Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DVD Chided for NOT Doing an Accent

Poor guy gets criticized for doing a bad cockney accent even when he isn't doing one.

The Daily Journal (New Jersey), December 8, 2010, "'Disney's A Christmas Carol' now out on DVD" by Joanne Thornborough.

Perhaps the worst musical ever committed to celluloid, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (now on Blu-ray; previously available on DVD) is an abomination in so many ways the only question to be asked is what drug was the studio exec on who greenlit this.

The basic plot -- if you can call it that -- has a widowed eccentric inventor (Dick Van Dyke, who avoids an English accent, but introduces a few unaddressed questions in the process) raising his two kids with an assist from his equally eccentric father (Lionel Jeffries) all while slowly developing a romantic attachment to the daughter (Sally Ann Howes) of a mildly cantankerous confectioner.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"They Just Tease Me to Death"

I didn't want this blog to turn into a fan page for Dick Van Dyke, but I can't help it. He knows the accent was crap. He laughs along with anyone who teases him about it. How could you not love this guy?

Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2010, "A step in time with Dick Van Dyke" by Susan King.

But Van Dyke is quick to point out that the "British people have never left me off the hook" about his less-than-picture-perfect Cockney accent. "They just tease me to death," he says, laughing.

"Somebody sent me a British magazine listing the 20 worst dialects ever done in movies. I was No. 2, with the worst Cockney accent ever done. No. 1 was Sean Connery, because he uses his Scottish brogue no matter what he's playing."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An Appalling Matriarch

I know his accent slid around a lot, but apparently now he sounds like an appalling English matriarch.

The Independent on Sunday, December 5, 2010, "Audio books for Christmas: I've heard so much about you -- Old (and new) favourites excel in their aural exam" by Sue Gaisford.

Like them, the Litvinoffs have Jewish roots and have risen high in left-leaning American society. If every Berglund demands individual liberty, all of the Litvinoffs, known in Zoë Heller's novel as The Believers (Whole Story, unabridged, £24.99), have passionately held principles which, inevitably, clash ferociously. It is funny, polemical and fairly well read by Tara Ward – though the appalling English matriarch's accent owes more to Dick Van Dyke than Deptford.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bloody 'Ell!

Steady on, I don't remember DVD saying "Bloody 'ell" in Mary Poppins!

Indie Movies Online Com, November 25, 2010, Top five terrible movie accents by Paul Martin

Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins (1964)

Awight, guv'nor, 'ow the bloody 'ell are ya? Yes, if there's one accent that the majority of folks seem to labour under the collective delusion that they are capable of brilliantly imitating then it is the stereotypical cockney twang of old Lahndan taaawn. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of experiments in this sphere come off sounding as cluelessly inaccurate as the voice employed by Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

Although in defence of the faltering efforts of every cockney imitator who isn't Van Dyke, they are most often simply trying to score a cheap laugh from their mates. They are not anchoring a Disney blockbuster in the pivotal role of a lovable chimney-sweep. Were they doing that then you would perhaps expect them to indulge in some exhaustive research. Listening to genuine Londoners speaking and analysing the nuances that shape those distinctive tones. Not roll out a theoretical East End patter which suggests cockneys are not real, live breathing human beings, but rather creatures of antediluvian myth, with uninformed speculation being the sole recourse as to recreating how they might possibly have sounded.

It Would Be Tacky...

It would be tacky to make a passing reference, but not tacky to make a passing reference to making a passing reference., November 25, 2010, "London Boulevard Review" by Emily Breen.

You will doubtless hear numerous accounts and re-enactments of Colin’s comedy cockney accent this week. It would be cruel of me to dwell on it further here and tacky to make even passing reference to Dick Van Dyke. So I shan’t. I will, however, point out that Ben Chaplin’s accent is equally preposterous and just as worthy of the world’s derision. And as for Mr Winstone…

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Football Player Can't Do a London Accent

The Independent, November 22, 2010, "Ancelotti 'just a technician' as Bowyer adds to Chelsea's woes" by Phil Shaw.

Johnson, a £5m snip from Cardiff, believes he merits a chance. "He says 'What've I gotta do, gaffer?'," McLeish said in the worst London accent since Dick van Dyke went cockney in Mary Poppins.

