Emma Clarke is a professional voiceover artist and writer.
She's been the voice of all sorts of exciting things, and occupies a special place in the hearts of London's commuters as the voice of the Victoria, Bakerloo and Central lines on the Capital's Underground system.
We asked the b3ta regulars to come up with some questions to help unmask the woman behind the voice, and Emma let us in on the most sensual word in the English language, and revealed the presence of a severed head in her fridge. Top stuff.
When you're waiting for a delayed train, do you ever get annoyed with your own voice?.
I often get annoyed by my own voice. It’s worse when I ring up a company and it’s me on the on-hold messaging system. That’s terrible. But the very worst experience is when I set my radio alarm and then wake up to my own sodding voice. I hate that.
I always have a childish chuckle when you says "the next station is oval". What stations amuse you?
Theydon Bois. My, how we laughed.
Actually, you should have heard the multiplicity of ways they made me say ‘Marylebone.’ Mahree-lee-bone. M’ree-labbon. Mary Lob-on. It was bleeding hilarious.
When you order out for Chinese or Pizza or anything really do people recognize your voice and how do they respond?
No-one ever recognizes my voice. That’s mainly because my everyday-not-on-duty voice is that of a flat-vowelled dirty Manc. But to be honest, Allanon858PhD, how many times do you ring for a pizza and say: "Can I have a deep pan move along the carriage with extra Oxford Circus and Pimlico, please?"
Who would win in a fight? You or the voice of the Picadilly line?
All voiceovers exercise a policy of loving kindness and non-violence. And I love all my colleagues very, very much.
Do you ever creep up behind people on the tube and tell them that they're at a different station?
HAHAHAHAHAHA!! Oh, I’d love to do that.
Would you mind doing a simple recording in local radio stylee? "Hi, I'm Emma Clarke, voice of the underground, and I subscribe to b3ta"
Of course I will – do you really want me to do it? Or do you just want to watch me humiliate myself?? Oh, alright then... here it is
What's the strangest thing you've said for money?
"Get a free pair of neoprene waterproof leggings worth £14.99 when you buy four litres of GoldDrench cattle and sheep wormer."
What inanimate object would you most like to be "the voice of..."?
Christina Aguilera. No but seriously, I’d love to be the in-car voice for a hot, racy vehicle...maybe a Vauxhall Astra 4 door...something like that...
Chunky soup, spoon or fork??
Ooh, spoon. Every time.
Soooooo... did they get you to record any special messages that you wouldn't normally hear? Maybe things like "Fire! Fire! Get the fuck out of here!".
Me and the producer did record some spoof announcements after the LU suits had left the session, purely for our own amusement. Stuff like: "The man in the green coat is sitting in tramp’s piss." And "Passengers are reminded that reading ‘Captain Corelli’s fucking Mandolin’ is strictly prohibited."
Do you dream crap local radio ads?
Yes, and I wake up screaming "YOUR HOME IS AT RISK IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE OR ANY OTHER LOAN SECURED ON IT"
What is the most sensual word in the English language?
What do you have in your fridge?
A severed head. That was a joke...in my fridge I’ve got some festering vegetables and a dodgy pot of houmous.
Do you secretly covet the "Speaking Clock" gig?
Of course! Doesn’t everyone??
Is it easier to write topical comedy or sitcoms?
I think writing topical comedy sketches is the hardest. You’ve got to be fast, clever, funny, and end it on a shit hot punchline. I love writing sitcoms though.
Do your friends ever ask you to announce things at dinner parties?
I never get invited to any dinner parties. I rather fear I’m too boring.
Does hearing your own voice on the tube make you blush?
Since I’ve been the Mind the Gap girl, I haven’t had the guts to use the tube. I can’t face the thought of being in a confined space with strangers, with my gob on show and nowhere to hide. Fortunately it’s not that much of a problem as I’m a dirty Manc and don’t get to go dahn sarf very often.
