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Translated From the British

May 21, 2007 12:00 AM

Can't understand the Queen's English? BBC America is urging viewers who have trouble understanding British accents to turn on the closed-captioning on their TV sets. The network reached out to John Oliver, a correspondent on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," to help with the project.

Mr. Oliver wrote the tongue-in-cheek promos and provided lightly accented voiceovers that will appear ahead of BBCA shows, starting Memorial Day weekend when the network runs its Blockbuster Summer Preview.

"The following program contains accents you would have heard a lot more if you hadn't thrown our tea into Boston Harbor," says one. "Not even British people can follow the British accent 100 percent of the time. Therefore you, like me, might want to use closed-captioning," is another.

While most British accents are fairly understandable to Yanks, some of the more interesting characters use dialects that are harder to penetrate, said Andrew Jackson, VP of creative services for BBC America. And while BBC America has always offered closed-captioning, many people don't know how to turn it on. Although some channels have closed-captioning sponsors, Mr. Jackson said that at this point, BBCA sees it more as a way to connect to its audience.

The channel also plans to continue to work on marketing projects with Mr. Oliver, who has already incorporated the Boston Harbor joke into his standup routine. -- Jon Lafayette

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Comments (2)

Noel pugh:

Yes John has a distinctive accent like he is trying to use a London accent with gusto, which suggests he is from the suburbs, nay even
one of the home counties. But with rapid transportation and people moving to where I was born.. changes local accents.

Within a few years our accents will be as bland as the Yanks.

Cathy:

He's from Liverpool, but his accent got reprocessed at Cambridge ;)

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