Friday, November 19, 2010

DVD's Accent: Hated by the Daily Mail

So now, as you read a book, when you hear a cockney accent as you imagine how a character sounds, if that accent is poorly done, it's Dick Van Dyke's fault.

Daily Mail, November 18 2010, "OUT NOW IN PAPERBACK" by Amber Pearson.


...But Rose has other ideas, and the war ­provides the perfect opportunity for escape when she runs away to London to train as a nurse. It brings her into contact with a ­different life, not to mention some cor-blimey Cockneys (think Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"THE British Accent"?

As if there were only one.

USA Today, November 10, 2010, "Today's Pop Five: Cory A.'s 'dying is fine' songs"

Mt. Desolation, State of Our Affairs -- If Dick Van Dyke can slaughter the British accent Mary Poppins freestyle, I think it only fair the Brits do what they want with country music.

Dick Van Dyke is secretly Aquaman

DVD has been telling a story about when he went surfing and was rescued by porpoises. It was just a matter of time until someone made a joke about his accent...

From Twitter this AM:

@MJMcKean Michael McKean Great story. Incidentally, each of those heroic porpoises could do a better Cockney accent than Mr. Van Dyke.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

DVD Explains All!

Interview with Dick Van Dyke on NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", October 23rd, 2010

SAGAL: You did "Mary Poppins" and despite your amazing charm and the incredible success of the movie, you did get a little guff for your accent.

Mr. VAN DYKE: Oh, I don't talk to British people because they just make a mess of me.

SAGAL: Really?

Mr. VAN DYKE: Oh, they tease me to death about it.

SAGAL: Are they good natured about it at least?

Mr. VAN DYKE: Oh, sure. They just tease me. But I'll never hear the end of that. But I have a defense.

SAGAL: What is your defense, sir?

Mr. VAN DYKE: They got me a coach who was Irish.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. VAN DYKE: His name was Pat O'Malley and he didn't do an accent any better than I did.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bad Science vs. Bad Cockney

Tweeted this AM by Ben Goldacre

"the alabama talk radio DJs are doing their best dick van dyke accents. this is awesome fun"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Still More Catching Up

Digital Spy, June 3, 2010, "Lucker glad over 'Enders accent escape" by Daniel Kilkelly and Kris Green.

"When they called about the part, I spoke to [series story producer] Dom [Treadwell-Collins] about the character and what they wanted from her but after I put the phone down, I thought, 'Oh wait, do they want me to put on an Essex accent?' because they told me that Vanessa lives in Chigwell.

"I think if you're doing one-off dramas, you can go and play a character with an accent, but when you're surrounded by people who use their own accents, I think it would have felt really unnatural for me to be putting it on. It could have all gone a bit Dick Van Dyke!"

Dick Van Dyke's accent is better than a yodeling German in lederhosen.

The Mirror, June 3, 2010, "GERMAN BAILOUT" by Brian Reade.

How, I wondered, can a blatant rip-off of Lou Bega's Mambo Number No. 5, sung in English by someone with a worse Cockney accent than Dick Van Dyke, win a landslide victory for a people whose singing tradition amounts to yodelling in lederhosen?

STV, April 21, 2010, "Lindsey's been to London to look at the Queen. Only she was out." by Lindsey Mason.

Anyway, to my travelogue. We arrived in London at lunchtime duly legless on two double vodkas apiece and twenty of Her Majesty’s pounds poorer due to a mid-journey raid on the Onboard Shop. We immediately adopted our Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins style “Mockney” accent which made us laugh uproariously in Scottish. After a forty minute trek to the hotel (despite being informed that it was a ten minute walk) we checked in and within three minutes of entering the room I had inadvertently trashed it, rock star style. There wasn’t a square inch of carpet to be seen. To be fair, it was a small room.

Spectator Scoff, Undated, "Right Ho, Schoenberg" by Chris Foulkes.

The Borough is a strange area near Guys Hospital. There seemed to be a lot of odd coves with ruffled hair, riding Italian scooters and talking loudly in strange, contrived Dick Van Dyke-style cockney accents. I have no idea what that is about.

Sterling Observer, September 17, 2010, "Hoodie Crowe is rockin as Robin" by Kaiya Marjoribanks.

