Wishing our wonderful clients and friends a very Merry Christmas!
Thank you for all your love and support throughout the year, and for placing your valued business with us, as we continue the legacy left by the one and only Phil Sayer.
We're open as normal throughout the festive season, and look forward to working with you into 2017 and beyond.
With all best wishes,
Ellie, Alex & Ben xxx
Our Christmas and New Year opening hours are as follows:
19th - 23rd December: Open 9am-5.30pm
28th - 30th December: Open 9am-5.30pm
4th - 6th January: Open 9am-5.30pm
9th - 13th January: Closed
16th January onwards: Open 9am-5.30pm
Posted By: Ellie
19 December 2016
A Winning Weekend for Phil.
Clockwise from left: Turton FC's Phil Sayer Trophy, The VOX Veteran Award 2016, and The Sayer Producer of the Year Award, won by Ben Davis at Global Radio.
This weekend was a very special one. Phil and I have attended the annual VOX conference for voice and audio professionals for the last 14 years, but for the first time ever, I didn't have my right hand man beside me.
At the evening's awards ceremony, brilliantly masterminded by Posy Brewer, Stevie Cripps and Rob Bee, and hosted with flair by the fabulous Marc Silk, we were all very proud to witness the very first ever Sayer Producer of the Year award being given to Ben Davis at Global Radio, after a very moving video tribute to Phil, and a spontaneous standing ovation.
I was even prouder to accept the very first VOX Veteran award for my fabulous partner in crime, to recognise his support to the industry as a whole. An emotional evening, but no less than he deserved. Thank you, VOX team.
Later that weekend, my hangover and I were slightly dreading the Turton Tigers football presentation, consisting of 12(ish) 10/11 year old boys and their siblings all squealing together in a pub, but it was another lovely afternoon - not least because of this. Another award has been created in the name of Turton Tigers U11s' most loyal supporter (and kit sponsor,) Phil Sayer, which is to be given every year to a child who makes plenty of effort and never gives up - just like the man it's named after. Our two boys play on the team, and Phil never willingly missed a match. Even when he couldn't be there, he insisted upon receiving score updates by text. We all miss his hilarious pitch side commentary - which was not always focused on the action on field, but often on the state of the opposing team's parents' choice of haircuts and tracksuits.
Even more wonderful was the fact that the panel had decided that this year's worthy winners were our two sons, Alex and Ben, jointly, for being brilliant team players and always putting in 100% for the Tigers even in the darkest of times as they lost their beloved Dad.
Although we are taking some time to get used to losing Phil (and it goes without saying that we miss him every day,) to see him not only remembered, but admired to the point of having trophies named after him in two of the places he was most at home - in the glitz and glamour of the voiceover industry, as well as in grassroots football - confirms to us all that we are very lucky to have had him in our lives. If only we could have kept him for longer.
May his memory, his influence, and his voice, live on for many years to come.
Posted By: Ellie
28 June 2016
The Incredible Mr Bridge.
Our new studio, including a photograph of the master himself at work at Piccadilly Radio in the 1970s, kindly sent to me by Dave Ward.
A "shout out," as we say on the wireless, to someone who has done amazing things for us over the last few weeks.
When Phil and I talked about his future retirement, we knew that it would make sense for us to rework the studio so that it was properly set up, as for years it had sounded great but looked awful, with leads and wires and bits of mixer all over the place. It was Man Heaven for Phil, but even he had to admit that it looked pretty grim, although who doesn't like a filthy lilac carpet glued to an old dining table? Being quite the expert on this sort of thing, he was able to tweak and solder things regularly to keep it all working, but as I am a self-proclaimed idiot on these matters, he wanted it to be right for when I had to take over on my own. We were long overdue a refurb and Phil planned for us to do it together, months before he had to hang up his mic. The new furniture happened to arrive on what ended up being his last working day.
By the time we'd finished the day's recording, Phil wasn't feeling too good and his breathing was a bit off, so I derigged on my own, built the new furniture with help from friends and neighbours, and put it all back in again ready to get back to work the following day. I switched it on and it wasn't right. By then, it was late, and we had his outpatient appointment at the Christie in the morning. As we now know, they kept him in, scanned him, and a day later sent him home to die.
While Phil still believed he would be home and back at work in no time, he called Gary Bridge - an old friend and Studio Engineer Extraordinaire - to ask him to hook up with me on Skype to see what I'd done wrong. He didn't just do that. He came up from Derbyshire to Bolton at least six times over the course of the next two weeks when it became clear that Phil was very poorly, and with Phil's input for the first week, rewired, re-equipped, and refurbished our studio from scratch.
