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Fake Brit / Live-Action TV

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Examples about actors

  • At one point while interviewing Ricky Gervais, Conan O'Brien decided to do a bit in a fake English accent. After asking if it was supposed to sound British, Gervais comments "Thank you Dick Van-fucking-Dyke!"
  • David Anders - an Oregon native - has often had to do an English accent. Notably in Alias, Heroes, Once Upon a Time. He's joked that people don't think his natural American accent sounds convincing.
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  • American actress Amanda Blake (not the one from Gunsmoke) is based in the UK and frequently gets cast as English characters. One incident had her submitting a demo reel and getting a response to the effect of "your American accent is good but you should open the reel with your natural voice".

Examples about shows

  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?'s episode "The Tale of the Walking Shadow", had an English-accented wardrobe mistress Hermione Sinclair - played by Northern Irish actress Sheena Larkin. She had appeared in an earlier episode "The Tale of the Lonely Ghost", using her natural accent.
  • Arrested Development:
    • Lampshaded. Probably written when the role was assumed to be going to an American actress:
    Rita: I hate it when they hire Yanks to play Brits, you can always tell.
  • The A-Team:
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    • Murdock will use a fake English accent just for fun. It's a generic Received Pronunciation accent, but it's still entertaining.
    • On the whole, Dwight Schultz gets a lot of mileage out of that accent. It shows up all over the place in his voice acting.
  • Batman (1966):
    • The three-part episode of the Adam West television series where they end up in London, sorry, Londonium, for a while featured so many atrociously bad English accents and fundamentally stupid errors (Ireland Yard?) that one can only hope it was intended as a parody.
    • Of course it was a parody, it was the Adam West Batman. Anyway, Scotland Yard is in London. Ireland Yard is in Londonium. You might as well expect to see the Statue of Liberty in Gotham City instead of the Statue of Justice...
  • Becoming Elizabeth: Alicia von Rittberg is a member of the German aristocracy, playing perhaps the most quintessentially English role ever: the young Elizabeth I!
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  • The Book of Boba Fett: An accent, Fantasy Counterpart Culture variety. Sophie Thatcher, an American, plays Drash as one of the Mods who are cyborg swoop gang members. As the rest were all played by English actors who speak in their normal accents, Thatcher put one on too.
  • Brave New World: Three New Londoners are played by foreign actors putting on an English accent. Frannie (Canadian Kylie Bunbury) Henry (Australian Sen Mitsuji) and Jane (New Zealander Sophie McIntosh).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Spike, Drusilla, and Wesley. Spike's accent is said to be based on Anthony Stewart Head's regular voice, which is a lot less posh than Head's character Giles. Yet Spike is shown in flashback to originally have an upper class English accent, so whatever he's trying now is an affectation. At one point, Spike puts on a American accent, which is hilariously bad.
    • Alexis Denisof (Wesley), a Maryland native who lived in the UK for much of his early career, is the Buffyverse's most convincing fake Brit; even British fans don't always realise he's not English as long as he doesn't use the typical trip words such as 'data' where it becomes painfully obvious even to Britons who were previously fooled.
    • Juliet Landau who plays Drusilla is American, and affects a Victorian era cockney accent. Fans can never agree on whether or not it's good.
    • Season 7 featured two potential Slayers from England, both played by Americans. Neither accent is particularly convincing.
    • Everyone from Spike's past in "Fool for Love". Also notable is Kali Rocha, playing Spike's love interest Cecily. She returns to the show in Season 6 now as Anya's demon friend Halfrek, using her natural accent. As Halfrek and Cecily are implied to be the same person (Halfrek calls Spike 'William' and then avoids his gaze), Cecily may be this in-universe too. Kali Rocha believes they are the same person.
    • Spike's mother too was played by the French-born American actress Caroline Lagerfelt. The accent is very convincing and only slips when she says the word "started".
    • Buffy as well as the spinoff Angel had a bad case with one of the Watcher's Council special ops team. While their leader was played by real Brit Alistair Duncan (a Scot who now has a more English accent), Jeff Ricketts played one of his underlings, at which point the word "vampire" becomes "vampoire" and the only words he seems to get right are curse words such as bastard.
  • Castle: Colin Hunt from the fourth season purports to be from Scotland Yard. The actor's actual Australian accent is painfully obvious in his attempts to do some sort of mangled Cockney.
