In which my speech impediment is criticised, but all ends happily

A true email conversation recently conducted through my website reveals an unexpected moment of courtesy in cyberspace.

While I have not exactly displayed heroism on the Mary Beard scale, it will warm the hearts of the speech-impedimented everywhere.

(Apparently my problem is my enormously long tongue – its great length means that it rather lazily won’t take the trouble to curl up and form the letter ‘R’ properly.  But I promise you it’s not for want of trying on my part!  I have even consulted a specialist speech therapist, and she said that to cure the problem I’d have to say ‘R’ correctly as many times as I have said it incorrectly in the past.  So, I’m sowwy, but I don’t think there’s much I can do about it.)

Man:

-I’ll be blunt (apologies) Please try harder to correct your lazy speech or remove ‘R’s’ from your scripts – I could not sit through Bolsover Castle – and became so annoyed I had to write this drivel. Regards. Darren

Me:

-Oh Darrren, I think you’ve taken refuge behind the anonymity of the internet to say something that you probably wouldn’t say to my face. Please do re-consider, and maybe even retract your unkind words! Lucy

Man:

-I apologise!  Even though I revel in my ignorance and rudeness I would not wish to upset you face to face and the anonymity of the internet made me forget this. My unkind and blunt words were an instant and disproportional response to my annoyance with a speech impediment which is obviously out of your control. Even though you have lost a viewer, rest assured that I feel embarrassed and chastened and will not be sending any more email outbursts (to anyone).  Yours humbly, Darren.

Me:

-Many thanks Darren for your generous response! Lucy

47 thoughts on “In which my speech impediment is criticised, but all ends happily

  1. Peter Osborn

    Good evening Miss Worsley,
    I have just been watching Harlots, Housewives and Heroines and I enjoyed it immensely , as I do all your programmes.Just before the broadcast I
    had read your blog and noted in particular the comment by that cad and bounder who critisied your “speech impediment”. What impediment ? Having just watched you
    on the telly I did not notice it at all. All RR s seemed to be there and, if they where in fact not pronounced perfectly as that cad suggested that only added to the charm of your manner of presentation which I admire.
    I look forward to all your programmes including your unnoticable ” speech impediment”

    Best wishes
    Happy Christmas
    Peter Osborn

    Reply
  2. Kit

    Don’t worry. Your so called ‘impediment’ is
    very endearing and I definitely would not
    want you to change it for anything.
    Anyway, you’re in good company
    :www.turnipnet.com/whirligig/tv/children/other/lennythelion.htm‎
    I’m looking forward to your next programme.
    It’s always good to see you on TV.
    Best regards.

    Reply
  3. Castor

    I’m pleased that Darren retracted. The man is clearly a fool, as your impediment, if you must call it that, is beyond endearing.
    Please script in as many R’s as you feel to be necessary and keep the subject matter as salacious as possible, please!

    An Admirer. :-)

    Reply
  4. Martyn

    Lucy

    I too have the speech impediment rhotacism. I have never listened to my voice since my teens (57 now) because I did not like the sound of the pronounced l’s and r’s (celery, gallery, yellow lorry). Now, after watching your truly very interesting programmes and listened to your voice (rather sexy if you don’t mind me saying), I have become rather proud my rhotacism. I thank you.

    Reply
  5. Ian Rawat

    Your impediment is sweet,your talks and shows are very interesting and you still look cute in those historical dresses! Enjoyed meeting you at Guildford-will send those 3d pics a.s.a.p.Ian.

    Reply
  6. Sam

    I think your speech impediment gives you character, and combined with your enormous enthusiasm when telling stories and engaging in re-enactment for the camera, makes you sort of cute and your programmes a joy to watch.

    Reply
  7. Brian

    How rude to comment on someone’s speech impediment!

    For myself, I had never noticed any hint of an impediment and find your voice a delight to listen to.

    Clear, precise, and melodic. So unlike some of the “Estuary English” we hear on the Media.

    I am particularly enjoying your series “A Very British Murder”. Quality TV.

    Thank You.
    Brian

    Reply
  8. Angela Marshall

    I love the way you speak! It only adds to your charm and I personally find your voice energetic but soothing all at the same time! Continue to make television programmes, I wish you were on more!

    Reply
  9. Steve

    Dear Lucy, my wife has a very slight lisp and I always have found it endearing. I find your mode of speech equally so and do not find it impedes at all. Speech impediment? If the only word you could say was “Beef”, maybe so, but you are perfectly articulate.

