Columnist: Wa-ay man! It’s all in the accent

Billy Elliot played by Nat Sweeney. Photo credit: Alastair Muir
Billy Elliot played by Nat Sweeney. Photo credit: Alastair Muir

It’s confession time.

I’m going to throw caution to the wind and perhaps overshare but hey, what are columns for if it’s not for a brief dear diary moment amongst friends and strangers.

I have a penchant for an accent. That may not seem that unusual.

Long heralded as a romantic draw, the lyrical balance of something such as a southern Mediterranean lilt is gleaned as more than acceptable on the list of likes, and dislikes, of objects of ones desire.

But here is where I admit the clanger, my heart lies with a more homegrown twang. The Geordie.

A therapist could no doubt pinpoint the reason for it within seconds of an over-priced sofa session, but I prefer not to dig too deep – although I’m leaning towards regular Byker Grove viewing during my formative years as the possible clincher.

And lucky for me I have had the opportunity in the last week to indulge my rather strange fancy, twice no less, and all wrapped up under the banner of ‘culture’,

Taking to Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, I was but-a stones throw – or a sweat spray – from the long-haired, comedy madness of Geordie extraordinaire, Ross Noble.

If you are familiar with his brand, you will know that his freewheeling, semi-improvisation takes a bit of getting used to. Purveyors of neat, cyclical jokes, need-not-apply.

Sometimes he begins with a classic piece of observational comedy, which audiences watch fall by the wayside as he notices an inevitable latecomer, or someone sneaking out to the toilet – the observation never to be returned to.

He flits from one topic to another garnering an almost sold-out theatre worth of belly laughs.

And as well as being a long-time fan, I got to luxuriate in near two hours of accent attraction.

Across town, heading up the boards of the city’s Playhouse is hit musical Billy Elliot. I am sure I don’t need to explain but based on the 2000 film, the musical is set in north-east England during the 1984-1985 miners’ strike and is also littered with Geordie inflection, although not all of them genuine ... in fact I hazard a guess that none of them are.

Accents aside, the production based on the life of an 11-year-old coal miner’s son during the strike, is incredible – extremely powerful, poignant and endlessly entertaining.

It never ceases to amaze me that someone so young can have honed so many talents in such a short space of life.

The principal character, Billy, who was played during the performance I watched by Adam Abbou, can dance, sing, act and most impressive to me – shake off enough nerves to stand in front of hundreds of people every night.

Not only that, but there are four of them. Four uber talented Billy’s who are touring the country entertaining people with a nightly enthusiasm that makes me feel guilty for feeling the remotest iota of tiredness at the thought of pulling myself together to go out post-work.

And of course, another evening of Geordie, made it all worthwhile.