The voice of London Underground crosses the line?

Photo – Please stand behind the yellow line. Yellow line? What yellow line?

As some of you may be aware, I have a soft spot for the London Underground system despite having never been on it.

Over the last couple of days, I have been reading some blogs and other websites based on life on the Tube and comparing it to things here in Sydney.

One such blog is the London Underground Tube blog. I was reading the website on Monday and I was reading about Emma Clarke who is the voice of London Underground. Apart from doing announcements for LU, Emma does other voice-over work as you can see and hear on her website. She also has a few short podcast episodes.

Anyhoo, apart from the usual serious stuff on the website including show reels and other examples of her work, Emma also has a fun page on her site where you can hear various other pieces of audio that are not serious. Indeed, she has called them “spoof announcements” delivered in the style of her LU announcements.

Then at work this evening (Monday), I read the free newspaper Mx (the afternoon freebie version of the Terrorgraph) that mentions Emma and these announcements. After I get home, I read on the LU blog that I mentioned above and it says that LU aren’t happy with Emma and her spoof announcements and according to Metro, she has been sacked. In other words, Emma has been canceled or in Australian TV parlance, boned. The ironic thing in all of this is that the Transport for London spokesman who is speaking in relation to the spoof announcements admitted that some of them are funny. But in circumstances like this, there is always a big BUT and the big “but” here is that LU doesn’t like their “voice” being critical of them.

However, will this derailment lead to more work for the voice-over artist? I am presuming that many people will view her website to download the announcements and there must be some people who want to hire her. I can’t imagine that recording LU announcements would take up much time in terms of total work but it would be a big contract nonetheless.

This situation actually reminds me of what happened with the then voice of CityRail here in Sydney, Grant Goldman. Apart from being a previous voice of CityRail’s recorded announcements, you will recognise Grant’s voice from TV, radio and being the ground announcement at Stadium Australia and Brookvale Oval among others. After being the voice of CityRail for many years, Grant quit after getting fed up with being associated with the transport operator. This was especially when CityRail started to get negative press and to many people, Grant Goldman WAS CityRail.

This may not have been helped with the spoof announcement that unknown person/s created after copying and pasting various Goldman words and phrases. Spoof announcements such as “the next train does not stop at this platform. Customers may join this train by running down the platform. Doors may not be open” or “Owing to a defective driver, trains are running late and out of timetabled order. CityRail apologizes……” blah blah blah. Announcements such as this even made it to national radio programs and Goldman was not happy.

So maybe while LU might not be happy with Emma Clarke, she might have actually got onto the front foot by recording her own spoof announcements, putting them on her website and having some control of them before someone else does it for her. And if it leads to extra work on a regular basis, could it be a master stroke?

UPDATE: Emma’s website has had so many hits since the story has been reported in the mainstream media that it can not keep up with demand. She suggests on the site to check back in a day or two.

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