It was important to Gary that he wasn't dismantling his old friend's hard work, and Phil assured him he was happy for it to be done, it had been planned for months, and enjoyed watching it all come together. For the last week of his life, Phil wasn't really aware of what was going on, but the last thing he did, on the Saturday night before he died, was to get out of bed and shuffle to the studio. He opened the door, stood for a while, said it was wonderful, smiled, nodded, and closed the door. I don't think he got out of bed again after that.
Gary wasn't just an engineer over the time he spent with us - he was a very good friend. He was there for Phil, and there for me, and did far more for us than rewiring a studio desk. Because he wanted to help us out in our time of need, Phil almost had to beg him to accept something as payment... and they finally settled on his vintage pinball machine (which means something special, as Phil and Gary used to spend hours together restoring such machines when they both worked at Piccadilly in the 1970s.)
It's small comfort to me that Phil helped to build it, but sad beyond belief that he never got to use it. I wouldn't even mind if he left all his old coffee cups and scripts lying around like he used to, as it's far too tidy for Phil's liking. The only thing left to buy are some decent monitors, but as Phil always said, if you can be confident that what's going in and out of the mixer sounds right, then speakers aren't as important. It sounds brilliant and is great - if a little lonely - to work in.
The least I can do for Gary after everything he's done for us is to take to the internet, and promote him. He is a top-notch studio engineer, able to build everything from big radio studios such as Piccadilly, Real/Smooth etc., to little voice studios like ours. It sounds truly fabulous, and every wire has been made and installed by Gary's fair hands. He is available for freelance work and we would both highly recommend him.
He also dispenses jolly good hugs completely free of charge.
Thank you, Gary - you have helped to make the most awful situation a little more bearable. Thanks to you, it was almost a pleasure to get back to work. I am still in awe of how hard Phil worked towards the end, and how desperate he was to make sure his family could continue to live and work as easily as possible without him. Most people would have given up long before, but Phil and Gary rolled up their sleeves, made good things happen, and Phil helped to create a future for his family, even though he knew he wouldn't be there to share it.
Thank you both. xxx
For your studio project, Gary can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted By: Ellie
02 June 2016
Phil Sayer - Obituary.
Phil Sayer had one of the most familiar voices in British life, but one that had no known face attached. His authoritative London underground announcement ‘Please mind the gap between the train and the platform', has subtle and humane inflections that reshape severe warning into firm but kind advice, while across the railway network, and most recently at the new Oxford Parkway, he can be heard advising travellers on the times and destinations of their trains, and apologising with many shades of regret and explanation if they seem to be delayed.
Sayer, who has died of cancer after a long illness, was one of the leading ‘voice-overs' of his generation. You may hear him delivering a health and safety briefing; he may welcome you politely to a corporate office on the phone; he might, quite powerfully, try to sell you a sofa in a radio ad. Wherever you may be, Phil Sayer is likely to be there with you.
Born in Norwich in 1953, Sayer, then with his family surname of Clift, was taken at a young age by his mother to live in Liverpool where his father also joined them. His father, Cyril Clift, who preferred to be known as Ken, worked in local authority town planning and later on Canadian Pacific transatlantic liners operating out of Liverpool. His mother, Pauline, known as Hazel, brought up Phil and his sister and latterly worked as a hotel receptionist. Theirs was not a happy marriage, but Sayer progressed brightly at schools in and around West Lancashire, winning a scholarship to the direct grant Merchant Taylor's, Crosby. Nevertheless, he left aged 18 with good ‘O'-levels, but no ‘A'-levels, and a miserable home life. With the Mersey sound still beating in his ears in 1971, he signed on as unemployed at Wallasey labour exchange. He became a timber merchant's clerk, a fairground hand, a cardboard sorter at an early recycling plant, a bingo caller, a driver for an air freight company, and through the flukes of life and chance a DJ compère at Baileys in Watford, then the largest nightclub in Europe.
That was where Sayer's mellifluous voice and natural charm coalesced with a talent for thinking on his feet and filling sudden awkward silences with gentle patter. He might do an astonishing build up for Tommy Cooper, exchange a gag with Mike Reid or make the audience roar for Bob Monkhouse, and go back to the disco turntables to play records until 2 am. He was in his element, well paid and highly thought of. This led to work in radio at more sober hours, for the industrial station United Biscuits Network, where he would broadcast daily to over forty thousand listeners in UB factories, warehouses and shops. As UK pirate radio stations evolved into the new generation of licensed commercial land-based local stations, Sayer was invited to join The Voice of Peace, a pirate radio station anchored off Tel Aviv, promoting peace between Israel and Palestine.
"Life on board was generally good among the all-male team, but much depended on the capricious spring weather off the Israeli coast. We received, from a tender from Tel Aviv, new records sent by air from America, so musically, we were weeks ahead of the state radio station, which was tied up with political embargoes and licensing restrictions. This gave us a huge advantage."
But the little ship, designed to carry cargo, now carried no more than broadcasting gear, and on deck its tall steel lattice mast and electrical generators made her so top heavy that she pitched and rolled dangerously during storms. The broadcasting crew would stagger about, picking up innumerable bruises, eating at the mess table with plates sliding this way and that, while below decks just managing to keep the records spinning at 45rpm as the ship lurched monstrously.
Sayer and his long-term partner Mary married in the early 1980s, and had two children, Richard and Joanna. By now Sayer had left The Voice of Peace and returned to the dry land of UK radio where he began to build his career. For professional purposes he had renamed himself ‘Phil Sayer', taking his mother's new husband's name, because ‘Clift' had an uncomfortable sound on radio. Appointed first to Piccadilly Radio in Manchester, where he became a well-known voice on both the small hours ‘Nightbeat' slot and ‘Drivetime' in the afternoon, he moved on to Granada TV as an announcer and presenter, and then from January 1983 to BBCTV in Manchester as a freelance presenter on Breakfast News. On GMR, now BBC Radio Manchester, he later hosted his own daily programme.
Even in the burgeoning era of regional broadcasting, employment for freelancers was volatile, and in due course Sayer launched the freelance voiceover business that was to carry his warm, honey-soaked voice into ‘Mind the Gap' on the underground. He and Mary had divorced after six years, and having been in and out of a second marriage, and then a single parent to his first two teenage children, in 2002 Sayer married Elinor Hamilton. He and Elinor had met during a smoking break on the fire-escape of Tower Radio in Manchester where Elinor was also an occasional freelance student broadcaster. They have twin boys, Alex and Ben. Together they set up their own voice-over company, Sayer Hamilton, and can occasionally be heard together on the underground, Elinor announcing the train to Cockfosters, and Phil advising ‘Mind the Gap'.
Behind Phil Sayer's professionalism, and his courteous public expressions of direction and regret, was a warm, welcoming family man, a raconteur of wit and humour, and, probably, the all-Bolton champion Monty Python impersonator: all the voices, all the sketches. While Sayer's light-hearted and engaging presentation style will still be remembered by middle-aged listeners in the north west of England, his command of the running of the railways remains with us. As a train pulled out a minute late one evening I heard him say: ‘the 5.33 from Birmingham New Street to Reading is delayed on platform 2.' A commuter, running down the stairs, saw it disappear and called out ‘Lying bastard!'
He is survived by Elinor and his four children.
Philip Clift (‘Phil Sayer'), broadcaster and voice-over. Born 18 May 1953, Norwich; died 14 April 2016, Bolton.
Posted By: Ellie
02 May 2016
Phil is Retiring.
Due to a sudden and unexpected decline in Phil's health, Sayer Hamilton Ltd is temporarily closing for business with immediate effect, and Phil will not be returning to work.
Over the next day or so, we will be finalising invoices, and attempting to tie up loose ends, so that we can spend some time together as a family. Ellie, Alex and Ben will return to voicing in early May.
We will make sure Phil's material is archived, and will be happy to help out in locating existing audio for top-ups where necessary, but unfortunately none of us will be available to voice new material until further notice.
We recognise that this abrupt halt is not ideal for regular clients, and while Phil's retirement was on the cards for the near future, we had planned to wind down slowly in the next few months. Sadly, the choice is now out of our hands.
If you are a corporate client with an urgent need for a voiceover, please contact my agents, Marie-Claire or Olivia at Excellent Talent, who will be happy to help you.
Sincere thanks from Phil for your valued business over the last few decades. It's been truly wonderful to work with you all.
With all best wishes,
Phil. Ellie, Alex & Ben x
Posted By: Ellie
04 April 2016
The Heart of New Street.
Phil - former "Announcer Man" at Birmingham New Street, and the voice of railway stations up and down the UK - had a great time as a guest of Ed and Rachel on Heart Breakfast, Monday 21st September 2015, as they celebrated the opening of the fabulous new station.
Have a listen to the highlights! :)
Huge thanks to the whole team at Heart West Midlands for their splendid hospitality. A lovely (and unusual) way to spend a Monday morning!
Posted By: Ellie
24 September 2015
A Life of Glamour.
Joining in with a "guess the voice" feature on ITV1's This Morning. L-R: Phil Sayer, Elinor Hamilton, Eamonn Holmes, Sara Mendes da Costa, Ruth Langsford, Jon Briggs, Posy Brewer, Jenni Falconer.
We really, really love this business we're in. It's varied, it's interesting, and we get to do some very silly things in front of a mic. Sometimes, it's not particularly glamorous (in fact, it rarely is,) unless talking about fungal nail infection, genital dryness or how to safely decommission a nuclear power plant is your thing. Those three subjects haven't yet cropped up in the same script, but I look forward to the day when they do.
Most of our work is done right here from our home studio, and it's always fun to sit in the office and hear one of our voices on the TV or radio in the other room when the boys are around, or blasting out from the big screen when we go to the cinema. Occasionally, we get to leave the comfort of our own home studio, and it's fun to have a few minutes of fame - other than the sort of infamy which we get on the days when we travel by train, stand on the platform, and run up to strangers while pointing at the tannoy, saying "that's me!" - because most people rather sensibly just run away and hide. (We don't really do that.)
Last year, we were thrilled to be invited onto ITV1's This Morning to appear in a "guess the voice feature" with some of our friends and colleagues within the industry, and only today my voice cropped up in a spoof ad on Peter Kay's new sitcom "Car Share." He reprimanded me for advertising sausages in a practically pornographic way. I've had better feedback, I must say.
We've seen the first two episodes on iPlayer, and they really are extremely funny. If you're a voice geek (as we both are,) you'll recognise several well-known voices from the industry, and if you're the rare sort of person who listens to the radio for the commercials (as we do) then you'll really enjoy the hilariously awful spoofs written for the show, voiced brilliantly by some of the industry's best voice over artists, and put together by the lovely Gav at Kalua. It was all very hush hush when we recorded the ads several months ago, and we didn't know exactly what we were voicing them for (many will have ended up on the cutting room floor,) but we trusted Gav to let us know when we could see them - which he did.
We think the series is brilliant, and as Bolton's favourite* voiceover couple, we're thrilled to have heard at least one of us on a local hero's show. Guess we'll have to wait for the next few episodes to see if Phil crops up, too. Even if he doesn't, "Car Share" is a highly recommended programme, the audio for Forever FM is buttock-clenchingly close to some of the radio output we all recognise, and the whole show is a true reflection of the fabulous comedy regularly produced by the BBC.
Posted By: Ellie
27 April 2015
Christmas and New Year Opening Hours.
We'll be available for all your Warm MVO / Friendly FVO / Chatty CVO requirements over the festive season on the following dates:
Friday 19th - Open 9am to 5pm
Monday 22nd - Open 9am to 5pm
Tuesday 23rd - Open 9am to 2pm
Wednesday 24th - Open 9am to 2pm
Christmas Day - Closed
Boxing Day - Closed
Monday 29th - Limited availability. Please book in advance for ISDN sessions.
Tuesday 30th - Open 9am to 5pm
Wednesday 31st - Open 9am to 2pm
Thursday 1st January - Closed
Friday 2nd - Open 9am to 5pm
Monday 5th - Limited availability. Please book in advance for ISDN sessions.
Tuesday 6th - Open 9am to 5ish as usual, until the end of time (or Easter - whichever happens first.)
Hope this helps you to plan ahead if necessary. Obviously, we don't expect you to memorise these times (Phil certainly hasn't) but we are generally around and it would be great to speak to you over the Christmas period if you're working too.
Whether we get to work together during the festive season or not, our very best wishes to you and yours for a lovely, relaxing, joyful time!
Ellie, Phil, Alex and Ben x
Posted By: Ellie
19 December 2014
Keeping the Cords Alive.
All over Twitter and the internet at large, other voiceovers are sharing their blogs about which foods or drinks help or hinder a vocal performance. Many voice over artists the world over go into great detail giving their own voice over tips to others, which is very helpful to many.
We tend to be pretty busy here most of the time, and haven't usually got a great deal of time left over to write about these things (we sometimes update our own blog as often as annually, if you're lucky,) but it's interesting to dip in and out to see what works for other people, and every voice is different.
Many blogs state that a good tip is to cut down on coffee and wine. This is why we don't like those blogs at all.
However, one tip which we heard the other day (and which was new to us) is to eat licorice before a session. I'm not sure what it's supposed to do, but I tried it on Phil and it's working absolutely brilliantly for me so far. Things have never been so quiet in our office.
I heartily recommend it. See below for the pictorial evidence.
Posted By: Ellie
13 June 2014
Actually, licorice can affect your vocal performance.
Posted By: Phil
13 June 2014