In which my speech impediment is criticised, but all ends happily

A true email conversation recently conducted through my website reveals an unexpected moment of courtesy in cyberspace.

While I have not exactly displayed heroism on the Mary Beard scale, it will warm the hearts of the speech-impedimented everywhere.

(Apparently my problem is my enormously long tongue – its great length means that it rather lazily won’t take the trouble to curl up and form the letter ‘R’ properly.  But I promise you it’s not for want of trying on my part!  I have even consulted a specialist speech therapist, and she said that to cure the problem I’d have to say ‘R’ correctly as many times as I have said it incorrectly in the past.  So, I’m sowwy, but I don’t think there’s much I can do about it.)


-I’ll be blunt (apologies) Please try harder to correct your lazy speech or remove ‘R’s’ from your scripts – I could not sit through Bolsover Castle – and became so annoyed I had to write this drivel. Regards. Darren


-Oh Darrren, I think you’ve taken refuge behind the anonymity of the internet to say something that you probably wouldn’t say to my face. Please do re-consider, and maybe even retract your unkind words! Lucy


-I apologise!  Even though I revel in my ignorance and rudeness I would not wish to upset you face to face and the anonymity of the internet made me forget this. My unkind and blunt words were an instant and disproportional response to my annoyance with a speech impediment which is obviously out of your control. Even though you have lost a viewer, rest assured that I feel embarrassed and chastened and will not be sending any more email outbursts (to anyone).  Yours humbly, Darren.


-Many thanks Darren for your generous response! Lucy

79 thoughts on “In which my speech impediment is criticised, but all ends happily

  1. Peter Osborn

    Good evening Miss Worsley,
    I have just been watching Harlots, Housewives and Heroines and I enjoyed it immensely , as I do all your programmes.Just before the broadcast I
    had read your blog and noted in particular the comment by that cad and bounder who critisied your “speech impediment”. What impediment ? Having just watched you
    on the telly I did not notice it at all. All RR s seemed to be there and, if they where in fact not pronounced perfectly as that cad suggested that only added to the charm of your manner of presentation which I admire.
    I look forward to all your programmes including your unnoticable ” speech impediment”

    Best wishes
    Happy Christmas
    Peter Osborn

  2. Kit

    Don’t worry. Your so called ‘impediment’ is
    very endearing and I definitely would not
    want you to change it for anything.
    Anyway, you’re in good company‎
    I’m looking forward to your next programme.
    It’s always good to see you on TV.
    Best regards.

  3. Castor

    I’m pleased that Darren retracted. The man is clearly a fool, as your impediment, if you must call it that, is beyond endearing.
    Please script in as many R’s as you feel to be necessary and keep the subject matter as salacious as possible, please!

    An Admirer. 🙂

  4. Martyn


    I too have the speech impediment rhotacism. I have never listened to my voice since my teens (57 now) because I did not like the sound of the pronounced l’s and r’s (celery, gallery, yellow lorry). Now, after watching your truly very interesting programmes and listened to your voice (rather sexy if you don’t mind me saying), I have become rather proud my rhotacism. I thank you.

  5. Ian Rawat

    Your impediment is sweet,your talks and shows are very interesting and you still look cute in those historical dresses! Enjoyed meeting you at Guildford-will send those 3d pics a.s.a.p.Ian.

  6. Sam

    I think your speech impediment gives you character, and combined with your enormous enthusiasm when telling stories and engaging in re-enactment for the camera, makes you sort of cute and your programmes a joy to watch.

  7. Brian

    How rude to comment on someone’s speech impediment!

    For myself, I had never noticed any hint of an impediment and find your voice a delight to listen to.

    Clear, precise, and melodic. So unlike some of the “Estuary English” we hear on the Media.

    I am particularly enjoying your series “A Very British Murder”. Quality TV.

    Thank You.

  8. Angela Marshall

    I love the way you speak! It only adds to your charm and I personally find your voice energetic but soothing all at the same time! Continue to make television programmes, I wish you were on more!

