Meet the Colonel
February 10, 2015 3:32 PM   Subscribe

What is this name or origin of this bird-headed man's (English?) accent?

Meet Colonel Chestbridge (YTL), commanding officer of Danger 5 (fanfare.mefi), the international group of daredevils who fought WWII through the 1960s. The video is a supercut of all of his scenes from the first season of Danger 5.

He dresses like the eponymous character from The Prisoner, he loves to drink a good Bangkok Sunrise, and he really really hates to be interrupted. But what I like about him most is the way he talks. Yooorrrrannniumm.

He's got English diction, but then again, his writers are Aussies, and the show is fast and loose with accents (I never would've guessed that Tucker was Australian, and it's not clear where the pan-Mediterranean Pierre is from), but Chestbridge has an outstanding accent, not to mention that wonderful pacing and inflection. Who would I listen to to sound like him?
posted by Sunburnt to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Eagle English.

(To my native English ear, it doesn't sound like a particular accent, just 60s-style received pronunciation with some funky vowel sounds chucked in for fun. Could be an Aus doing a good imitation. I don't think you'd find anything exactly the same anywhere else.)
posted by mymbleth at 3:43 PM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Agree with mymbleth that it's someone doing an impression of RP. But if you want to learn from someone who sounds like him you could listen to some of the brilliant musings of Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry in the IT Crowd).
posted by billiebee at 3:56 PM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yep, as mymbleth says it's more of a when than a where the accent comes from. That kind of clipped RP is the kind of thing you hear on war films and 60s telly, so I guess 1945-60s England.

That said, it also sounds a lot like (present-day) comedian Matt Berry, here as Douglas Reynholm in the IT Crowd and here as Steven Toast in Toast of London. Plenty more links beneath those ones so you can practice saying "Damn you, Clem Fandango..." in a comedy 60s accent to your heart's content.

On preview: Too slow with my posting finger!
posted by penguin pie at 4:03 PM on February 10, 2015

It's more or less a 60s style standard British accent, done by someone who doesn't speak it.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 4:05 PM on February 10, 2015

I agree with the other posters about received pronunciation (see also Australian accents - cultivated English) Pretty much every television presenter and newsreel voice over in the 60s here was in RP, I think this is part of aping the era. The other bizarre accents are to cultivate the international men of mystery vibe. You can listen to newsreels here.

What tweaks it a bit, the Colonel has a hint of rolling his Rs and some modified vowel sounds. Some internet dally dally tells me actor playing the Colonel Tilman Vogler is a German chap. Whether this is part of his natural speech or a further part of the character I couldn't tell you.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 4:13 PM on February 10, 2015

It's an Australian mimicking Received Pronunciation. I am an Australian and that is exactly what I sound like when I've had too much to drink and I'm pretending to be English.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:21 PM on February 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Fortunately I'm already a huge fan of Matt Berry's work on IT Crowd, Toast of London, and Garth Morenghi's Darkplace, all of which mine some of the same comedy vein as Danger 5.

I wasn't familiar with the term RP, but I do see the similarity to Matt Berry's characters. Sounds like this is a kind of curated accent the way the hollywood-common Mid-Atlantic accent was created.

Thanks all!
posted by Sunburnt at 5:12 PM on February 10, 2015

Is it just me, or is the cadence 100% Ze Frank? It very much feels to me like someone doing Ze with an over the top fake British accent.
posted by The Bellman at 5:29 PM on February 10, 2015

Yes to mid-20th c. RP filtered through a modern Australian actor, but also "expat RP", the kind of English you'd hear from someone who moved to The Colonies long after they ceased being colonies but still wanted gin on the verandah.
posted by holgate at 6:51 PM on February 10, 2015

It's a German actor pretending to be an Australian mimicking RP. It's turtles all the way down.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 7:15 PM on February 10, 2015 [6 favorites]

I totally heard that as a fake "war-film-German" accent, so interesting that the actor is actually a German doing war-film-English. My accent is pretty much Radio 4 English, fwiw.

I wouldn't call Matt Berry's accent RP either - it's more Barry Scott/Cillit Bang-style declaiming. RP to me is Terry Thomas. You don't hear anyone with proper RP today (not even the Queen). I work with a couple of Queen's Physicians, and their accents are Posh Home Counties - think Kate Middleton. The other posh accent is Sloane, which probably the true successor to RP, best heard on Made in Chelsea, and is such an embarrassing class marker that lots of younger Sloanes try to fake a bit more of an urban accent to sound a bit cooler - see Prince Harry.
posted by tinkletown at 2:37 AM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

> I wouldn't call Matt Berry's accent RP either - it's more Barry Scott/Cillit Bang-style declaiming. RP to me is Terry Thomas.

Exactly. This is the purest RP you're likely to hear. Just listen to the way he says "appear" and "fare"!
posted by languagehat at 8:24 AM on February 11, 2015

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