It’s nowt to do wi’ talent

He was a jobbing actor with the posh voice. It was the vast broadcasting monolith accused of tilting its programmes towards the lowest common denominator. Together they created a right stramash over the "dumbing down" of the BBC.

This week, Dominic Scott-Barrett achieved his first five minutes of fame in a hitherto unstarred acting career when he complained of the "virulent political correctness" at the corporation which had blighted his chances of a small (and apparently diminishing) part in the drama series Holby City.

Scott-Barrett outlined his version of the events surrounding an audition in a letter to the Daily Telegraph. He explained: "The part in question required me to roll around in agony clutching my groin following a particularly gruesome John Bobbitt-style dismemberment by a jealous husband on his wife’s lover.

"We read the scene through and then, after some minor tweaking, once again. The director looked a little uneasy and, having conferred with his two assistants said: ‘Ehem ...well, you see, the thing is: you are a little posh, aren’t you?"

Despite the obvious fact that no man can be too upper crust to have his genitals attacked (just ask anyone who’s been a fag at a public school), Scott-Barrett’s tale is only the most recent in a long line of complaints over pronunciation at the BBC.

Some, a minority, have recently revolved around "he sounds too English to work in Scotland" but, more frequently, it is the quality of the voices from the BBC’s London HQ that give cause for complaint, and clearly vex the actor.

Scott-Barrett’s is no rags-to-riches tale, despite the fact he was brought up in Scotland by his singleparent mother. He attended a private school in Perthshire, lives in the 1 million family home in south London and is reputed to be a descendent of the writer Jonathan Swift. But he says his background sets him at a disadvantage. He uses the stage surname "Colchester" because he suspects prejudice against double-barrelled surnames. And apparently he feels the same narrow-mindedness turns people against his voice.

Supporters of his viewpoint can point to the massive growth in the use of regional accents on the BBC, since its Mr Cholmondely-Warner image was cast in the 1930s. It is 60 years since the radio announcer Wilfred Pickles, a Yorkshireman, rounded off his first midnight news broadcast by saying: "...and to all northerners, wherever you may be, good neet."

That remark sparked a massive reaction, but of praise, not protest from the shires. Since then, the presence of national and regional voices has multiplied - from Eddie Mair to Terry Wogan, from Andy Kershaw to Richard Littlejohn.

In television drama, the same trend has been as evident, moving seamlessly from those early episodes of Z-Cars, with its Merseyside setting, to current Monday night twentysomething drama, Tinseltown.

It is a state of affairs the chairman of the BBC, Gavyn Davies, defended last week when he suggested the "southern, white, middle-class, middle-aged and well-educated" people were out to hijack the corporation’s output by accusing it of dumbing down.

Attempting to clarify his position at the weekend, Davies said: "There are some people in this country [Scots, Welsh and English city dwellers] who are paying their 109-a-year licence fee and can argue that they’re not being fully served by the BBC. That’s a problem.

"These people might want something different, but it’s absolutely wrong to suggest we need to dumb down to serve them."

As for Scott-Barrett, a spokesman for the BBC scoffed at this version of events, suggesting the actor "simply wasn’t right for the part".

He himself declined to comment further, but a spokesman for his agents, Felix de Wolfe, said: "His letter was just a bit of fun that’s been blown completely out of proportion. Poor Dominic has been shocked by the response - it’s taken on a life of its own. At this stage we need to close the page and move on."

The real issue of dumbing down in this actor’s tale can be found in the subtext of his story - his screen-testing was for a role in the soapy spin-off from a long-running hospital soap. Where, exactly, is the quality in that?