Ellen Thomas (Grace)

BBC Soap Eastenders always seems to get wrong when they decide to integrate a black family into the show.

Actress Bunmi Mojekwu (Mercy)

The show recently introduced family members Mercy Olubunmi (played by Bunmi Mojekwu) and her Nigerian grandmother Grace Olubunmi (played by Ellen Thomas).

I remember actress Ellen Thomas when she appeared on The Lenny Henry Show back in the late eighties. Since then she has starred in a multitude of different TV projects over the years, and has managed to bag some pretty big TV roles.

Now she is playing a Nigerian grandmother in Eastenders, and her accent is atrocious.

Don’t get me wrong Ellen is a decent actress, but I don’t understand why she hasn’t bothered to perfect the Nigerian accent before filming her first scene, or why Eastenders producer Bryan Kirkwood didn’t opt instead to cast a Nigerian actress to play Grace.  Would that have been so hard????

Does Bryan think we’re dumb? That we won’t notice that the woman supposedly playing a Nigerian grandmother actually sounds West Indian…. well sort of.

Those who tune in to Eastenders will know what I mean.

Bryan you seriously need to sort this out.

How much does it cost to hire a dialect coach?

17 replies »

  1. Err…video link please…Wait since the character is Yoruba, any gbatim gbatim, i.e. Yoruba to all you PC people? Oh, what about the h factor?

    *To the uninitiated, i.e. the addition of h to any word that begins with a vowel, and the removal of h to any word that begins with a h. eg: hotel = otel, on = hon…

  2. I love Ellen Thomas. I’ve seen her play nigerian characters a few times live in theatre and it was the same accent. LOL! I think she’s originally from Sierra Leone. She never got it right.

    I ain’t mad at her though lol it’s Ellen! I even met her she’s cool.

  3. Afraid I have to co-sign with Karl for the same reasons, met her on Saturday and she is a very nice woman….how lame am I…

  4. your right, did the characetr have to be a nigerian with a bad accent?? couldnt it be a sierre leonian accent if thats where shes from?? she sounds like a carribean woman trying too hard to sound african!! NIGERIANS DO NOT SAY DIGNIFIED AND POISE!! KAIII SEE MISINTERPRETATION!

  5. It is very hard to get an accent very right if you have lived out of a culture for a long time and have adopted another culture and language to add to the mix. I wonder if she can do the sierra leonian accent to perfection for the same reasons. But also, a proper aunthetic Nigerian accent would be hard to understand by some folks even if it’s English, and i know some folks would get irritated if they didn’t understand what they were saying, so i think they have to water the accent down for their viewers. I haven’t watched her yet.

  6. This comes as no surprise, most black chracters that are portrayed in soaps are not recognisable to anyone with black skin. Does anyone remember the Trident chewing gum advert, you remember the man with the “supposed” Jamaican accent, hmmm!(matification for the nation!) My guess is they just choose “any” black actor to play that role (as we all look and sound the same! Cha!)

    These scripts are written by white people, who think they have a clue about black culture, mainly because they might have a few “black” friends in their social circle. Would it really be that difficult to have an actor of the actual race/culture on board to show them where they have gone wrong, even of they were on hand just to consult. No, they pluck at straws and mess up. What a joke!

  7. Miz Lala

    It depends.I am not at them because they picked her instead of a 9ja woman.David Oyelowo played a Jamaican soldier in that mini series with Naomi Harris.Both their accents were not all that but it wasn’t atrocious.Even black actors with actual african or west indian origins can hardly pull clean african accents.Case in point Oyelowo.

  8. I absolutely agree with the article, there are plenty of Nigerian actress’s that they could have recruited for this role especially since mercy is originally Nigerian. Nothing against Ellen but the accent is awful and I think it would have been fairer to bring in someone that can execute the accent and make it more authentic.

  9. Oh she might aswell ditch the accent and just play a Nigerian that has settled in Britain for a long time.

    I just hate listening to fake accents of all sorts, just more irritating and makes u want to switch off!

    And how are they gonna represent us this time with this new black family?

  10. Her accent is atrocious, I definitely agree. They shouldn’t ever think that Nigerians won’t pick up on it. I can’t ever listen to her (even with my eyes closed) and feel like it is Nigerian speaking. She can act, but the accent :/ please recast; Zainab’s accent is authentic, so is Patrick’s, don’t the Nigerians deserve someone who can speak with a Nigerian accent well?

  11. Ellen is Sierra Leonean, not Caribbean. But the accent is exagerrated probably because she feels under pressure to sound ‘nigerian.’ A producer or director would have said, yeah thats fine or they trust her judgement to educate them on ‘Africa.’ LOL!

  12. Goodness, I got a text to turn over and catch Ellen’s accent the other night.

    Its way beyond Dick Van Dyke or Don Cheadle in Ocean’s 11. Im struggling to think of a worse accent on tv.

    Why doesnt it matter enough to the producers to get it right?

  13. That’s tv for u … Do u remember “Darlene” fr bad girls … An nigerian playin a so called “Yardie” …. I dnt kno y they do these things .. Is it not possible 2 just cast a nigerian as a nigerian a jamaican as a jamaican and a polish person as an actually polish

  14. I think Ellen Thomas is a great actress, and maybe the fact that Bryan Kirkwood chose her is becoz she is a good actrss. What would be the point of Grace Olubumi having a nigerian accent that the majority of British people cant understand or find funny, and switch off. Eastenders is not only a london soap its a UK soap.

  15. How many nigerian school teachers in the UK scholl system for more than 25 years do you know who speak with a Nollywood accent. I am glad the actress has chosen not to go for a strong Nigerian accent that sterotypes and caricaures the character of Grace Olubumi.

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June 2010
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