BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Sir Trevor McDonald, Broadcaster

BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Sir Trevor McDonald, Broadcaster - Britain's favourite newsreader, now approaching the autumn of his career, rightly basks in the roseate glow that befits a man of humble origins who is becoming a national treasure. Forgive the florid prose, but, you see, I have just listened to Sir Trevor revelling in the delights of the English language.

by Khalid Aziz, chairman of spoken communications specialist, TheAziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Britain's favourite newsreader, now approaching the autumn of his career, rightly basks in the roseate glow that befits a man of humble origins who is becoming a national treasure. Forgive the florid prose, but, you see, I have just listened to Sir Trevor revelling in the delights of the English language.

He was giving a lecture entitled 'Education and the Media' at the Royal Society of Arts. An accomplished performer in the TV studio, Sir Trevor looked a little ill-at-ease as he surveyed the serried ranks of earnest beards that eagerly awaited him. Perhaps it was because expectations had been further raised by the honorary fellowship just conferred on him by the college president.

I thought he might get straight into how television is now seen as little more than a dumbed-down sideshow. Instead, we were treated to a meander through McDonald's youth and his early love for English literature in colonial Trinidad, where an itinerant bookseller brought his wares on a bicycle once a fortnight. His lecture was sprinkled with quotes from Thackeray, Wordsworth and Wilde. Not that all were clear - he needs to watch his enunciation: clair when he meant clear and tromotise for traumatise. But all the newsreader's tricks were there: great hand movements and terrific timing. I thought he was too flowery and not hard-hitting enough, but one after another in the audience said they'd really enjoyed it.

Key moment: West Indian author CLR James apparently read Vanity Fair at the age of eight.

Key lesson: Watch out for bad habits of enunciation. They can throw an audience.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth?: Silver tongue.

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