Speech like the sound of a mechanical keyboard ... but quieter
February 9, 2024 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Help me find TV, podcasts, and movies in which people speak quietly and precisely!

I adore the French TV series "Astrid et Raphaelle" for many reasons, one of them being the quiet precision and crisp diction with which the actors speak. Astrid is of course the best example, but many of the other actors speak the same way.

Where can I find other TV shows, podcasts, or films where people speak that way?Is it a French thing?

Some requirements:

* No explicit sex or preoccupation with violence
* Can't be bleak or depressing
* If in a language other than English, subtitles will need to be available
posted by rabia.elizabeth to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Chris Molanphy of Slate's Hit Parade podcast has a really calm, precise cadence that puts me to sleep almost without fail. Something about the way he reads is just really soothing to me. Plus, if you have any interest at all in the history of American pop music, it's a fantastic podcast for being awake with.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:28 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]

I'm not familiar with that show, and I'm not sure this exactly fits what you're looking for, but my husband likes to sleep with the television on so I've developed similar requirements for channels and shows that can run overnight and not disturb me with sudden shouts or changes in timbre. My favorites:

- Martha Stewart, particularly her cooking shows
- Jacques Pepin
- British Antiques Roadshow (although sometimes the people bringing objects will be shrill or louder than the hosts, probably due to nervousness)
- NHK World Japan (Japanese TV broadcasts, combination of news and lifestyle programs)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:31 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Gilmore Girls? They speak in a very fluid, rambling, verbose style—while still enunciating precisely and clearly—and they often talk in full paragraphs with complex sentences, making it unlike most real dialogue but captivating to many viewers (like me)! It's also generally cute and cozy—unless you are one of the people who can't stand the Gilmores—but if so, that will become apparent after about three minutes. They aren't exactly quiet, but I still think they have some of the feel you are looking for.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:38 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Gilmore Girls is the exact opposite of what I want... sorry :-)

I remember enjoying the way Martha Stewart spoke back when her show was on the air. So that's a good exemplar.

Last word from me! Please carry on.
posted by rabia.elizabeth at 11:41 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

There's at least one Martha Stewart channel on Roku TV (which does not require a Roku device to access)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:50 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

You might like The Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean - like the stories that the late Stuart McLean himself told, not the "Backstage at the Vinyl Cafe" podcast. I'm not sure where there's a definitive collection of just McLean narrating the stories without any other chatter, but here's an example: Dave Cooks the Turkey.

McLean had a particular way of speaking that was simultaneously folksy and precise that I really enjoyed.
posted by eekernohan at 1:28 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]

Someone converted some of the commentary tracks from the game Portal to a Youtube video, and here is the section featuring Ellen McLain, the voice of GLaDOS. I find something about her speech to be very soothing, especially how she pronounces the hard T in "Portal", instead of "pordal" as many US English speakers would.

Also, anything spoken by Carl Sagan. His is a very particular cadence and style, but I would listen to Carl read the phone book. I find something about his speech extremely soothing.
posted by xedrik at 2:15 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

Some of Joe Frank's radio monologues, maybe? Like this one. (He was born in France, coincidentally).
posted by rollick at 2:23 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]

This is the quality for which Roger Ebert praised the film Metropolitan by Whit Stillman.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:42 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Donald Pleasence often used a soft voice and crisp enunciation. (sorry, many of his projects were bleak and violent)
posted by ovvl at 8:23 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]

I have Auditory Processing Disorder, so I find a lot of speech garbled (which my brain then computes as mostly gibberish).

I watch a lot of documentaries, because the voiceovers tend to be crisp and clear.

My library gives me access to Hoopla, via which I use something called a BingePass to access Curiosity Stream (a documentary channel).

I've particularly enjoyed their Connections update.

There's also a series called Ancient Murder Mysteries, where a homicide detective and a scientist team up to try and figure out what happened to people from history like the Tollund Man. The detective in particular has this very calm, thoughtful manner while he discusses human nature, and that makes his speech very easy to understand.

Plus tons of David Attenborough content.

Some of the series on Curiosity Stream have shouty, "hip" voiceovers, but they're easy to quickly spot and move away from.
posted by champers at 2:33 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar with Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, and Dev Patel (among others) in a quiet and precise Wes Anderson style.
posted by chrisulonic at 3:16 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

I associate this way of speaking with well-educated British folks, which made me think of the In Our Time podcast. The host — and many, but not all, of his guests — speak calmly and precisely about fascinating topics.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:43 AM on February 10 [5 favorites]

You might enjoy listening to The History Of Rock Music in 500 Songs. The gentleman who does the podcast speaks very slowly and clearly (intentionally, as he has international listeners who are not accustomed to his English accent). I wouldn't describe his accent as "crisp", but it's very clear.

Are you familiar with the artificial midatlantic accent? It's pretty much the pinnacle of brisk, cut-glass diction and can be enjoyed in many old films and radio dramas.
posted by Mournful Bagel Song at 8:49 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

The four episodes of The Mind of JG Reeder from the BBC, read by David Horovitch. The narrator's voice is the main character's voice, and it is precise, calm, and balanced. I wish there were more of these.
posted by Francolin at 9:06 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

This question kind of reminds me of Jeff Bridges' character in the movie Starman. Short clip on youtube.
posted by gudrun at 11:42 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]

About ten years ago, someone made a mixtape combining modern(ish) poetry reading with contemporary pop music. There's two I still listen to, because I like the rhythm of the language, and that maybe could scratch this itch a little:

At Night the States - Alice Notley
Daddy - Sylvia Plath (edit: the imagery in this might be too disturbing, sorry)
posted by rollick at 11:48 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

In podcasts, I'd recommend:

Criminal with Phoebe Judge. (This isn't one of those tiresome true crime shows, and generally focuses on humanity in a gentle way. Most recent episode: Cowboy Bob.)

The Memory Palace (Nate DiMeo). Tiny, perfect historical stories, generally running under 20 minutes.
posted by maudlin at 7:25 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention Phoebe's two other podcasts, which you can check out if her voice and tone work for you: This is Love (self-explanatory) and Phoebe Reads a Mystery.
posted by maudlin at 5:46 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

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