It’s me! Peter Dickson. You know - the voiceover man from the X Factor, Family Fortunes and all that guff. I am the most iconic voice on British telly. The soundtrack to computer game adverts. Film trailers. Animated movies. And I am available on iPhone to say all the phrases you ruddy well like! I even want to be the voice of the 2012 Olympics. Jack Hyom spoke to me: the man behind the legendary voice… and it was live!
Sound familiar? Peter Dickson is the man behind one of the most famous voices of entertainment and continues to add to what is an already incredible reputation. He provides a repertoire or dramatic and massively over-emphasised vocals on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and E4 – you name it, he’s done it.
What a lot of people don’t know is that he is also the voice of Xbox 360 and Playstation games like Fable, kids’ TV series, and many film trailers. He’s also co-owner of two hotels, Chairman of a digital agency and working with 2009 X Factor contestant Lloyd Daniels on a new album. How he managed to get a ten-minute interview in to his jam-packed schedule is a mystery in itself. He even said: “It’s pretty full on. Every day is a 12 to 13 hour day so there's never a dull moment in this place! In fact, I don’t think I've got enough time to talk to you!”
And how did he discover his rare talent? His love for radio developed from his very early years and he has never looked back.
“I remember my father having a radio at home. It was an old fashioned valve radio and I always used to be fascinated by the voices that came out of it”, Dickson said.
“I used to love the idea of radio. So when I went to university I joined a film society and we made little radio programmes and documentaries and from there on my love for radio just grew and grew. I made it my mission once I left university to join the BBC and I did.”
He first got into the BBC as a journalist, getting stuck in to any reporting and news reading that was going before he moved to Radio Two – where he began to deputise for presenters and host his own shows. He was even Terry Wogan’s newsreader, and once he was introduced to Radio One presenter Steve Wright, his career launched in to action.
"Kylie and Dannii Minogue have got my voice on their voicemail."
“I met Steve Wright on Radio One and that's how my career jumped and progressed. I then went freelance and became solely a voice artist after some years. I'm really in the job I love so I'm so fortunate that I get to do all these big shows and meet all these people.”
After years of success and important roles in shows including Family Fortunes, Play Your Cards Right and Catchphrase during the 80’s and 90’s, Dickson then noticed that Talent Show tycoon Simon Cowell was on the lookout for a voice to compliment the launch of the X Factor in 2003 – and the Voiceover man just knew that he was the man for the job.
“When I heard Simon was looking for a voiceover for it, I called him up and said ‘Look, you've got to have me on there because I know I can deliver the voice as big as this show and it’s the voice that it requires."
“So I auditioned for him along with a load of other people and I got the gig, which was very satisfying. It has been great being associated with that show professionally because of the amount of the people who watch it and the profile that it has.”
With such strong ties with media mogul Simon Cowell, Dickson has ironically built a bit of an empire himself – and he even gives every person on the street a chance to get a glimpse of his voice at the push of a button. As well as Peter Dickson’s pocket announcer iPhone app, his website, MY RUDDY VOICE DOT COM! (The emphasis very much representative of the accent he was putting on at this point) allows people to buy pre recorded messages. These can be anything from a Wedding proposal to a text alert, or people can get him to record a personalised script. And Dickson admitted he loves to give this back to the people that recognise his voice so well.
“Yes I do like doing them. That's always been the case and I love doing them when I can for friends or people I work with. Kylie and Dannii Minogue have got my voice on their voicemail. As do Louis Walsh and all the X Factor contestants in the current series.”
And the fact he is inundated with so many requests means there is always something down right bizarre that sticks in the memory. Dickson - who surprisingly hails from Dundonald near Belfast - picked out his role as a psychotic octopus with multiple accents, during a crazy computer game cameo, as a standout highlight in his career.
“The other thing I would really like to do is to be the voice of the 2012 Olympics in London. It would be fantastic to open the Olympic Games on the big day and have my voice heard in millions of countries."
“The whole thing required me to emerge from the water in this game. I had to recite this paragraph of several sentences while changing my accent about 15 times - going right around Britain - from Scottish to Newcastle, cockney to West Country, Welsh to Northern Irish to Southern Irish, and then to Italian, Australian and then to Central European and Russian."
“That was all in the space of about 15 to 20 seconds and I then had to drown myself in a glass of water, which was hilarious. We tried doing it in stages and we thought we'd edit it all together but it just didn’t sound right, so I had to actually do the whole thing in one take. I get so many of these things that I can hardly remember half of them, but that was a funniest and most difficult thing I've had to do.”
Much like Peter Dickson’s voiceovers, you could endlessly reel off his achievements in what has been an incredible career. And there is no sign of relenting as he’s got a big ambition to repeat his success in the United States – and he even has his sights set on being the voice of the 2012 Olympics in London.
“I would love to go with Simon to America to do the X Factor in USA. I have been talking to him about that and I'm in the frame. Nothings been decided yet but I would love to do that for him. I would also love to do a Disney Pixar movie over in Los Angeles, an animated feature film.”
“The other thing I would really like to do is to be the voice of the 2012 Olympics in London. It would be fantastic to open the Olympic Games on the big day and have my voice heard in millions of countries. That would probably be the ultimate voiceover gig I think, don't you? If anyone in the Olympic Committee is reading, I would love to be involved in the Olympics!”
Having one of the board members of the Olympic Committee reading this article may well be very wishful thinking. But if he is in luck, you may have found the biggest and best voice in the business, which shows no sign of getting lost.
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