James Gillies' authoritative, avuncular sound brings warmth and dash to any script. He has a voice honed over 34 years in the broadcasting industry, including 21 years as an announcer and newsreader for the BBC. His ability to conjure up a range of accents and deliver a variety of characters has made him a favourite among British television and radio programme and promo producers.
His output is varied and easy on the ear generating such descriptions from UK clients as ‘urbane’, and from North American clients as ‘classy’ (He really likes that one). James brings a lifetime of experience to the microphone, and undertakes to provide you with a professional service and a rapid turnaround (typically under 24 hours).
He works in three age ranges, Young Adult, Middle Aged and Senior. “But, what does that actually mean?” we hear you enquire. Good question! After all, he has a brother who was temperamentally ready for his pension by the age of six, and a friend in his eighties who seems to be only now contemplating slowing down.
Alright, if you insist, let’s quote numbers. When James says Young Adult, he means between twenty and the mid-thirties (20-35). What he thinks of as Middle Aged is late thirties to fifties (36-59). Senior is anything above (60 +). You will notice that he doesn’t make any effort to inhabit the voices of Children or Teens. And very wise too!
Since returning to the free-lance world early in 2013, he has worked across a spectrum of genres and clients.
For example, in furtherance of their Business, he has delivered projects for the European Union, Total Oil Marine, the Faroese Government, Astra Zeneca, Altspace, BP, 15Four, The Scholastic Corporation, The Norman Brothers, DDM Creative and Soundview Summaries among others.
Clients such as DeFacto Films, Extraneous Noise, SJI Associates, The Traveling Picture Show, Altspace (again) and Cubb Creative, have also trusted his voice to represent them on the Internet, spreading their impact worldwide.
In the area of Education, clients in 2013 have included EINM, David Isaac Productions, Kyani, Ydraw, SVN, Cine Learning Productions, and many more are in the pipeline.
However, before we bore you, suffice it to say that, in recent months, James has voiced projects for Business (internal and client usage), dissemination on the Internet, Education projects, Gaming Apps, Radio and Television ads, Documentaries and IVR. Oh, and four audio books!
If you want the full and constantly updating list of James’ happy clients we invite you to scan the dedicated section below.
UK born (that’s British to you and me), James has travelled extensively and this has allowed him access to a huge range of dialects. Within his own borders and those of the Republic of Ireland (who despite what you might have heard to the contrary, and the odd family dispute which descended to, let us say, harsh words, is Britain’s closest friend) he will confidently deliver you accents as diverse as (take a deep breath) Standard English, BBC English, Queen’s English, RP (what the Queen really sounds like), R-RP (what the Queen and her father, Colin Firth used to sound like), London (North and South of the river, as well as the East End), Estuary English (if you are not sure what that is, don’t worry about it), Essex, the South West of England, Yorkshire and Lancashire (listen carefully, they are different), Geordie (Newcastle, Gateshead and Greater Tyneside), Brummie (West Midlands, Shakespeare’s country), Scouse, (Liverpool and the Wirral), the North West (Cumbria) and Norfolk (or at least what passes for normal there). And those are just the ones from England itself.
So let’s cross to Wales. He is very comfortable providing generic Welsh (but actually doesn’t find it easy himself to distinguish between North Wales, South Wales or Anglesey. So he’d rather not talk about that too much.) He doesn’t speak the Welsh language either. He speaks English (with a Welsh accent). If you want him to.
Let’s move on quickly to Ireland.
South of the Border, he will happily provide you with a read in a Dublin or South Coast accent and (with a bit of notice in order to revise) one in a Donegal or Galway accent. He will even try a Kerry accented read if you insist, though his eyes have been known to water during previous attempts. He doesn’t speak Irish Gaelic (which in Ireland is pronounced Gay-lic)
North of the Border, he will be happy to deliver a read in the mellifluous tones of Belfast and the Eastern coast, or in the happy sounds of Londonderry/Derry (you have to call it both names or someone inevitably gets upset).
Jumping back across the St. George’s Channel to his native Scotland, he will proficiently provide you a read in the highly varied accents of (here comes another deep breath) Glasgow (East End and Kelvinside), Ayrshire and Argyll, the Central Belt, Edinburgh (Eastern and Morningside), the Lothians, Fife (who doesn’t love Fife), Dundee and Tayside, Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland (yes! You have found someone who can do that accent. He was born there), Inverness, the Highlands and the Black Isle. Crossing the waters again to the many beautiful islands, he will happily deliver you a read in such gorgeous tones as Orcadian (Orkney to you and me), Shetlandic (Shetland), Lewis and Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Western Isles). He doesn’t speak Scots Gaelic (which in Scotland rhymes with Alec) but he does speak Scots Doric.
