very well!”

Thanks Chris - that is a top trump lesson. There can be no more excuses for anyone out there battling with a foreign voice over session. This blog should become your bible.


I haven’t done any celeb spotting on the streets for a while now so I thought I would share my double whammy Valentine’s Day experience with you all.

There I was minding my own business and on my way to a free cut and colour when I stumbled across a rather large group of grown men prancing about on Old Compton Street with Proton packs on their back!!??.

This can only mean one thing, I thought, - the council have finally had enough of the ruddy pigeons and decided to exterminate the whole blooming lot. Heartless measure to take on Valentines Day!

However on closer inspection I noticed the group were huddled around Gerry’s Wine and Spirits.

Dutch courage before the V Day massacre?????

NO – in fact the furore was all for the benefit of Mr Dan Aykroyd – aka Mr Ghostbuster.

It seems that Dan was camped out in the Soho drink emporium to promote Crystal Head Vodka – the most recent and innovative vodka brand to hit the spirits market and created by none other than Mr Aykroyd himself.

It was quite a sight to behold as the nerdy collective of Ghostbuster fans all queued to get a signed bottle of vodka when all they really wanted was Ray Parker Jrs. hit Ghostbusters playing out whilst they neutralised vapours, entities and other low life spectral deviants, thus preventing chaos on the streets of Soho,…..and ultimately saving the day…Gulp!

So I moved quickly on to my hairdressing appointment where woman of the moment, England's answer to Rihanna, and girlfriend to Rob Kardashian, - Rita Ora was also getting her locks chopped. Or should I say extended as Rita had been in the salon for 7 hours having her extensions removed and replaced!!!!!

Brother Kardashian stayed with her throughout the whole process even when she suggested he go back to their hotel suite – it must have been Valentines love……or maybe the free beer they kept giving him, but he stuck with her throughout the whole ordeal!

If you would like to be a free hair model, and do a bit of celeb spotting at the same time, then give Percy and Reed a call. A-List hair without opening up the purse strings – Sir, Yes, Sir!

So end’eth another Blog. Who knows what A1 VOX insights we will be delving into next week but be sure to tune in and find out oh loyal followers of Soho’s friendliest studio.

Monday, 13 February 2012

We are still in the grips of the big freeze but have a lot of vocal warmth left in our hearts. Long live the British spirit……..and radiators!

It seems that our guests were feeling the need for getting their tonsils toasty, as they merrily chatted away to us before their sessions.

I suppose it is a great way of getting the old pipes going, and it sure beats those wierdy vocal exercises and la la la’ing that we often hear as people ascend the stairs.(What our neighbours think I have no idea!)

Our first merry customer of the week was Corrie star Steven Arnold.

Steven will be fondly remembered for his role as squeaky-voiced butcher Ashley Peacock in the Weatherfield drama. Son to Fred Elliott on the show this was one sausage maker that had his fill of humorous and meaty storylines including the murder of first wife Maxine.

Last year it was with a heavy heart that Steven had to say goodbye to a character he had played for over fifteen years. In true soap land style he went out with a crash, bang and WALLOP as Ashley was one of the few Corrie unfortunates to find himself killed off by that fateful tram.

TV Genius at its best.

But whilst Steven is a veteran of the small screen I feel very privileged and honoured to be able to say that myself and the team at A1 VOX guided him through his first ever voice over gig!!!!

Added to this monumental occasion Steven also informed me he had given up the dreaded weed that very day, so it was with some trepidation that I offered him a cup of tea for fear of a nicotine induced melt down!

However, Steven laughed and said a cuppa would be most welcome. I hope I managed to put Steven at ease by talking him through the process of the voice over session ahead, and prepping him for entering that strange little booth for the first time.

I guess working on the Street, in such a pressure cooker environment, gives you an invaluable set of skills. I listened in to Steven’s session and he sounded like a consummate professional.

On leaving he had a big grin on his face - a sign of relief, and pride, that he ‘had it in the can’. Praise where praise is due and with his vocal cherry well and truly popped I let him know that he had done an outstanding job.

There had been talk of Steven quitting acting to reportedly become a roofer. I asked him with a coy smile how he felt about that now – it seems ‘don’t give up your day job’ may become his mantra as he continues working in the arts - all be it behind a mic for now.

Good luck Steven we hope to hear more of you in the future.

Who here remembers Mel and Sue’s Light Lunch on Channel 4?

It was hosted by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, who shot to TV stardom having written for French and Saunders.

I have to say that Mel is one of the few comedians that seems to either imitate her art or simply is as outgoing and bubbly as her on screen persona.

She came bounding into A1 like an over excited puppy and her enthusiasm was infectious.

On reading up on Mel it seems that this is the real deal as even on her own website she is very much tongue in cheek about her good self:

“Mel has spent most of her adult life as a child. Her only long-term relationship to date was a regrettable liaison with television personality Cap’n Birdseye.

Their five year marriage ended in the divorce courts after Mel discovered her husband had faked his navy credentials and was not a Cap’n at all – just a struggling actor with a penchant for standing too close to small boys with a frozen cod-stick in his hand”

I'm saying nothing!

Here she is taking a bite of the forbidden A1 fruit that Chris offered up to her, like the snake tempting Eve.

Not that I am likening Chris to a snake - he is anything but! He is just very generous and likes to keep his guests delicately tuned with his pick of Tesco’s finest.

