Chiltern Railways commuters hit with 'comedy' announcements

May 14, 2012
Jonathan Harwood

Rail franchise persuades Tony Robinson to teach staff to tell jokes over the tannoy

COMMUTERS have long been divided over the merits of 'amusing' announcements on public transport. Some believe they inject an element of fun into an otherwise dreary journey, others simply find them irritating.

But now rail passengers between Birmingham and London can look forward to being 'entertained' by staff on a regular basis thanks to Blackadder star Tony Robinson and Green Wing writer Richard Preddy.

The pair have been coaching staff at Chiltern Railways to help make journeys more enjoyable with witty and comedic messages. Preddy has penned a series of announcements and Robinson, who played Baldrick in the cult BBC comedy, spent a month helping workers learn and deliver the lines, at the behest of TV comedy channel, Gold.

Preddy explained: "We have all waited for a train or a bus into work as the rain pours down and bustled our way to a seat, and I think comedy can help to alleviate that stress."

But he said that train staff would not be forced to make jokes. "We aren't trying to turn everyone into a comedian. Rather we are hoping to bring out a little more of the staff's personality and humour via their day-to-day announcements and help cheer up the commuters along the way."

Staff on trains and at London's Marylebone station may be relieved that they are not obliged to read out the announcements, as some of them sound excruciatingly bad and would test the delivery skills of an established comic, let alone a ticket inspector.

However, workers will be encouraged to tell commuters: "If there is a Mr Mowgli on the station, Mr Mowgli you have the following message. 'Ooh, oobee doo. I wanna be like you. I wanna walk like you. Talk like you, too.' That was a message for Mr Mowgli, thank you."

Passengers can also look forward to being told: "Please don't store heavy luggage in overhead racks. Other things which shouldn't be stored in the overhead racks include geese, canoes and wheat. Thank you."

It is unclear where Gold, the TV station behind the idea, got its inspiration from, but it seems unlikely that they have been reading satirical website the Daily Mash, which recently carried an article entitled: 'Cheery Tube driver actually a pain in the arse.'

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