Disney’s Tinker Bell to become voice of the speaking clock

The Peter Pan star will read the time from this Sunday, becoming the first fictional character in the clock's 72-year history.

BT's decision to tie-up with Disney could provoke outrage among traditionalists used to hearing the clipped voice of an English telephone operator.

Tinker Bell is voiced by Mae Whitman, a US actress who has starred in films including State of Grace and Independence Day.

"Tinker Bell… is a natural choice for such an important job given her very British heritage," said Brad Raymond, director of the Tinker Bell movie released by Disney next month.

A spokeswoman declined to say whether BT was being paid for the tie-up, calling it a "joint promotional partnership".

The promotion will last for three months, beginning at 0100GMT on Sunday following the end of British Summer Time.

The current voice of the clock – which people hear by dialling 123 in the UK – is Sara Mendes da Costa who won a competition in April last year to find a new voice from the public. The competition, which had almost 18,500 entrants, raised more than £200,000 for BBC Children In Need.

The first permanent incumbent was London telephonist Jane Cain from 24 July, 1936, replaced by Miss Pat Simmons, a supervisor in a London telephone exchange, in 1963.

The only man to hold the post was Brian Cobby, an assistant supervisor at Withdean telephone exchange in Brighton, from 1985 to 2007. While working for BT, Mr Corby also recorded the '5-4-3-2-1…Thunderbirds are go!' theme tune for the TV puppet series.

The clock receives about 70 million calls a year and is accurate to five thousandths of a second.


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