Unknown face but familiar voice

YOU might not know the face, but you will know the voice.Pat Whymark might have given you the telephone number you were looking for, helped you report a fault or tried to sell you a new product.

YOU might not know the face, but you will know the voice.

Pat Whymark might have given you the telephone number you were looking for, helped you report a fault or tried to sell you a new product.

She is the voice of BT's new 118 500 directory enquiries service – replacing the old 192, which ceases to exist tomorrow.

Ms Whymark has given out telephone numbers, and withheld a few, over the past five years as the voice behind BT directory enquiries, which handles 1.25 million calls a day.


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"I once refused to give myself one of my best friends' phone number because it was ex-directory," said Ms Whymark, who lives in the Ipswich area.

"It doesn't feel strange talking to myself now – I am used to it. But I don't normally sound like that."

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The trained actor and musician also provides the voice for other BT services, including international directory enquiries and business products.

She has been doing professional voiceovers for the past 20 years, and gained work with BT when the firm used the studios at the old Radio Orwell, where she had been recording commercials.

Ms Whymark now records her messages and numbers at BT's recording studio at its Martlesham Heath headquarters.

"I record either whole messages or parts of a message and numbers and they are stuck together. It can sound a bit strange, but it's not my fault."

Her first job after leaving school was as an engineer for BT, but she left after a year to go to drama school and spent 10 years as an actress and singing and writing her own music.

She has also provided voiceovers for television documentaries, radio, talking books for children, in-flight videos, interactive toys and commercials.

"The competition for voiceovers is fierce, especially with new ISDN technology," she said.

"I lost my voice once, when I had to scream a company's name, and when I was pregnant my voice got higher, so I had to work around that to match up my voice for BT."

Ms Whymark is involved in numerous performing arts projects, including the Suffolk Youth Theatre and Wolsey Youth Theatre, and is managing director of arts group Eastern Angles.

She lives with actor Julian Harries, who has appeared in television shows such as Eastenders and Night and Day, and has two children.

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