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Suffarrk? Sounds more like The Arrchers!

PUBLISHED: 22:24 21 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:53 03 March 2010

THASS enough to make a good old Suffolk bor swear!

The Irish accents in Ballykissangel were spot on. There are no complaints about the northern accents in Coronation Street - and all the Cockneys in EastEnders sound as if they really were born within the sound of Bow Bells.

THASS enough to make a good old Suffolk bor swear!

The Irish accents in Ballykissangel were spot on. There are no complaints about the northern accents in Coronation Street – and all the Cockneys in EastEnders sound as if they really were born within the sound of Bow Bells.

So why do TV companies find it so impossible to make a character talk with a convincing Suffolk accent?

I tuned in eagerly to the first two episodes of the big new costume drama on BBC1, adapted from Anthony Trollope's huge 19th-century novel The Way We Live Now.

I'd been reading the book in preparation for the big production, and was delighted to find that large chunks of the book are set in north Suffolk, around the Beccles and Bungay area.

So I was hoping to hear the accents of our beloved county ringing out on national TV… but not likely.

Instead, the so-called Suffolk characters spoke with a sort of vague yokel-type accent from nowhere in particular.

Worst offender was Ruby Ruggles, played by Maxine Peake – the rural temptress who lets caddish Sir Felix Carbury have his wicked way with her.

Actually, I don't remember Ruby and Felix letting their passion run away with them in the book – a stolen kiss is about all you'll find in Trollope.

But the sexy scenes weren't the thing that annoyed me most. What really got my goat was the lovely Ruby's voice – Suffolk accent, my foot.

She seemed to speak with a West Country burr and sounded as if she was auditioning for a part in The Archers, as she simpered: "Ooh arr, Sir Felix!"

Ruby's fiancé, country lad John Crumb mentions Suffolk towns or villages every time he opens his mouth in the book, and even throws the odd bit of dialect into his conversation.

But, on telly, actor Nicholas McGaughey sounds as if he's just emerged from deepest Loamshire!

I also suspect the camera crews never went anywhere near Suffolk – probably too far from their cosy studios in London. Ruby's home area certainly didn't look like Bungay to me.

What's more, in this week's episode, Paul Montague (Cillian Murphy) took his old flame Winifred (Miranda Otto) for a short holiday in Lowestoft.

But, strangely, they seemed to take a wrong turning and ended up somewhere on the South Coast!

I've been to Lowestoft many times over the years, and never noticed the cliffs shown on telly – or the headland looming somewhere in the distance.

Despite all these annoyances, I am enjoying the programme, and it's great to see a quality classic drama showing in a Sunday night primetime slot.

But this would have been a great opportunity to give Suffolk national TV coverage – and its accent, too.

What a shame the programme-makers didn't bother to find out the way we speak now, and spoke then!

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