  9. Steve

    Dear Lucy, my wife has a very slight lisp and I always have found it endearing. I find your mode of speech equally so and do not find it impedes at all. Speech impediment? If the only word you could say was “Beef”, maybe so, but you are perfectly articulate.

  10. Katharine Magry

    Hi Lucy,

    At risk of repeating the comments already posted, I just wanted to say that I think your presentation style is engaging, energising and just simply wonderful. Your enthusiasm for history is infectious and sometimes threatens to knock me off my chair. Your programs have gotten me through many banging-my-head-against-my-desk-trying-to-nut-out-an-assignment episodes.

    I also have a speech impediment (stammer) and presentations used to be very difficult for me. I would much rather have walked in front of a bus than get up in front of a crowd and start talking. But I found that having to speak very slowly and very deliberately (and even then still stammering) actually served me very well, because it made my presentation style all the more unique. I figured that even if I heard a snigger or a confused laugh, it meant that someone in the audience was actually listening to what I was saying and not day-dreaming about the menu in the tavern.

    Anyway, far from being a nuisance or distraction, your ‘speech impediment’ gives you a very unique style and serves to positively distinguish you from other ‘normal’ presenters out there. And hey, kudos for actually having the confidence and conviction to appear on television. Not many people can do that!

    I can’t wait to see your new series!

    Thanks for being an inspiration and b-b-best of luck!

  11. michelle

    Lucy. I find your presentation style thoroughly engaging and the subject matter stimulating. I feel very grateful to the bbc for producing so much good programming in the last couple of years. Due to people who are enthusiastic about their subjects I have learnt more in the past 3 years than I ever did in the last 30! Inspired by programmes like yours I am now pursuing an activated interest in all history, but particularly with social/family history which must be the base of all cultural history . I can’t pronounce my ‘r’s very well either – but it’s very sweet in your delivery.Your magnificent intellect and cunning wit lets any viewer who may take you for a flibbertigibbet think again. I must go and measure my tongue…

  12. GinaJ

    Well, he had the grace to apologise properly. I had never noticed the issue, and I don’t intend to. Enjoy your programmes enormously. So does my mother (at 88 and very deaf) who appreciates your clear diction and your subject matter. Thank you.

  13. Nelson Lord

    Have just watched you for the first time on your murder programme. “Speech impediment”? You don’t have one. Loved everything about your style. Thought you should perhaps get your own detective series …

  14. Will McCrum

    I think it’s most impwoper to dwell on one’s speech impeds. I mean look at old Tewwy-Thomas: he made a fwightfully good caweew out of his speech indiosywatheeth, and they all loved him fow it. Dan Cwuikshank is a histowical hewitage bod, and he cartainly has no boyfwiends. Just ignore it all, Miss Wowsley.

  15. David Taylor

    I think your speech impediment is a plus and adds character to your presentation. Your presentations are superb and engaging. Please keep it up!

  16. Dean

    .How could anybody be irritated by your adorable pronunciation? What’s wrong with lots of different ways of pronouncing? My wife for instance has a particularly charming soft R which makes her sound irish (Even though she’s from Durham), caused by her chipping a tooth as a child.
    Please dont think of ‘correcting’ this little vocal marvel!

  17. Jeffrey L. Dunford

    Have now watched all of you programs except the last of “”Murder”. Frankly, spouse and I were not aware you had a speech impediment until I read this blog entry. We think your voice is darling.

    I have lived many places both in N. America and the world so I tend to ignore slight speech differences. I wonder if people who complain about a slight impediment would benefit from living abroad where English is not the chosen language.

    Keep presenting, keep talking, keep entertaining and educating so many of us.

  18. Robert

    I’m an American transplant who watches you religiously, and have only just found this webpage. I honestly had never realized that there was a speech imediment. Your programs are very engaging- they are informative and entertaining, and you are exceedingly cute. Please don’t change anything about your shows!

  19. Pamela

    Dear Lucy:
    I am dazzled by your wonderful, slightly mischievous delivery in your various television series. Have I noticed the “r” thing? Yes. Do I care? No. Why? Because you are bright and charismatic and because I’m learning cool things.

