The Real King’s Speech!

Every time ‘The King’s Speech’ is re-run on TV I find myself foaming at the mouth and whining-on about the microphones…… or more specifically about the WRONG BBC microphones! This annoys the hell out of my family, and so I thought I would get it off my chest in a blog post!

Don’t misunderstand me, I love the film. Fabulous acting  etc  etc. BUT…………….. The spring mounted carbon microphones that appear throughout, and most irritatingly of all in that final speech, were phased out by the BBC around 1935!!!! Surely the producers knew that? Perhaps they thought the carbon mics looked cool, or more intimidating in the close-ups? Whatever the reason, they are quite simply WRONG!  By 1938 the STC4017C was used almost exclusively by the BBC for outside broadcasting. Indeed here is an uncomfortable looking George VI making a speech in 1938 with a typical array of STC4017s.

George VI 1938 with STC4017c

Also, there would certainly have been at least 2 microphones, as that was standard BBC practice at the time. The lower mic in the picture facing upwards at an angle is positioned to pick up the voice as the speaker looks down at his notes and moves off axis from the main pair. (Chamberlain can be seen with a similar setup declaring war on Germany)

I also found this fabulous Pathe News Reel from 1938.                                            This is what The King’s Speech should have looked (and sounded) like!

Ok rant over! Phew, that’s better!

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2 responses to “The Real King’s Speech!

  1. Spoke to the designer of The Kings Speech, Eve Stewart. She knew the ‘carbon’ mic in the film was not correct (it was a larger scale repro anyway). The standard STC 4017C was not very ‘photogenic’, thus the fake.

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    • Many thanks for this Dicky. Not very ‘photogenic’ ! There are probably more photographs, and historic film footage, of the famous and powerful taken in front of STC4017s / WE618a than any other microphone in 20th century history!
      And so, whilst I can see the reasoning at work here, I still think the fake carbon mic looks wrong!!

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