Major character Armitage

I know it mystifies some readers of this blog that I spend a lot of time obsessively relistening to Sylvester, and it perturbs others that I can fit a love for both Strike Back and Sylvester, pieces at the opposite ends of the aesthetic spectrum, in my mental universe. “Armitage does it!” is all I can say. In other words: I can’t really explain it, either, but even though I love Venetia, maybe even more than Sylvester, for some reason Sylvester is my goto audiobook on really long drives. The delicious fourth disc has been lodged in my car stereo for the whole vacation, the velvety voice and ridiculous story calming me down any time I’m overbalanced, and I may soon have it memorized.

After my last long drive, we held a poll to award a prize for “best voicing of a minor character in Sylvester, male” and “best voicing of a minor character in Sylvester, female,” and now it’s time for the corresponding awards for “best voicing of a major character in Sylvester.”

Concessions: I fully concede that the line between a major and a minor character is somewhat arbitrary. Also, obviously the most important character that Mr. Armitage voices in this audiobook is Georgette Heyer; she’d win hands down, so I am leaving her out, and planning to write more about how he performs Heyer at a later date. Choices for a major male character were quite obviously limited. I tried throughout to avoid the obvious speeches or those that would be guaranteed to win a prize for a character (so no Sylvester declaring his love for Phoebe here).

Servetus clears her throat:

The nominees for “Best Voicing of a minor character in Sylvester, female,” are, in no particular order:

Phoebe, telling her grandmama about the events that inspired her breakneck journey to London:

Ianthe, at her first meeting with Phoebe:

Lady Ingham (Phoebe’s grandmama), suggesting to Sylvester that Phoebe might be the girl he’s looking for:

The dowager Duchess of Salford (Sylvester’s mama), speaking with him upon his return to London after his continental escapade:

and finally, Miss Battery, responding to Phoebe’s dislike of Sylvester:

And here’s the poll:

Servetus clears her throat again.

The nominees for “Best Voicing of a minor character in Sylvester, male,” are, in no particular order:

Sylvester, telling Phoebe what’s what at the Castlereaghs’ ball:

Tom Orde, writing a note to his mother to tell her he’s run off with Phoebe:

And here’s the poll:

You may vote once in each poll. I’ll leave this poll open for the next week. I look forward to discussion of these choices and of Mr. Armitage’s performance in the comments.

~ by Servetus on December 30, 2011.

13 Responses to “Major character Armitage”

  1. Hmmm. An interesting poll.

    I voted for Lady Ingham because I always like RA voicing the elderly ladies so deliciously. And, I felt a twinge of recognition in Phoebe’s voice sounding very much like Horatia’s (Horrie) from The Convenient Marriage.

    For the male, I chose Tom because it was a new dialect accent that I don’t think I have heard RA voice before. And RA is so wonderfully vivid in portraying accents–especially reflecting the subtle nuances among the various British dialect accents.

    Cheers and Happy New Year! Grati ;->


    • It stands to reason that some of his voices would take on some familiarities eventually. I feel like he got better at young women later, and although he does more than fine with Phoebe I don’t think it’s his best female voices. Of course we are splitting hairs here.


  2. RA does such a good job with Tom Orde that I have started to believe that there is another actor that comes in and does his part with RA, though I know intellectually, that RA is the one doing the part. The only other character (IMHO) that RA does better is the “burly man” in Convenient Marriage.

    Happy New Year!


    • I absolutely agree, Kathleen, that you’d never know it was him voicing Tom. It makes me wonder if he has a friend or something who sounds like that.


  3. Hi Servetus! Thanks for the nice poll!
    We share a common passion since I also listen to Sylvester very often, at least all the times I have a long flight and even a chapter or two before falling asleep, I find the whole thing very relaxing and soothing. I voted for the Duchess voice above, even though it’s such a suffering interpretation that I also feel the pangs of arthritis 🙂
    My least favourite character is Ianthe, so since I cannot stand her, I don’t particulalrly like RA voice either.
    Tom Orde is great! I am not a native speaker, so it took me sometime to actually understand what he says, but I think the characterization is great and I can just figure out the guy in front of my eyes.
    As I wrote a while ago on your blog, my favourite ever voice of RA so far is the one of Rule in The Convenient Marriage audiobook: the plot is quite absurd also in that book, but Rule has such a posh and elegant voice that I keep on listening to those recordings! I am also reading the printed non-abridged version to see the differences and I think I will do the same for Sylvester.
    Thanks for the nice postings on your blog! I recently relocated from Italy to the US, so I no longer have the issue of the timezone and I see your stuff freshly posted!


    • Alessandra, thanks for the comment and I am glad to know I am not the only one who finds Sylvester really soothing.

      Hope you enjoy your relocation!


  4. Richard gives his characters a great voice and spirit. He speaks and I see
    Ianthe as lively. These woman’s voices provide me with endless joy:)


  5. Richard does such a good job giving all the characters life that the only way I could choose was to pick the two that are remotest from Richard’s voice. Thus I voted for Lady Ingham and Tom. If I had to vote for my favourite character voice in any book, it would always be the one closest to Richard’s own – male, rich and deep – Damerel, Rule, Sylvester.


    • I think that’s a fair criterion. I’m glad that you and the others were able to separate the question of which voice you find most attractive from which voice you think he does best. It’s interesting that none of the voters for Sylvester have commented, though!


  6. I love RA’s interpretation of Tom Orde. He’s young and down to earth. He’s an ideal “brother” character and I wish him well. And I agree that RA makes him sound as if another actor read the part…. amazing. I fall in love with the humbled Sylvester every time, but I also adore Tom. I also love the Duchess’ voice — when she is patient and kind to Phoebe, it makes me want to cry a little, too. And to think it is all the voice work of RA (and the fine writing of Georgette Heyer). I hope he narrates a boatload of more books. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll get to do the Hobbit. However, I’d settle for a few more Georgette Heyers. I want him to read Fredericka and Faro’s Daughter and Devil’s Cub. And I’d like them to be unabridged. I’ve already emailed my requests to Naxos…. I also listen to Sylvester more than Convenient Marriage or Venetia. Perhaps it is the wealth of interesting secondary characters and voices. It is a very soothing audiobook.


    • So cool that you wrote to Naxos! I want him to do more audiobooks, although it wouldn’t have to be Heyer for me.


  7. I voted for Richard’s reading of Ianthe, because in the audiobook she’s just so silly and sly and he portrays those characteristics beautifully.

    And I liked Tom’s accent–plus, as someone else mentioned, he’s the perfect brother: down to earth, responsible and long-suffering. The character of Sylvester is sort of stiff. He’s most attractive when he unbends, of course, but that doesn’t happen very often.

    As a story, I like Venetia better (haven’t heard CM yet), but I wish I could have heard unabridged versions of both Sylvester and Venetia–they left out all the funny bits. Richard made a perfect Damerel.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: