In a packed bar in London’s Soho, around 70 people are waiting - some for hours - to see the main attraction. But, rather than for a chance to see the latest gadget, they are waiting to have an audience with the voice of one.
Following a campaign on Facebook, Richard Gardner and around 26,000 others have successfully fought to have Brian Blessed, thespian and voice of Prince Vultan in Flash Gordon, to be the new voice of TomTom.
That’s right, you can now have your car GPS screaming at you as if Gordon really is alive.
But what does the sometimes larger than life actor think of all this? What’s his favourite gadget? And how does he feel about having his voice guiding thousands around the country in their cars? We asked him to find out...
What’s your favourite gadget?
It’s my laptop. Ken Branagh gave me his laptop and said “You’ve got to come out of the fucking 19th century and get into the 21st century mate”. He’s taught me a bit, but he’s not that good, and then he got me this expert to teach me. I’m learning very slowly, but it’s amazing what’s on it.
I’m finding the Internet amazingly informative. One should not be afraid of technology, but embrace it. If I’m going to go to the International Space Station, I’ve got to learn a lot more.
What did you think of Facebook campaigning for you to be the voice of TomTom?
I do a massive amount of voiceovers, and I do voiceovers for things I don’t understand at all. They tell me though, that it all sounds wonderful, but I haven’t got a clue. But, now I am learning and I am starting to understand.
What was the hardest thing you had to say for the TomTom voiceover?
I kept dropping animals in, I’ve got 2500 animals that my wife's rescued, so I’m always dropping animals in it. "Watch the chicken" [makes chicken noise]. There’s one where I become Tarzan and do the whole Tarzan thing [makes Tarzan noise]. So I drop those in at the same time as directions. You see, the police tell me there are more and more people falling asleep in cars, so you've got to do what you can to stop that.
Do you say Gordon's alive?
Oh yes. All the time. Your TomTom’s alive. Gordon’s Alive, and things like that. It’s full of ridiculous things I keep saying all the way through. The main thing, of course, is that it is gravitas so one has to give correct instructions. Drive, drive, drive.
Did you embellish the instructions?
Yes. I would say things like ignore all left and right signs because they are merely party political slogans. “Turn right, no don't turn right, turn left”.
Do you have a TomTom telling you the instructions?
I haven’t got one yet.
Will you get one with your own voice?
Yes I will. It will make me laugh.
Brian's voice can be downloaded from: http://brianblessed.tomtom.com for £7.95. Customers should check which devices allow voices to be downloaded on the website.