THE next time you ask Siri to set an alarm or Google something, listen out for the Oxford twang.

That's because Jon Briggs grew up in the city, before he became one of the most famous voices on the planet.

A broadcast journalist by trade, Mr Briggs has lent his voice to both Siri and BBC quiz show The Weakest Link in a varied and highly successful career.

His parents were students at the University of Oxford, and he grew up in Littlemore, before moving to north Oxford.

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Mr Briggs attended the Dragon School and Magdalen College School, and in April 1981 – when he was 16 – he was given a chance at BBC Radio Oxford.

“I badgered them and finally they let me come in for a day – I made a little promo, a teaser trailer for the next day with Timmy Mallet,” he said.

“Every waking moment I was at the radio station, right through from college to university.”

Describing his experience of growing up in Oxford, Mr Briggs said: “It’s a city ahead of its time, it’s quirky and has its oddities – it gave me a secure and happy childhood.

“It was a lively and young city when I was growing up, in those days it was very much town and gown.”

After leaving university, Mr Briggs worked in London for the BBC, and was then given the breakfast radio show at Radio Oxford, when he was 20.

“I was far too young to do it, but my news editor was mad enough to let me loose,” he said.

“I was one of the youngest breakfast show hosts in the country at the time.”

He then spent time at the former BBC Radio 5, before setting up his own voice work agency, Excellent Talent, with his brother in 1996.

Oxford Mail: Jon Briggs at the VoiceOver Network. Picture: The VoiceOver NetworkJon Briggs at the VoiceOver Network. Picture: The VoiceOver Network

While many will recognise his voice work, it is as a journalist that Mr Briggs has spent most of his career.

“I’ve always been a journalist at heart – if you ask me who I am, I say I’m a broadcast journalist, not a voice artist,” he said.

“Voice work is 10 per cent of what I do but it’s how everyone knows me.

“In 2000, I got a call asking if I wanted to voice a daytime quiz show with Anne Robinson.

“I wasn’t overly impressed at the beginning but when it launched in August, it was the only thing people were watching on TV.”

Oxford Mail: Jon Briggs was also the voice of the Weakest Link. Picture: Katie VandyckJon Briggs was also the voice of the Weakest Link. Picture: Katie Vandyck

It is of course though as iPhone voice assistant Siri that millions of people will be familiar with Mr Briggs.

“Siri was actually something we recorded for a completely different company in 2005,” he said.

“It wasn’t recorded by Apple, they licensed the four of us who had done it before.

“I’m chuffed to bits to have been there for the original though, and the fact my voice turned up in millions of people’s pockets is bizarre.

“One of the things I’m most proud of though is the artificial intelligence side of it.

“It’s no credit to me but to some degree, my voice has helped people who use the phone and have visual impairments.”

Oxford Mail: Jon Briggs grew up in Oxford and became the voice of Siri. Picture: Katie VandyckJon Briggs grew up in Oxford and became the voice of Siri. Picture: Katie Vandyck

After selling Excellent Talent last year, Mr Briggs has seen another career path open up.

“About five years ago, I trained as a funeral celebrant – you have to be able to write and speak, and not stumble over it on the day.

“It’s a fascinating job to have as you get to hear people’s life stories.”

Follow Mr Briggs on Twitter @voiceofsiri

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