  • A Charmed episode featuring Lady Godiva had her played by Kristen Warren, doing an I Am Very British accent. The same episode's antagonist - Lord Dyson - was also played by an American doing an English accent.
  • CSI: Used and an Inverted Trope in one episode in which a man plays Sherlock Holmes. When his friends, who were invited, first show up, they all speak in English accents. When they realize their host has died, they drop their accents, except for one — who turns out to be English.
  • CSI NY: Claire Forlani is British, but even so, Peyton's accent was made some sort of Fake Brit accent.
  • Doctor Who: David Tennant affected an Estuary accent during his tenure as the Doctor. In "Tooth and Claw", he briefly reverts to his native Scottish.
  • Dracula (2013) features three Irish actors - Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Victoria Smurfitt and Katie McGrath - putting on English accents for their roles. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers goes one further and plays an in-universe Fake American.
  • The Dresden Files: The TV series featured Fake Brit Terrence Mann (who was born in Ashland, Kentucky and who grew up in Largo, Florida) as ghost-with-a-Teutonic-name-and-a-British-accent Hrothbert of Bainbridge. Bainbridge, by the way, is a real town in North Yorkshire.
  • The British Nigel Wick was played by Scotsman Craig Ferguson on The Drew Carey Show. Ferguson himself called it "the worst English accent ever" in a later stand-up comedy special. During one episode, when the characters break the fourth wall, Ferguson also briefly put on a just-as-fake American accent.
  • Played for laughs on an episode of Ellen when Emma Thompson reveals she's actually from Dayton, Ohio. "I learned the accent from Julie Andrews movies!"
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: Sometimes even Brits fake a 'British accent' for an American audience: for a while on this show one of the team was a sort of cheeky-chappy jack-of-all-trades, whose Dick-Van-Dyke-alike hamming up of a Cockney accent (as well as acting up to other cockney stereotypes in a 'why fank you guvnor, i am ever so 'umble, cheerio, lawks etc' way) made it hilarious to realise he was genuinely English.
  • Farscape:
    • The majority of the cast are Australian, with the obvious exception of Ben Browder. A few Peacekeepers keep their accent, but the majority of the regular characters disguise it with either Fake American or Fake Brit, most notably Aeryn, Scorpius and Crais.
    • Oddly enough, Claudia Black's Australian accent is so close to British that Aeryn uses her natural voice.
    • Black also notes in an early interview that other people playing Peacekeepers weren't entirely sure what type of accent to use since Black's odd conglomeration of Australian and British was their baseline. This is probably why the end result is a wide gamut of native Australian to faux-Brit, with the occasional faux-American.
    • And when John Crichton impersonates a Peacekeeper in one episode, he puts on a not-great English accent.
  • Firefly: In the episode "Shindig", River Tam mimics Badger's authentic London accent. Badger is fooled.
  • Forever:
    • The episode "The Man in the Killer Suit" features a murdered British nobleman who was played by an American actor. This is actually an In-Universe example: the character really was an American who was pretending to be British nobility as part of a con.
  • Frasier:
    • While Daphne Moon was played by British Jane Leeves, her brothers Simon and Stephen were played by Australian Anthony LaPaglia and Swazi Richard E. Grant (his accent is clear RP, however). While Leeves' 'Mancunian' was a rather generic Oop North accent, the brothers didn't even sound like they were from anywhere near there.
    • None of the Moon brothers with speaking parts — or her father — were played by Englishmen.
    • Any of Daphne's 'chim-chimerny' boyfriends from early series - clearly played by American actors who think saying 'cheerio' makes them English. Embarrassing.
      • The worst of which has to have been Clive (usually rendered "Cloive" by the man himself), played by Scott Atkinson. It's indescribably dreadful.
    • Her mother was at least played by Millicent Martin who comes from London and does a fairly convincing Mancunian. She was once quoted as saying she could have done a more convincing Mancunian, but then she wouldn't have sounded like she was Daphne's mother.
    • Martin Crane (played by John Mahoney, originally from Blackpool) could deliver a good Daphne impression. Video
  • Friends:
    • During one episode where Ross has to lecture in NYU, he gets so nervous he starts speaking in an (appalling) English accent. Monica and Rachel mock him by speaking in terrible Irish and Indian accents, respectively. Monica's seems to fluctuate between Ireland and Scotland, possibly as a reference to this trope or just because Americans can barely tell the difference.