He hasn’t a clue what the speech patterns of the Isle of Man are, and since the recent rise in migration from the mainland, neither anymore do most of the Manx people.
“Is he only limited to the British Isles?” we hear you ask. No! He has a passport, and has used it. As a consequence, he is more than happy to render reads in the accents of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Nigeria, France, Germany and India. Though, by virtue of his itineraries, these will be generic urban versions.
And that, gentlefolks, is James Gillies, the voice actor, in a nutshell.
English (British), English (Scottish), English
English (generic and regional), Scots (generic and regional), Welsh, Irish (Southern Ireland), Ulster (Northern Ireland), Australian, South African, New Zealand.
Young Adult, Middle Aged, Senior
Cartoons, Documentaries, Audiobooks, Business, Educational, Radio, Telephone, Podcasting, Television, Internet
From 1978, whilst teaching, James found himself in demand as professional voice over artist. In 1986, he left teaching to go full time working for television and radio stations, the length and breadth of the UK.
In 1991 he joined the BBC. Thus, sadly, while his voice profile (as announcer, newsreader, narrator and occasional character) was raised across television and radio, both in and between programmes, for contractual reasons further commercial work had to be politely declined.
Now, with the recent freeing up of the marketplace, he is permitted to service other clients as before… and he cheerfully welcomes all interesting projects. He has established his reputation when narration demands 'warmth', ‘gravitas’ or ‘authority’. However, he also enjoys ‘character’ work (you can take the Boy out of Performing, but…) and welcomes opportunities to do more of the same in animation and gaming. For ethical reasons he will not promote alcohol.
James trained in Acting at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now The Scottish Conservatoire), from 1974, graduating in 1977 with a CDS (with Distinction), and in Theatre Arts at Glasgow University from 1975, graduating in 1978 with a BA (Hon). From 1978, he taught Speech and Drama and Theatre Studies at Bankhead Academy and in 1980 became Head of Drama at Mintlaw Academy, along the way finding himself in demand as a professional voice over artist.
HighTail, ISDN, CD
Under 24 hours for scripts with fewer than a thousand words, 24 to 48 hours for longer reads. Audio Books in 5-10 working days.
Email your script to James and he will turn around the recording within short order, recording and delivering in the format of your choice via HighTail. If you want to direct the recording (or at the very least sit in) you can do so via Skype, SoundStreak and (for bigger projects) ISDN.
Also, If you like James' delivery why not bookmark him for next time by hitting the heart symbol?
“James was a pleasure to work with. We reached out to him on very short notice with an extremely tight deadline, and he was able to turn around the voice over super quickly.Extraneous Noise - Boston MA
And most importantly, his performance was fantastic and really improved the overall project. Definitely hope to work with him again. We highly recommend him.”
John Tomma, October 2012
"James delivered a great performance and gave the script the really chilling flavour I was looking for."Peter Worrall
Peter Worrall, author, January 2013
"James is a great professional, he works fast and is always ready to provide assistance. His remarkable voice gave our script the tone and spirit we were looking for. We highly recommend James and look forward to working with him again."AltSpace - Moscow
Olga Kosova, February 2013
"James is an incredible storyteller and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found him to narrate my audio book on Alexander Hamilton, Rush On Boys. He took it on and brought the words literally to life. You could not go wrong working with James. He is among the best!"Rob Child Associates
Robert Child (Emmy nominated film maker and author) Philadelphia PA, USA 2013
"Great job. He went even beyond what he had been asked to do. Very nice voice."EINuM - Rome
Ivan Mocchio, June 2013
"A marvellous job. James read with emotion and poignancy - and did it with a flawless Eastern European accent. Kudos!"Zionism 101 - New Mexico
David Isaac, June 2013
"It was a pleasure working with Mr. Gillies from the first second we spoke. With a voice such as his, how could it not? I thoroughly enjoyed working together and was very impressed with James’ ability to please the agency, the client and the world at large with his beautiful vocals. I look forward to a long and prosperous working relationship."SJI Associates - New York
Suzy Jurist, June 2013
"James was the consummate professional and gentleman. He was incredibly accommodating and has just a wonderful versatile voice.”De Facto Films - Totnes
Emma George, July 2013
"James has a superb voice and goes the extra mile in not just ‘reading’ your script but making it a great vocal performance. Flexible, talented and highly recommended! Thanks James!"Cubb Creative - Montreal
Brendan Charles, July 2013
"James was amazing! We ended up using his audition because it was so great. He brought the script to life, and that’s exactly what we wanted from a narrator. He has a wisdom in his voice that is unlike any other that I’ve heard before. I would definitely work with James again.”Independent Film Maker - Los Angeles
Sean Pecknold, July 2013
"After posting out job we received nearly 50 auditions. At least 75% of the auditions were close to what we needed although each of them would need further corrections. James Gillies’ audition was perfect from the first read. In fact his reading was so spot on including, inflections, pauses, emotions, mood, emphasis, etc., that we decided to accept it on the first first take as read.DDM Creative - Canton
His voice was rich and the only audition that did not sound like he was reading a script. I suspect he spent time understanding the storyline before he recorded. When we tested the audition with our staff, everyone agreed that they totally believed and bought into the script. Results like that are not easily attained. There was something magical about James Gillies’ audition. We hope you employ his talent and you also have a magical experience.