    Reply
  10. Katharine Magry

    Hi Lucy,

    At risk of repeating the comments already posted, I just wanted to say that I think your presentation style is engaging, energising and just simply wonderful. Your enthusiasm for history is infectious and sometimes threatens to knock me off my chair. Your programs have gotten me through many banging-my-head-against-my-desk-trying-to-nut-out-an-assignment episodes.

    I also have a speech impediment (stammer) and presentations used to be very difficult for me. I would much rather have walked in front of a bus than get up in front of a crowd and start talking. But I found that having to speak very slowly and very deliberately (and even then still stammering) actually served me very well, because it made my presentation style all the more unique. I figured that even if I heard a snigger or a confused laugh, it meant that someone in the audience was actually listening to what I was saying and not day-dreaming about the menu in the tavern.

    Anyway, far from being a nuisance or distraction, your ‘speech impediment’ gives you a very unique style and serves to positively distinguish you from other ‘normal’ presenters out there. And hey, kudos for actually having the confidence and conviction to appear on television. Not many people can do that!

    I can’t wait to see your new series!

    Thanks for being an inspiration and b-b-best of luck!

    Reply
  11. michelle

    Lucy. I find your presentation style thoroughly engaging and the subject matter stimulating. I feel very grateful to the bbc for producing so much good programming in the last couple of years. Due to people who are enthusiastic about their subjects I have learnt more in the past 3 years than I ever did in the last 30! Inspired by programmes like yours I am now pursuing an activated interest in all history, but particularly with social/family history which must be the base of all cultural history . I can’t pronounce my ‘r’s very well either – but it’s very sweet in your delivery.Your magnificent intellect and cunning wit lets any viewer who may take you for a flibbertigibbet think again. I must go and measure my tongue…

    Reply
  12. GinaJ

    Well, he had the grace to apologise properly. I had never noticed the issue, and I don’t intend to. Enjoy your programmes enormously. So does my mother (at 88 and very deaf) who appreciates your clear diction and your subject matter. Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Nelson Lord

    Have just watched you for the first time on your murder programme. “Speech impediment”? You don’t have one. Loved everything about your style. Thought you should perhaps get your own detective series …

    Reply
  14. Will McCrum

    I think it’s most impwoper to dwell on one’s speech impeds. I mean look at old Tewwy-Thomas: he made a fwightfully good caweew out of his speech indiosywatheeth, and they all loved him fow it. Dan Cwuikshank is a histowical hewitage bod, and he cartainly has no boyfwiends. Just ignore it all, Miss Wowsley.

    Reply
  15. David Taylor

    I think your speech impediment is a plus and adds character to your presentation. Your presentations are superb and engaging. Please keep it up!

    Reply
  16. Dean

    .How could anybody be irritated by your adorable pronunciation? What’s wrong with lots of different ways of pronouncing? My wife for instance has a particularly charming soft R which makes her sound irish (Even though she’s from Durham), caused by her chipping a tooth as a child.
    Please dont think of ‘correcting’ this little vocal marvel!

    Reply
  17. Jeffrey L. Dunford

    Have now watched all of you programs except the last of “”Murder”. Frankly, spouse and I were not aware you had a speech impediment until I read this blog entry. We think your voice is darling.

    I have lived many places both in N. America and the world so I tend to ignore slight speech differences. I wonder if people who complain about a slight impediment would benefit from living abroad where English is not the chosen language.

    Keep presenting, keep talking, keep entertaining and educating so many of us.

    Reply
  18. Robert

    I’m an American transplant who watches you religiously, and have only just found this webpage. I honestly had never realized that there was a speech imediment. Your programs are very engaging- they are informative and entertaining, and you are exceedingly cute. Please don’t change anything about your shows!

    Reply
  19. Pamela

    Dear Lucy:
    I am dazzled by your wonderful, slightly mischievous delivery in your various television series. Have I noticed the “r” thing? Yes. Do I care? No. Why? Because you are bright and charismatic and because I’m learning cool things.

    Thank you!
    –Pamela

    Reply
  20. Simon A

    I actually think the impediment is an enhancement and gives you character. People sometimes have a tendency to overreact to anything that can set a person apart as an individual, whether its a fruity birth mark or a funny walk or yes, even a speech impediment. To much dangerous conformity I think.
    By the way gweatly enjoy the shows, Gweat job! ;)

    Reply
  21. Bog

    Well, I think Lucy Worsley should know how to speak English properly by now, having had 40 years to try to master it.