    • Spoofed in an episode where an annoying old friend of Monica and Phoebe's (played by Jennifer Coolidge, who is American) comes back into town after living in England with a fake accent:
      Amanda: (after an awkward comment) Oh! Bugger. Should I not have said that? I feel like a perfect arrrse!
      Phoebe: Yeah, well, in America you're just an ass.
  • Frontier (2016): Englishwoman Elizabeth Carruthers is played by the Irish Katie McGrath. In an amusing bit of irony, her character makes several anti-Irish remarks.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Although their characters aren't technically British, Peter Dinklage (American), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Danish), Aidan Gillen (Irish), Jack Gleeson (also Irish), and Conleth Hill (Northern Irish) all adopts cod-English accents as Tyrion, Jaime, Baelish, Joffrey, and Varys, respectively, in order to fit in with the predominantly British cast of the show. Aiden Gillen rather infamously just drops the accent someway through Season 3 with no explanation.
    • Two Scots in the cast have to affect Oop North accents; Richard Madden as Robb Stark to fit in with his on-screen father Sean Bean, and Rose Leslie as the wildling Ygritte. The latter is notable because she is aristocracy in real life, and thus speaks in English-sounding RP anyway, but that was deemed unsuitable for the character.
    • Oona Chaplin is an odd case. She's Spanish-born, to an English-American mother and Chilean-Romanian father and has lived in England, Scotland, Cuba, Spain and Switzerland - so she says that her accent will change depending on where she is and who she's talking to. But she affects an RP accent as Talisa Maegyr, an exiled noblewoman from Volantis in Season 2.
  • Gossip Girl: American actor Patrick Heusinger played Blair's boyfriend Marcus, an English lord, in season two. Extra twisty points for the fact that Marcus pretended to be an American throughout most of his first episode. Later on his English accent was copied by Chuck, who wanted Blair to think he was Marcus. Chuck, an American, is played by a British actor...
  • In the 1996 TV adaptation of Gulliver's Travels the Americans Ted Danson and his wife Mary Steenburgen play Gulliver and his wife, who are both English.
  • Highlander: Duncan MacLeod. Adrian Paul used a Scottish accent in the flashbacks of Duncan's early years, but made it more generalized in the more recent flashbacks.
  • House:
    • Lampshaded, where the Jerseyite Dr. Jerk played by a Brit calls a hospital several times trying to get info. At one point, he uses an English accent, to which the operator responds "And that's the worst English accent I've ever heard!" Brilliantly done by Hugh Laurie, as he wasn't using his native English accent, but was doing an American's-poor-attempt-at-English-accent.
    • Also an Inverted Trope for the series other than that moment, as Dr. House normally speaks in a strong, accurate American accent.
  • The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: DS Barbara Havers is working-class English. She is played by the very Scottish Sharon Small. Fans who first encounter Small as Havers are often stunned when they hear just how wildly her native Glaswegian accent differs from Havers' Estuary English.
  • K9: This show is set in London. It's filmed in Australia. John Leeson and Robert Moloney are the only members of the cast who aren't Aussies.
  • Killing Eve: Irish actress Fiona Shaw plays the very English Carolyn Martens. Shaw had wanted to play the part with her own accent, until it was pointed out that Irish people aren't allowed to work for MI6.
  • The Last Kingdom: Set in what is today England before it was unified, several Anglo-Saxon characters are played by non-English actors:
    • Uhtred is played by Alexander Dreymon, who was born in Germany and grew up in the United States, France, and Switzerland.
    • King Æthelred is played by Scottish actor Alec Newman.
    • Odda the Younger is played by Scottish actor Brian Vernel.
    • Iseultnote  is played by Irish actress Charlie Murphy
    • Father Selbix is played by Irish actor Lorcan Cranitch.
    • Hild is played by Irish actress Eva Birthistle.
    • Brother Trew is played by Irish actor Peter McDonald.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: On one episode, detectives Goren and Eames are unraveling a murder and encounter a "British Lord" who does not realize he is part of a scam (he's an actor who thinks he's been hire for some kind of performance piece) and spend a few minutes trying to figure out where his accent is supposed to be from. He drops the accent and attempts to impress them with his acting bona fides.
