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Northern accents, poetry and truth | Letters

Readers respond to poet Ian McMillan’s complaint about the lack of newsreaders with northern accents

Ian McMillan bemoans the fact that there are “no newsreaders with northern accents” (Not trusted with t’autocue? Barnsley bard bewails bias on TV news, 18 February). Northerners and the north appear to have inherited this ostracisation from “the unruly Scots” – the latter having, in a broadcasting context, either stormed the BBC’s metropolitan bastion, or simply tholed their assizes. Viz the terse opening of Tom Leonard’s 60s poem Six O’Clock News: “this is thi / six a clock / news thi / man said n / thi reason / a talk wia / BBC accent / iz coz yi / widny wahnt / mi ti talk / aboot thi / trooth wia / voice lik / wanna yoo / scruff. if / a toktaboot / thi trooth / lik wanna yoo / scruff yi / widny thingk / it wuz troo…”

Leonard’s subtlety and irony are conveyed through his use of the very Glaswegian dialect he pretends to disdain. What chance of Ian McMillan, I’m sure happily familiar with the original, unearthing or instigating a northern follow-up as entertaining as it is sharp-edged?
Stewart Conn

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