MAYBE I'm going a little deaf in my old age but I often have to ask my wife Maria to repeat what she says. “You're going deaf,” she says. “Pardon?” I say.
I think she sometimes does it on purpose and mutters rather than enunciates, like method actors in television dramas. Have you noticed how half the dialogue goes missing when moody thespians opt for what they call a natural way of mumbling rather than speaking clearly.
Sam Riley in SS-GB sounded like he'd been smoking 40 Woodbines a day to get into the character of a whispering detective in a post-war England ruled by Nazis. And Tom Hardy rollocked his way through the streets of Georgian London in Taboo with authentic muck under his fingernails whilst delivering verbals as if chewing a dead rat.
There have been so many complaints about muffled speech that experts staged an experiment at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford for groups of pensioners and young people and discovered TV sound problems were not confined to the elderly: the younger generation couldn't hear either.
Last year I blamed my flat TV set and bought a modestly priced sound system but couldn't make it work. Instead I've left it propped by the screen like a threat but the TV continues to ignore both me and the threat and still projects dramatic moments as if delivered by Norman Collier on a faulty microphone.
People have suggested the sound from a flat screen TV is not as good as the sound produced on the old chunky box set. TV makers say that's not true. The test audiences at the Science and Media Museum listened to the sound from those old box sets that had a back as long as a station wagon and said yes, it was far superior. Trouble is, if you wanted one with a 50 inch screen it would be so big you would have to house it in a shed in the back garden and watch it through the window.
My wife and I enjoy a lot of subtitled drama from Europe and the strange thing is I even turn the sound up on that so I can get a sense of the dialogue, so maybe I am going deaf. I said maybe I am going deaf. Admittedly I haven't a clue in Swedish or Icelandic but I'm chuffed when I understand some of the French and tell my wife the subtitle is wrong.
Perhaps I should try using subtitles on English programmes as well, although that would be so bizarre my wife might think I've gone barmy if she spots them on Happy Valley.
“Subtitles? For Sarah Lancashire?”
“Half past nine.”