English to English

What is the Geico gecko's accent? I have heard it called Cockney but it sounds much softer than the accents in Sexy Beast, for example. Is it Estuary?

Asked by offthebackistan

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Your answer, dear reader, comes from Martin Pengelly

The comparison to Sexy Beast probably isn’t wise, given that film features cockneys played by Ray Winstone – who specialises in growling threats in a register only audible to things that live on deep-sea heat vents – and Sir Ben Kingsley, a Rada-voiced luvvie who concocts a sort of jagged and terrifying British Joe Pesci. So no, the Geico gecko’s accent isn’t really cockney, per se. Nor is it quite estuary, the glottal-stopped mess that thanks to Tony Blair has become the accent of choice for any privately-educated politician who wants to suggest “we’re all in it together” while cutting milk for the under fives and the catheters off freezing pensioners. (Listen to chancellor George Osborne, and when you’ve finished dry-heaving, you’ll have the idea.) The Geico gecko’s accent is really a sort of pleasant, everyday mélange of London and its southern surrounds – it has a hint of cheeky market-trader cockney, a strain of estuary (like you’d get if you fell in the Thames at Gravesend), a strong twist of Essex and, to my ears, more than a soupçon of Martin Freeman, the everyman’s everyman. It turns out the gecko is voiced by Jake Wood, a Brit who was cast to provide such a trustworthy voice. It also turns out that an early and posher version of the English Geico gecko was voiced by Sideshow Bob. Marvellous.

Advantage: Um… UK. Because we don’t confuse cockney accents with Australian accents, as apparently – unfathomably – lots of Americans do. (Image: Geico)