Tees

London Olympics bus passengers guided by Durham voice

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Media captionEmma Hignett said she was proud to be playing a part in the Olympics

Emma Hignett was delighted when Transport for London decided her voice was, in her words, the "least likely to wind people up".

Now the destination announcer for those famous red buses has been getting the capital ready for the Olympics by recording a stock of new bus stop names and venues - all from her home in County Durham.

She has finished recording announcements such as "alight here for taekwondo" and "alight here for handball".

She said: "I'm so excited about the Olympics, so to play a tiny little part is very exciting. I'm very proud of it.

"I'm going to go on a bus when I go to the Olympic Stadium."

Back-handed compliment

Although millions of people might know Emma's voice, if she does travel by bus they will not recognise her.

Unless her husband is there too. He has, she says, a habit of telling the whole bus.

She said she thought only London bus etiquette might save her.

"Everybody knows that when you go down to London you don't talk to the person next to you on the bus.

"So, obviously, they all just ignore him, which is wonderful."

Mrs Hignett beat nine others to the job of recording the on-board announcements for London's famous red buses.

She laughs when she remembers Transport for London's reasons for choosing her.

"[It was] a back-handed compliment, but really lovely. It was basically that they wanted a voice that was not going to irritate."

In the past six years she has recorded the names of more than 35,000 bus stops, destinations, local amenities and tourist attractions.

They are recorded in sections - the route number, a direction, a destination, the words "alight here for" - which are slotted together and played out via a GPS system which knows where the bus is going, on what route and its distance from the next stop.

Mrs Hignett said she was always busy recording bus stop names as new routes through new streets, via new buildings and, of course, the Olympic development, were frequently added.

Little Britain

She is still, occasionally, caught on the hop by a new addition.

She said: "Although I scan through scripts before I go sometimes you haven't quite read them all.

"I'm going through this script and, you know, I did one line and then I read the next line and went 'Little Britain... is there really a bus stop called Little Britain?'"

She has fans and friends visiting the capital have said they are also impressed.

She said: "They phone me up and go, 'Listen, [she mimes holding a phone out to a speaker]. I'm listening to you. I'm on a bus."

The irony is that she rarely needs to travel, as she works out of a converted bedroom in her house in Staindrop.

She said: "The beauty, I suppose, of modern technology is that I can stand in my loft at a microphone and talk to somebody in Australia or I can email audio files around the world at a blink of an eye."

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