Monday, 30 January 2006

Tom Baker: Telephone Icon


January 30, 2006 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
According to a press release from BT Telecom, Tom Baker on Friday became the voice of BT Text, "a new service which lets people send and receive text messages on their home phone. From today, every text message sent to a landline will be delivered as a spoken message by Tom, narrator of the hit comedy Little Britain. Former Dr Who Tom was chosen as the voice of BT Text for his instantly recognisable voice. In a recent poll of celebrity voices, Tom was voted the fourth most recognisable voice in the UK, behind only the Queen, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher. Gavin Patterson, BT group managing director, Consumer, said: 'As one of our great British icons, Tom appeals across the generations, for his role as the fourth Dr Who, more recently as the narrator of Little Britain and as Donald McDonald in Monarch of the Glen. He's the perfect choice to be the new voice of text, showing everyone – young and old – how easy and fun it is to send and receive texts on your home phone.' Tom Baker said: 'It's a big responsibility to be Britain's voice of text. What appeals to me most is the thought that I will be bringing good news to people whether it is a cheeky message, a Birthday greeting or just a quick hello. Whatever it is, hopefully my voice will bring a smile to people's faces.' It took about five months to produce the voice from start to finish, with Tom spending a total of 11 days recording every single sound in the English language. It was not a simple case of reading out the dictionary from A-Z. Instead, Tom had to record 11,593 phrases, which covered every single sound in the English language in each of their different contexts. These were then broken down into combinations of sounds that could be separated and reassembled by computer to make new words following the rules of English pronunciation – similar to the way children are taught to read. This means there is no limit to the words the voice can say, even rude ones. It has also been programmed to recognise abbreviations and even text speak such as GR8, CUL8R and 'smilies' like :-) . You could even get Tom to blow kisses to your loved one on Valentine's Day. Text 'xx' and Tom Baker's voice will say 'kiss, kiss' or four or more x's and he'll say 'lots of kisses'. ... Tom will be the voice of BT Text for a limited period of three months." More details about the service are at BT's Celebrity Voice website. Also reported in the Mirror, the Brand RepublicPocket LinticWales NetworkDaily RecordDigital Spy. (Photo from the recent Tom Baker signing at the Stamp Centre, courtesy Steven Scott / Scifi Collector)