    Thank you!

  20. Simon A

    I actually think the impediment is an enhancement and gives you character. People sometimes have a tendency to overreact to anything that can set a person apart as an individual, whether its a fruity birth mark or a funny walk or yes, even a speech impediment. To much dangerous conformity I think.
    By the way gweatly enjoy the shows, Gweat job! 😉

  21. Bog

    Well, I think Lucy Worsley should know how to speak English properly by now, having had 40 years to try to master it.

  22. Charis

    Just saw HH and H on SBS in Australia. Loved it! Had no idea so many women did so much cool stuff back in the Reformation. Inspiring. I like your Rs. They keep me on my toes, kind of like the way I wait for Jonathan Woss to say his name on his chat show. (BTW, your Rs are far better pronounced than Wossy’s!)

  23. Lesley-Anne

    A late response, as I’ve come late to this story, so apologies for that. In our home, we love Lucy! You make us smile and giggle as we learn fascinating facts – and that’s the very best thing. Please stay on TV. Please stay just the way you are. You make history sparkle (and we like your frocks too :o)

  24. CMoore

    Until just now I was unaware you had a speech impediment. I just figured you were English 😉

  25. Adele

    Dear Lucy, I think I’ve watched everything you’ve ever presented (twice) and I think your speech is wonderful! Isn’t it amazing what people will say whilst safely tucked away behind their computers…. how rude. Good for you calling him out on it. Love your work and look forward to many more shows…. with or without r’s!! Cheers, Adele

  26. Graham Hillier

    Hi Lucy I so enjoy all your presentations on English Royal history. How can people be so small minded looking behind those fascinating subjects and see such a little thing as how a person pronounces their “R”‘s. I say them get a life and listen to what you have to say they may learn something. Keep up the great work love all you shows and topics. Graham x
    PS I think it sounds sexy!

  27. Michael

    Lucy, if only I had an history teacher with your enthusiasm and charisma at. school. At the age of 44 you have inspired me to study for a degree inhistory.

  28. chris crowcroft

    I’m a little late on the ‘r’ debate. In Italy it is called the ‘r nobile’ or (‘noble r’ for the linguistically challenged). There’s the occasional opera singer who has it – Valletti? I had a terrifying landlady who had it, who was from Milan, called ‘La Signo-w-a.’ It’s regarded as smart!


  29. James Alton

    Dear Lucy (if I may be so bold as to familiarly address someone who I’ve seen and heard many times but who knows nothing of me; so, perforce, I dispose of formalities),

    I have seen many of your TV programmes and like them, and it is you charming delivery that is an indispensable part of my liking: though the topics themselves are interesting, your style of delivery is captivating in many ways.
    You have a jocular and engaging style, and it is to your credit that you can find humour in your subjects and don’t mind playing the fool, and being revealed as a sometimes nincompoop: what was the line, now, “drink the bottle”?
    Keep it up but don’t let all this praise discombobulate you: always “To thine own self be true”.

  30. Anthony

    Lucy your porgrammes are such a breath of fresh air. I love history programmes but some of the presenters could send you to sleep (no names).

    I love your style and the so-called speech impediment is delightfully quirky. Don’t ever change!

    Was there anything as pretty on TV as Dr Lucy Worsley with the Marcel wave? I think not.

  31. Sally

    Just discovered you day before yesterday on youtube, while i was stuffing envelopes at work. I checked in partly because I thought “how does she get through life with that name?” Turns out, I had conflated Dursley and Weasley. Then I thought there must be a part of England where your speech is correct (aren’t there parts of Spain where lisping is correct?) – – I held my breath when “rural” and “curare” came up in close succession … and you were “over it like a bird”!! What a sad world it would be if you felt you had to go all uriah-heepy about your speech. Much more thrilling this way. So indeed … thank you and please keep on! And now I have to go and study up on D. Sayers and how she compares to my own personal favorite, M. Allingham.

