King’s Speech voice coach praised by Colin Firth hails from Norwich

As a child he won regional plaudits for his gift for impressions, but actor turned voice coach Neil Swain is now being praised on an international stage.

The Norwich-born blockbuster voice coach was singled out by Colin Firth for his latest work in helping to create the stammering King George VI in the King's Speech.

At the Bafta ceremony this month, Mr Firth thanked the team behind the film, including a reference to his 'masterly voice coach Neil Swain'.

The Heartease High School pupil, who grew up on Salhouse Road in Norwich, did acting and voice qualifications in the city before moving to London aged 18 where he trained as an actor.

Having always had an interest in voice and speech, Mr Swain, who is now 40, went to the Central School of Speech and Drama and worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company before working with stars, including Matt Damon and Freddie Prince Junior, in the West End.

It was through film and TV work including Alice in Wonderland and Sweeney Todd that he met Helena Bonham Carter, who helped him to get the job of voice coach in the film. He was impressed by the script and went to see the director Tom Cooper, who asked him to work on the film.

'I worked with all of them. I was around during the rehearsal period.

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'I used to joke with friends – I'd look in my diary and Monday morning would be Derek Jacobi and Monday afternoon would be Michael Gambon,' he said.

'Tuesday would be Colin and in the afternoon it would be Geoffrey Rush. It was ridiculous the acting aristocracy that I was working with,' he added.

'I worked with Colin and we talked about his stammer,' he said. 'Colin brought a lot to the table himself.

'He is the sort of actor who had done a lot of research himself. Between us we found something that was considered and accurate,' he said.

He said he had always had an interest in the voice from the early days when he was taught by Norwich voice and speech coach Anne Edwards.

He said his parents Frank and Ann had worked tirelessly to help him in his career.

Have you been working with a celebrity? Contact Evening News reporter Annabelle Dickson on 01603 772426 or email