Monday, 11 April 2016

Narration rant

Image credit
I need to get something off my chest, to have a moan and question the necessity of it. I certainly don't wish to offend anybody, I am not having a moan about any one person in particular, so please read my short rant with that in mind. 

I don't know who made the decision over the last few years because it seems to have sneaked up on us and now it has taken over.

I'm struggling with the narration styles now offered to us on documentaries and all sorts of other television programmes. This morning I thought I'd catch up with a wildlife programme I missed at the weekend but I almost can't watch it. The photography, filming and computer generated images are superb and the content is really interesting, but the style of the commentary is awful! Please remember that I am not having a pop at individual presenters or commentators, but the fashion to present information in a particular way. 

Why has it become necessary to speak in over-dramatic, over-emphasised, slow speech. Do the makers of the programmes think that we cannot listen to a voiceover and watch the images at the same time? Do    we    need    information    spaced    out    to      be    able    to    take     in    the     information?

It's almost as though they are frightened of a silence, a pause in the commentary might lead us to turn over the channel and see what adverts are on another channel.

I understand that clarity in pronunciation helps us to hear all that is being said, but there are many programme presenters that emphasise words mid-sentence when they really don't need to be, or more to the point, shouldn't be because it changes the meaning of the sentence by emphasising the wrong words. Even some news presenters have started doing this, please don't, it's unnecessary and unhelpful.

And then there's that awful habit of down-inflection, where each and every sentence is ended by the tone of the voice going downwards. It sounds like the presenters are really cheesed off - at everything! This isn't how we speak, is it? (Now re-read that last sentence with a down-inflection rather than the usual up-inflection of a question and you'll see what I mean).

At the opposite end of the scale is the other presenting style I dislike. I've got to the point where there are a lot of programmes that I can't watch because either there's so much shouting in the presenting style, so much hyperbole in the script or so much urgency in the tone of speaking. There seems to be a trend for extreme everything.

We get bombarded with the shouty-style commentary voice, the 'oh I'm so jolly and so smart I could squeak' style. Programmes that are supposed to be fun or light-hearted often seem to have this style now, I might watch them if I didn't feel exhausted by the constant shouting.

Too many of our television programmes now seem to be presented like 'It's a Knock-Out' or like they are sports events where the commentators favourite team is winning. We can be entertained with a normal speaking voice giving us additional information about what we are viewing.

I feel we have a duty to the next generation to teach them how to speak properly, surely they don't need to grow up listening to people talking very slowly to them or shouting at them or making everything seem like a game. How will they know that fun things are fun if we make everything, even the most mundane things, seem like they are fun? How will they be able to decide what is important if everything is presented as the most important thing in the world? Where is the normal, usual or everyday in today's television programmes?

It's bad enough that programmes now tell you what they are going to show you, show you the information and then recap on what they've shown you, without poor presentation style too. Honestly, most of us can remember what we watched less than half an hour ago! So many programmes nowadays take several minutes before they actually start. I refuse to watch many of the one hour long programmes as they are broadcast. We record it or switch it on about ten minutes after it's started, so that we can skip the introductory section that is effectively just a spoiler and takes away the pleasure of letting a programme unfold in front of us. This 'introduce, present, confirm' strategy may be perfect for primary school children to whom you are trying to teach something however, to me it is nothing but irritating.

Feeling calmer after my short rant, I am off to make a cuppa!

If you have noticed these changes or have spotted others that annoy you, please leave a comment and share or vent your irritation.


  1. Totally agree it is so frustrating especially the the preview if the show at the start might just as well turn it off as we Know what is going to happen

  2. Totally agree it is so frustrating especially the the preview if the show at the start might just as well turn it off as we Know what is going to happen

  3. haha love it Liz. Glad we don't have a television. lol Sheila x

    1. Hi Sheila, I didn't have a tv for a few years and didn't miss it, but now I have one again it's quite nice to be able to switch it on and switch my brain off every now and then. Mostly I use it for watching YouTube of 'how to' videos. I'm learning so much so fast now we are here. Liz x


I would love to receive your comments and feedback, please bear in mind that they may not appear immediately as some comments are moderated.