At the third stroke … the search for the new voice of the BT Speaking Clock begins

Via BT Newsroom

Aug 23, 2016

Aug 22, 2016

BT is giving people across the UK the chance to go down in history and become the new permanent voice of the iconic BT Speaking Clock through a nationwide competition to mark the Clock’s 80th anniversary.

Today, around 12 million calls a year are still made to the BT Speaking Clock by dialling 123, especially on Remembrance Day, New Year’s Eve or when the clocks go forwards or back. Even Big Ben is set by the BT Speaking Clock, which is accurate to within 30 microseconds and has been keeping Britain on time, ticking away 24 hours a day, seven days a week since 24 July 1936.

Anyone 10 years and over can enter the competition to become the next voice of the BT Speaking Clock. The competition is being run in partnership with BBC television programme The One Show. Aspiring voice artists should visit the special website at: where they will find full details of how to enter. The website will be open for entries until 10pm on Monday 29 August 2016 .

The winner will become only the fifth permanent voice of the BT Speaking Clock in its 80-year-history. They will be announced by BBC’s The One Show and their voice will go live in November this year. Previous winners have been much in demand by the media and for voiceovers and personal appearances.

The competition to find a new voice will help raise money for the BBC Children in Need appeal. BT will donate 10p to Children in Need from each call to the BT Speaking Clock* from the start of the competition in August until 9 November.

The current voice of the BT Speaking Clock, Sara Mendes da Costa, who will be one of the judges, said: “I’m so honoured to have been the voice - only the fourth permanent voice in history - and to be part of such an iconic service.

“I’m sad to be at the end of my time as the voice of the BT Speaking Clock, however ten years is not a bad run! And it’ll be great to be on the judging panel to choose the new voice, just as my predecessor Brian Cobby helped choose me.”

To celebrate the competition and the 80th birthday, BT is formally donating the original Speaking Clock machines from 1936 and 1963 to the British Horological Institute (BHI), where they have been on loan and on display for some years. It will also be donating a digital Mark IV clock, which was recovered from Liverpool. This machine transmitted the voice of Brian Cobby from 1985 – 2001.

David Hay, head of BT Heritage, said: “Eighty years ago BT's technology first created the Speaking Clock and it remains a much loved part of British life today. Celebrating in this way demonstrates BT's determination to preserve the heritage of the world's oldest communications company on behalf of the nation.”

Ashley Strachan, chairman of the British Horological Museum Trust, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to accept the donation of the Speaking Clocks from BT. We’ve been proud to be custodians of the Mark I and Mark III machines on loan since the late 1980s, with both pieces regularly stealing the show during Museum events and Open Days.

“The arrival of the Mark IV machine, which features the Speaking Clock’s only male voice, will complete the BHI Museum’s set of voices. Once the machine is up and running with the help of our expert team of horologists, we hope to be the only place in the world where three different Speaking Clocks can be both seen and heard and look forward to unveiling this generous donation to Museum visitors courtesy of BT.”

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