  • Leverage:
    • Averted Trope as far as the actors are concerned. Gina Bellman (Sophie) was born in New Zealand to English parents and moved back to the UK when she was eleven, so her accent is genuine, as is Mark Sheppard's. However, the characters sometimes have to put on fake accents for a con, with Sophie making hers more downtown London than Upper-Class British Thief for "The Beantown Bailout Job", and Hardison taking on a Londoner accent in "The Ice Man Job".
    • Hardison's "Londoner" accent is painfully bad, but justified since he's not normally the grifter.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power adopted similar accents to the movies for the English dialects of Middle-earth, therefore having actors of different backgrounds faking the British accents.
    • There are many Aussies and Kiwisin the show: Fabian McCallum (with a hint of Welsh for the Elves), Charlie Vickers (RP accent), Tyroe Muhafidin and Geoff Morrell as well Kiwi actor Ian Blackburn doing a Northern English accent and Markella Kavenagh (West Country accent for the Harfoots).
    • Americans: Benjamin Walker as Gil-galad, Ema Horvath and Cynthia Addai-Robinson having RP accent.
  • Lost:
    • Alan Dale, who is from New Zealand, plays British character Charles Widmore. In his first few appearances the accent was impeccable, but his accent slipped a little in "There's No Place Like Home." He also played King Arthur for a time in the West End production of Spamalot.
    • American Neil Hopkins appeared on several episodes as Charlie's brother Liam.
  • Magnum, P.I.: John Hillerman, a native Texan, played English ex-military vet Jonathan Higgins. During the show's run, his character was required to "fake" a Texas accent to impersonate his look-alike half-brother Elmo. (Like Niles in The Nanny and Wesley Wyndham-Price above, a lot of British viewers were convinced he was a real Brit. One viewer even commended him for "being a credit to the Empire".)
  • Amongst the real Brits, Colin Morgan of Merlin (2008) is Northern Irish and his real accent shows it. According to Word of God, when Irishwoman Katie McGrath was cast as Morgana, one of them was going to have to do an English accent - because producers didn't want two Irish characters in the main cast.
  • Similarly to the above example, while the vast majority of the actors on Misfits were actually British and for the most part used their real regional accents, Ethiopian-Irish actress Ruth Negga plays her character, Nikki, with a Southern English accent.
  • The Nanny: Niles. A story goes that viewers of this show in the UK wrote in to complain about the "fake" accent used by Charles Shaughnessy (a real Londoner, not to mention a genuine Baron) and praising the "real" accent of Daniel Davis (Niles), a native of Arkansas.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Captain Hook was played by Irish actor Colin O'Donoghue. Ironically he was given Adaptation Name Change so that his real name is Killian Jones, which is Irish. His brother also has the Irish name Liam, though played by Australian actor Bernard Curry. His English accent is a little less convincing than O'Donaghue's.
    • Cruella de Vil, who has always been iconically British, is played by Irish actress Victoria Smurfit. She too had a relative played by an Australian - Anna Galvin as Cruella's mother Madeleline.
    • Out of the three Darling siblings, only one is portrayed by an English actor - Matt Kane as John. James Immekus is American as Michael, and Freya Tingley is Australian as Wendy. Tingley in particular does a flawless accent.
    • In the spin-off Alice is played by Sophie Lowe, who is British born but grew up in Australia.
  • Orphan Black: Tatiana Maslany and Jordan Gavaris, both Canadian, play British orphans who immigrated to Canada. In Maslany's case, she's Acting for Two, so it makes sense (at least from a real-world perspective) to adopt a fake accent to differentiate her characters from each other.
  • Penny Dreadful:
    • American Reeve Carney's British accent as Dorian Gray can be quite shaky at times.
    • And of course the French Eva Green continues her long streak of playing English characters.
  • Primeval's fourth and fifth seasons were filmed in Ireland, so a lot of one-shot characters were played by Irish actors with varying degrees of success. In the main cast however, both Jess and Emily were played by Irish actresses Ruth Kearney and Ruth Bradley respectively. Both do flawless accents.
  • Revolution: Anna Lise Phillips (Australian) plays the British Maggie Foster in the episodes "Pilot", "Chained Heat", "No Quarter", and "The Plague Dogs".
