Finding Hidden Talent

15 May 2017

In twenty five years in radio, producing presenters, narrators and actors, three names stand out. They stand out for the way they feel and consider the words so that the narrative is lifted from the page; the way in which they deliver the words with an illuminating passion, resounding rhythm and impeccable timing, and, ultimately, the way in which their words coax the listener into a parallel universe, their universe.

We would expect Barry Humphries to be up there. His recent series for BBC Radio 2’ ‘Barry Humphries Forgotten Musical Memories’ was endorsed by the Telegraph’s Gillian Reynolds who last year wrote:-

Humphries weighs every word in his script, switching between what a child would hear in a record and what time has since taught him about it. He speaks lightly, firmly, allusively, letting the listener make connections to the music and its context.

We might expect the same of Oscar nominated actor, Sophie Okonedo, who was equally well received for the way in which she narrated, for the same network, an abridged version of Ann Rinaldi’s Tie A Thousand Trees with Ribbons - the story of a child slave, snatched from her village in what is now Senegal in 1761, and who went on to become the first African American woman to be published.

But we might not expect it from a Cornish farmer who does not have any formal training in radio or television or professional drama experience on which to draw. Yet, recently we found just that.

Our latest book ‘A Song for Will – The Lost Gardeners of Heligan’ a work of fiction based on fact, features at the centre of the story, William Robins Guy – a gardener from Gorran Haven near St Austell. In 1914 Will left the Heligan estate, in Cornwall, where he worked, to serve his country in World War 1.

Roll forward 100 years and we are introduced to William’s nephew, Trounce Guy (named after his mother’s maiden name) a retired sheep farmer from Cornwall with a penchant for telling amusing stories, rich in dialect and delivered with perfect pace.

We asked him if he would consider providing the voice over for our trailer. It seemed fitting in so many ways not least his personal connection with the story, being a born and bred Cornishman, and, of course, quite simply, his wonderful way with words.

Recorded in Yorkshire from a studio in Cornwall, Trounce left us speechless. He’d reworded the script to fit with his unique style and all was done and dusted in just one take.

But it wasn’t so much what Trounce said, and the way that he said it, that stood out – it was the undercurrent of a connection to a bygone age – the ‘what’s not said’ and at the launch of the book last week at Heligan where the promotional trailer was aired in public for the first time - he left the audience, well, speechless too. Often what's not said, says more. Here he is.