The ‘clock’ marked its 75th birthday by reuniting past ‘voice of the clock’ Brian Cobby with current ‘voice’ Sarah Mendes Da Costa
24th July marked a very special anniversary for one of the nation’s most popular time references – the BT speaking clock. The ‘clock’ marked its 75th birthday by reuniting past ‘voice of the clock’ Brian Cobby with current ‘voice’ Sarah Mendes Da Costa.
Brian now 81 also provided the 5-4-3-2-1 opening countdown for the sixties show Thunderbirds. He was replaced in 2006 by Ms Da Costa who beat more than 18,400 other hopefuls who entered a competition in support of the charity Children In Need. The two other permanent voices of the clock since its introduction in 1936, Telephone operators Ethel Cain and Pat Simmons, have since passed away.
The last re-recording was needed to remove the sponsorship message from Accurist watches when the company decided to cease its sponsorship.
The clock also had a special use during the Cold War when the circuit in use for the clock was also put to use as the carrier for nuclear attack warnings. The idea behind using the already operating line for the purpose was that a line that was unused until needed may not be functioning correctly, where as a line used by more than 30 million people per year would be missed if the normal service was disrupted.
From 1986 the clock was sponsored by Accurist watches. Its marketing phrase “At the third stroke the time sponsored by Accurist watches will be” became almost a national institution. Given that the system is used by 30 million people per year it is likely to be one of the most frequently heard advertising slogans yet devised. It has certainly built brand awareness for the company and continues to drive brand awareness at web-based stores such as www.thewatchhut.co.uk.
Following the end of their sponsorship, Accurist went on to launch their own speaking clock system using web based technology. The replacement service is still active and can be found on-line on the company’s website.
Information for Editors:
The Watch Hut is the UK’s largest watch website. The company is part of TH Baker, a family owned independent jeweller that has traded continuously since 1888. In addition to the website the company has a strong High Street presence with 17 shops spread across the Midlands and Southern England.
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