  • Rumpole of the Bailey: Australian Leo McKern spent his career playing Englishmen, most notably Horace Rumpole.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
    • A Season 7 episode has Steven M Porter playing the apparently English drummer Clive Rexford. Morgan thinks his accent is cute.
    • The two spin-off movies - Sabrina Goes to Rome and Sabrina Down Under have the Canadian Tara Strong playing an English witch called Gwen. Her accent is very solid in the first movie but slips quite a bit in the second. The first movie also has American actor Richard Steven Horvitz voicing her guinea pig Stonehenge.
    • In-universe in Seasons 6's Halloween Episode, where a spell has Sabrina's friends living out an Agatha Christie style murder mystery. Morgan's character is the Countess Admira, and Elisa Donovan puts on a quite decent English accent for it. Another in-universe example is American actor Douglas Sills as The Steward, who uses his own voice in the real world, but puts on an English accent when the spell begins.
  • Sanctuary: Amanda Tapping, while she was born in England (Rochford, Essex to be precise) has lived in Canada since she was three. Lampshaded in "Bank Job" when she reverts to her Canadian accent and the bank teller (Gary Davies who plays Sgt. Harriman in Stargate SG-1) comments "I knew that British accent was fake".
  • Shakespeare Unwrapped - an Irish educational series dramatizing King Lear features Irish actor William Brady and American actor Tom Duffy putting on English accents as Lear and the Fool respectively. The rest of the cast have Irish accents, save for Bobby Calloway (Cornwall) who already is English.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand is in fact set in Ancient Rome rather than England, but most of the Australian/New Zealand cast members affect English accents (or at least tone their natural voices down). The cast also includes Americans Katrina Law (Mira), Erin Cummings (Sura), Marissa Ramirez (Melitta) putting on English-sounding accents. John Hannah, who is Scottish, doesn't necessarily put on an English accent but makes his natural one sound posher (possibly as a Cultural Translation to convey that Quintus wants to be among the RP-accented nobles). Nick E Tarabay and Peter Mensah keep their own accents.
  • Strike Back: American actor Philip Winchester portrays English Sgt. Michael Stonebridge on this show. Doubly ironic as Stonebridge's counterpart Damien Scott is a Fake American.
  • Thanks: James is played by English actor Tim Dutton, but all the other pilgrims are played by American actors. At one point, Cotton asks why James has a different accent than everyone else.
  • Torchwood: John Hart, the Evil Counterpart to Captain Jack Harkness, is played by James Marsters using the same affected English accent he used as Spike.
  • The Tudors:
    • The two that immediately spring to mind are Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII and Sarah Bolger as Princess/Lady Mary Tudor (both are Irish). Sarah Bolger is a very convincing Fake Brit, whereas David O'Hara, playing the Earl of Surrey, is Not Even Bothering with the Accent.
    • Princess Elizabeth is played (as of season 4) by Dublin born actress Laoise Murray, meaning that most of the actual Tudors on the show are played by Irish actors. No information on whether Eoin Murtagh (Prince Edward) is Irish or not but that is a pretty Irish first name.
    • Canadian Henry Czerny as the Duke of Norolk.
    • New Zealander Sam Neill as Cardinal Wolsey.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • Americans Wayne Alexander as Cornelius, Ethan Phillips as Deaver and Robert Schenkkan as Eli in "Devil's Alphabet".
    • With the exception of Jenny Agutter as Morgan le Fay, the entire cast of "The Last Defender of Camelot".
    • Canadian Keith Knight as Archie in "Special Service".
  • The sitcom USA High featured the British beauty Ashley Elliot and her father the headmaster as main characters. Both are played by Americans Kirsten Miller and Nicholas Guest respectively. Another episode featured an English teacher and his wife, both played by Americans too.
  • The Vampire Diaries: The Originals have British accents despite being Scandinavian. Klaus is played by real Brit Joseph Morgan and Rebekah is played by Australian Claire Holt. The Originals all have different accents. Most notably Klaus has a Welsh accent, Kol has a London accent, Elijah has an American accent and Rebekah has an Australian accent.
  • The 1998 series based on The Worst Witch was full of Brits, except the Canadian actress Clare Coulter. She did such a flawless English accent as Miss Cackle (and her twin sister Agatha), most viewers were shocked to discover she was Canadian.
  • This Saturday Night Live skit about Brexit with Kate McKinnon as British PM Theresa May and Matt Damon as her predecessor David Cameron.

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