28 Aug England’s statues are brought to life – with a bit of celebrity help

England’s life size statues are famously rich in history and tradition, but are rather less strongly associated with technological sophistication. That’s all set to change, though, with a series of British actors and personalities giving their voices to 35 statues across London and Manchester – all thanks to the wonders of 21st century smartphone technology.

All that visitors need to do to hear statues that have remained silent for centuries finally clear their throats and speak the words of some of the country’s finest writers, is swipe their mobile devices over the signs next to each one. Their handsets will then ring before the monologue commences.

The celebrities playing some of the best-known characters in British history include Patrick Stewart, portraying an unknown soldier at Paddington Station, as well as Prunella Scales, who takes the role of Queen Victoria at statues of the great 19th century monarch at both Blackfriars Bridge in London and Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester.

Other voices that can now be heard emanating from statues throughout the English capital include Jeremy Paxman, who as John Wilkes, defends free speech in Fetter Lane. Those taking in London’s sights and sounds may also catch a bit of Simon Russell Beale at the British Library, who while in his role as Isaac Newton accepts that he may be the greatest scientist of all time, still professes admiration for Albert Einstein.

Elsewhere, comedian Helen Lederer provides the voice of Dick Whittington’s cat on London’s Highgate Hill, suggesting that he wouldn’t have earned his fortune as Mayor of London without the help of his rat-catching feline. But there’s also a statue of a goat standing on a pile of crates at Spitalfields Market, an apparent mystery explained by another comedian, Hugh Dennis.

The wider range of famous figures in stone given a voice on London’s streets include Peter Pan, Hugh Myddleton, inventor of the postage stamp Rowland Hill, Sherlock Holmes and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, while further north in Manchester, the likes of Alan Turing and L.S. Lowry speak up.

The project isn’t just about a bit of random fun – well, OK, maybe it is. The non-profit arts organization responsible for the talking statues, Sing London, aims to lift Britons’ spirits through the move. It’s a very noble aim for any life size statues, and it’s certainly one that has put smiles on our own faces here at Big Statues.

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