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Man who put the manhood into the Speaking Clock dies

Brian Cobby - one-time Madonna arm candy - was 83

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Obit British actor Brian Cobby, who is famous for being the first male voice for BT's speaking clock, has died aged 83.

Cobby wasn't working as an actor when he won the role - he was a BT employee when he triumphed in a company-wide competition to find the next voice of the clock in 1984. Cobby was an assistant supervisor in a telephone exchange in Withdean in Brighton when he was selected from 12 finalists in the Golden Voice competition, the only man to get that far.

He replaced Pat Simmons, whose voice had been used since 1963. She was on the panel of judges that chose Cobby. Actors Robert Morley and Susan Hampshire were also on the panel. For the next 20 years, Cobby's dignified voice gave the time over the phone until he was replaced in 2007 by Sara Mendes da Costa.

Prior to his stint at BT, Cobby had been the voiceover artist for a number of adverts, including ones for Stork margarine and Surf washing powder. In 1996, he appeared briefly in Madonna's movie Evita, standing next to her in the balcony scene.

Brother Clive Cobby told The Argus that Brian was "larger than life".

"He was a man of the world, who loved life and lived it to the full," he said. "He never married and some people assumed he was alone, but he had a large family and was very popular.

“In every sense, he was an actor. He was very outgoing.” ®

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