Though Mary Poppins herself said, ‘the sound of it is something quite atrocious’, she wasn’t referring to Dick Van Dyke’s cockney.
However, the actor behind one of the most maligned accents in all of cinema has issued a frank apology.
After being named as one of the recipients for BAFTA Los Angeles’ annual Britannia Awards – namely the Britannia Award for Excellence in Television – Van Dyke released the following statement:
“I appreciate this opportunity to apologize to the members of BAFTA for inflicting on them the most atrocious Cockney accent in the history of cinema.”
Chantal Rickards, BAFTA Los Angeles’ chief executive, quipped back: “We look forward to his acceptance speech in whatever accent he chooses on the night. We have no doubt it will be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
It’s not the first time that Van Dyke, who played the chirpy chimney sweep Burt in the 1964 Disney classic, has broached the matter of his wayward East London twang.
Picking up an award for his humanitarian work in 2014, he said: “People in the UK love to rib me about my accent, I will never live it down. They ask what part of England I was meant to be from and I say it was a little shire in the north where most of the people were from Ohio.”
“I was working with an entire English cast and nobody said a word, not Julie [Andrews], not anybody said I needed to work on it so I thought I was alright.”
He also told Conan O’Brien back in 2012: “If someone from the UK sees me, they’re on me like a pack of wolves. I mean, it was the worst Cockney accent ever done.
“The guy who taught me was an Irishman: Pat O’Malley. So I made up a story: ‘It wasn’t Cockney. It’s from a little obscure county in the north of England. A few Cockneys moved up there, you know, in the 1800s. And you’d probably never hear it again.’”
Van Dyke will be making a small cameo in the forthcoming sequel ‘Mary Poppins Returns’.
He’s playing Mr. Dawes Jr, the chairman of the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, son of the bank’s president, a role he also played in the original movie.
Starring Emily Blunt as the new Poppins, and also featuring Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, and Lin-Manuel Miranda in a role similar to similar to Van Dyke’s Burt, the new movie is due out on December 21, 2018.