Mel and Sue recently joined horns once more on The Great British Bake Off - Brit baking with a good dollop of Mel and Sue – lovely jubbly.

Mel continues to venture into the vocal and radio domain, and you can catch her presenting The Four O’Clock Show on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

A1 VOX News

Continuing with the baking theme it seems you really can have your cake and eat it!!!!!!!!!

Earlier this week Charles drew my attention to an article he had spied in The Telegraph.

YES – according to new research having dessert – along with the traditional fry up – is a calorie defying burn buster.

Article ‘can this be true’ states that eating choccies as part of a breakfast that includes proteins and carbs stems the craving for sweet something’s later.

So put down that lumpy porridge, spit in the face of muesli, and get yourselves down Kath’s Caf' for a greasy platter and a wedge of something naughty to follow – Oh be still my calorie laden heart.

Join us next week when Chris will be instructing on the best way to cope with multiple, foreign voiced, Sound to Picture sessions (try saying that after a few shandy's!), and we get to grips with the baddie from Pirates of the Carribean star, Tom Hollander.

Till then - Eat Cake!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Shivering timbers! Things have taken a definite turn to the cold side.

Being ever so British I have been discussing weather fronts all week with a multitude of clients and producers both in Britain and the rest of the world.

On comparing wintry office views with one of our regular radio producers, Eric over at Riviera Radio in Monaco, France, I was sent across a couple of photos as evidence of his opulent winter wonderland.

This is the view from Eric’s office:

Not too shabby.

And this was the view from one of his radio listener’s houses just a stone’s throw away from Eric’s lush 9-5 pad:

I say….what a vista!!!!

Regardless of weather fronts A1 VOX doesn’t just huddle away in the safety confines of the studio.

Chris and Charles regularly trek further afield than London in order to record a regular client.

We are not at liberty to discuss client particulars, but the customer in question frequently changes the recording rendezvous at the last minute due to the nature of their business. We have even journeyed to the coast in a quest to keep smiles on faces.

You see it is our job to make sure we can change our plans, both at the studio and the recording destination to keep everybody happy. Communication is key people, as is swift thinking and a great knowledge of the British transport system and roads!

Unlike my train service provider, A1 VOX go to great lengths to keep clients happy. Both parties reap the benefits, and this makes for a great working relationship. So if anyone out there should need the services of a roaming audio engineer just give A1 a call.

We didn’t have to go very far to record the first guest of the week as Julian Barratt joined us here at A1 VOX HQ.

I often find it interesting meeting comedians to see if they are hilarious in real life or just oddballs with a dark and twisted past.

I guess that coming in for a voice over job doesn’t exactly display every nuance of your character but Julian came across as quiet, very self-deprecating and a totally nice chap.

Julian is an English comedian, musician, music producer, and actor. He is best known for playing “jazz maverick” Howard Moon in cult comedy The Mighty Boosh, which he co-wrote with comedy partner Noel Fielding.

“Noel and I are working apart now, which is quite hard, having made something together. It’s like we’re having affairs but have mutual custody of the kid”

Apart from The Mighty Boosh Julian has had parts in Nathan Barley, Asylum alongside Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson, and appeared as The Padre in spoof horror series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.

Julian recently completed his directing debut in Curtains. Set in a Norfolk seaside town it is a dark comedy about a Punch and Judy man. That’s the way to do itsorry.

Julian is now venturing more and more into the world of voice over having put his vocal pout to More Than Insurance, a Directgov advert and narrated the 2011 documentary Seven Dwarves. The mighty voice for little people eh Julian.

So when he is not cavorting around with Noel, what makes this comedian tick?

“Badly spread butter on toast can send me incandescent with rage”

Noted Julian - So if you are having a sleep over in the Barratt household probably best to leave Julian to make the brekkie!

…..Or ask our second guest of the week to make it for you, as next up the stairs was none other than Julian’s partner, and mother to his twin boys – Julia Davis.

Julia is an English comedy writer and performer, but is best known for writing and starring in the BBC Three comedy Nighty Night.

In fact Julia spent three years writing what became one of the darkest comedies seen on television to date. It seems she used her role as sociopathic beauty parlour owner Jill Tyrell to challenge the very notion of what comedy is and can be.

“Jill let me say and do things I would never get away with in real life”

So how did it all start?

Julia used to belong to a comedy troupe which included future Gavin and Stacey co-stars Rob Brydon and Ruth Jones. Her big break came as a regular cast member of Big Train, and her career was given a further boost in 1998 after she sent a tape to Steve Coogan who invited her to write and tour with him.

Julia has starred in many comedy TV shows including I’m Alan Partridge, Big Train, Brass Eye, Jam, Human Remains, and Gavin and Stacey. She has also had roles in films Love Actually, Sex lives of the Potato Men (yes really!) and Confetti.

Julia’s comedy often comes from a dark place and it kind of makes sense that her and Julian gravitated to one another.

So how does Julia feel now that she too has branched out into the voice over industry?:

“You know, my attitude towards work has changed. I used to think that you’d be selling out if you did something like a voice over. Now I don’t think like that. You have got to be realistic”

We are happy that you acknowledge voice over work as credible in its own right Julia…..I guess it will do until you get your next comedy idea riddled with brutality, murder, and sexual deviance eh!

So that concludes our whizz around A1 VOX happenings.

Now go get under a blanket, stay inside, and crank up the cosy factor to an 11/10.