Whether any so-called Robin Hood had an accent like the Reverend Ian Paisley or Dick Van Dyke, the one thing he has to have had is enough charisma for his legend to have lasted eight centuries.

I don't think a chimney qualifies as an abyss.

BBC News Magazine, September 16, 2010, "The return of the chimney sweep" by Jon Kelly.

They might be considered lucky, they might - thanks to a certain 1964 Walt Disney movie - be portrayed as nifty dancers, but there is little about the popular conception of chimney sweeps that evokes modern Britain.

Mention the trade, and the associations conjured up are of a distant, Victorian, pre-radiator era: grim, soot-filled skies; small urchins compelled to spend long days toiling up chimneys; Dick Van Dyke's abysmal cockney accent.

Subtle, subtle...

Melbourne Leader, August 27, 2010, "LEADER LIFE: What's on in Melbourne this weekend" by Jon Kelly.

Mary Poppins
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne

Matt Lee’s portrayal of Bert was more restrained than Dick Van Dyke’s famed performance

Your Local Guardian, August 20th, 2010, Let's hear it for the Pig by Don Wimbers

Indeed, the clientele had a distinctly international feel to it as I swaggered in. But, then again, this is Earlsfield, a neighbourhood where the locals are about as English as Dick van Dyke, and probably the one area of South London where you will have the best chance of finding a citizen from just about every nation in the world listed as a resident.

Hooray! A reference to his trousers instead of his accent!

Scotland on Sunday, September 10, 2010, "Chitra Ramaswamy: Life's running gag".

I throw on my outfit - C's trainers, C's T-shirt and an old pair of leggings. The elastic around the crotch is going and it looks like I'm channelling Dick Van Dyke channelling a penguin in Mary Poppins.

One more and we are outta here!

Heckler Spray, July 27, 2010, "Danny Dyer Drives A Car, Which Is Basically Unforgivable" by Stuart Heritage.

He had an advice column. That went wrong. He had a promising film career. That went wrong. He had a believable cockney accent. That went spectacularly wrong, to the extent that when Danny Dyer now talks he sounds like a troubling cross between Sylvester Stallone, Dick Van Dyke and a violent brain haemorrhage.

Catching Up on The Summer's D.V.D. Accent News

Playing catch-up again with the Google Reader feed...

The National, July 13, 2010, "Accenting the positive on screen" by Ben East.

Some of the worst accents committed to celluloid are American attempts at English – Don Cheadle in the Oceans series, Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins to name but two...

Dick Van Dyke is better than Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise and Richard Gere

The Independent, July 14, 2010, "Film remakes: Maybe you can hire... the right actors" by Ben Walsh.

The catalogue of casting errors are legion: an unsympathetic Andie MacDowell as the love interest in Four Weddings and a Funeral, John Hannah as the gruff detective in Rebus, Madonna in anything, Jude Law, similarly, in anything, Keira Knightley's bounty hunter in Domino, Dustin Hoffman as the American journalist Wally Stanton in Agatha, Keanu Reeves in Little Buddha, Dracula, My Own Private Idaho, The Devil's Advocate etc, and Robert De Niro's needy monster in Kenneth Branagh's shambolic Frankenstein (1994). Not to mention the dodgy accent brigade: Josh Hartnett's Yorkshireman in Blow Dry, Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, Julia Roberts's Irish maid in Mary Reilly, Tom Cruise's poor Irish farmer in Far and Away, and, worst of all, Richard Gere's IRA terrorist in The Jackal.

"Memorably imitated" is cute...

The First Post, July 2, 2010, "London’s Cockney accent will be gone in 30 years: The ancient East End way of talking is being replaced by a new hybrid known as Jafaican" by Jonathan Harwood.

And although the term Cockney dates back to the time of Chaucer, it is unlikely that the accent so memorably imitated by Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins has many similarities with the dialect spoken by Londoners in the 1400s.

LondonNet, July 1, 2010, "Cockney Accent 'Will Be Gone Within 30 Years' - Study to show that Jafaican most likely to take over from its older bruv"

Cockney has starred in famous TV and film productions. It is still the lingua franca of top-rated soap EastEnders, made a mangled appearance on the lips of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins and is occasionally used by Bart Simpson of The Simpsons to this day.

Sydney Morning Herald, June 17, 2010, "Stella idea in anyone's language" by AUTHOR.

