The minister of state for universities and science, David Willetts has written to further education establishments in England and Wales requesting that as part of their science courses they introduce mandatory modules on communication skills and elocution.
The decision has come after a worrying increase in populist and often northern scientists and flooding the media with presentation styles which have been described as ‘earthy’ and ‘normal’. One government spokesman said this growing trend is “undermining the gravitas and integrity of British science and must stop right now.”
The science minister has come short of pointing the finger of blame at anyone in particular but it is widely felt that the action has been taken in direct response to the BBC who have let a number of northern scientists find their way onto prime time television.
Dr Brian Cox of the University of Manchester has cause a massive furore for the corporation by trying to explain particle physics on BBC 1 with a strong Oldham accent. One unnamed critic said she felt Dr Cox was “letting science down” and went on to say that “if he really cared about his subject he could have spent some of his time at the Large Hadron Collider developing an authentic European type accent for talking to the media with.”
Northern scientists are not the only problem though; the BBC have doggedly refused to ban Professor Colin Pillinger from their networks despite him having a thick and humorous west country accent and electrical engineering graduate Dick Strawbridge is also given peak air time despite being similarly vocally afflicted. Many feel that the accents these two particular men have, make them hard to believe - unless they are talking about taking cattle to market or scrumping for apples.
A spokesman for the government said that the battle against scientists with regional accents is a serious campaign that will be heavily enforced. “You wouldn’t expect a tradesman to sound like he had walked out of a Radio 4 studio and likewise we shouldn’t be willing to listen to chaos theory from people with regional voices. If our scientists want to talk like hooligans or farmers they can do it on Channel 5.”