BBC Director General Tony Hall To Look Into Drama Show Muttering

The public broadcaster's top executive says actors aren't speaking as clearly as they might in BBC drama output.
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Tony Hall

LONDON – BBC director general Tony Hall has said loud and clear that the BBC should look into actors who mutter in drama shows on the public broadcaster.

Hall told U.K. TV listings magazine The Radio Times, which was until 2011 owned by BBC Worldwide, that actors aren't speaking clearly enough in TV drama.

"I don't want to sound like a grumpy old man," Hall told The Radio Times, "but I think muttering is something we could look at."

A BBC blog said Hall's comments will "likely to strike a clear chord with viewers."

It pointed to recent dramas such as Birdsong and Parade's End, which drew complaints because of indistinct dialogue from older viewers.

Andrew Billen, TV critic for The Times of London, told the BBC blog that he gets more mail about not being able to hear dialog than on any other subject.

"TV is made by young people, but it's watched by old people," he noted.

Billen said that as people get older, they find it more difficult to distinguish dialogue from background noise, and production techniques have made things worse.

Actor Ian Kelly, whose resume boasts stints on TV dramas including Downton Abbey, told the BBC that most performers are just doing what's been asked of them by the producers and directors.

"Everything that is going on is to do with the sound department of the production, and their choices in an edit suite," he says.