Ah, Cheryl. Our Cheryl. By now, depending on your level of interest in transatlantic showbiz stories, you will either be sick of tales of Ms Cole's dumping, or have no idea what I'm talking about. For those in the second camp: Cheryl Cole, cliché - sorry, sweetheart - of the nation, has been cut adrift from her "exciting" and "amazing" new job as a host of the American X Factor and has left the fickle shores of Los Angeles. We must turn to such oracles as Piers Morgan for the appropriate response: "Wow."

In many ways, this is the 21st-century equivalent of excommunication. The shame! The humiliation! The difficulty of holding one's head up in polite
society, especially under the weight of all that hair! The question hangs on many collagen-injected lips: is Cheryl the L'Oréal ambassador (we hardly dare say it) no longer worth it?

Apparently, one reason for her dismissal by faceless producers was her accent.

At this point, I will switch from mockery to all-out indignation. We had to listen to George Bush for eight years. Also: Sarah Palin. Those two aren't just incomprehensible - it's physically painful to listen to them speak. Palin's screwdriver screech has been known to induce epilepsy (a lie). Surely the Americans can handle a Geordie lilt in return? Cheryl had allegedly been receiving elocution lessons to make herself understood. The woman has an accent. She's not talking Klingon.

It's hard not to have an unreasonable affection for the Geordie voice. Byker Grove did it: PJ and Duncan (oh, Ant and Dec, it was your finest hour) and the gang hanging out at the youth club under the bearded watch of Geoff. But the dialect goes back further than a mid-Nineties television show - it descends from the language of 5th-century Anglo-Saxon settlers.

The very word Geordie has a nice, if uncertain past. For a time, George was the most popular name to give your eldest son in the north-east. Another explanation suggests that it comes from the support in the region for the Hanoverian George II during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. And yet another is that local miners used "Geordie" safety lamps. You see? The term has history. Beat that, Hollywood.

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

This article first appeared in the 06 June 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Are we all doomed?