Mind the gaffe: voice of Tube sacked for criticising network

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The Independent Online

For the past eight years she has been the trusted voice of authority on the London Underground, urging passengers to remain vigilant and "mind the gap".

But now, Emma Clarke has been sacked by her employers after allegedly condemning London's transport services as "dreadful" in a newspaper interview. Ms Clarke had also recently posted a series of spoof messages on her website in which she poked fun at both the capital's transport system and its users. In one message, she says: "We would like to remind our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loudly". In another voiceover she declares: "Here we are crammed into another sweaty Tube carriage ... If you're a female smile at the bloke next to you and make his day. He's probably not had sex for months."

But a London Underground spokesman insisted that the voiceover artist, 36, had been dismissed for her alleged criticisms of the network in an interview with The Mail on Sunday, rather than the spoof messages. "It's not because of the spoof announcements. It's because she has criticised the Underground system", the spokesman said.

"Emma is a bit silly to go around slagging off her client's services. London Underground is sorry to announce that further contracts for Ms Clarke are experiencing severe delays. We wouldn't employ somebody to promote our services who simultaneously criticises those services."

Initial reports suggested Ms Clarke, a mother of two from Altrincham, Greater Manchester, who used to live in Highgate, north London, was sacked because the spoof messages on her website were deemed crude and offensive.

The mock announcements, which were posted on Ms Clarke's website this month after she canvassed her friends on what they would most like to hear, appeared to deride the habits of regular Tube users. One of the messages said: "Would the passenger in the red shirt pretending to read the newspaper but who is actually staring at that woman's chest please stop. You're not fooling anyone, you filthy pervert."

Another asked: "Would passengers filling in answers on their Sudokus please accept that they are just crosswords for the unimaginative and are not in any way more impressive just because they contain numbers."

Ms Clarke responded angrily to Tube officials and The Mail on Sunday yesterday, claiming she had been "wildly misquoted" by the newspaper. "What I actually said was that travelling in a Tube train would be dreadful for me, listening to my own voice and seeing the haunted faces of commuters being subjected to me telling them to 'mind the gap'," she said.

She added that she was "disappointed and perplexed" at London Underground's decision to tell the media she had been sacked before they told her. "I can't get in touch with anyone to explain I was wildly misquoted," she said.

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