For the next three months British users of BT’s text message to voice translation service will hear the voice of Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor from the original Doctor Who series (and my personal favorite of all the actors to play the role), in place of the usual computer generated voice. Baker spent 11 days recording some 11,593 phrases and sounds which the computerized system will be able to combine to form complete words. According to this BBC news article you can even make Tom swear if you want to:
The service also recognises common text abbreviations such as “gr8” and will translate “xx” into “kiss kiss”, while “xxxx” is “lots of kisses”.
BT says there are no barriers to what Baker’s voice can say – including rude words.
“What appeals to me most is the thought that I will be bringing good news to people whether it is a cheeky message, a birthday greeting, or just a quick hello,” said Baker.
“Whatever it is, hopefully my voice will bring a smile to people’s faces.”
The news item includes a video interview with the 72 year-old actor about the project.
I’ve never text messaged anything over a cellphone myself and I honestly don’t see myself starting the practice anytime soon, but given the chance to have Tom Baker read it back to me I’d probably have to indulge myself with a few silly text messages just for the sheer fun of it. If any of our U.K. readers try the service out and can manage to capture a recording of it I’d love to tack it onto this entry if you’re willing to email it to me.
Update: Thinking about this reminded me of one of my favorite outtakes from the Fourth Doctor. The Doctor asks K9 a question that the robotic dog is unable to answer to which Tom responds with this deviation from the script that never made it into the episode.