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29 September 2022

Amol Rajan and Justin Webb’s BBC accent war

Is the broadcaster biased in favour of received pronunciation?

By The Chatterer

Amol Rajan, one of the BBC’s rising stars, caused a stir this week when he confronted the corporation’s director-general, Tim Davie, with research suggesting British broadcasters have a bias towards posh accents.

Michael Deacon, a Daily Telegraph columnist, described Rajan’s argument as “nonsense” and accused him of “inverted snobbery”. Deacon also made jibes about Rajan’s many jobs at the corporation, and suggested that a bigger diversity issue is that the BBC is “stuffed to the gills with Oxbridge graduates”. (Rajan went to Cambridge.) 

Deacon’s piece caught the eye of Justin Webb, who works alongside Rajan as a Today programme presenter. Webb, a posh-accented non-Oxbridger, tweeted this morning: “Ha ha such a good piece from @MichaelPDeacon – in which he skewers the oddness of chaps pickled in punting telling us who’s in charge and who isn’t.” He later tweeted that “speaking in a way people understand isn’t classism for goodness sake”.

Webb soon deleted his tweet promoting the Deacon article, but not before it was picked up by Jon Sopel, the BBC’s former North America editor who recently left to launch the News Agents podcast with Global. “Oh my,” Sopel tweeted. “It’s #presenterwars at @BBCr4today – #poshboy vs #diamondgeezer – I’d pay good money to watch that…”

[See also: Behind the rise of Amol Rajan]

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