Viewers slam Lenny Henry’s accent in BBC1 slavery drama The Long Song
‘Lenny Henry’s accent is as Jamaican as Jamie Oliver’s jerk chicken!’ Viewers of new BBC1 slavery drama The Long Song slam cast’s ‘fake’ West Indian lilt
- First episode of three-part slavery period drama The Long Song aired last night
- Sir Lenny Henry stars as plantation slave Godfrey; the actor shed 3st for the role
- However, some viewers weren’t impressed by the 60-year-old’s Jamaican accent
- One said you could clearly hear the actor’s West Country twang mixed in
- Others praised first episode of the adaptation, saying the acting was ‘amazing’
Viewers tuning into the first episode of The Long Song, BBC1’s pre-Christmas period drama on slavery in 19th century Jamaica, has been slammed for the cast’s ‘wayward’ accents.
With an all-star cast led by Sir Lenny Henry (Godfrey) and Hayley Atwell (Caroline Mortimer), the three-parter adapts Andrea Levy’s novel about the tangled relationships between plantation owners, slaves and abolitionists.
However, many watching said they were distracted from the hard-hitting plot by the ‘fake’ Jamaican accents.
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West Country or West Indies? Sir Lenny Henry (pictured) who stars as plantation worker Godfrey in the new BBC drama The Long Story was criticised for his Jamaican accent by viewers tuning in to the first episode
Hayley Atwell, right, plays plantation owner Caroline Mortimer, who takes slave, July, (Tamara Lawrance) to be her personal maid in the years leading up to the abolition of slavery in 19th century Jamaica
Some viewers tuning into the first episode criticised the cast’s accent as ‘fake’, saying Lenny Henry’s Godfrey didn’t sound authentically Jamaican
Shortly after the show aired at 9pm, Twitter was soon alight with observations on the casts’ pronunciation.
@PaaWOWW joked: ‘Lenny Henry’s Jamaican accent is about as Jamaican as Jamie Oliver’s jerk rice #TheLongSong’, a reference to the accusations of cultural appropriation that chef Oliver faced after he put his name to a version of the Jamaican staple.
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@MrsAwesomeSauc added: ‘Many Multi-Talented Jamaicans Out Here…..Why The Fake Accent Again?’
@whowatme added: ‘@LennyHenry @VisitJamaicaNow Lenny Henry’s Patois mixed with his Black Country accent.’
The character of July (Lawrance) faces a life living as a personal maid in the plantation’s Great House, only for her world to be turned upside down when abolition of slavery arrives on the island
The last song is told through the perspective of headstrong slave July (pictured left) who goes on to marry English abolitionist Robert Goodwin
@julianhilaire joked: ‘#TheLongSong waiting for Rastamouse to show up to put the accent right.’
@AnikaKora disagreed that the accent should not be the focus for viewers: ‘I cannot speak for ALL Jamaicans but I see the story, the history, the pain and suffering, the families torn apart, hate that continues to the date #myancestorsstory being told #accentnotimportant.’
The show focuses on July (Tamara Lawrance), the daughter of field slave Kitty. Plantation owner John Howarth’s sister Caroline (Atwell) decides she wants to train July as her personal maid.
Levy’s plot follows the trials of July as she grows up and faces being torn between two worlds as the abolition of slavery comes during her teenage years.
What unfolds between July, her mistress Caroline and a charming new arrival to the island, an English abolitionist by the name of Robert Goodwin, is a fascinating love triangle.
Accents aside, there was plenty of positive reviews of the first hour of drama.
@Arlene_HWycombe praised Henry’s Godfrey, writing: ‘Love @LennyHenry forgot what a wonderful actor he is #TheLongSong’
MailOnline has contacted the BBC for comment.
Earlier this month, Hayley Atwell revealed that the character of narcissistic Caroline wasn’t hard to say yes to, as she relished the chance of getting her teeth into a veritable panto villain.
Atwell told Weekend Magazing: ‘That was the appeal of this character for me. She was so big on the page… she’s a hysterical, grating, heinous monster.’
‘I didn’t like her, but I loved playing her. I found her dark side to be an opportunity to explore the damage done to the human psyche when you inflict damage on someone else.’
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