9:30am Tuesday 15th May 2012
By Sam McGregor
Rail staff have a cunning plan for new announcements.
Passengers on trains through Oxfordshire will be treated to comedy timing thanks to Blackadder star Tony Robinson.
Mr Robinson, who played dim-witted Baldrick in the hit series, spent a month giving Chiltern Railways workers tips on how to deliver comedic announcements specially penned by sitcom writer Richard Preddy.
Gone are the straight-laced announcements about stations along the Birmingham to London Marylebone route, which include Banbury, Bicester North and Haddenham and Thame Parkway stations.
Instead commuters will hear a series of one-liners aiming to put a smile on even the grumpiest Monday morning face.
Passengers will also be invited to join in an interactive game calling out when you see a horse, and offered pearls of wisdom such as “If you’re at work and you’re not sure what to do, just walk quickly and look worried”.
The move was last night welcomed by passengers.
Bicester commuter Stephen Wynne-Jones said: “I travel into London on Chiltern Railways every day and I’ve not heard an announcement like this – but I hope I do soon.
“Anything that helps makes me smile as we approach the city can only be a good thing.”
Chris Bates, of the Cherwell Rail Users Group, said: “It’s a good bit of marketing.”
But he said it might not have the same effect if the train was running late.
Mr Preddy, who wrote the quirky Channel 4 sitcom Green Wing, said: “It was fascinating to meet the Chiltern staff and a wonderful, if challenging, project to work on.
“We have all waited for a train or a bus into work as the rain pours down and bustled our way to a seat, and I think comedy can help alleviate that stress.
“Everyone we met was so enthusiastic and the feedback so far has been fantastic.
Mr Robinson said: “Rail commuters can get a bit glum, but we’ve come up with a cunning plan to put smiles on their faces.
“We chose four of their staff, all renowned for their sense of fun, and when we first heard them make their new announcements during our practice run at Marylebone Station, they had Richard and I in stitches.”
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