    Reply
  22. Charis

    Just saw HH and H on SBS in Australia. Loved it! Had no idea so many women did so much cool stuff back in the Reformation. Inspiring. I like your Rs. They keep me on my toes, kind of like the way I wait for Jonathan Woss to say his name on his chat show. (BTW, your Rs are far better pronounced than Wossy’s!)

    Reply
  23. Lesley-Anne

    A late response, as I’ve come late to this story, so apologies for that. In our home, we love Lucy! You make us smile and giggle as we learn fascinating facts – and that’s the very best thing. Please stay on TV. Please stay just the way you are. You make history sparkle (and we like your frocks too :o)

    Reply
  24. CMoore

    Until just now I was unaware you had a speech impediment. I just figured you were English ;)

    Reply
  25. Adele

    Dear Lucy, I think I’ve watched everything you’ve ever presented (twice) and I think your speech is wonderful! Isn’t it amazing what people will say whilst safely tucked away behind their computers…. how rude. Good for you calling him out on it. Love your work and look forward to many more shows…. with or without r’s!! Cheers, Adele

    Reply
  26. Graham Hillier

    Hi Lucy I so enjoy all your presentations on English Royal history. How can people be so small minded looking behind those fascinating subjects and see such a little thing as how a person pronounces their “R”‘s. I say them get a life and listen to what you have to say they may learn something. Keep up the great work love all you shows and topics. Graham x
    PS I think it sounds sexy!

    Reply
  27. Michael

    Lucy, if only I had an history teacher with your enthusiasm and charisma at. school. At the age of 44 you have inspired me to study for a degree inhistory.

    Reply
  28. chris crowcroft

    I’m a little late on the ‘r’ debate. In Italy it is called the ‘r nobile’ or (‘noble r’ for the linguistically challenged). There’s the occasional opera singer who has it – Valletti? I had a terrifying landlady who had it, who was from Milan, called ‘La Signo-w-a.’ It’s regarded as smart!

    Chris

    Reply
  29. James Alton

    Dear Lucy (if I may be so bold as to familiarly address someone who I’ve seen and heard many times but who knows nothing of me; so, perforce, I dispose of formalities),

    I have seen many of your TV programmes and like them, and it is you charming delivery that is an indispensable part of my liking: though the topics themselves are interesting, your style of delivery is captivating in many ways.
    You have a jocular and engaging style, and it is to your credit that you can find humour in your subjects and don’t mind playing the fool, and being revealed as a sometimes nincompoop: what was the line, now, “drink the bottle”?
    Keep it up but don’t let all this praise discombobulate you: always “To thine own self be true”.

    Reply
  30. Anthony

    Lucy your porgrammes are such a breath of fresh air. I love history programmes but some of the presenters could send you to sleep (no names).

    I love your style and the so-called speech impediment is delightfully quirky. Don’t ever change!

    Was there anything as pretty on TV as Dr Lucy Worsley with the Marcel wave? I think not.

    Reply
  31. Sally

    Just discovered you day before yesterday on youtube, while i was stuffing envelopes at work. I checked in partly because I thought “how does she get through life with that name?” Turns out, I had conflated Dursley and Weasley. Then I thought there must be a part of England where your speech is correct (aren’t there parts of Spain where lisping is correct?) – - I held my breath when “rural” and “curare” came up in close succession … and you were “over it like a bird”!! What a sad world it would be if you felt you had to go all uriah-heepy about your speech. Much more thrilling this way. So indeed … thank you and please keep on! And now I have to go and study up on D. Sayers and how she compares to my own personal favorite, M. Allingham.

    Reply
  32. Stephen L

    Fully agree with all above.
    As much as I enjoy history programs my attention can wander … & I do on occasion nod off in the serious bits.
    But your quirky, enthusiastic presentation keeps my attention !
    I hope you do lots more BBC 4 programs as you are one of the best – intellectually vigorous yet lots of fun.
    xx

    Reply
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  34. Joyce D.

