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Mary Poppins is one of the most beloved movies in film history. However, it does have one glaring issue, but Dick Van Dyke is really sorry for producing such a terrible accent. Recently, it was announced that Dick Van Dyke will receive the Britannia Award for Excellence in Television from the Los Angeles division of British film organization BAFTA. In response to being given the award, Van Dyke responded by saying he was looking forward to receiving it and also issuing an official apology. Van Dyke said...
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.
We'd like to say that Dick Van Dyke is exaggerating here, but we're not sure that's fair. A few months ago Van Dyke's performance in Mary Poppins was voted as the worth English accent by an American actor in the history of film. In this case, it would seem that the BAFTA organization isn't going to hold that against him, as Deadline reports he's still getting the award. Though, it should be pointed out the award is for his television work, not his work in movies.
Dick Van Dyke's over the top Cockney is mostly surprising because he's about the only person in the movie who wasn't English. You'd think somebody, David Tomlinson or Julie Andrews maybe, would have taken him aside and just politely informed him his accent needed work. For whatever reason, that didn't happen and so we ended up with what we got. Compare Dick Van Dyke to Julie Andrews below and you'll really notice how there's nothing resembling a natural voice coming from the actor.
Of course, now that the film has become a classic, the accent has also become a classic in its own right. Dick Van Dyke's accent didn't stop Julie Andrews from winning an Oscar and at this point listening to a song like "Chim Chin Cher-Ee" with any other accent would just seem wrong. What Dick Van Dyke's performance lacks in authenticity he clearly makes up for with enthusiasm.
In Dick Van Dyke's other performances in Mary Poppins, that of bank chairman Mr. Dawes Sr., Van Dyke has no accent to speak of, beyond simply being "old." The actor will be following up that particular performance in Mary Poppins Returns next year when he plays Mr. Dawes Jr. We'll have to wait and see if he decides to play the role without an accent, or if the decades of practice mean he'll have much better one next time around.