How many fags a day do you smoke?
I don’t. But I reckon I’d get a lot more work if I did. People always want ‘husky.’
How much is your mouth/head/larynx insured for?
Loads. I’ve got my eyes (for reading) my ears (for hearing, obviously) and my voice insured.
Will you record an answerphone message for me?
Of course I will, Slim. For a small fee, mind.’
If you could be the voice of any Metro System in the world, where would it be and why?
Oooh, if the glamorous world of in-carriage announcements was my oyster I’d voice anything, anywhere, because it means I could come out of my coal hole. (I record most jobs in my basement where my coal hole has been converted into a voice booth).
We know your most famous one line fact. What is the second one?
I failed the audition to be the laugh of the laughing cow in Laughing Cow cheese commercials.
What would be your dream voiceover job? Would Big Brother appeal?
I don’t think Big Brother’d have me, dogbomb, cos I’m not a Geordie bloke. To be honest, I’d love to do anything where I could have a laugh and make some nice wonga.
Are you single and living in the Liverpool area? And do you like Internet geeks?
You cheeky blighter. Are you really big, Dave? Or is that a teasing fib?
Do you have to do special voice exercises?
Yes I do. I do them in the privacy of my coal hole.
What is the gap for?
Rats, monkeon. And those who are tempted by danger.
If you could make any announcement in the world what would it be?
I’d get a massive megaphone and tell people to be happy and peaceful.
How wide is Bell's wide selection of Easter Eggs? Did you get any free eggs for doing the ad? Or free Cadbury's Crunchies for doing the album chart
D’you know, I’ve NEVER received any freebies. None at all. Not a Crunchie, not a cut-price caravan, not a sausage, mate. Once Virgin Radio promised me some champagne when my branding stuff won a Sony but I got fookall. The same happened with Classic FM. The rotten shisters.
Have you ever been in a heavy metal band? You played the drums, right?
Why only three lines?
There’s wild talk of me doing the Hammersmith & City, District and Metropolitan lines, so you never know maybe one day London Underground will be mine, ALL MINE!!!
Do you do any impressions?
Yes. In another life, I did loads of impressions on various BBC shows.
What's the most embarrassing thing you've caught your parents doing?
Dancing to Irene Cara’s ‘Fame’ in their conservatory.
Would you consider doing voice-overs for porn?
Never. I couldn’t take it seriously.
Is it true that there are certain secret phrases sent over the Underground's tannoy systems in the event of a bombscare/nuclear threat, etc?
If there are, I’ve never voiced any. [Editor's note: b3ta boarders answer this question here]
If you won £20 in a packet of crisps, what would you buy?
More crisps, just in case...
If you could only ever use one of the following again, which would you keep: books, radio, TV, the Internet?
Books. I love books.
Were you the original voice of Lara Croft?
Wish I was, mate. I could’ve retired by now.
If you were head of light entertainment at the BBC, what changes would you make?
I’m loathe to answer this question for fear of appearing churlish.
What voice-overs annoy you the most?
Professionalism prevents me from answering this question...
Do you ever go to the tube station and mime to the announcements with a cap on the floor and a little dog curled up in a coat?
So you’ve seen me at Tottenham Court Road then...?
Do you do Pot Noodle?
Only when absolutely pushed.
Where do you hope your career will go next?
Being a voiceover’s great (how else can you earn money by saying "ample free parking and a bouncy castle for the kids?") but I would like to do something more challenging. I’ve just launched my new website where you can buy voice clips for web audio, telephony, presentations and radio branding packages...so I hope that takes off. I’d also like to write more for telly.
Don't forget to visit Emma's official web site, where you can hear examples of her work and play a game to discover what she looks like. Thanks to DiyJoe, Geetoo, Mr Mantlepies, Mr Zero, Rogan & Razor for the images, Fraser for formatting the interview, & Rob Manuel for er... actually interviewing Emma.