The BBC's Watchdog team is investigating the Nintendo DS game 'Dr Kawashima's Brain Training' and its apparent inability to recognise regional accents. There's trouble at t'mill.
Watchdog is following up a complaint from Manchester-based Michelle Livesey. Livesey couldn't get the game to recognise her flat Lancashire vowels, you see.
As she explained to Auntie Beeb: "I'm saying blue. Blue. Blue. And it's saying 'no', even though it was blue." [At the time of writing PC Advisor doesn't know exactly what was blue, but can confirm that it was, most definitely, blue.]
Anyway, gin-sipping luvvies at the Beeb are sufficiently concerned about this apparent travesty that they've hired Rory Bremner to try out a few vocal impersonations on the game. Bremner's verdict? Only a south-eastern accent will do. More specifically, you have to talk like Des Lynam, he says.
It all seems a little odd to me. No, not a crusading consumer programme wasting time and (our) money 'investigating' this piffle, or the idea that there might be a case to answer in the first place. And not even that the Beeb couldn't have got John Culshaw for a few quid. No, my concern is this: it's a load of old toss. I mean, are we to believe that Livesey is the first person with an accent to try to use the DS and Brain Training?
I happen to know that England cricket's finest Michael Vaughan likes a bit of Brain Training, and he's a Yorkshire cricketer. They have to pass thick stereotypical accent exams before they're allowed to take guard. Or how about this: Nicole Kidman promotes the blasted thing, and last time I checked she wasn't from south east England. You wouldn't confuse her with Dishy Des, no matter how red-blooded you were.
Is it possible that there's a bit of sensationalism and attention seeking going on here? Well, there's nowt so queer as folk, as they say. And there is an upside to this tale.
Being from the Broad Acres, I was amazed to learn that they've even got Brain Training in Lancashire. In my experience, most people from the wrong side of the hills tend to spend their time adding unnecessary carbohydrate to meals (bread and pastry) rather then improving themselves. So it's good to see things on the up in the desolate wasteland west of the Pennines. Next thing you know, Liverpool will be the European City of Culture.
What's that now..?