A retired civil servant from Dundee has been named as the new voice of the Speaking Clock - becoming the first non-English voice in the clock's history.
Alan Steadman, 69, who has also worked as a local radio DJ, has been named winner of a competition to find a new voice to mark the Clock’s 80th anniversary - only the fifth person to ever hold the honour.
The winner was announced on BBC’s The One Show this evening and immediately another UK icon, the BT Tower, was lit up in Alan’s honour with the top of the Tower displaying his name in lights.
Mr Steadman, who worked for Radio Tay and then hosted a weekly jazz show on Dundee’s Wave 102 FM for 33 years, said recording the voiceover was "an interesting experience". He said: I found that your eyes begin to blur a bit because of all the numbers that you’re reading, but I think it went OK.”
He added that he had entered the competition only after bumping into a friend in a local tapas bar who had heard coverage of the competition and thought he should apply.
Around 12 million calls a year are made to the Speaking Clock, run by telecoms firm BT, by dialling 123, especially on Remembrance Day, New Year’s Eve or when the clocks go forwards or back. Even Big Ben is set by the Speaking Clock, which is accurate to within 30 microseconds.
Mr Steadman beat off competition from Crea Barton, a 20-year-old student from Bangor in Northern Ireland and Verity Giles, a 37-year-old business manager for a recruitment company in Bridgend, Wales. All three recorded full versions of the Speaking Clock script at a recording studio in the BT Tower in London for the final judging session.
David Hay, head of BT Heritage and a member of the judging panel, said: “This is such an exciting opportunity for Alan. Competition was tough - it was so difficult to choose the winner from our finalists because any one of them would be a great new voice for the BT Speaking Clock. But Alan stood out and I think we’ve found a fantastic new voice.”
The outgoing voice of the BT Speaking Clock, Sara Mendes da Costa, who was also one of the judges, said: “I’m so honoured to have been the voice of the BT Speaking Clock - only the fourth permanent voice in history - and to be part of such an iconic service.
“I’m sad my time as the voice of the clock has come to an end, however ten years is not a bad run. And it was great to be on the judging panel to choose Alan as the new voice, just as my predecessor Brian Cobby helped choose me.”
The competition to find a new voice has raised £50,000 for the BBC Children in Need appeal.
There have been a number of temporary BT Speaking Clock voices, specially recorded for charity including Lenny Henry and Davina McCall.