  32. Stephen L

    Fully agree with all above.
    As much as I enjoy history programs my attention can wander … & I do on occasion nod off in the serious bits.
    But your quirky, enthusiastic presentation keeps my attention !
    I hope you do lots more BBC 4 programs as you are one of the best – intellectually vigorous yet lots of fun.

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  34. Joyce D.

    I just love your presentations, Lucy. Until reading these comments I’d thought your way of speaking was lovely and had no idea you had an impediment, no matter how small. I think you’re the most delightful, pretty, interesting, funny and engaging presenter on TV. I’m a rather very old lady now but still really enjoy anything at all to do with historic U.K. These days there’s hardly anything of interest to watch, but you’re the most wonderful person who can hold my interest through every moment of your series. I love watching even though my hearing is not very good now, but what I do hear is always a fascinating treat. Please make as many series as you possibly can. I just wish I could see each of them over and over.

  35. Jem

    I adore history and particularly British history and I enjoy your presentation and think your lovely.
    Please don’t change.

  36. Sam

    Dear Lucy
    you’re show on the Georgians is great and I find your lisp to be endearing

  37. Tom Ordelman

    Geez, now I’d wish I could say something terribly blunt, and unkind, even embarrassing to you, just to create an opportunity for me to grovel, stammer, throw myself headlong in the dirt for you, and beg for your forgiveness, you bright and cute and lovely and ever so naughty Lucy Wowsly!
    But alas, I cannot for the life of me… You’re simply too dear for this old Dutch poet. 😀

  38. Jay

    Hat tip to Darren. Most of all to you Lucy, for evoking an apology with such courteous good humour. I think this is a first. Someone online has stated they won’t be firing-off ill-considered, thoughtless criticisms. There’s a BIG statement we could all ponder.

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  40. Ed

    I love your speech impediment! Very sexy, as also are you.

    But then again, I also have a thing about brilliant, intelligent women, so maybe it’s just your brains that have seduced me.

    Or it could be your charm, warmth and enthusiasm! Hard to tell.

    xxx Ed

  41. Valentina

    Who cares about speech impediment when you’ ve got so much to say? By the way, my problem is with the “s” instead! I would be very pleased to meet you in person someday, thank you for your work. You are a godsend for those who like me love English history and culture! 🙂

    1. Fionna

      Also, nearly forgot, I find somehow the way you speak is quite melodic with the impediment and, ( please don’t laugh), somehow you sound more intelligent. I still don’t understand why, but I’d love to know where I got that notion.

  42. Fionna

    [clapping] well done Lucy!

  43. Damion Linford

    Good grief , I am late to comment due to utter shock.
    Is there such a thing as an impeded speech pattern. I have had a so called stammer/stutter as long as I have had the gift of speech, its almost my calling card.
    I am sadly imposing to look at and am thus judged as such UNTIL I open my mouth and stammer away. I find it then softens the judged reaction of others,
    I like my stammer (unless nervous) Your poetic pronunciation is pleasing to listen to as are the pieces of history you narrate.

  44. Sarah

    You do a fantastic job in your documentaries, and I enjoy them very much. If I ever have a child (or care for one) who has a speech impediment (or any other thing that makes them feel that they can’t do anything), I would sit them down and watch one of your documentaries. There is so much more to a person than a speech impediment or any other difficulty. Who you are, the research you do, and the way you present it make you a good documentarion. Any difficulty with pronunciation fades, and is only minor if noticeable at all.

  45. Confused American

    Dear Lucy,

    An amusing anecdote: after viewing several of your programs (programmes?) – which are great, by the way, thank you – I was confused as to whether your pronunciation was idiosyncratic or a type of English accent with which I was not familiar. I vaguely remembered the depictions of Gussie Fink-Nottle and Madeline Bassett in the “Jeeves and Wooster” series as having a similar sound. I assumed Jonathan Ross must have the same accent. After a bit of investigation, I discovered you are all from different parts of the country and different social backgrounds. Furiously bedeviled by this conundrum, I finally came across this post, which settled the matter.
    Thank you for scratching this itch, for your great work, and your sexy voice!

