Cinema’s Worst Cockney Accents – COR BLIMEY!

April 24, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

London’s East End has been known throughout history as a mythical place populated by loveable rogues, bawdy ‘ho’s, urchins, chimney sweeps and Michael Caine. When directors want to inject a bit of gritty realism into proceedings they usually head for the sound of Bow Bells in search of larger than life Cockneys and some instant street cred.

But every now and then, an imposter creeps in and ruins the charade for us all. So in celebration of the East End Film Festival (running from today until Thursday 30th May), join us in our run-down of cinema’s most pony cockney accents…


Christian Bale’s accent doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going at the best times. One minute it’s convincingly British, the next he’s screaming at the rigger in a flawless American accent. One thing’s for sure, it certainly isn’t the tragic Mockney effort he trips over in The Prestige. Try making that disappear, mate…


How is it that Don Cheadle can get his mouth around the subtleties of the Rwandan accent yet falls at the first hurdle when it comes to playing a Brit in Ocean’s 11? “Awroit chaps, ‘old on to yer knickers,” shouts Cheadle as he blows the bloody doors off, and any chance he had of creating a credible character.


We know it’s not technically Cinema, but how the hell could we omit this?! As Jack Malone in Without A Trace, Anthony LaPaglia mumbles his way through the murky world of missing persons, suppressing his emotions and doing ‘strong and silent’. Perhaps LaPaglia’s stoicism owes less to his character and more to do with the fear that opening his mouth will result in another well dodgy accent as was the case on Frasier.

For reasons only known to Frasier’s producers LaPaglia inexplicably plays Northerner Daphne’s brother, Simon, as a Cockney. A Cockney that has never been to London, presumably.


“Why would Chelsea’s top firm be run by an Aussie?”, I wondered to myself as I tried my hardest to sit through the first half an hour of Green Street. Having already established that football hooligans only hate two kinds of people: Police and…. wait for it: journalists, I then had to put up with Charlie Hunnam’s bizarre vowel wrestling that sounded more like someone just out of root canal surgery than gen-uine Cock-erney.


The most famous, unashamed, toe-curling, borderline-offensive Cockney accent ever committed to celluloid belongs to Quincy MD star Dick Van Dyke in his portrayal of Burt the Chimneysweep in Mary Poppins. Van Dyke plays Burt as quasi-autistic simpleton who gurns his way through scenes, ineffectually trying to hide his boner for that strumpet Poppins.

Jack McKay

Awrite guvnors and me old china’s! What did you think of that ol’ list then? If you’re in desperate need of some quality Anglophil-icness (we’re guessing that’s a word), make sure to check out our hilarious reviews of superb new British films Shifty and City Rats, or our exclusive interview with up and coming English actor and Shifty star Daniel Mays….

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  1. me and i are cool with each other says:

    Isn’t Christian Bale British? How hard could it have been to do a cockney?

  2. Brian Fantana says:

    Um, Charlie Hunman’s a geordie