Had the archive been around at the time, we might have been spared the vocal grotesqueries of Dick Van Dyke and Sean Connery, who topped Empire magazine's poll of the worst accents in cinema history for their work on, respectively, Mary Poppins (1964) and The Untouchables (1987). ''We get mail of thanks from many actors who are working with scripts that require obscure speech accents,'' Weinberger says.

Broadway West, June 14, 2010, "Stage West Presents ROLE PLAY, Begins 6/24" by Gabrielle Sierra.

In a 2002 interview with famed theatre critic Michael Billington, (Alan) Ayckbourn said, "When I started out, there were serious plays where the lighting was desperately dark and the tempo turgid, and comic plays where madness prevailed and everyone talked like Dick Van Dyke on speed. What I've tried to do is bring these elements together, which is a bit like dancing on the edge of a razor blade."

The Hell? I think the author is confusing Dick Van Dyke with Audrey Hepburn...

The Telegraph, June 8, 2010, "World Cup 2010: How does Fabio Capello compare with 1966 winner Sir Alf Ramsey?" by Jonathan Liew.

Ramsey: Took elocution lessons to gentrify his broad Cockney accent. A bit like Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

Anglotopia, June 3, 2010, "Dispatches From the South – Hugh Grant, the Queen and Six Pints of Lager" by Mike.

If accounts of Brits travelling to the States (as well as my own experiences when I visit) are to be believed, your average American still holds as gospel the notion that Britain is populated by fish-and-chip eating, binge-drinking football-hooligans with bad teeth who talk like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, even when they are chatting up the Queen. And they’re all homosexuals. Except for Hugh Grant, and we’re not really sure about him.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Things can go a bit Dick Van Dyke.

Digital Spy, June 1, 2010, "Zöe Lucker (Vanessa Gold, 'EastEnders')" by Kris Green.

Being from the North, are you having to put on a cockney accent?

"I'm not actually using a Southern accent - I'm using my own voice, which I'm grateful for. When they called about the part, I spoke to Dom [Treadwell-Collins] about the character and what they wanted from her but after I put the phone down, I thought, 'Oh wait, do they want me to put on an Essex accent?' because they told me that Vanessa lives in Chigwell. I think if you're doing one-off dramas, you can go and play a character with an accent, but when you're surrounded by people who use their own accents, I think it would have felt really unnatural for me to be putting it on. It could have all gone a bit Dick Van Dyke!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quasi-Irish Accent by Australian Not as Bad as Cockney Accent by American

So the other day, when I said that D.V.D. was not mentioned when Russell Crowe's accent in Robin Hood was said to sound a wee bit Irish... I take it back. Only took a day for someone to jump on it.

The Independent, May 17, 2010, "Don't Mention the Accent" by Philip Hensher

Mr Crowe's attempt on a Northern accent in Robin Hood is not of a Dick van Dyke order of badness, but the Irish undertow is unmistakable. It is curious that he thought himself better placed to judge the accuracy of the impersonation than a native Englishman, but there it is.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I was wondering if I'd ever see this footage!

Time Out mentions MODVDA

This is what happens when you don't moderate your comments on your blog for a year -- you find out you were mentioned in Time Out!

London Through A Moving Lens: bad cockney accents,
Time Out, Jan 8 2009, by Peter Watts

Settle down for some of You Tube's finest inept renditions of the cockney accent, inspired by the Ministry of Dick Van Dyke's Accent, which boldly attempts to catalogue every occasion the media refers to Dick's vocally challenged chimney sweep in 'Mary Poppins'. [This is the sort of thing the internet was invented for - as their manifesto points out, 'As far as inaccuracies go, the film is full of others. Greenwich does not set its time by the cannon fire of Admiral Boom; Nannies can't fly; small children do not compose help wanted advertisements in verse; and (I know this from experience) the wait staff at most English cafes consists of entirely of Polish immigrants, not dancing penguins.']

Russell Crow: 'You've got dead ears if you think that's an Irish accent'

To their credit, they don't mention D.V.D.

Monday, March 8, 2010


On this week's episode of Just a Minute (available for streaming for one week), Paul Merton took a shot at himself for doing a horrible Cockney accent by saying, "Am I the only one now who's thinking of Dick Van Dyke?"