  46. jonathon harrison

    Lucy, your programmes have just started screening in New Zealand and I am captivated. I had a girlfriend many years ago who spoke exactly as you do and I found it delightful,attractive,unique and very very sexy. I so look forward to Saturday evenings at 8.30 now and am entertained.educated,amused and agog with your knowledge. And it’s all so much fun too. Never knew about ‘kippers for curtains’……oh what a treat! I have also noticed throughout my life that pronunciation of the letter ‘r’ as you say it only ever seems to occur with only very intelligent and well-humoured people and Frank Muir also springs to mind. I am in love again and long may you reign. Your besotted fan…..Jonathon

  47. Dodie Moss

    Speech impediment? Good heavens. I thought it was a regional accent. Mine is not the most discerning ear, but I’ve detected the same enunciation in the speech of Terry Jones.

  48. Janet

    I greatly enjoy your programmes and do not mind your speech impediment – kind of cute, However you also pronounce ‘th’ as ‘f’ such as in ‘fink’ (instead of think). This is a bit gangsta, don’t you fink?

    1. Lucy Post author

      I have NEVER been called ‘gangsta’ before. I am honoured!

  49. Francis-Olive Hampton

    When I first watched the program on the royal bedchamber, I thought you had the most darling accent and looked up your background on Wikipedia to find out what part of England produces such a lovely patois. When I read through your bio, I found that you have an ‘impediment’. Imagine my surprise! I had already been captivated by your credentials and your accent, but the discovery of your rhotacism only made you more lovely. Never try to correct something that makes you absolutely and wonderfully YOU. xo

  50. fred

    Lucy – I watch your show on the PBS channel in the U.S. It’s great! I really like your informative voice overs. Don’t change a thing. – Fred

  51. Michael

    Rhotacism? Nonsense! Lucy has perfectly excellent English. We can’t all be expected to trill a perfect Parisian “R” just to please the internet (or television producers)…

  52. Roger Mariner

    I do not know what the fuss about your speech is at all – I find your R’s quite delightful.

  53. John thompson

    Hi Lucy, I’m sure enough has been said about the way you speak, and I’m sure you love the flattering comments about how endearing and sweet you are. I thought I would add another. Love watching and listening to your presentations! Have a great life x

  54. Topcliffe

    Actually, the reason I wound up on this page is through a Google search for “Lucy Worsley accent”. Far from sounding like an impediment, I thought it might be a particular regional accent, and a quite charming one at that.

  55. Maggie

    Greetings from Yorktown, Virginia. Your “Rs” are an absolute delight as are you.

  56. dave w farthing

    Dear Lucy
    May I add my comments to those of so many others? We love you just the way you are. Please don’t let any bland, heartless marketer convince you otherwise!

  57. Joseph

    Greetings from Kenya. I am a Kenyan and I have similar r problems. at least I am not alone.

  58. Eva

    Dear Lucy,

    I enjoy watching your shows immensely, your enthusiasm and fun is contagious!
    My kids (teenagers!) watch “history” with me and actually love it!
    Thanks so much for that! <3

    All the best to you

  59. MBask


    Although I never really noticed the impediment until I read this piece, be glad you’re not an American! If you had our more rhotic accent, it would probably be more prominent. Since you’re English you get to skip half your r’s anyway 😀

  60. Robert Moore

    Egad … and I assumed that you were merely English! Anyway, if your particular variant of this impediment has anything to say to your Puckish charm, let’s have more of it, please! Moreover, WHAT you present is captivating in its own right, and so where’s the downside in having a sexy enchantress to present it to us? Cheerio.

  61. Joel Matherson

    Dear Lucy, Had no idea you had a speech impediment until I found this page. Here in Australia we thought it sounded regally posh from classical old school elocution lessons! And here I have been trying to emulate it all this time. Music must sound different to each individual ear.

  62. Stuart Paterson

    I think it’s kinda cute…like when an English accented girl says “aye” instead of yes…

    1. Janet Harris

      Hi Stuart
      saying “aye” instead of “yes” is not an English accent. It’s what you would say if you were Scottish or a dialect used in some of the northern counties of England nearest to Scotland.
      This isn’t a criticism of your post by the way, just letting you know that “aye” is a proper word which means “yes”.

