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People & Business: 'Brookside' cast as villain when the accent is on jobs

Jimmy Corkill and the rest of the Brookside cast have a lot to answer for. According to yet another survey on regional accents and their resonance in a business environment, Liverpool comes out bottom on a range of perceptions.

According to the Aziz Corporation, a Winchester-based consultancy, strong regional accounts can be a distinct disadvantage in business. In a survey of 200 managers in medium-sized businesses only 6 per cent thought a strong accent could be a help.

More than 60 per cent judged business people with a London/Home Counties accent to be generally successful. Those with accents from Newcastle and Liverpool were thought to be successful by only 20 and 16 per cent respectively.

Newcastle bounced back when it came to honesty and trustworthiness, (the Sir John Hall effect, perhaps?), level-pegging with leaders the Home Counties, while Liverpool came bottom.

Businessmen who sounded as though they came from the West Midlands and Birmingham were perceived to be the most hard-working and reliable, while Liverpool and the Home Counties scored badly.

Khalid Aziz, head of the Aziz Corporation, thinks this unfair attitude to Liverpool could be due to "people's perception that the city has been in terminal decline for decades".

"There again, it could be people watching years and years of Alf Garnett referring to his 'scouse git of a son-in-law'."

I think the current Brookside soap must be a big culprit. While former drug-dealer and jail bird Jimmy Corkill has "gone straight", there's still more wheeling and dealing in Brooky than in a Wild West saloon.

As for the West Country, where I come from, Mr Aziz found that people regard natives of the area as "reasonably OK but a bit slow off the mark". Obviously a deeply flawed survey.

Jonathan Fry, chief executive of Burmah Castrol, has fathered an impressive quartet of daughters. The first, Lucy, works at blue-blooded brokers Cazenove, while the second, Camilla, has clinched a job at Hoare Govett.

Apparently Fry pere advised Camilla to stipulate in her contract with the brokers that she should be entitled for time off on Wednesdays and Fridays to attend rugby training with Harlequins, where she plays Number Eight for the women's team.

A proud father says he hopes Camilla may soon play for England.

The world holds its breath at what Fry daughters number three and four, respectively at Edinburgh University and doing A-levels, will achieve.

David Devoto, the recently installed chief executive of Sunday Business, the newspaper, was sacked last Thursday, I hear. While Luke Johnson, son of right-wing columnist Paul Johnson, is the latest majority owner of the paper, it was left to a minor shareholder, Gordon Brown, to give Mr Devoto his marching orders.

Apparently Mr Devoto has become quite used to leaving the newspaper's offices in London's Cavendish Square at high speed. Founder and former editor Tom Rubython has hired a security man, a likeable ex-boxer called John Cox, to patrol the building. Mr Rubython owns the lease to the building and whenever the rent falls due he has instructed Mr Cox to prevent other directors of Sunday Business from entering the premises until it is paid.

One person who is still welcome at the building is, surprisingly, Anil Bhoyrul, another former editor of the paper.

Mr Bhoyrul is an old pal of Mr Rubython's and the former is preparing to relaunch Business Age, an investigative magazine founded by Mr Rubython which he sold to VNU, which closed it. Mr Rubython has rented Mr Bhoyrul space in the Cavendish Square building to produce the mag.