Only people with regional accents get acting jobs these days, moans Roger Moore in the Daily Mail, complaining that his daughter is turned down for parts on account of her cut-glass diction. Claiming that people on children’s programmes talk a bit “like that” (like what, eh, Roger? C’mon, spit it out!) and that “proper English is disappearing”, Moore joins the ludicrous Queens English Society in pining for a very narrow, personal ideal of what language should be.
In his case it seems to be harking back to a time when we were all tucked up in bed by a nice radio presenter who spoke “like thet” and when regional accents, in the acting world at least, denoted some sort of deviation from the ideal. You know the clichés: Birmingham – bit thick but nonetheless trustworthy; Liverpool – amusing but dodgy; London – also a bit dense, possibly lovable but maybe a spiv; Northern – unsophisticated and almost certainly a bit aggressive.
Language, as it always does, has moved on — this time for the better. The fact that Brummies, Scousers, Cockneys and Woollybacks can all get acting jobs — and ones in which their accents no longer pigeonhole them — is something to be applauded. 007 should go back to fighting supervillains: better to be the dashing secret agent than another whingeing old git.