Granted it was a far cry from Received Pronunciation, but Cheryl Cole did not greet US viewers with a lusty: “Wey-ay! welcome to the X Factor!”
But the 30-year-old’s broad Geordie bray was too much for US executives plotting the X Factor’s rise across the Atlantic. And yesterday, more than two years after the former Girls Aloud singer was unceremoniously sacked from the show and replaced with a home-grown presenter, Cole was awarded an undisclosed amount by its producers.
Cole, for her part, was confident her accent would not stand in the way of American viewers warming to her. Speaking to reporters in May 2011 on her first day on the show, she said US viewers “can always understand me” adding audiences would eventually “get used to it”.
But executives were taking no chances and she was sacked after filming just one episode. Cole subsequently sued the show’s producers Blue Orbit for $2.3million (£1.4m) for loss of earnings.
What little footage of Ms Cole’s limited screen time to make it to air left critics confused, some did praise her “fabulous Geordie accent”.
According to papers filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court, Cole was on a “pay or play” deal where salary is payable, even if he or she is let go. The pop singer claimed not to have received money for expenses, including a $100,000 wardrobe account. A spokesman for Ms Cole said the case had been “resulted amicably” while Blue Orbit did not comment last night.
Cole’s was not the first North East native to leave US viewers baffled. During Ant and Dec’s short-lived stint as presenters on the US game show Wanna Bet, filmed in 2007, producers reportedly secured an interpreter to press a button each time he feared Ant or Dec gave an utterance that would baffle audiences.
While Cole, Ant and Dec’s broad Geordie bray may have caused US executives consternation, some British stars have prospered despite their accents in films. Sir Sean Connery is perhaps the most notable.
Despite sporting what has been voted the worst movie accent of all time, as Irish cop Jim Malone in 1987’s The Untouchables, Connery, the noticeably Scots James Bond, has seen his star continue to rise.
Whether playing a Russian sub captain in The Hunt for Red October or even an English King – in First Knight and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – viewers are assured Connery will perform with a familiar Highland baritone.
Perhaps the X Factor’s producers were fearful of Cole’s effect on accents across the US. Studies have showed that Glasgow-based viewers of Eastenders were found to have been “picking up Cockney dialect” through a steady diet of viewing the goings on at Albert Square.