Belfast Telegraph

Talk about being unfair to Christine

By Gail Walker

Of all the unfair criticism levelled at Christine Bleakley over in Albion, the jibes that rile most are those about her Ulster accent.

The Newtownards-born presenter doesn't even have a particularly strong Norn Iron speaking voice, but that hasn't prevented the slew of rude - and, frankly, racist - abuse. All very interesting given that increasingly we're no stranger to "foreign" voices on our own wee airwaves here.

Personally a non-local burr doesn't particularly grate - well, not half as much as the stabs at bluff camaraderie or those dud interviews, either tediously dull time-fillers or ones which never include the next obvious question. And it certainly doesn't get on my nerves as much as the failure of BBC NI to carry a story about its fiftysomething senior journalist who has apparently popped the question to murderer Julie McGinley. Go on, name the old roué - public interest, surely! But I digress ... accents. And while they largely wash over me, there are some local voices that drive me crazy - too screechy or no light and shade.

Still, I'm sure - in fact, I know - there are those who can't stand a transatlantic twang or strident English accent bringing them noos about Ballybogey or Cullybackey or Desertmartin or Finnebrogue first thing in the morning. Indeed, there must be those who find the hairs on the back of their necks rising up every time they hear a Free Stater reporting on the fair province, too.

But what's most interesting of all is how little comment outside of your own living room you'll ever hear about any of this. Because unlike the English with our Christine, even if the way someone talks drives us up the walls, we're too polite, too decent, to mention it.

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