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BBC Documentaries: Season 2007

2007x114 How the Edwardians Spoke

  • 2007-05-06T16:00:00-04:00 on BBC
  • 60 mins
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary, Special Interest

Our understanding of Edwardian Britain is dominated by images from flickering footage and formal family portraits. But a remarkable discovery has been made which for the first time gives voice to the Edwardians. Hundreds of recordings have come to light which reveal the accents and dialects of British Prisoners of War held in German camps and recorded during World War One. This archive presents a unique glimpse into the way ordinary men spoke at the time.

Joan Washington, a voice coach and expert in British accents, sets out to tell the story of these recordings and piece together how the Edwardians spoke. She returns to the hometowns of some of the prisoners to meet their families and play them the recordings. Listening with an expert ear to the differences between the voices of the prisoners and their families, Joan explores how far all our accents have changed over the century.