The man who puts the ‘X’ in X Factor announcements was in Luton last week to talk to media students about his career and how they could follow in his footsteps.
Belfast-born Peter Dickson, 56, told the Luton News he’s been intrigued by accents ever since he was a lad of six.
He said: “My Dad had an old Bakelite radio and I loved listening to those wonderful fruity voices on the BBC . . . it sounded like they were having great fun and I loved them so much I wanted to have a voice like that too.” Fast forward 40 years and Peter’s a past master at mimicking those velvety tones, or indeed any others he’d care to create. He’s celebrated across the country as Voiceover Man and his lists of credits includes everything from Britain’s Got Talent to Family Fortunes and All Star Mr and Mrs to Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow.
He’s also voiced ads for big hitters like British Gas and Branston Pickle and has worked with some of the brightest names in the business such as Simon Cowell, Graham Norton, David Walliams and Ann Robinson.
The father-of-two ditched a promising calling as a clinical psychologist to join the BBC. He left after nine years to go freelance and that’s when his career really accelerated.
His involvement with The X Factor came about after he was shown a pilot with a pretty average voiceover.
“I submitted a demo tape to Simon Cowell and that’s how it started,” he said.
“I’ve done every series and the show’s evolved massively – it’s become progressively bolder, bigger, louder. By the end of each one my eyes are bulging like a Bond villain.”
He avoids damaging his vocal chords and gets his voice in shape before each performance by singing scales and reciting tongue twisters in the bathroom.
He can also he heard proclaiming the name of former contestant Rachel Adedeji. “It’s six syllables with lots of open vowels,” he explained.
In addition he exercises the muscles of articulation – tongue, jaw and neck – and does yoga-based stretches.
What he most enjoys about his life is the variety and relative anonymity - on the same day he can be doing a corporate video, narrating a documentary or animating a cartoon.
But his best gig so far? Commentating on beach volleyball at the 2012 Olympics.