The actors behind voice-overs

BT has signed up Tom Baker as the voice of its new 'audio-text' service, cementing his status as Britain's king of the jingle. But who are his rivals behind the microphone? Ciar Byrne listens in


Tom Baker has paid tribute to the "wonderful warmth" of the voice of this classical actor, who was once considered for the part of James Bond. Like Baker, Jayston has played Doctor Who, although, unlike Baker, he was an evil doctor. The 70-year-old played Raquel's dad in Only Fools and Horses and provided the voice-over for Finisterre, the first film made by the UK pop trio Saint Etienne, for which he describes in his narration as "a quick glance at the London nobody knows". His voice can also be heard between tracks on their album of the same name.


Sir Michael might be better known for his classical roles, including Falstaff at the National Theatre, but he has a lucrative niche as a "voice professional". He provided the voice-over for the television campaign for HSBC's mortgage offer and has also starred as the voice of a washing machine and in a 2002 commercial for Beechams All-In-One. Sir Michael has supported Equity's campaign to stop the advertising industry effectively slashing voice-over artists' salaries by two-thirds.


Davis has shown that being funny can be a great asset in the world of voice-overs. The actress, who wrote and appeared in the award-winning BBC comedy Nighty Night and is currently appearing in Woody Allen's Match Point, has worked with some of the biggest names in comedy including Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Arabella Weir and the Father Ted creators. In between comic stints, she has also provided voice-overs for commercials for Marks & Spencer, British Gas, Vodafone, Mastercard and Renault.


Lincoln shot to fame in the 1990s twentysomething drama This Life. Since then he has starred as an unrequited lover in Richard Curtis's Love, Actually and in the BBC's Canterbury Tales. Despite his busy schedule, he has still found time to do voice-overs for AOL, Adidas, Classic FM, the BBC and Government information campaigns. According to his agency, Qvoice: "Andrew is currently treading the boards at the Almeida, so is free to zoom into Soho, or wherever, for voice-overs".


As the down-to-earth Mancunian Pete in thirtysomething drama Cold Feet, Thomson's character was not averse to a beer or five. More recently, his Northern tones have been heard as the voice of the tortoise in the latest advertising campaign for Diet Coke. Thomson also appeared in The Fast Show, and was the voice of Mr Windfall in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. He has also provided the voice-over for Wrigley's chewing gum, and delivers the end-line in the latest commercials for Daz.


Her fantastically upper-crust vowels can currently be heard in the advertising campaign for insurance company Privilege, purring the catchline: "You don't have to be posh to be privileged." She may be one of the most respected comic actresses of our time, from the unforgettable Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous to the recent BBC2 sitcom Sensitive Skin, but she is also renowned as the voice-over queen, promoting suitably pukka products including the Royal Bank of Scotland and Twinings Tea.


Currently playing DI Sam Tyler, the confused copper who has been transported back from the present day to Manchester in 1973 in BBC1's Life on Mars, Leeds-born Simm is a popular voice-over artist. The actor, who also starred in State of Play, Sex Traffic and 24 Hour Party People, has provided the voice for campaigns for Vodafone, Teach, The Times and the Teenage Road Safety campaign, as well as numerous album, single and film releases. He has also recorded "promos" for the BBC and Film 4.


The Dublin born actress who rose to fame in Ballykissangel and recently starred in the BBC's Casanova, is the seductive voice behind the current Marks & Spencers advertising campaign. "This is not just food..." she croons. In 1997, she made a series of adverts for BT in which she oversaw a couple having an argument in a restaurant and followed them home. She also provided the voice-overs for television and radio commercials for Clinique make-up, Irish multichannel television and Pampers.


"The name's Bond, James Bond..." It wasn't Pierce Brosnan who said that in the computer game The World Is Not Enough (2000), but Tim Bentinck, who plays David Archer in BBC Radio 4's The Archers. Bentinck started doing voice-overs as a child when his father was a producer at the advertising agency J Walter Thompson. He has voiced campaigns for American Express, Hamlet cigars, Levi's, Lynx, M&S, Persil and Whiskas. He is also the voice of "mind the gap" on the Piccadilly Line in London.


An instantly recognisable voice is one of the greatest assets in the voice-over market and there is no mistaking Wax's Illinois twang. The zany comedienne has provided voice-overs for the Carphone Warehouse, Archers and Pepsi. Thanks to her 2002 show, Ruby Wax's Commercial Breakdown, she is intimately acquainted with the weird and wonderful world of television commercials. The American actress and presenter was also the voice of the Pope in Popetown, an irreverent animation which BBC3 pulled.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Agency Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Network Support Engineer is r...

Recruitment Genius: Account Director - Tech Startup - Direct Your Own Career Path

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Sales Advisor - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telephone Sales Advisor is re...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent