Welcome to the first in our interview series of “Who’s that Voice?” The voice of Basil Brush for 10 years, and a regular on The Sooty Show, as fans, we were excited to learn more about Wink Taylor’s journey through voiceover!
Hi Wink! How did you get started as a VO actor?
I owe everything to a series of Talent Show competitions which I entered as a stand up comedian/impressionist. I was lucky enough to win one locally which brought me to the attention of a radio station who used me on a number of adverts. I then entered a television Talent Show which secured me a job providing celebrity voices for a series of talking greeting cards. These were sold in the UK, US and Australia and this then lead to a number of television voice overs. So, thank goodness for talent shows!
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
My first ever gigs were as a fourteen year old children’s entertainer voicing puppet characters. Many years later I went on to voice a puppet called Basil Brush who is a UK icon and institution. Basil has been around since the early sixties and when the original vocal artist (Ivan Owen) passed away, it was an absolute honour to be asked to follow in his footsteps. This job meant a great deal to me, because throughout the ten years I spent playing the character – I kept thinking of fourteen year old me who idolised Basil Brush! Can you imagine how happy he would have been if he had known what was in his future?
What are you up to presently?
I am currently on tour voicing/playing another puppet character called Theo The Mouse who is a joy to portray. I am also playing Sir Winston Churchill in a brand new audio play which is to be released in August.
What do you love about your job?
Every day is different and I never quite know what is around the corner.
Any VO idols/mentors?
Ever since I was a child I have always felt a huge sense of excitement whenever I hear the voice of the Doctor Who actor – Tom Baker. He has to have one of the most dramatically recognisable voices in the world. I also hugely respond to the comic versatility of Kenneth Williams, whose gallery of comedic voices never cease to make me smile. I have had the pleasure of portraying Kenneth both on stage and in radio plays, hugely satisfying but exhausting because his range of voices is bewildering!
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
I can’t remember the first time I heard my voice on radio, but I don’t think I was very impressed. The first moment of real pride was hearing my voices in greeting card stores across the country. If I was making any live theatre appearances, I would often hunt out a card store before the performance, as the pride in seeing the cards really calmed any first night nerves. Ha ha!
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
I trained as a Primary School Teacher and am passionate about children’s education. As well as voicing Theo The Mouse I also write his Education Show which has just had its first TV broadcast in the UK. The show aims to teach 4-7 year olds the primary curriculum through slapstick comedy and it is a pleasure to be involved with. I have also worked as a Theatre Marketing Manager writing press releases and advertising campaigns. Although I enjoyed both teaching and marketing, I have never felt quite as fulfilled or as happy as I am in voiceover work. I will always feel very grateful to the world of voice overs.
Has technology/home studios changed the way you work?
During the global pandemic, I would say massively. As the live performing work stopped and a big percentage of the income was taken away, not a day went by where I wasn’t thanking my lucky stars that I had invested in a home studio. I was nervous at first about using the various remote recording systems and internet drop out was very frustrating, however the technology meant that I could keep working. Since the COVID restrictions have been lifted however, I have found myself returning to the traditional world of the studio. I greatly missed the social nature of the job, talking to the client, discussing the job, trying to make the studio engineers laugh and have always felt that my performances were better with these elements.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
Tip 1: Read a wide variety of literature, (sometimes aloud) I can’t tell you the amount of times an ability to read confidently has saved my bacon. Tip 2: Listen to a wide range of voices and try to cultivate a versatile sound. Versatility means employability. Tip 3: Drink a lot of water. Adam’s Ale is your voice’s best friend, sadly at my age, my bladder strongly disagrees!
If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose, and why?
Definitely flying as I always want to get to places quicker than I can. Mind you, knowing my luck I would probably bump into a low flying aircraft or be splattered by a flock of disgruntled geese!
If you got to choose a song that would play every time you entered a room, what song would you pick?
Definitely The Final Countdown by Europe. I have often been known to mutilate this magnum opus in the karaoke bars of the United Kingdom.
And finally….If you were a brand, what would your slogan be?
Rather than a slogan, I would have a large animated winking eye. A wink is often seen as a cheeky signal of fun to come and this sums up my attitude to the voice over industry. I never know what job is next, but I always know it’s going to be a lot of fun.
[We promise, Wink had no idea about L.E.N.’s existence, at the time of this interview! ]