Voice Over Anxiety
For John Peel, the voiceover experience was fraught with healthy liberal guilt, since he knew it was a well-paid doddle compared to air-sea rescue or brain surgery. It could also be a source of real anxiety. He wrote of the subject:
“When you arrive all of a fluster at the studio, you are shoved, after a delay timed to remind you of your place in the scheme of things, into the presence of the people responsible for the commercial. You are, for an hour, their hireling, and they know it. There are never less than six of them; often there are more. They are invariably, beautifully, if casually, dressed, bright, amusing, attractive and haven’t seen each other since … was it Grenoble? I am none of these things and have never been to Grenoble.
“After a round of introductions so intimidating that you remember not a single name, although you think one of them might be called Piers, the advertising dreamboats prod you into the ill-lit booth in which you are to work. As the door closes you can hear them laughing. After your first tentative stab at reading the daft words they have been crafting for the best part of a week, you can see them arguing through the glass that separates you from them. They are saying, “Whose idea was it to hire this twerp?’ Alone and near to tears in the booth, you realize that you’re not even sure which country Grenoble is in.
“Eventually the advertising executive delegated to speak to the staff will press the talkback button and say, ‘That was fantastic John, but …’ In the language of advertising, fantastic is very bad indeed. After an hour of this, you emerge giddy with self-loathing but knowing that little William or Danda or Thomas or Florence can soon have new jeans.”