Mr. Gillies was a professional to work with and was also kind enough to oblige us when we had requests or many questions.
We plan to hire James Gillies again on upcoming projects.
Thank You JG!”
Fred Sarhadi, August 2013
“We've hired James for the second time now, and he did an excellent job once again. We are very pleased with the technical quality of the recording, as well as with style and manner which James used. Not only did he deliver a great performance, he also paid most careful attention to our script, and used his creativity to make it better. We highly recommend Mr. Gillies and would be extremely pleased to work with him again.”AltSpace - Moscow
Olga Kosova, September 2013
"James is WONDERFUL! He went above and beyond to help us meet our client's needs. He is very easy and pleasant to work with and keeps things professional but light. James was very timely in his responses, we appreciated that very much! Would definitely recommend him to anyone!"YDraw - Utah
Annie Miller, September 2013
"James was an extreme pleasure to work with. He was the first to respond to all the emails, great at taking direction, and very professional. I highly recommend James without hesitation and am looking forward to working with him again."Traveling Picture Show Company - Hollywood
Sam Ryu, September 2013
"Great job James! The client is very happy with your recording and very much appreciate how quick you were able to turn around a quality recording. It is a pleasure to work with a professional like yourself. I look forward to our next job together!"Voices.com - Ontario
Melissa Kelman October 2013
15Four, Baltimore, MD USA
Aberdeen Actors UK
AIR (UK Airport Information Radio Services) UK
AltSpace Moscow Russia
BBC Radio Two
BBC Radio Three
BBC Radio Four
BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal
BBC Radio Scotland
BBC English Regions Television
BBC One Television
BBC Two Television
Bill Young Productions Sugar land TX USA
BP (formerly British Petroleum)
British Caledonian Airline
BSB (British Satellite Broadcasting)
Cine Learning Productions, Mesa, AZ USA
Cubb Creative, Montreal
DDM Creative, Canton, GA USA
Eiler Fagraklet, Thorshavn, Faroe Islands
Exxon Oil (Esso Europe)
European Union Commission (Agriculture and Rural Development)
European Union Commission (Climate Action)
European Union Commission (Energy)
European Union Commission (Humanitarian Aid)
Extraneous Noise Boston MA USA
Heart Independent Radio Group
EINuM Rome Italy
High Scores UK
Kyani, Idaho Falls, ID USA
NSA of the Bahá’is of the UK
Norman Brothers, Chicago, IL USA
Radio Archives Pennsylvania USA
Radio Moray Firth
Robert Child Associates Philadelphia PA USA
Scholastic Publications New York USA
Scottish Libraries Association
Scottish Office (UK Government)
SJ Associates New York USA
Soundview Summaries, Philadelphia, PA USA
STV North (Grampian)
SVN Productions, Provo, UT USA
Total Oil Marine,
Traveling Picture Show, Hollywood, CA USA
UK Call Centre Association
WGBH Boston MA USA
Yardshead Books UK
Ydraw, St George, UT USA
Yorkshire Bank UK
Zionism 101, New Mexico USA
… and a few hundred hardy small advertisers over the years whose names I can no longer remember. God bless them!
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