TV mumbles blamed on directors who think it’s “cool” for actors to slander their words

It’s an all-too-common complaint from viewers – you sit down to watch a gripping drama, only to find the dialogue inaudible.

Mumbling actors were blamed, as well as the design of the flat-screen TVs. But the UK’s leading sound technicians would like to highlight the main culprits – directors who think mumbled conversations are more realistic.

“Mumbledom” is a deliberate choice of directors who stole the idea from the movies, they say.

The BBC vowed to fix the sound issues in 2016 after the Happy Valley drama drew widespread complaints. Yet his most recent crime drama, Shetland, suffered from the same problem, with some viewers turning off or resorting to subtitles.

‘Mumbledom’ is more realistic

“There is a speaking problem with some modern actors but, in fairness to the acting profession, the vast majority know how to speak and how to project themselves,” said Malcolm Johnson, secretary of the Institute of Professional Sound. .

“However, over the past 10 years there has been a trend in motion picture production as well as television drama, directors and producers seeking a ‘natural’ performance – in other words, what we call it “mumble” in the business.

“Previously, a director would have said, ‘Sorry, I can’t hear you, can you stand up for a bit.’ Now the directors are persuading the actors to downplay their performance and almost throw away their lines, thinking it’s more realistic.

“Unfortunately, it has become very fashionable over the last decade and it has a lot of problems.”

For the past several decades, Mr Johnson said, sound professionals have worked in-house for the BBC or ITV companies and felt able to voice objections on set when dialogue was stifled.

But he explained, “The majority of sound people are independent now, so for obvious reasons they bite their tongues when they know something’s wrong, unless they have a really good relationship. working with a director and they can say, ‘You know what, the line will never go north of Watford.

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