    I just love your presentations, Lucy. Until reading these comments I’d thought your way of speaking was lovely and had no idea you had an impediment, no matter how small. I think you’re the most delightful, pretty, interesting, funny and engaging presenter on TV. I’m a rather very old lady now but still really enjoy anything at all to do with historic U.K. These days there’s hardly anything of interest to watch, but you’re the most wonderful person who can hold my interest through every moment of your series. I love watching even though my hearing is not very good now, but what I do hear is always a fascinating treat. Please make as many series as you possibly can. I just wish I could see each of them over and over.

    Reply
  35. Jem

    I adore history and particularly British history and I enjoy your presentation and think your lovely.
    Please don’t change.

    Reply
  36. Sam

    Dear Lucy
    you’re show on the Georgians is great and I find your lisp to be endearing

    Reply
  37. Tom Ordelman

    Geez, now I’d wish I could say something terribly blunt, and unkind, even embarrassing to you, just to create an opportunity for me to grovel, stammer, throw myself headlong in the dirt for you, and beg for your forgiveness, you bright and cute and lovely and ever so naughty Lucy Wowsly!
    But alas, I cannot for the life of me… You’re simply too dear for this old Dutch poet. :D

    Reply
  38. Jay

    Hat tip to Darren. Most of all to you Lucy, for evoking an apology with such courteous good humour. I think this is a first. Someone online has stated they won’t be firing-off ill-considered, thoughtless criticisms. There’s a BIG statement we could all ponder.

    Reply
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  40. Ed

    I love your speech impediment! Very sexy, as also are you.

    But then again, I also have a thing about brilliant, intelligent women, so maybe it’s just your brains that have seduced me.

    Or it could be your charm, warmth and enthusiasm! Hard to tell.

    xxx Ed

    Reply
  41. Valentina

    Who cares about speech impediment when you’ ve got so much to say? By the way, my problem is with the “s” instead! I would be very pleased to meet you in person someday, thank you for your work. You are a godsend for those who like me love English history and culture! :)

    Reply
    1. Fionna

      Also, nearly forgot, I find somehow the way you speak is quite melodic with the impediment and, ( please don’t laugh), somehow you sound more intelligent. I still don’t understand why, but I’d love to know where I got that notion.

  42. Fionna

    [clapping] well done Lucy!

    Reply
  43. Damion Linford

    Good grief , I am late to comment due to utter shock.
    Is there such a thing as an impeded speech pattern. I have had a so called stammer/stutter as long as I have had the gift of speech, its almost my calling card.
    I am sadly imposing to look at and am thus judged as such UNTIL I open my mouth and stammer away. I find it then softens the judged reaction of others,
    I like my stammer (unless nervous) Your poetic pronunciation is pleasing to listen to as are the pieces of history you narrate.

    Reply
  44. Sarah

    You do a fantastic job in your documentaries, and I enjoy them very much. If I ever have a child (or care for one) who has a speech impediment (or any other thing that makes them feel that they can’t do anything), I would sit them down and watch one of your documentaries. There is so much more to a person than a speech impediment or any other difficulty. Who you are, the research you do, and the way you present it make you a good documentarion. Any difficulty with pronunciation fades, and is only minor if noticeable at all.

    Reply
  45. Confused American

    Dear Lucy,

    An amusing anecdote: after viewing several of your programs (programmes?) – which are great, by the way, thank you – I was confused as to whether your pronunciation was idiosyncratic or a type of English accent with which I was not familiar. I vaguely remembered the depictions of Gussie Fink-Nottle and Madeline Bassett in the “Jeeves and Wooster” series as having a similar sound. I assumed Jonathan Ross must have the same accent. After a bit of investigation, I discovered you are all from different parts of the country and different social backgrounds. Furiously bedeviled by this conundrum, I finally came across this post, which settled the matter.
    Thank you for scratching this itch, for your great work, and your sexy voice!

    Reply
  46. jonathon harrison

    Lucy, your programmes have just started screening in New Zealand and I am captivated. I had a girlfriend many years ago who spoke exactly as you do and I found it delightful,attractive,unique and very very sexy. I so look forward to Saturday evenings at 8.30 now and am entertained.educated,amused and agog with your knowledge. And it’s all so much fun too. Never knew about ‘kippers for curtains’……oh what a treat! I have also noticed throughout my life that pronunciation of the letter ‘r’ as you say it only ever seems to occur with only very intelligent and well-humoured people and Frank Muir also springs to mind. I am in love again and long may you reign. Your besotted fan…..Jonathon

    Reply

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