Minister 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.
One government spokesman said the growing trend for ‘normal’ accents 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, which has let a number of northern scientists find their way onto prime time television.
The matter has come to a head with Professor Brian Cox, who has attracted criticism for trying to explain particle physics on BBC 1 with a strong Oldham accent. One unnamed critic said that he was ‘letting science down’ and added that ‘if he really cared about science he would have spent some time at the Large Hadron Collider developing an authentic European type accent.’