  63. Dingo

    Ms. Worsley is simply the most outrageously attractive women!

  64. Mai Johnson

    I am a speech therapist, and I have to say, the “r-thing” drives my batty. I imagine most speech therapists would say the same. However, I do know that if the /r/ sound doesn’t come naturally, it is notoriously difficult to treat. At least you sound much, much better than Sister Wendy Beckett. I love her show, but again, Grrr….. the /r/!!! (It does not seem that this “impediment” is holding you back in life very much. 🙂 )

  65. Tim

    Speech impediment eh, well awfully sorry but I hardly noticed after the first couple of wr s.
    I can hear you & you don’t mumble (frayed I do a bit) and you have a brill & beautifully funny twinkle in your eyes.
    Just keep doing your stuff, it’s great.
    We all have imperfections. Sew what!
    I also suffer from predictive text.
    I’m learning to live with it.

  66. Tanis Marshall

    I wasn’t sure if it was an impediment or an accent because I have heard another Brit on tv speaking the same way. I don’t recall his name, same job as you (presenting facts, historical).

    My father also had difficulty pronouncing “r”. His sister was the same. I still don’t know if it was an accent or an impediment.

  67. VNina

    I’m a Canadian….. and I love how you speak! I think you are great just the way you are, and I am a fan who watches all your shows two or three times, sometimes more, depending on the subject. I’m sure no one outside of England notices any “speech impediment” whatsoever, and after all, we are a much larger audience.

  68. Nick Perkins

    I think all your documentaries have been truly breathtaking.
    It’s sad when people have to use the anonymity of the internet to insult rather, than use it in a positive way.

    Your loyal supporters are right behind you, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is looking forward to your next series.

    Keep up the amazing work.

  69. Robin Ray

    My mother was famous for the remark: The Hawwow Woad is a wotten woad. Did anyone object? Of course not. Cawwy on Lucy!

  70. Rosemary

    Lucy, you are a lady!

  71. Catherine Wallace

    Dear Dr. Worsley,
    I can’t imagine anything more unkind than the insensitive commentary about anyone’s speech patterns…let alone, the criticism made by one of your fellow countrymen.

    As one who has always loved Great Britain, and wished to live there my entire life, I have increased my knowledge of English history through your entirely enthusiastic (and educational) historical travels
    to the place that never loses its fascination for me.

    Job well done. The monarchy of old would, indeed, be pleased.

    Carry on! Good show!

  72. Chris Mills

    You have beautiful Rs… and Darren is an arse 😉

  73. bobbity

    Well I think you’re abs. gorgeous. And engaging, and informative.

    Always watch you.

  74. Eric Fisher

    I discovered you on Netflix. So, in satisfying my curiosity about you – and where does the BBC find such amazingly knowledgeable and yet unbelievably fun presenters, anyway – I discovered this issue that is both of R’s. Due to a misspent youth-sage, I have a device in my mouth that allows me to REALLY roll my R’s. RRRRuffles having rrridges may mean little on your side of the pond, but, living in California, it can mean a great deal, as far as Spanish words go. Truth be told, in listening to you in re Russia and the Romanovs, I did not notice any R issue, to speak of. But, now that it has been brought to my attention, I will continue to not pay attention to it and feel for any twit that does. Glad to make your acquaintance, and looking forward to Six Wives. Be well, and Merry Christmas.

  75. Mark Henry Ramsey

    Dear Lucy, may I reassure you that a fair number of gentlemen in the world would consider your very slight impediment charming and adds warmth to your character. I’m afraid some people are afraid of strong and intelligent ladies, especially if they’re attractive. This is by no means a slight on yourself and reveals a lot about them that renders (to me) their opinion null and void.
    Be yourself and shine as you do.

  76. Colin

    Hello lucy . I just finished watching six wives …very well presented and informative. .A real pleasure. ..


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