Glasgow's voice at the Winter Olympics

GUTTURAL Glasgow accents are as distinctive as they are exclusive - some-times prompting a subtitle when broad-cast south of the border.

Loading Comments
Share
Print
John Cavanagh will fly back to Sochi for the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games
John Cavanagh will fly back to Sochi for the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games

But for presenter John Cavanagh his home-grown tones have earned him a living as a "trustworthy voice".

The BBC radio presenter and voice-over artist took on his biggest job yet when as the only English-speaking announcer at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia - and he repeated the duty at last Friday's Paralympic opening.

John, 49, sat sandwiched between the French and Russian announcers as he read a script meticulously prepared and rehearsed.

"Every last syllable had to be approved by the International Olympic Committee. It was very much a case of 'stick to the script'," he said.

AS we walked out on the night I had this incredible feeling of being involved in something spectacular.

"I have worked at what I considered to big events before, broadcasting on national radio and at a Bon Jovi concert at Old Wemb-ley Stadium to 80,000.

"But the Winter Olympics were on a different scale with an estimated 2.5 to 3 billion spectators worldwide."

And it all started one week before with a midnight Skype chat from his home in Muirend to one of the organisers as he stood on a freezing subway platform in New York.

John whose background includes broadcasting on all five BBC UK radio networks, including pres-enting heavy rock music on Radio One and opera on Radio Three, along with World Service/BBC International and BBC Radio Scotland, said: "As I do commercial voice-over work, I have a website.

"The company booking the English speaking announcer for the Winter Olympics contacted me through the website and asked me if I would be interested in being one of the announcers at the opening ceremony.

"They were looking for a voice that would be understood internationally.

"Of course, I said yes.

"I thought I would be required to record something and send it off but then I was told no, that I would need to fly out to Sochi the week later. I thought it would be a bit of an adventure."

The world watched as the most expensive Winter Olympic games ever unfolded, and John and an army of experts buzzed behind the scenes to make sure the event ran smoothly. Well, almost.

When one of the Olympic rings failed to light, the critics swooped with some even branding the grand ceremony a failure.

This was unfair, said John: "So many things about the ceremony were perfect. I thought it was a shame that this became the focus."

But the Russian's poked fun at themselves in the closing ceremony by mak-ing a joke of the mishap.

During the closing ceremony, dancers who made the shape of the Olympic rings kept the fifth ring scrunched as part of their routine.

John added: "I thought this was a fantastic way for them to reclaim it."

He said: "There was also a lot of media coverage of the security concerns but every Olympic games has had their share. It attracts it."

John worked at the opening ceremony then flew back out to Sochi for the closing ceremony. He returned to Russia on Tuesday last week, return-ing on Saturday from the opening ceremony of the Paralympics.

He will be back in Sochi for the closing ceremony on March 13.

John, who had a child-hood ambition to work on radio, said he has always studied and impersonated voices.

He was one of the first presenters of Radio 5 when regional shows were broadcast on different nights of the week.

Mark Radcliffe was the Manchester presenter when John took the reins for Scotland.

For 17 years, he also worked as a BBC continuity announcer and newsreader and has voiced computer games and TV and radio adverts.

John's television voice-over work includes 14 seasons broadcasting football results for BBC1 TV.

And when he utters the words 'Brechin City 2...' it is easy to see how he might be most easily recognised as the voice of the scores Sportscene.

John said: "Over the years I have been booked for jobs all over the world, including in China and Russia.

"A Scottish voice, I am told, is recognised as being internationally trustworthy."

The presenter said he has no specific regimes for preserving his vocal chords ahead of big events and, speaking just before he headed back to Sochi for the Paralympic Games, he was nursing a potentially disruptive cold.

He said: "On the flight back from Sochi I sat next to a man who was sneezing the whole time.

"I knew I was going to catch it. So I put on my headphones and tried to drown out the noise.

"In terms of looking after my voice, I just need to be sensible and not over-do it."

As well as colds and congestion, nerves can also affect the voice but John said he has learned to keep them at bay over the years.

"I remember at the BBC when Radio 5 opened I presented one of the first shows and suddenly became aware my voice was high-pitched," he impersonates.

"Sometimes nerves are what drives a performance though, that determination to get it right.

"Even Laurence Olivier had crippling stage fright."

linzi.watson@eveningtimes.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

155085

Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
A weekly round up of social highlights

A weekly round up of social highlights

Cat's Eyes on Glasgow

SPOTY, Cinderella at the SECC and festive things to do.

Times Out

Entertainment

Lifestyle

TV Advert
Gail’s Gab

Gail’s Gab

Gail Sheridan is a mother-of-one and wife to Tommy and she likes to get political with the hot topic of the week in her column Gail’s Gab.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Sussed in the City

What a year for me...it’s a wonderful life!

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.