I’ve been many robots in my life. I’ve been a bear telling people about sales at The Bay. I’ve been Party Popple a pink creature that likes the party. I’ve been Georgie GM the General Motors’ safety bear (not very safe, it’s head once caught on fire) and I was almost a fish on a bicycle for the Vancouver Aquarium. In all those cases I controlled the robot with a remote and provided the voice on a microphone while hiding a few yards away. I was also one of about a dozen people providing the voice and controlling Expo Ernie, the mascot for Vancouver’s world exposition.
During the auditions we were told not to ask any questions about Ernie’s accent. We were told to do an upper class British dialect. This was odd since it was the mascot for British Columbia’s expo and even though we have the title in our name, we’re not British. At all.
But you don’t want to rock the boat at an audition so we all just rolled our eyes in the waiting room and then went in and Britished it up. When we were hired no one wanted to get fired so they didn’t bring up the accent as we practiced it over and over. Then Expo 86 began and Ernie rolled out to greet people. All of whom had the same question, “Why are you British?”
My take on it is that months to years before someone said, “He’s like C3P0” and meant in personality. Those people hearing this thought they meant the voice had to sound like Anthony Daniels the British actor and not wanting to make trouble went with that. The over months they just went with this voice that made no sense with no one wanting to cause a fuss and stressing to the actors to do the same. Any voice of Ernie that brought it up was shut down for not being a team player.
So because no one wanted to make trouble our Canadian mascot was British confusing tourists and annoying residents. I’ve seen this kind of thing in many improv companies, no one wants to say anything when a bad idea starts then over time it becomes harder to stop it and this mistake that could have been shut down quickly isn’t discussed because people would get angry and it goes out in front of your audience.
When no one in a company says anything when shit happens then shit happens. Or even worse, Brit happens.